CHANGE YOURSELF CHANGE THE WORLDBy
We Change the World by Changing Ourselves
To change the world, we must begin by changing ourselves.
Changing ourselves changes the world; to the extent we change ourselves the universe is changed, because we are part of it all.
The whole fabric of humanity is changed, to the extent we change ourselves.
The law of radiation and attraction states that vibrations we send out affects others; and the vibrations of others affect us.
It is impossible to ignore these vibrations.
Think of it this way: If you pee in the ocean, the entire ocean is changed—one moment it is an ocean without your pee in it, the next moment it is an ocean with your pee in it.
If you must share it with others, I don’t think it’s a good idea to test this theory in a swimming pool.
But “Why?” you might ask, would I want to change myself if I’m comfortable with the way I am. This is a fair question.
A fulfilling life involves the process of taking many small steps on the path towards perfection.
Perfection is a static state in which nothing more needs to be done.
Maybe after death we will reach a static state of perfection, but for as long as we breathe, the journey towards perfection will never end.
Like the journey of a musician whose lifetime is spent studying, listening, and practicing to improve the music within, when we travel along the path towards perfection, our efforts will reward us with a life filled with Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity.
The process itself is fulfilling.
Changing Our Self
When toxic emotions bring us unhappiness, we can well modulate them to bring us a satisfying measure of peace and happiness.
Millions of years of evolutionary forces have programmed us to self-program ourselves; now we have means to somewhat determine our measure of happiness.
We are able to modify the programs that make us red in tooth and claw.
We can become instruments of peace instead of war, love instead of hate, comfort instead of injury, hope instead of despair, and joy instead of sorrow.
Temperament might nudge us, but what we will be is mainly for us to say.
We can cheat or we can be honest; we can be cruel or we can be kind; we can be greedy or we can be generous—we have some say in these matters of morality.
Our thoughts and actions significantly change us; each choice we make etches itself, atom by atom, into our brain.
Changing our Brain
Changing ourselves involves modifying behavior by changing the wiring of our brain.
At one time the scientific community widely believed we are stuck for life with the brain we were born with.
However recent discoveries reveal that our thoughts and actions, atom by atom, etch new pathways, new neural connections, new filaments into our brains.
Almost incredibly, we become what we think and do.
It is now known that our brain is highly programmable; and the programming starts in the mother’s womb.
The music the mother hears, the things she thinks about, her emotions, what she eats—all have an effect on her child’s brain.
After our birth, our thoughts, observations, activities, and experiences, atom by atom etch their reality into our brain.
Learning means forming new lines of communications, new filaments, which connects the various parts of our brain.
I become what I think and what I do.
Thinking stimulates my neurons and causes them to create new filaments and connecting points associated with the thought.
Thinking also causes neurons to fire faster.
The thought deepens and broadens the communication channel associated with it.
The deepened and broadened channel makes it easier to respond in a certain pattern.
If we constantly think about guns and physical violence, our brains develop a channel, atom by atom, for thinking in violent terms, and we are priming our body to respond in violent ways.
In other words, we become more violent because we think about violence.
We also become more trustful because we think about trust, more authentic because we think about authenticity, and more compassionate because we think about compassion.
The environment can alter the way our brain controls our behavior.
Nonviolent rats became uber vicious after they watched a rat in an adjoining cage rip the head off a mouse and eat it.
By extrapolation, researchers have concluded that broadcasting stomach churning violence on television inclines us towards violence.
A continuous diet of vicious propaganda induced Serbs, Croats, and Muslims to run amuck and massacre every man, woman and child that got in the way of their horrific ethnic cleansing.
Overcoming Genetic Defects
A genetic defect can result in a propensity for certain behavior.
A predisposition for certain behavior arises when enough genetic defects so weaken the brain’s ability to process chemicals properly that a sufficiently stressful situation will cause the brain to misfire.
Beginning as electrical storms in the emotional brain, uncontrollable outbursts of temper flood the brain and the rest of the body with harmful chemicals and hormones.
