Before changing the world, you must look inside to contemplate where your inner world needs attention. So many of us want desperately to change the world, to reshape it in some way so that there would be a better life for all. Yet our efforts to mold and fashion the world around us should be regarded with caution and humility. To take the world like clay and try to make it something of our own smacks of hubris and of playing God, for we don’t know what the life would look like if all of the world’s wounds were healed. We think we know better, but we cannot possibly understand the ramifications of all the changes we would make, based on our limited perspective. More likely than not, we would simply recreate the same problems in new forms, as we have done for millennia, because we cannot step outside the structures of our mind. For that reason, all too often, such efforts at change lead to frustration and bitterness, as the world around us refuses our pleas to be made into something new or better or at least different.
Instead, we must first turn inward, because in truth, our external experience of the world is a reflection of internal life. The world as you experience it is a mirror of what’s happening inside you. Where you see fear, anger, outrage, corruption, it is because those are part of your own consciousness. When you work to release those aspects of your own life, the world outside shifts. The fear and anger and outrage become something else—a symptom of something else—and you face them with a sense of equanimity, and an awareness of their root causes. Because you are now different, life becomes different, even if on the surface it resembles the same.
When you do inner work and begin to let go of the past, forgive old grievances and become grateful for what you have, you realize that your outer work was so often actually in service of healing some part of yourself: you wanted the world to change to accommodate you and your wish to belong. All those efforts to reshape the world were really in search of a balm for your own heart. Only then can your actions have any meaningful role in helping others to realize that they too need to undertake their own inner work. From that shared enterprise a different world will spring, one that you cannot anticipate or plan or map out in advance. It will unfold like the bud that springs from the earth and opens to the sunlight, in its own time, in its own way.