Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s a quote you see and hear often, but how many times do we actually act on this idea?
I’d like to think for a little while about what that would look like. What if, instead of trying to change other people, instead of trying to ‘change the world,’ we channeled our energy into authentically living out our deepest beliefs? If we want more empathy, compassion, and understanding in the world, what if we become empathy, compassion, and understanding? In each situation and with each person, no matter how challenging? If we want more love and peace in the world, what if we become love and peace in each moment of our own personal story? If we want to see injustice, inequality, and ignorance become relics of the past, what if we consciously and deliberately make choices and take actions based only on justice, equality, and enlightenment?
As a budding social/spiritual activist, I realize that, while words can be inspiring and powerful, talk is also cheap unless it is backed up by being. Often we are stirred by someone’s eloquent words, only to be disappointed when their dishonorable actions directly contradict the image they were attempting to create. The power of their words crumbles and the beauty of their teachings is often lost. Being aware of this, perhaps we need to focus more on living the expression of our beliefs before we focus on telling.
Ten days ago, I took part in a beautiful Global Meditation for Peace hosted by Gabrielle Bernstein and Deepak Chopra. Thanks to the connecting technology of the Internet, over 100,000 people were ‘gathered’ all over the world at a specific hour to meditate together for world peace. It was a beautiful, moving experience for me, as well as extremely eye-opening. It made me realize that thinking about changing the world still leaves me feeling powerless, but being the change makes me feel completely empowered. It also opened my eyes to the fact that I am not alone. For those of us walking a spiritual path, we can begin to feel that it is a very solitary, often lonely, journey. We can begin to feel like David against Goliath, like the one lone fish swimming upstream. However, when we invest our energy into reaching out and connecting, we discover that there are many others walking the same path. They may not be our next door neighbor (or perhaps they are and we never realized it!) but to our limitless souls, the distance across the ocean might as well be the distance across the street.
When I meditated that day, I felt the strength and unity of over 100,000 people meditating with me, and I felt intimately connected to their lives. I realized that we are always connected. I realized that there are souls of light all over the globe who are expressing, in their day-to-day human journey, all the aspects of Ultimate Truth – love, peace, compassion, openness, honesty, generosity. It was an uplifting and comforting revelation, and I knew that we are already changing the world. The world is already changing. It is only a matter of deciding how much I, as an individual, will be a part of that change – not by acting on what is outside of myself, but transforming what is inside of me. As with everything else, the Universe will take care of the rest.
With my new clarity of vision, I had to laugh at myself. To borrow a phrase from Deepak Chopra, I had occasionally become an angry peace activist! When I observed injustice or ignorance in the world, it would make me feel powerless, and that made me feel angry. What I need to learn to do in those moments is to look inside myself for what’s missing, for the love and compassion, for the truth, for the healing. When we do this, we will never feel powerless, but will remember that we are the answer.
I will be honest, this is a huge challenge. It is something you commit to practicing every day. It is something you will “fail” at many times over. But when you do, you immediately bring the practice back by forgiving yourself and moving on. There is nothing that is not an opportunity for us to expand ourselves and our hearts. Let’s see how far we can expand them, how big we can grow our love. I’m positive that once we begin to discover the extent of our reach, nothing in the Universe will be impossible for us. This is our story, this is our destiny. I want to live it right now. What about you?