Change Starts from Within


When asked how to spread Vedanta, Swami Parthasarathy quoted the words that are said to be written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey in London, England.

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But, it too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.

This brings to mind another quote by Swami Rama Tirtha who writes,

“Life grows from the seed, from within and not from without. Here is a living seed, the small embryo; life is there, it will grow from within, it will take a little time, but it will be real life and no sham.”

With this response, the teacher reminds us that the spiritual path starts from within oneself. Unless we reform ourselves, it is impossible to change anything outside of ourselves. When you lift your personality, you lift the whole world.

Rama Tirtha states:

‘the world is a great rigid body and your body is like one corner or one point of this table. If you catch hold of this single point, if you lift it, if you elevate it, if this single pointed be merged, the whole world will be drawn, the whole world will be moved, because the whole world is like a rigid, solid body as the table.’

While it is absolutely essential to strive to better the world, the understanding is that improving the world necessitates improving ourselves first.

The more we depend upon outside forms, agencies, and organizations to change the world, the less self sufficient we become. Our obligation as seekers is to learn to depend upon our Self within, our inherent power. When we are independent and the transformation is within, an authentic freedom is gained, that which is unaffected by external circumstances. We must learn to heal ourselves first. "Physician, heal thyself."

The moment we turn our attention outward to reform the impoverished world, we are placing the world as separate from ourselves. Also, we are asserting our egocentric stance, that we are some great reformer who can help the poor world. When we heal our own impoverished state, become rich in spirit within, then automatically we help and uplift others.

“Why should the world be so poor as to ask help of you?” Vedanta asks us.

Start within, find the abundance within and naturally the world will reciprocate. The moment you are full, energy, life, and power will flow from you. The way to spread Vedanta is to live Vedanta, find the Divinity within yourself, and you will give Divinity to the world.

It is the ego that asserts the claim that ‘I must help.’ Vedanta instructs us to be like the sun. The sun gives all life, all energy to the world with no egoism, so selfish aggrandizement. The sun becomes all light, all energy, all activity, and effervesces that unto all beings, merely by being it. The sun makes no great proclamation of its light, no Facebook post. The sun gives life to the earth taking no credit. The sun lives the life within itself, and thus gives light to all. When we live the Atman within us, we become the giver of the light to the entire world.

“Care only to produce honey within your hearts, bring forth the full grown roses of knowledge within you, then all will come, you will need nothing, you will want nothing.” - Rama Tirtha