When we hear the word ‘change’, where does our attention go? Towards the world outside, other people, or towards the self? Change is happening everywhere – in the world, in the people around you, and within you. Change is taking place constantly, and we are told that change is the law of the universe.
But where do we focus? Most importantly, of all the changes that are occurring, which one is in our control, and where we can exercise our choice?
The change occurring outside involves situations, the forces of nature, people, and their behaviour. The change that takes place in our inner world includes change in our way of thinking, speaking, behaving and working, as also change in our food habits and way of life.
We often believe that the change occurring outside affects us. When things out there are not going the way we want, a big change or a crisis suddenly disrupts the life we had become accustomed to, and the crisis persists for months, as is happening now, and we do not know how long it will last, it affects the behaviour of some people. Those who used to be calm earlier have become unstable – someone loses his temper very quickly, another one easily breaks down.
When this started happening, what was our reaction? We thought that we had to set things right – the people and the situations. Our intention was good, we meant to help others, but while we went about doing so, we did not pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, because we believed that we were simply being affected by whatever was happening around us.
We did not realise that this inner change was something we could control, that the direction of change was my choice. Since we did not pay attention to our inner world amidst all the changes taking place outside, we began thinking that it was natural to experience fear, worry and anger. This is how we changed within.
While earlier we rarely used to get angry or worry, and felt afraid only if it was a really serious situation, now we experience these emotions more frequently. Fear has become a ‘natural’ emotion for us. When this change occurred in our inner world, it started influencing our external situations.
We need to be aware of some spiritual equations which tell us what effects what: It is humans who influence nature, and our thoughts shape the world. In other words, our inner world influences the world outside, but we thought that it was natural to be affected by a change in situations.
When there is a change outside, we need to change in response, but we must remember that the change within us will influence the situation outside. It is our sanskars, or traits and habits, that create our world, not the other way round.
For example, if a close friend begins to behave in a disagreeable way, I have the choice of feeling hurt, angry and responding in kind, or understanding that he or she is going through some difficulty and offering them support. The way I choose to respond will determine the future course of my relationship with that person.
Similarly, if we want to change a situation, we have to first bring about change within. We have the power to do that, but when we do not use that power, we change in the wrong direction.
We need to remember that change begins in the mind, and ensure that the change happens consciously and in the right direction.
For that we need to pay attention to our thoughts, feelings, the way we speak, and our behaviour. None of these things are dependent on external situations or other people. They should be of the highest quality we are capable of. When we think and act according to our highest potential, we begin to exist on a higher plane where our mind becomes more positive. That, in turn, increases our inner power.
It is lack of this inner power that results in wrong ways of thinking and behaviour, which are at the root of the problems we see in the world. The vices in human minds have created the hell the world has become today. But if we have turned the world into hell, we also have the power to create heaven on earth, by using our innate virtues of purity, peace, love and truth.
When more and more of us begin to live by these virtues, the world will begin to change, and a time will come when a critical mass of positive energy will transform this world into paradise.