“Be the Change you want to see in the World” – Mahatma Gandhi
This powerful quote has found its way into the mainstream over the last few years. We see it on memes, t-shirts, water-bottles and cards. It’s great to have such a positive message visible in so many ways, but it’s worth sitting and unpacking what Mahatma Gandhi was really saying so we don’t lose the power of the message.
Because this quote is so important for these times that we are living in.
“Be the Change” statement is actually paraphrased from published work released by Gandhi in 1913. The full version actually goes much deeper into the spiritual physics on how change can be realized through inner work:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
In our foundational course of Level 1, we talk about the concept of “combing the mirror”. We use a playful example, stating that if you want to change your hair colour, you don’t apply the hair-dye to the mirror, that would only create a mess! Instead, you place the dye on your hair, the actual source of what you want to change.
If we want to effect change outside ourselves, if you are frustrated with the world or your circumstances, projecting your frustrations and angst outside yourself will only go so far. And it can also be quite tiring.
A simple example would be: you have a concern about plastic pollution in the environment. In order to “be the change”, you work to buy less plastic and be sure to recycle the plastic you use appropriately.
But this gets to be more complicated when we are looking at the evolution of our mind and emotions. What if you are frustrated with the world or people in your life for being so selfish? In order to “be the change”, does that mean you commit yourself to only to caring for others?
That is certainly a step, but in order to see deeper change, you must look closer in the mirror. Selfishness is typically the result of a scarcity mindset, meaning, the belief that there is not enough to go around. When you are selfish, you only think of yourself, because you are in a survival frame of mind. If you focus all your emotional energy on others in order to try and change the selfish behaviour, will that solve the problem? Or will it just create lack in you?
Consider: in order to “be the change”, you must fill your cup, meaning, you must love yourself!
It’s amazing, but the cure for selfishness is to care for your Self-First. Rather than hoarding love and resources, you fill yourself up from a loving place, then it’s easy to share and sets a sustainable example for others to follow.
“Be the change” demands that we do the work and look deeper into the mirror to see where our inner-leadership is needed. It can be uncomfortable to challenge our old belief systems, but if we want the world to change, we’ve got to dig in and find our own transformation. As Gandhi says, we need not wait to see what others do, find your power today to see what you can make better for you and for the world at large.