Becoming the Change You Want to See
The path to enlightenment doesn't need to lead to an ashram. Anyone can walk it.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. —Mahatma Ghandi
We’re all familiar with this wisdom from one of the world’s most respected and revered leaders. This singular sentence is considered one of the all-time great insights regarding personal development and responsibility.
But it doesn’t appear that we’re listening, especially in regard to peace, be it world peace or inner peace. Why? Certainly everyone (outside of the military machine that profits from war) wants it. Ask anyone on the street, anywhere in the world, if they want peace and the answer will most assuredly be a resounding “yes.”
So what are we doing wrong?
I believe “being” peace is putting the cart before the horse. We need to “become” peaceful before we can be peace.
According to Paul Dugliss, MD, author of numerous books including Think with the Heart, Love with the Mind, “We mistake the end for the means. We see someone who is peaceful, or unattached, or blissful, and think, ‘That’s how I want to be, so I must act peaceful, unattached, or blissful.’”
He explains that the desired behavior we witness in others is the result of their inner state, not the means to their inner state. It’s the result of their inner development.
As within, so without. —Emerald Tablet
This wisdom from the text inscribed on the legendary stone could perhaps be the bridge we’re looking for on our path to becoming peace, bliss, and enlightenment. But how do we cultivate the inner traits necessary for this shift in consciousness without leading the life of a monk or retreating to an ashram?
According to Dr. Dugliss, the director and academic dean at New World Ayurveda, who practices Ayurvedic and internal medicine and holds a master’s degree in clinical and counseling psychology, there is a “householder path” to spiritual life—a more practical and obtainable route for most of us.
He says the householder route is almost the complete opposite of the ascetic path in that it’s based on fulfillment, not release, of personal connections to family and society. The householder path focuses on building the qualities of the heart and cultivation of the consciousness that is the foundation of our evolution, our growth, and, ultimately, our health.
But what are the steps we need to take on the path? What are the means to achieve the transition?
We may not need to retire to an ashram or retreat from society, but I believe we do need to get our heads out of the mainstream propaganda we’ve been marinating in for most of our lives. To turn away from the voices that dictate obedience to outside sources and discredit our natural inclination to seek guidance from within ourselves.
Many people have been so conditioned to look to outside authorities for guidance that they’ve learned to mistrust their own instincts for their personal best choices. That can explain the unhappiness and discontent pervading their lives, which often is the result of career and life partner decisions they’ve made to conform to a societal stereotype rather than satisfy their heartfelt inclinations.
Other times, the sense of dissatisfaction or unhappiness is thrust upon us in the forms of disease, trauma, or grief over loss.
Anytime you view yourself as a victim—whether of self-imposed or outside forces—you close the door to healing and growth. If you want to move forward on the path to enlightenment, you must first take back your power.
As within, so without. Feeling you have no control does not foster confidence. Making yourself responsible for everything that happens gives you control over your condition, regardless of circumstance. The story of Viktor Frankl’s triumph over the deplorable and dehumanizing conditions he was subjected to in a Nazi concentration camp and described in Man’s Search for Meaning is testament to the inner strength humans possess.
Most of us will never experience situations like Frankl’s extreme deprivation. Or the horrific conditions under which many people are living today in war-torn and deprived areas. However, we all experience challenging circumstances in our lifetimes.
If you could imagine that your soul has chosen the stretch of rocky path for you as a tool for growth instead of a cross to bear, how would it change your life?
Would you look for blame or solution?
What difference could it make if you asked, “What can I learn from this?” instead of, “Why is this happening to me?”
Looking at your situation from your soul’s “You’re here to grow” perspective, could you feel compassion and forgiveness instead of anger, resentment, or guilt?
Easier to say than do, most definitely. However, if we don’t change as individuals, how can we expect that the world will collectively? The world is us.
As children, and even as adults, someone at some time has said to you, “Stop being so self-centered. It’s not all about you.” (Ever notice that this statement is usually made in response to you not wanting what they want? Hmm.)
The truth is, it IS about you. And me. And our siblings and children. It’s about each and every one of us. We are powerful beings affecting Planet Earth with every thought, word, and action.
Energy flow is palpable and effectual. Quantum physics tells us that the gentle flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a rippling effect on the waves of an ocean across the world.
