Being the Change Part. 1

We’ve all heard the beautiful, yet familiar:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

which is attributed to the great, Mohandas Ghandi. The quote evokes the power of a persons ability to change and become more, or different, thus making their world change to be:

  • More kind
  • More friendly
  • More forgiving
  • More loving

It’s a favorite saying of mine and I try to remember it when I set out to do something new or recognize in myself the need to change a behavior or sometimes when I feel that I’m lacking – something.

Interestingly and, quite unfortunately, the converse is also true. If a person becomes more suspicious, more frightened, and more angry, then they will come live in a world that reflects deceit, anger, and fear back at them in short order.

The nature of the world as “reflection” then often drives us to the conclusion that our perception of “the world” is right and true, and thus, a reason to continue looking at the world through that particular set of lenses.

How many times have you felt that the world was a certain way and then have that belief proven through the behavior of others in your world? A few times, I’d imagine.

Well… that was no coincidence.

The quote:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

isn’t actually a direct quote but rather, a bumper sticker paraphrase of a larger paragraph in which Mohandas Ghandi talks about this very idea of reflections:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. 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. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

Many people rightly ascribe a dense, metaphysical meaning to, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” And that’s because it does have some deeply profound metaphysical implications. Ghandi calls us towards noble, lofty action – to become that which we wish to see outside ourselves. And it’s made all the more intimidating because when we think of the “world” we think of our planet and all her billions of people, which when compared to us, is immense.

But, your “world,” in the sense that Ghandi means it, doesn’t necessarily represent the planet, but rather, your sphere of influence. In this way, your world is comprised of your home, family, friends, neighbors – your community. More than that, it’s the tv, news, and movies you watch, the music you listen to, and the art you enjoy.

… Perhaps still daunting but a far less insurmountable task.

When you change on the inside, everything outside changes. – Dr. Marijo Puleo

But because the sum of our experience is simply the perception of what we see reflected back towards us we may be inclined to believe that the changes we observe are simply a result of the perceptual shift that we’ve undertaken. I.E. “I choose to see the good in people; therefore, I don’t see the bad in them.” This position holds that the “bad” in people remains even though it isn’t paid attention to.

BUT I believe that Ghandi’s “argument” is far more complex in that that even as one’s perception of the “world” changes so too does the “world” change to align with one’s perception.

There is an interesting anecdote about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It states that, prior to their divorce, Angelina’s health was very fragile – she wasn’t eating and the two were constantly fighting. Allegedly, one day, Brad decided to try something new and shift his perception of Angelina such that, rather than seeing her as sick, and combative, he decided to remember and see everything beautiful about her – everything that he fell in love with about her. Allegedly, her health dramatically improved from that point forward.

Now, I don’t know how true this story is, it’s an anecdote after all, and obviously, the two did go on to divorce. But, Angelina has resumed her acting career after an extended absence from the screen and she looks healthy so things must be better than they were? Right?

But, let’s assume the anecdote is true. How can Brad changing the way he chooses to see Angelina result in a change in her being?

Well, you might say that because he chose to see her as healthy and beautiful he treated her as if she were healthy and beautiful which, in turn, made her feel healthy and beautiful.

You might say that because his view of her softened so perhaps she felt less pressure and was able to relax and better be herself.

You might even say that because she loved him so much she wanted to be who he believed she was.

And in each of those assumptions you could be correct to an extent – only Brad and Angelina know for certain. But I think something far more interesting happened which I’ll discuss later.

But we do know that Love is the most powerful source of transformation, the most powerful lens through which we can view the world.

How many times have you heard the phrase:

Loving you has made me a better person.

We’ve heard it in movies and songs. Perhaps someone has even said it to you in a beautiful, quiet moment. We hear it so often because it’s true, yes? Love, not desire, which is greedy and jealous, is uniquely powerful because it transforms us – free of the need of anything but more love.

[sorry, had to throw that in there.]

And my favorite:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8

If love is the most powerful lens through which we can see the world then truly it is God who is the lens through which we’re looking because God. Is. Love.

Let’s ponder that for a moment.

BOLO for Part 2.

Om, Baby! Om.

Joshua Taylor