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Question: Life is almost like a tug-of-war. At one point we are averse to change, but at the other end, we love change so much. At least speaking about myself, I can say so. You don’t like change when it happens on its own, but you like to make changes to life, constantly. Why does this happen?
If I speak of myself, why am I so eager to change things, always?
Speaker: Because you want a change.
Listener 1: That is what. But why is it so?
Speaker: Because you don’t like the way things are. Nobody likes the way things are, but ours’ is a very peculiar situation. It is as if, one is contained in a gas chamber; a gas chamber that one was born in, raised in, educated in, cultured in, conditioned in, got married in, had kids in, has friends and society in.
And the gas chamber is a ‘gas chamber’. It suffocates, poisons. And all that one can do is, rush from one corner of the chamber to the other corner. One is so used to the chamber, that one won’t go out of it. So you want a change, but that is the maximum extent of change, that you dare to have – rush from one corner of the chamber to the other corner.
There is life outside chamber, but that life is not life that has been given to you by the body or the world. That is why I ask you, “Is life beyond the little room of your thoughts?” All this incessant mental activity, this ceaseless thinking, is just to get that ‘change’, but thought will move within thought. Thought will move within mind, it has no recourse. It’s a poor thing; it’s a limited thing, conditioned by the tendencies of the body, and the experiences given by this world.
It will remain restless, it will remain suffering, but it will not leave the perceived security of these walls. It will say, “I will remain, within the chamber, even if I remain suffocated within the chamber.” What else can the poor thing do? It does not know of anything else. Thought will not and never tell you that there is a world outside the chamber.
Can ‘you’ know better than thought? Can ‘you’ act on faith, if not on knowledge? Obviously you do not have any knowledge of what lies outside. But if you are restless, can’t ‘you’ take that as a divine signal, that there may be, just maybe, something outside?
Listener 1: But there is fear.
Speaker: Yes of course. You have to decide which is the greater power and the greater pull for you – the power of fear which dictates the status quo, or your own great restlessness that calls you towards your nature. You have to see, which of the two wins. You have to see, which of these two, do you support.
Listener 1: Isn’t embracing change part of trying to be true to life? We hold on to change because we don’t want circumstances to run us, rather we want to run the show, as it is comfortable. Embracing change itself is like; you are listening to the call of life which is taking you ahead.
Speaker: Embracing change in what sense? Things are changing every moment. What do you mean by ‘embracing change’?
Listener 1: I can explain by my taking my example. For example, you like to do something, you have done it for some time, but you don’t want to excel in it, in the sense that you don’t want to reach at the helm of it. You have understood the skills, the tricks, of the trade, and you are fine with it. You wanted to reach somewhere, you have reached. You have understood the whole game. That’s it.
Now I want something new in my life. There is something more which is calling me. Probably, I wanted to do it always, but I never did it because there were other influences that made me do other things. And now doing this new thing I feel that – “I was always meant for that,” and I find myself slowly drifting towards it. But there are other factors like ‘age’ which do not let you just play around with things.
When people of young age come to me and say that they have done Engineering because of pressure of parents but they never wanted to do it, I tell them that they have age by their side and they should do whatever they feel like doing.
But, when it comes to me, I feel that I am telling them something which I find difficult to do myself, because I think that now I am too old to come out and do bizarre things.
Speaker: See, what happens is, that the agency that wants to bring about ‘change’ in life, is the same agency that you want to ‘change’. Who is it that wants to bring about a ‘change’ in your life? That same sense of ‘ego’.
Listener 1: No, it is not about ego anymore. It is just that I want to do whatever I could.
Speaker: If it is not that same agency, which runs life in its normal course, then tell me – why would that agency want to change only one aspect of life?
People are very keen to change jobs, or houses. Whenever people talk of ‘change’, what is the change that they mean? It is a ‘change’ in terms of the work that they do, the professional work. My question is – are we equally eager to change the other aspects of our life? Had we really wanted change, would change have not first come in my simple, direct relationships with people, in the way I live in my house, in the way I manage my kitchen, my drawing-room, my bedroom? And these are simpler changes, right? They do not even require the collaboration of others. You cannot say, “This particular change is pending, or obstructing because the situations are not favourable right now.”
My wardrobe is a mess, and I have not been able to take care of that mess since four months. What prevents me from bringing about that change? That change is very much within my reach and my control, but I do not change it, or do I? My body is in a mess, I have not been to the gym, and I have not been to the physician. My car is in a mess. My pet dog needs care. I have not spoken to so many of my friends since long. What prevents me from bringing about these changes? But I will not talk of these changes. What will I talk of? I will talk of large changes.
I will say, “I want a one-eighty degree shift in my professional career. Let’s talk about it.” Had I really been willing to change, would have I not started with change where change is so easily possible? Or would I wait for tectonic changes, something that moves and shatters the earth?
That is why I said that the agency that wants change, is the same agency that roots for continuation, and stands opposed to change. The one, who wants change, does not wait for favourable conditions. He does not talk of ‘age’ or other supporting or debilitating factors. He says, “Change is needed. I have to change, this very moment. And whatever is possible this very moment, it shall be done. Whatsoever is possible the next moment, it shall be done the next moment.” And that is how change comes, moment after moment, step by step.
But it is far easier and pleasurable to ‘plan’ for change, than to actually change, right? Planning for change, gives such great satisfaction. I feel I am benefitting both ways. First of all, I have the pleasure of being a change agent in my own eyes. I can tell myself, “I do not accept the status quo. I am a revolutionary. I want to bring about great changes.” And on the other hand, I have the hidden pleasure, of not changing anything.
So I maintain all my security, all my established sense of the world. Forget about cataclysmic changes, I will not allow even cosmetic changes. And how clever am I, I get the best of both worlds. I can talk to friends, and I can even tell myself, that “I am rooting for change.”
Listener 1: It is equally frustrating as well, Sir.
Speaker: Had it been really frustrating, then I would have done whatever I could, right now. Have you ever seen a man who is gasping for breath? Have you ever seen a man who is drowning in river? Do they ‘plan’ for a change? Do they plan for their next activity? Have you ever seen a man drowning? Have you seen the restlessness in his being?
For him, life is not about – two hours later. Whatever there is, is there, then. Call for help, throw around your limbs, try to surface. Whatever is to be done, is to be done, right now. There is no future. There is no planning.
When you really want change, then you want change with the desperation of a drowning man. You do not postpone it for the next day, and you do not postpone it for the ‘big things’ in life. You do not say, “When change comes, it must come using the royal highway.”
Remember, when it will come, it will come with urgency, with immediacy. And when it comes, it is all-pervasive. It is not just that you change your job. You also change the paintings that are there on your walls. Of course, I am not saying that just changing the paintings would suffice.
But when everything about you cries for change, how can the paintings remain the same? How can your sense of dressing, how can your choice in food, how can your manner of conversation, how can anything about you, remain the same?
So waiting for large things to change, is a very clever way, to not to change anything.
~Excerpts from a Shabd-Yoga session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: Real change begins now and does not wait for grand occasions
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