The brain has more potential pathways than there are stars in the sky so insight, discipline, and medication can usually enable the brain to work around defective genes.
Brain’s Moral Component
At some magical point, a line of primates developed a brain that had fundamentally changed in quality.
When humans appeared out of the mist of time, they could invent things, create pictures, music, poems; they could sing and dance, and they had a spiritual component that could preserve its integrity, even at the expense of the organism.
The human brain is more than a hard-wired computer that serves to keep the organism alive.
For example, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, unsung Germans in Nazi Germany helped Jews hide and escape.
The human brain can explore the nature of moral values.
Before acting, I can ask myself, “can I?” and, more importantly, “should I?”
I can make choices, and assume responsibility for their consequences.
I can explore the universe and trace the arc of my emergence from primordial energy and my return to it. (God has many names which people fight over, so I’ll use the somewhat scientific sounding name “primordial energy” and let others use whatever name they prefer. It’s all the same unnamable “I am who am.”).
I can reflect on the nature of primordial energy.
In short, the brain is headed down a spiritual path.
Ancient wisdom tells us that when we come to a fork in the road, and one road leads to pleasure and the other to joy, the wise man will take the road that leads to joy; but no one can teach us what things bring us joy.
The things that bring us joy are nestled deep within us.
When we survey our inner realm, we discover for ourselves the toxic emotions that bring us pain and sorrow; and we also find the glorious things that refresh our souls with joy and delight—Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity.
Evolution produced genetic programs that enable us to reflect.
When we reflect, an aspect of ourselves steps apart from us, looks within our mind and heart, and observes ourselves thinking, judging, and acting.
No outside agency can compel us to reflect; it must be done freely or not at all.
The ability to reflect is what enables us to modify our behavior.
We are free to live a superficial existence of acting and reacting, making deals, making love, buying things, dancing, and in the end asking, “Is that all there is?”
Or we can choose to reflect and discover that we are not doomed to remain red in tooth and claw forever.
We can discover how to live a fulfilling life by honestly facing our fears, anger, judgments, ethnocentrism, hate, greed, lust, shame, guilt, anxiety, and all the rest.
When we observe our inner life, we learn two critically important things: one, that toxic thoughts and emotions affect us badly; and two, that we can modulate our thoughts and emotions so they can serve us better.
Desire to Change
The first step on our journey to a more fulfilling life is a desire to change.
This desire prompts us to turn toward love and compassion like a morning glory turns its face toward the golden sun.
Contemplation of our vices and the suffering they bring us and our loved ones can be enough to create the desire to change.
Once we have the desire to change, we will incline towards compassion and abandon cruelty, we will incline towards love and abandon hate, we will strive to be authentic instead of deceitful, and we will embrace peace and reject violence.
Without the desire to change we are stuck. We cannot even step on the path that leads to happiness.
Once desire puts us on the path, four qualities will propel us along the path towards happiness.
The first is authenticity; it sets us free—free from lies, deceits, fears and anxieties.
It gives us peace of mind and improves our relationship with others.
Thinking about authenticity and being authentic develops neuron connections to support an authentic state of mind, which then makes it easier for us to be continually authentic.
The second is pure awareness; its radiance opens the window to our soul and sends our toxic thoughts and emotions scurrying away like cockroaches under a bright light.
Under the influence of pure awareness nothing obscures our view or separates us from what we observe—we are one with the universe.
When we attend to things with pure awareness, our face is relaxed, our jaw is slack, our mind is clear, peaceful, and calm, and observations flow in without our having to think or judge—we are in a state of flow.
Awareness helps us sort out conflicting thoughts and emotions that battle for an opportunity to claim our brain; and it helps us make wise decisions.
When we shine the light of pure awareness into the dark crevices of our mind, we observe ourselves—our emotions, desires and innermost thoughts—as we really are.
Awareness helps us to avoid self-deception.
If we are a habitual liar, awareness helps us recognize that we are a liar.
Without recognition of the fact that we are a liar, we are stuck—stuck with being a liar and remaining unaware that we can change.
But once we recognize that we are a liar, we can change and move on. (Sin and redemption in a biblical sense.)
