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You Are The Only One Who Can Change the World

By John Earle

You are the only one who can change the world into a kinder more compassionate place. It's true, as you will someday discover. When you are changing the world nobody will know. There will not be any fame or glory; not even a tiny shred of verbal acknowledgement. Once you embrace your mission, you will see how the desire for approbation is actually part of the problem. And there will not be any direct financial reward for this work either, whether you are already wealthy and want more, or you are poor and need more. No new car, no luxurious yacht, private jet, or increasing money pile and no guarantee of health care or three good meals per day. Leave the quest for money and comfort to the golden gurus whose silver tongues caress our desires and help to keep our pocketbooks lighter. Your job is more serious. You are going to change the world. You will do it alone, on your own, and no one will directly know you are doing it. Sounds a bit like Mission Impossible doesn't it? But here is the good news: it isn't impossible. You can do it, and the simple instructions which follow will not be destroyed in a poof of smoke after you have finished reading this. You will remember them.

Let's face it. Sometimes things on our beautiful blue planet seem very discouraging: the endless wars, the Grand Canyon between the 99% and the 1%, the quickly degrading environment, the ever expanding surveillance and police state, the corporate take over of the sovereignty of nations and billions of people living without decent shelter, food or health care. The list goes on. That's enough for now. If you find yourself denying that any of these problems exist, then, for you, the world does not need to change. This change work is for concerned folks of good heart, people who are not fooled by our media-distorted view of reality. If you have a strong desire to live in a kinder, more compassionate world, a world that honors the truth; if you want to discoverer the depth and beauty of life, you are in the right place. If not, that's fine, no kidding, enjoy your latte.

OK. Here is one of the things you will need to remember in your work of changing the world into a kinder, more compassionate and abundant place. Most, if not all, or our problems are man made. This is depressing, but ironically, the fact that we have created all these problems is also the good news because it means we are the ones that can change it all. And here is the big trick, the completely different approach: we have to create change at the base level, at the lowest common denominator, the individual human being. This is obviously is where you come in! You are the lowest common denominator. For the whole to change, the parts have to change, and you should know by now that you are definitely a part. The micro informs the macro. Be what you want others to be like. And don't worry about things like how many people it will take. Just worry about you. Maybe you will be the hundredth monkey!

Throughout history, we have been trying to fix our problems from the top down, forming different types of government, organizations, religions, and other groups to solve our problems and then giving away our power to leaders who, all to often, become self serving and forget us. Obviously this has not worked. The systems we have been using for centuries have never worked to create a better world. They always result in a better world for a tiny few. We just keep getting this same world, century after century, dressed up in different disguises. Not only have these practically archetypical strategies not worked, they have usually ended up causing enormous suffering! Religion springs to mind, or national governments, or radical political groups, or corporatism. However, the one thing these groups all have in common is that they are all made up of human beings. They don't exist without people. So, it seems obvious that the human beings have to change, one by one, and as more people change, the whole paradigm changes.

You may be wondering, "if this is so simple why hasn't happened?" It hasn't happened because we keep giving away our personal power. The trick is to change without giving away our power, and to do that we have to take up personal responsibility, we have to go it alone. Not that we will be alone in our work. There will be others doing the same thing, but that has no bearing, and we should never look to this fact as support our important work. The minute we look for the approbation of others, we are giving away our power to someone or something, and, pretty soon, we are right back where we started with an organization of some kind. We find ourselves allied with a group of like minded people and not long after the group ego, the "we are different" voice, manifests. The group ego falls prey to the desire to be better than, more holy than, more intelligent than, richer than, smarter than, stronger than, that has continually undermined our good intentions. Groups create separation. Once we are separate, we are right back in the same old pattern.

You may think this is so much New Age foo foo. But this is an infinitely practical path and totally doable, so stay with me. And the fact that we have to change the world all by ourselves does not mean there are no rewards. There are, and they are extraordinary. They are the same rewards the mystics and the saints extol. And they can be yours. This is the avenue.

Here is the nature of the work. You become "the lover" the saints talk about. Don't flinch or run away. You decide to open your heart as much as you can, especially when it wants to close. You intuitively know what this means. The real work is inside you. Your first step is to open your heart to yourself, to have mercy, to be kind and stop judging yourself. With awareness, listen for the voice of self judgment and, when it arises, replace it with the voice of kind understanding. Then take this mercy and kindness practice out into the world. If there is one thing I have learned in my brief stay here on the blue planet, it is that everyone wants to be loved unconditionally. Most of us have never experienced this kind of love. Everyone is hungry for this at a deep level. Love is not forceful.

You are not going to cling or overwhelm. You are going to be a compassionate container for people, quietly and unobtrusively holding the space of safety. You are going to do your very best to see the them in you, and in this way tap into the beautiful river of mercy and compassion. You are going to be kind and patient. And when you forget all this, when you don't act skillfully, you are going to have mercy for yourself and, in this way, learn to have mercy for others.

Because you are doing this work on your own, you won't be distracted by praise or approbation. Your ego will not be stroked and coddled as it would like. You will not bask in ignorant specialness. Instead, as you practice, you will experience the beauty and power of unconditional love as it flows through you and around you. Every person you meet will become an opportunity to spread kindness and good will. They will not know the work you are doing (no proselytizing), but they will feel it. You will be able to see the physical change in people as they relax and realize you are not judging them but holding them kindly. You will leave people feeling better than when you met them, and this will spread from them to others. You will travel through the world as a beacon. You will be practicing love as a subversive activity, and you will be changing the world.

John Earle is the author of Waking Up, Learning What Your Life is Trying to Teach You (from which the above article is an excerpt) and runs the site Waking Up Online. He is a spiritual teacher and counselor specializing in relationship and interpersonal communication. His clients include individuals, couples and institutions. He has produced and led numerous workshops and retreats. His personal experience of a great variety of teachers has given him a broad and inclusive spiritual perspective. A hospice volunteer for over 30 years, he and his wife Babbie recently started a hospice in Central America.
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