Good day, team,
This week’s challenge comes from the I-Ching, or “Book of Changes,” which is an ancient (over 5,000 years old) Chinese text of philosophy and divination. It is organized in hexagrams; here is hexagram 49-KO.
“No revolution in outer things is possible without prior revolution in one’s inner way of being. Whatever change you aspire to in your affairs must be preceded by a change in heart, an active deepening and strengthening of your resolve to meet every event with equanimity, detachment and innocent goodwill. When this spiritual poise is achieved within, magnificent things are possible without.”
I have seen the truth of this statement in myself and others. We often make the mistake of thinking that if we could just change our external circumstances, everything would be so much better. If we just had a different job or boss, if we could just live where there’s more opportunity, have a different partner, or more affordable housing, life would not only be so much more to our liking, but we would do a better job of it.
And yet no real change occurs from the outside in, but rather, from the inside out. Connecting with and sustaining what is most true within us, listening to our conscience, and having integrity in what we do and how we do it, allows us to find the true peace and happiness we seek.
When I relocated to Portland in 1998, I had many hopes and dreams about how I would set up my life so I would be happier. But before long I realized I had brought all of my baggage from California with me, both external and internal. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered all the internal baggage I had hoped to leave behind was still right beside me!
For example, I had this notion that the only person I really knew in Portland didn’t want to be friends with me. This was based on some old events that had happened when we were both living in California previously. I still had some embarrassment about what had happened and convinced myself that because of it, I couldn’t call on her when I moved to let her know I was here and in the hope that she might want to strike up our friendship again. Much to my surprise, when I ran into her at a store downtown, she was very open and friendly and happy to hear that I had relocated. We continued to see each other and eventually talked about past events. She had moved beyond it and had forgiven herself and me. Whereas, I hauled that old baggage up to Oregon with me and had talked myself out of a perfectly good friendship because I hadn’t changed my internal relationship to it. If I wanted to move past it, I had to change my heart and my attitude so that I could let go of the old emotional baggage and be open to a new relationship with her.
Your challenge this week is to consider what revolution needs to occur in your inner way of being. Are you holding on to some inner baggage that no longer serves you? Perhaps you’re still carrying around anger or resentment about a colleague, even though the situation that caused it happened many months ago and is no longer relevant. If you find yourself reacting in the same way to a familiar situation and want to react differently, why not resolve to change how you respond in the future, and act upon that vow?
“Joy is not in things, it is in us,” wrote Charles Wagner. When we realize that external changes don’t make us happy, and instead adjust our internal state, we begin to know the secret of our true nature, which is sufficient unto itself.
Have a great week!
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