When we observe with pure awareness, a friend, a foe, ourselves, a piece of broken glass, a steamy dung heap, or a rose we experience these as they really are.
But if we observe them as we expect them to be, or wish them to be, we are not observing them as they really are.
Awareness means living in the present: it means observing what is before us here and now.
When we are fully present to someone, we hear the tone of their voice, see the light in their eyes, and feel the texture of their skin, and share their pain, sorrow, joy, and happiness.
But if our mind is stuck in the past—last night, last week, or last year, or stuck in the future—will this person go out with me, will this person like me, then we are not in the present.
Instead our psyche is stressfully stretched between the past and the future and we miss the elusive joy of the moment.
Even when we have fear for the future and regrets about the past, we can remain in the present by observing our regret and our fear (which is our present condition) without censuring ourselves for having such emotions.
We are living in the present when we carefully observe our inner condition, whatever it is.
Eventually fears and anxieties start to dissipate and soothing sunshine flows in through the window of our soul.
If we are an angry person and easily explode into rage, we can decrease our inclination toward anger by observing our anger with pure awareness.
Under the radiant light of pure awareness, we can see our anger with great clarity—we can feel the blood flood into our brain as the adrenaline surges; we can take note of our raging red brain, and feel the urge to strike out.
If we quietly observe our anger and refuse to act on it, we can feel the anger begin to slip away.
If we censure ourselves for becoming angry, we can observe the censorious judgment—just observe.
If we censure ourselves for censuring ourselves, we can just observe that new censorious thought.
Eventually we will feel the psychic energy that caused us to censure ourselves start to dissipate, and eventually we will return to the state of observing only the anger with pure awareness.
This time we may note that our anger will have diminished even more.
If we continue observing our anger with pure awareness, the anger will start to melt away like a snowflake in the warm morning sun; and a program for serenity begins to etch itself, atom by atom, into our brain.
Completing Our Thoughts
If our mind is cluttered with unwelcome thoughts which keep repeating like an endless loop, it’s probably because we have not completed them.
When left unattended, toxic thoughts remain in the brain, cluttering, growing, clouding, obscuring, ricocheting, and triggering more toxic thoughts and emotions like a runaway nuclear reaction.
Confusion sets in, we cannot hear ourselves think above the noise, and if the energy level is high enough and is not discharged, it can reach a critical state that cracks the mind.
Think of homicidal jealousy, road rage, or cruel child abuse.
Suppressing or ignoring repetitive thoughts does not discharge their negative energy.
Neither does self-censure or self-flagellation or reliance on cultural or religious ideologies.
Their energy remains in the brain whirling about like an atomic cloud, sickening our body, mind, and soul.
Discharging the harmful energy of negative thoughts and emotions requires careful awareness of what is going on inside us.
We have to follow our thoughts and emotions and see how they arose, how they affect us, and where they will lead us if we act them out.
We need to stay with what is and not try to behave according to an ideology or dogma.
As an example: assume a high-school teacher is sexually aroused by an alluring 15–year–old girl and begins to think of the excitement and pleasure that could follow.
If the teacher observes the arousal process taking place and reflects on it carefully he can see it for what it is, a primeval sexual program designed to get genes passed on to the next generation.
If the teacher doesn’t censure himself for what is taking place, and even recognizes the cosmic humor in the situation, once that’s done, the sexual energy starting to build up starts to fade away.
Atom by atom, his strategy will etch itself into his brain so that as time passes his strategy will automatically operate before the arousal starts.
Acceptance does not mean that we abandon our goals and desires.
It simply means that we are not attached to them. It is the “I’ve got to, I’ve got to” impulse that clouds our vision.
Whenever we say “I’ve got to have a new car,” or “I need to keep my large, expensive house,” it is the attachment to the car and the house that brings us anxiety and fear.
When we do our best to attain our goals, and afterwards accept with a holy indifference whatever flows from our efforts without anger, fear, or attachment, we are programming ourselves for a detached attitude about life.
This leads to serenity; accepting what is programs ourselves for serenity.