A vast number of scientific studies confirm the effect of emotional energy on the wellbeing of living things. Whether directed at water, plants, or people, words of love and approval promote joy, healing, and growth. Anger, rage, and criticism produce the opposite. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the giving or receiving end…the result is the same.
As such, don’t we have a responsibility (beyond our desire) to pursue avenues that foster the conditions that give rise to helpful conditions for all?
If you’re reading this newsletter, it’s likely you are already on the path. Perhaps you’re on a bumpy stretch right now. Even if you’re fortunate to be enjoying a smooth ride personally, a look into the other lanes indicates that some your fellow travelers are experiencing difficulty. Or perhaps you see caution signs indicating disruption and delays ahead.
Do you have the tools and resources to help others or to sustain yourself during the difficult times? Do you meditate, journal, spend time in nature, enjoy physical activity? Do you have a supportive community of friends or family?
These are some of the necessary items you need to acquire en route to becoming the change you wish to see. The most effective tool you need to develop to survive and thrive under any conditions is resilience—being able to take that soul perspective, weather the inevitable storms, and grow from the experience.
Yet even the most well-equipped travelers on the path need assistance sometimes. Inner vision isn’t always clear, obstructions happen, and sometimes you make a wrong turn. That’s when the help of another seasoned traveler can guide you back on the path.
I believe we start on the path at birth—as a passenger in the vehicle of our family. Some of us take the wheel or get our own car early in life and others take longer to realize the power of being the driver. No right or wrong timing…the path accommodates all life patterns.
I started my road to independence almost 30 years ago. My personal journey has taken me through loss of a parent at age 11, living with a stepparent’s disapproval during my adolescence and teen years, my own marriage and divorce, single parenthood, bankruptcy, a second marriage, the loss of all my immediate family, and my beloved husband’s death at the height of the pandemic isolation.
I don’t consider my path to be vastly different than most. The great highs balance the sometimes seemingly bottomless lows. Yet I can honestly say that my experience of the continuous highs and lows changed significantly when I took the wheel at age 45 and began my journey of the heart in earnest.
I took classes, read books, attended workshops, and studied multiple philosophies and methods. I made many changes and adjustments to my lifestyle. And my life improved both in circumstance and experience.
Yet there’s something to be said for “timing in the market.” In the business world, this refers to gauging optimum times for investment. On a personal level, this is better described as a “destiny moment,” when your heart breaks open and you know you will never be the same again.
Such was the case for me when I lost the love of my life in November 2020 in the midst of a global crisis. All I could see, feel, and experience was grief—my own and that of the world. Yet for me, it truly was the actualization of the Leonard Cohen quote:
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
I’m approaching the three-year anniversary of my destiny moment and I’ve become ever-more grateful for that crack. I think that’s the most advantageous and necessary attitude to take to navigate the present road and the one ahead, which anyone with any vision can see is being bombarded without mercy.
The thing about the light is that in addition to illuminating the pot holes in the road, it also reveals the better, alternate route—and if we know where to look, we may not only avoid our own collision, we may find that which we were searching for all along.
What has emerged for me is the fine-tuning of my intuitive gifts. Before, I always knew they were there but other than to respect my hunches or insights, I never gave them much thought or appreciation. Now, it’s like the light coming through the cracks has supercharged my ability to see, feel, and hear the formerly unseen, unfelt, and unspoken wisdom of my soul and the universe. And I’m learning how to harness and employ those gifts to help others and guide them to do the same for themselves.
I have just completed one year of intensive study in intuitive healing and enrolled in a second year of advanced energy healing modalities.
Within the next few weeks, I’ll be unveiling an expanded list of intuitive guidance services I offer in addition to what’s currently available.
If you feel the need for a boost or assistance on your path to becoming—or want to learn how to enable and develop your own ability to harness the power of your intuition—be sure to open and read upcoming emails from me. Introductory and trial offers are on the way!
In the meantime, if you’re local or will be in the Asheville area, you can get a in-person sample with me at the Spiritual Fusions Psychic & Holistic Fair being held at Blue Ridge Community College on Saturday and Sunday, June 24–25. It promises to be a fun experience with many readers, vendors, and free lectures. I look forward to seeing you there!
Until next time… My best, Shelley