Happy New Year 2018!


Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra – TRANSCEND Media Service

Practice is the Mantra!

The New Year arrived and knocked at my door and asked me what I am thinking. It came to me as bright as sunlight and lightened my chamber. It looked straight into my eyes and asked what I am thinking. A single word came from my mouth:


The new year smiled and said, yes, it is PRACTICE. Let it be the mantra of the new year!

We say many good words, but do not translate them into action. More we say, the more the gap between our words and our action!

We do not practice what we say. We say something and do something else.

Two days back, I watched the movie Swami Vivekananda (1998). In one of the scenes, the wandering monk goes to a temple and finds a Pundit preaching. The Pundit was preaching service to man is service to God. A disabled person passed through the temple and fell down, but the preacher did not care. The Swami comforted the disabled and helped him sit down. The Pundit realized his mistake and said, ‘Now I realize the gap between words and deeds. Simply preaching is not enough.’

This is a message that the wise across cultures delivered. Whether East or West, North or South, this great message has been vibrating since centuries.

Whether in our individual and family life, or in our community, or in our society and the world, we can see the gap between thought and practice, between words and deeds. This gap in its train brings innumerable suffering to us.

It is only practice, not preaching, that there can be enduring peace within and without. An individual who is tumultuous inside cannot establish peace outside. An individual who is truly peaceful inside can only practice what he preaches.

What is true peace then?

Peace is a state of mind. When the mind does not need external props to remain happy, true peace occurs. When the mind depends on external things to remain happy, true peace does not occur.

Let the New Year be peaceful!

Let us practice the good things we have learnt. Let us practice them every day.

The chasm between words and deeds, between theory and practice, has created much of the tumult in individual life, and in the life of larger collectivities – whether community or the state or the world.

hen in the individual life, this chasm between words and deeds directly affects the individual and his family, in the case of society and the world, this chasm produces wars and other kinds of violence. We see this in action in various parts of the world. Leaders preach peace and meet at high tables to negotiate peace, while their actions promote narrow interests.

It seems as if the noble sayings, ‘let truth alone emerge victorious’, ‘service to mankind is service to God’, ‘different religions are but different flowers in a beautiful garden’, ‘love thy neighbor’ ring good to the ear, but are alien to practice. That is the challenge before us. Unless we practice the universal values that transcend divides, there is no meaning preaching them.

At least we can try to reduce the chasm in our individual life. If each one of us think this way and resolve, ‘we will practice the good words we say, we will walk our talk’, we will help create a better year, and a better world, ahead.

Wish you Happy New Year! May this year fill our life with true joy and happiness! May we move swiftly to bridge the gap between our words and deeds, and see everything in a new light!


Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Non-Violence, Human Rights and World Peace at Hindu University of America in Florida, and a Fellow at the Center for Peace, Democracy and Development, University of Massachusetts Boston. He is an Indian commentator and his areas of interest include conflict transformation and peacebuilding in South and Central Asia. His edited book Conflict and Peace in Eurasia was published by Routledge in 2013.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Jan 2018.

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