When we are greedy, if we do not try to reject or suppress our greed, and we do not censure ourselves for being angry, we will observe the mind becoming progressively still, until finally it is illumined with pure awareness—observation without obscuring toxic emotions.
Compassion etches itself deep into our brain whenever our point of view changes to that of a person in pain and sorrow.
Compassion can help us reprogram ourselves in a peculiar context.
Suppose we are happily married. Yet, we might wind up in a strange bed snuggled next to a person with a come-hither smile and finally arrive home at two in the morning.
Of course our spouse is angry and we respond to the spouse’s anger by denying everything and by making acrimonious accusations of our own.
If we can change our point of view to that of our spouse, we might feel empathy and compassion while becoming aware of our partner’s hurt and vulnerability.
Compassion compels us to tell our suffering partner how deeply sorry we are for violating her trust and having caused her suffering, and to assure her that it will never happen again.
Compassion leads to a better resolution than anger and recriminations.
And as our anger is replaced by compassion, the program for compassion is etched ever more deeply into our brain.
Expanded horizons help us dissipate unwanted emotions.
While happily married, we might meet someone with a come-hither smile and find them sexually exciting; we can imagine an afternoon of sexual delights.
(You might ask why another happily married person meets a com-hither smile as a sad example. It’s simply because a come-hither smile of a third party is the starting point of a many lamentable journeys which lead to the destruction of intimate and loving relationships.)
Now back to imagining a delightful sexual encounter. Our nerves tingle with sexual excitement as we feel the surge of passion.
Without an expanded horizon and a developed sense of awareness, like being caught up in a tsunami we might be helplessly swept away by our passions.
With a developed sense of awareness and expanded vision, before the opening lines of the first act, we can see the beginning, the middle, and the end of the sexual drama unfolding.
We can observe what passion is doing to our mind and body—the molecules cascading through our system, the quickened heartbeat, the tingling sexual excitement, the inability to think clearly, and the anticipation of sexual delights.
And we can also see the trip home to the spouse that’s been betrayed and hurt, the anxiety, the lies and evasions, the loss of authenticity, the strain on the relationship, the sorrow of our spouse.
We can see where our emotions are pointing us and decide if that is where we want to go.
We can learn from our own experiences how we work and how we fit into existence.
And we can also learn from others by what we see, hear or read.
But we must ponder on these lessons for them to become our own experience, and not just information we have been exposed to.
We can read that the emotion of anger can be destructive if uncontrolled and that the way of controlling one’s anger is not to reject it, suppress it, deny it, or fight it but on the contrary to accept it, embrace it, acknowledge it, and study it.
We can read these words and even memorize them.
But the words will not significantly help us unless we experience them.
We make them our own experience by focusing all our attention on our toxic emotions, anger for example, and pondering on them.
We can observe for ourselves what anger does to our mind and body.
We can become aware of how the blood surges to the brain, how it feels swollen and tight inside the skull, how the temples throb, how the adrenaline makes us feel, how we develop an urge to lash out and strike or hurl something, and how we can lose control of our thought processes and begin to run amuck.
When we experience our anger with pure awareness, and study it as if our life depended on it, we etch new programs into our brain.
By observing and studying our anger in light of what we have seen, heard or read we make what we have seen, heard or read our own experience.
No longer will it be a case where “I heard,” or “I read,” but rather one where I know with absolute certainty what anger is, and how it affects me and what happens when I quietly observe it.
When we ponder on these things, we have made the words of others our own . . . and we can throw away the book.
A moment’s reflection reveals how our individual brain affects the collective human brain.
If our brain becomes red and angry (or greedy, or lustful, and so on), our anger generates anger in others, which in turn increases our own anger and yet again increases the toxic emotion in others until violence and wars erupt.
In a beneficial way an individual can positively influence a group.
By reprogramming ourselves with inner serenity, we reduce the anxiety level of those around us.
And when the anxiety level of those around us goes down, it becomes easier for us to deepen and broaden our own program for inner serenity.
