In part one of this post we looked at the profound wisdom in Gandhi‘s famous words “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I pointed out that there is only one place where we can apply such wisdom: our everyday life. Indeed, daily life provides us with a gazillion opportunities to embody the qualities we wish to see more plentiful in the world. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, in all our interactions we can choose to “be the change”. We can choose to be kind, patient, compassionate, attentive and overall a good person. Simple enough, right? And yet. How often do you find yourself judging others for what they do, say, wear? Absent-minded while a friend shares important details of her life? Snappy with your romantic partner? Impatient with your kids? Envious of a colleague? Insensitive to a relative’s health struggles? Yours even?! So how can we really be the change?
Being the change, a force for good, a good person (to put it simply) is easier said than done. Not because it’s difficult to do good, but rather to be good. After all, all our doing arises out of our very being-ness. The feelings you harbor in your heart will always come through. That’s why layering “peace and love” on top of fear and anger, for example, just doesn’t work. No lasting change comes out of acting one way yet thinking/feeling another. It’s an incoherent way of being and always falls flat. Only when our (good) actions are congruent with the (good) feelings in our heart do they carry (good) transformative power. But how does one change the feelings in their heart? How does one become a good person you might say?
As Jiddu Krishnamurti stated back in 1973, what we need most to bring about change to this insane world is not an outward revolution but an internal, psychological one. Man is the cause of all problems, the conditioned and egoistic nature of man that is. Not religions, not ISIS, not our government, not corporations, not your parents, not your boss, not your boyfriend. I am the problem. You are the problem. We all are, to varying degrees. But the good news is, if I am the problem then I am the solution!
“As one travels over the world and observes the appalling conditions of poverty and the ugliness of man’s relationship to man, it becomes obvious that there must be a total revolution. A different kind of culture must come into being. The old culture is almost dead and yet we are clinging to it. Those who are young revolt against it, but unfortunately have not found a way, or a means, of transforming the essential quality of the human being, which is the mind. Unless there is a deep psychological revolution, mere reformation on the periphery will have little effect. This psychological revolution, which I think is the only revolution – is possible through meditation.”
The Awakening of Intelligence – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Indeed, meditation is an unparalleled way to transform human beings in their core. A regular meditation practice helps unravel the working of our mind. It helps us see through our likes, dislikes, neurosis, trauma, phobia, all feelings…and realize we exist apart from those. As pseudo identities fall by the wayside we slowly remember who we are, our spiritual essence, the atman (soul, in Sanskrit). In the Upanishads (ancient texts central to yogic philosophy), the nature of the atman is described as satchitananda: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss. Pretty neat, isn’t it? Imagine how you might behave differently and the impact you’d have on your environment if you knew yourself to be ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever blissful 24/7? This re-orienting of identity from ego to soul is central to the evolution of man and by extension, the world. As I remember my spiritual nature through the practice of meditation, the wholeness I get to experience is that much wholeness I add to the collective. As I heal so do you. Just like the body, the planet is only as healthy as its parts, its inhabitants. By healing our hearts, meditation can alleviate individual and, if enough people practice, global suffering.
Before we take to the streets to start a revolution (or perhaps concurrently) it might be wise to ask ourselves: How much do I really embody the qualities I wish to see in the world? What are the feelings I harbor that are not in alignment with the change I want to see? How can I change my our own heart? Interestingly, in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Paramahansa Yogananda equates meditation and action:
“Meditation may seem to be a withdrawal from activity because it demands from the beginner an absence of bodily movement. But deep meditation is intense mental activity—the highest form of action.” (God talks with Arjuna Chapter 3, Verse 7, page-344-345)
Be the change, be your (true) self.
(ps. I can teach you how to meditate. Details here.)