"Be the change you want to see in the world."
Mohandes Karamchand Gandhi's quote is pretty ubiquitous, right?
The meaning of this is usually interpreted as "we must lead by example." For instance, if I wish people used less water, I should use less water.
It recently occurred to me that this interpretation only addresses the surface of Gandhi's statement.
Allow me to propose a deeper understanding of what is being said: We must be the change we want to see, because the problems we see in our external world are the things we need to fix inside ourselves. We must be the change, not because we will fix others or the world, but because we are being shown the way to heal our own self.
Let me explain...
Because we see through the lens of our own perspective, our perspective is a reflection of our thoughts, and our true nature is clouded by these thoughts...
Then what we see as a "problem" with the world or another person, is actually shining a light on the garbage of our thoughts.
I can give a personal example of this: Every time I pass a smoker on the street I become immediately resentful.
1) They are polluting the air I breathe without my consent.
2) They obviously have no self-worth. They must be weak.
3) They should be roped up and tied to a burning tree for subjecting me to their slow suicide.
Woh! (# 3 was a joke)
So, obviously, these thoughts reveal a pretty serious imbalance in my worldview.
Looking in the proverbial mirror, I could say that I have some tolerance issues. And the most important way it probably plays out is in the way I treat myself.
So, being the change I want to see in the world does not just involve not smoking. It means not harboring animosity towards people who smoke. And, on a broader scale, not hating people for making choices I don't agree with.
Being the change doesn't mean just living the life you believe in. It also means accepting those who make different choices.
There's no need to worry, because, in the end, that which serves the unfolding of human consciousness (a force greater than the little "me" and the little "you") will win over anyway.
The best we can do is tap into that inner-knowing, and make decisions from that sacred place.
We live the change we want to see not because of how it changes others, but because of how it changes us.
Being the change by not smoking, means being given the opportunity to practice tolerance.
So, salute to Gandhi! He lived his dharma and, most likely, worked through his karma, by being the change he wanted to see.
The change you want to see most is the change you want to affect within yourself.
Blessings on your path,