For example, if extensive and persistent misanthropic inclinations cause us psychic pain, they can be changed to benefit ourselves and the world.
Some morning after we wake up we might find ourselves in a bad mood: we do not love our mate as we once did, or a relative, friend, or associate.
In fact, we are downright hostile towards them.
Perhaps they didn’t properly respond to our kindness, and on a subconscious level we have tallied things up and discovered that they owe us.
If they owe us just a little, then the response might be mild irritation; if they owe us a great deal, and in addition they have committed an unpardonable offense towards us, the response might be homicidal rage.
Is their anything we can do about that?
After millions of years of marching with the unknowing herd down evolution’s highway, humans veered off onto a high road with scenic turnouts.
We can pull off, quietly reflect, sort through our stuff and discard unwanted baggage.
We can share information with our fellow travelers, lend a helping hand, serenely view our inner life, and discover where we are headed.
Slowly but unmistakably we are discovering that we can modulate our emotions.
With pure crystalline awareness (one free of toxic emotions) we can look beyond the skin, flesh, and bones, beyond the atoms and molecules, beyond the subatomic particles to the essential goodness of all things.
Pure awareness collapses our boundaries which enables us to experience the Primordial Energy in all things.
Empathy, compassion and love for all beings arise out of the state of pure awareness.
Someday, maybe in ten thousand years, a phase change will take place in humanity and change it forever; and Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity will brim every heart with joy.
Every moment awareness, every moment zen
Relax in a comfortable position without any distractions.
Select an emotion that causes you distress.
Maybe it’s an emotion like rage that doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is frighteningly overwhelming.
Or maybe it’s an emotion like irritation over trivial matters that occur daily, and corrode your relationships.
With your mind’s eye see yourself in that emotional state and observe it without censure or analysis.
Observe how it affects you and those around you.
Practice awareness when you wake up in the morning.
Take the time to observe things in the soft glow of morning light.
Just observe and let what you observe flow into you without thought or judgment.
Stretch and feel the stretching.
Don’t judge your condition to be good or bad, just be aware of the stretching.
Step onto the floor with full awareness. Be aware of the sensation as you transfer your weight to your feet.
Brush your teeth, comb your hair, and wash your face or shave, all with pure awareness.
Be aware of your face; put a smile on your face.
Do not judge it; just observe it with pure awareness.
Observe your inner realm.
Observe your authenticity or lack thereof, observe the movement of your mind; what thoughts and urges are flitting about—focus on the ones that give you problems and observe where they come from, how they affect you, and allow them to melt away. Easier said than done; but it can be done! Perhaps not in a day, or month, perhaps not even in years, but with whole hearted perseverance someday it will happen.
Zen monks try to live their lives “every moment Zen” or “every moment mindfulness.”
But they live in a monastery.
If you live in a more hectic environment, tell yourself, “I can live the first five minutes of each day with pure awareness,” and etch a serenity mini-program into your brain.
Notice how you become censorious during the day.
Do you think you are too old, too fat, too tall or too short; was the coffee too hot or too cold; is the weather too gloomy?
Some judgments are necessary in our daily lives, but not many: Are the eggs done? Does this top go with this skirt? Don’t be concerned with these.
Just concern yourself with the gratuitous toxic judgments—that person sure looks like a geek; that person sure is dumb, and so on.
Each time you catch yourself making a gratuitous toxic judgment, observe the judgment and how its toxicity affects you.
Just observe the judgment until it dissipates, and continue observing with pure awareness the person or thing you previously judged.
Let serenity etch a program into your brain.
Another Mind Exercise
With your mind’s eye look at your brain.
See the outer surface, gray and convoluted, and enmeshed in a web of veins and arteries.
Look deeper and observe the neurons, interconnected by a gauzy web of gossamer filaments.
Go inside the neuron and observe the manufacturing, transportation, and utilization of chemicals, and the generation of electricity.
See and feel the electrochemical impulses cascading through your body.
Observe the way your thoughts and emotions affect your brain.
Continue observing your brain until you can see and feel its reality from the underlying subatomic level of pure energy to its convoluted gray surface.Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.