Meditation is all about changing from within. Usually we’re busy trying to change things out there, but in meditation we go inward to look much deeper at the causes of happiness, suffering, sickness, and health. We learn to transform our own mind — cultivating causes of happiness and overcoming causes of suffering – and let our words, actions, and world be a reflection of that.
We like change, don’t we? We think things like, “It would be nice if this was different. It would be really nice if you were different. And if I was in charge, I’d make the whole company/relationship/family/organization/country/world different, I tell you! It would not be like this!” We’re constantly trying to control the world in one way or another. But the interesting thing is that even though we’ve been doing this for an awfully long time, like mini-Mussolinis or something, control freaks, trying to control everything around us, we’re in just as much a mess as we ever were, both individually and collectively as a society. The world as a whole is still full of suffering and problems. We ourselves still have problems and suffering in our life. It looks like on the whole we’ve barely scraped the surface, if that, of finding solutions to everyday pain. Tell me I’m wrong! Buddha’s point is not that there is anything wrong with change per se – in fact, our potential for change is our ticket to get ourselves out of this mess. However, we have to figure out where happiness and suffering actually come from and then work to change our hearts and minds, not everyone else.
I was watching a TV show called “Rome” at a friend’s house the other day, and found myself thinking: “Really, nothing’s changed since ancient Rome! There’s still the greed and the attachment, there’s still the hatred and the annoyance, there’s still the scheming and the attachment to reputation. It’s all there. We haven’t changed much.” On the way home that evening I saw a sticker on someone’s bumper: “EVOLVE!” “Good idea!” I thought.
But we’re only going to evolve into better people if we get rid of our uncontrolled and unpeaceful minds. While they remain, we’re no better than the ancient Romans. We haven’t changed at all. Humans are still yelling at each other, still hurting each other, still scheming, still deceiving, still attached to possessions and position, still trying to find happiness outside of the mind, and still failing. Nothing’s changed in that department for hundreds or thousands of years. This is why we learn to meditate, because if we still have anger, jealousy, pride, greed, and ignorance in our minds, nothing is ever going to change much for the better. The furniture of our lives may look different, sandals and togos may go out of style and suits come in – but it’s the same old, same old, isn’t it?
But if we change our minds, then we change our world, we actually start to inhabit a better world, a purer world, and help others do the same.
Over to you. Do you agree that internal change is most important, or do you think that this can be overstated and that, in terms of helping others, for example, external change is where it’s at?
Feeling stuck on the change-just-to-keep-up treadmill here. Change/optimization has been the currency in every job I’ve ever had. It’s pretty much the only way I’ve ever been asked to show value. I can’t seem to slow down let alone get off. I see it, yes. But I’m also lost in it. Darn! I do have some broken electronics in my possession right now which feels very 1970s of me!
You see through it.
It is our motivation, faith, and wisdom that determines whether or not we remain lost.
“But if we change our minds, then we change our world, we actually start to inhabit a better world, a purer world, and help others do the same.” — great,article,short but very profound…thanks again Luna,many years ago, when i started to change my mind, i was doubting about this…now i can say it was completely true…even in dreams you may notice a big difference… changing our inner world ,really change our outer world.and what is even better is that our change may help others as well.
Yes Maria, well said. And our dreams do change, both in waking life and asleep 🙂
When with meditation,we evolve our way of looking,feeling,understanding,we realize that it is not separated from action in the every day living. Both is use on the path to enlightenment,i think that is part of realizing the way for our (dream)reality,to awakening.
I think external change leads to doing the same stuff over and over — as we have through history. Internal change — especially change that leads to greater peace and compassion is the way to shift the world.
Of course internal change is important! This is the beauty of Buddhist practice. First, we realize we have a mind to change and then aspire to change it. We enjoy the effort to familiarize our mind with things that make it calm and peaceful like compassion. Meditation brings the intellectual understanding of the benefits of compassion to settle for awhile in our heart mind. I change a lot faster when I stay in this place through mindfulness and alertness. Being aware that we can change anything that appears to our mind from a negative experience to a positive experience through concentration is a true benefit of Dharma practice. This minute I am alive – what would happen if I was staring in the face of The Lord of Death would I be so complacent? This why I want to able to internally change what I find unpleasant. One day I might be aware of my last moment. This is when accepting change will really count. This is why I practice!
I’m not sure how keen on change most folk are? There’s security in the old familiar ways of being and doing. That’s why people often stick with things that maybe don’t suit anymore – to change to something new is seen as too threatening. Maybe internal change (undoubtedly the most important) seems so scary. It’s change on a deeper level than we’re comfortable with. Superficial change is definitely easier isn’t it, and it at least gives the illusion of progress.
*Love the wool / geek cats!
Stable inner change will bring about stable outer change.
You know why one of the reasons Classics are called so? Because they picture humanity as conventionally it always is. That means that you are right: humanity hasn’t changed a thing since beginningless time. I’m now more than ever convinced that the real change begins and ends within oneself. Truth will set us free, right? But truth is our delusions keep us from seeing that only through meditation we can achieve such a titanic task as changing the world by changing our mind.
Thanks a lot for the post. ^.^
Internal change is so important. Until we know ourselves, respect, love and finally accept ourselves only then can real change happen. It is so important not to only look within but be aware of the world around us and be part of it so we can implement change. Yes change must start from within but not excluding the outside world — it is easy to be extreme. I truly believe until we know and love ourselves we can never know and love others. Understanding who we are warts and all, and embracing that, is the key to helping others and having empathy for them.