Seven Sins for Humanity

Gandhi's Sins

One of the most insightful summaries of the way Mahatma Gandhi lived his life can be found in his identification of seven deadly sins for humanity.  He had a deep commitment to Satyagraha, meaning ‘instance on truth’, and this underpinned each of these philosophical instructions.

Gandhi said that there should be no wealth without work, no pleasure without conscience, no science without humanity, no knowledge without character, no politics without principle, no commerce without morality and no worship without sacrifice.

Lead with Humanity Associate, Mick Fynn, likens Gandhi’s social sins to the fact that without roots, there are no fruits.  The deeper and stronger the root system, the greater the potential for an abundance of fruits.

The Baobab tree, one of Africa’s most phenomenal natural creations provides wonderful analogies for this concept.  The tree’s distinct branches are a mirror image of its impressive root system.   In fact, an old parable of the San-Bushman tribe tells of how the ‘Great Creator’ turned the Baobab tree upside down and said that because he was prepared to show his roots, the very essence of what he is, to the world, he would grow to be the largest and oldest tree on the great plains of Africa.

So while concepts such as wealth, pleasure, science, knowledge, politics, commerce and worship are like the abstract fruits in life, Gandhi maintains that they must be rooted in integrity through work, conscience, humanity, character, principle, morality and sacrifice.

So much of the world revels in wealth and pleasure, deeply disconnected to their roots.  As a result, these traits are widely abused.  Gandhi’s seven sins brings us a baseline, reminding us that everything requires balance.  Understanding just how closely linked these human traits are to their counterparts, how the fruits of our life mirrors our roots, is fundamental to learning the art of leading with humanity.

Have you noticed the endless abundance offered by the Baobab?  From food, water and condiments to rope and clothes, it truly is a tree that continually gives to its environment and those around it.

Clearly, every Baobab tree, with its transparent, unwavering root system, will leave an enduring and positive legacy on its world.   Have you thought about how your root system will impact your legacy?

In the following series, Lead with Humanity shares our take on each of Gandhi’s seven deadly sins and the practical ways they play out in our lives, influencing who we are and the legacies we build.

Wealth without Work.

So much of society measures its value in its financial assets.  There has been an undeniable shift in the way we think about our necessities, our values, and our place in the world.  Has this disruption made us realise that money does not and should not define us?

Pleasure without Conscience.

Almost all pleasure in the modern world can only be achieved with a sacrifice of some level of ethics. Morality is a complex and subjective measure of judgement with examples varying from the glaringly evident to the nuanced and subtle.

Science without Humanity.

As we sit, as a human collective, on the cusp of enormous global change, is our humanity threatened by the rate of scientific and technological advancements?

Knowledge without Character.

If knowledge is what we gain, character may be what we choose to do with that knowledge. It certainly requires far more work to build and maintain the cathedral of character than it does to stock the warehouse of knowledge.

Politics without Principle.

It is no debate that there is good politics and bad politics.  The ultimate difference between the two, lies in the principles of the people playing them and the purposes for which they are playing them.

Commerce without Morality.

Commerce is an essential, and exciting, part of human life and the pursuit of its fulfillment. However, a sound moral compass will provide clarity and direction when confronted with crucial and difficult decisions.

Worship without Sacrifice.

People sacrifice much in the name of worship.  Sadly, many people sacrifice themselves in pursuit of what they think they ought to worship.