Be the Change

gandhi-portraitDuring this time of deep personal (and, to a large extent, national and international) grief, I find myself looking for rays of light and glimmers of hope.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I often draw inspiration from spiritual quotes and the Abraham-Hicks teachings; so now I’m combining these by taking an Abe approach to one of my favorite quotes:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”*
– Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve been thinking about these words in relation to the Abraham teaching of contrast — namely, that when something clearly shows you what you don’t want, it helps you clarify what you do want. For instance, when I look out into the world (or into my heart) and see anger, fear, or hatred — and I notice that these things don’t feel good to me — it’s a reminder that I want the opposite of these things: peace, security, and love.

(And if you’re already pretty clear about what you want, contrasts often increase your inspiration and enthusiasm about moving in this direction — kind of like stepping on the gas when the steering wheel’s already aligned with where you want to go!)

Contemplating the state of the world at the moment has, quite honestly, felt a little depressing to me. And trying to change the world seems absolutely daunting…making me feel even more disempowered, discouraged, and all those other yucky feelings at the bottom of Abraham’s “Emotional Scale” — not where I want to hang out!

On the other hand, thinking about being the change I wish to see in the world feels a lot more doable. If I can’t stop worldwide violence this very moment, I can at least take a step toward inner peace — and that certainly feels a bit better…and a whole lot more empowering! (Just thinking about this, I can feel the knot in my stomach loosen just a little bit.)

I admit, I’m still learning to embrace contrasts — to use them as tools for learning and growth, rather than resisting or pushing against them. For better or worse, though, the past week has provided a lot of opportunity for practice. So, here are just a few of the positive qualities that recent contrasts have helped remind me about — qualities that I am committed to moving toward, embracing, and (ideally) embodying:

  • love
  • peace
  • goodness
  • kindness
  • gentleness
  • compassion
  • tolerance
  • open-mindedness
  • broad-minded, global thinking/forward thinking
  • diversity
  • equality
  • intelligence
  • thoughtfulness
  • clarity
  • truthfulness
  • beauty
  • respect
  • dignity
  • humility
  • …and basic human decency

It’s a process. I haven’t been able to snap my fingers and instantly jump from despair to joy, but I do find that this approach is helping — the idea of focusing on being the change I wish to see. And if I ever have a hard time thinking of what changes I do want, I know that the world will provide me with a steady stream of contrasting experiences to help me get clear!

I hope you’ll see this post as an invitation — now or anytime you feel negative emotions arising from contrasts — to help you get clear about what you do want, to focus more on those things/qualities, and to be that!

Because, now more than ever, that’s what the world needs.


* By the way (in the interest of embodying truthfulness, intelligence, and accuracy), the “quote” usually attributed to Gandhi is actually a (somewhat loose) paraphrase — here are his actual words: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

(originally printed in the Indian Opinion 1913; reprinted in Gandhi, M. The Collected Works of M.K. Gandhi; The Publications Division: New Delhi, India, 1960; Volume 13, Chapter 153; p. 241. [Google Scholar] —, note 31)

I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments — including any positive qualities (inspired by contrasts or anything else) that you’d like to BE.

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