We all somehow identify with the qualities that he embodied and expressed in real life. Because as he said, such qualities are “within the reach of every soul” and “crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men”. He was also an embodiment of other significant qualities such as justice, love, compassion, forgiveness, grace, clarity, strength, and perseverance.
So let us not just mourn Mandela for a day or so and then back to our normal routines. Why not take this opportunity and also learn from Mandela. This is by no means an easy feat but Mandela also had this to say to help us on the way.
“…Development in matters of this nature is inconceivable without serious introspection, without knowing yourself, your weaknesses and mistakes…Regular meditation, say of about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be fruitful in this regard.”
Below is an excerpt from his letter to Winnie Mandela in Kroonstad Prison, dated 1 February 1975
. . . the cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the process of your own mind and feelings. In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education. These are, of course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these. But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being. Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life. Development in matters of this nature is inconceivable without serious introspection, without knowing yourself, your weaknesses and mistakes. At least, if for nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct, to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you. Regular meditation, say about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be very fruitful in this regard. You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative features in your life, but the 10th attempt may yield rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.