Q: There are people and events in life that you cannot change. Sometimes, it is easier to change the way you think about someone or something so that you may become more accepting and live in greater harmony. But is there a point where you can change yourself too much, and in the process of trying to be more accepting, find that you have compromised some of your beliefs and sometimes wonder what you stand for? If so, don’t most of your actions become re-active, so that in the name of peace and harmony, you have compromised your very being? — Alan, Florida, USA
A: Yes, you can certainly go overboard with too much of even a good thing. This is why the Buddha and sages throughout the ages have taught the Middle Way, beyond extremes. Practically speaking, you can apply this ancient, timeless wisdom principle to seeking an appropriate balance, if not simply adhering to the spiritual virtue of moderation.
Change is inevitable in life. Everything changes, yet we can remain steadfast and find harmony and centeredness amidst it all. This need not imply compromising ones heartfelt principles or losing oneself. On the other hand, there is no need to be overly protective about or too identified with your protean self. Better to cleave to and abide in your immutable essential nature or true being. I believe you can find divine connection there.
There is a spiritual magic in acceptance, as you seem to know intuitively. Accepting your mate, colleague, relative, or friend can go a long way towards changing your entire relationship with them. It is hard enough to change and transform oneself, not to mention others! If you want others to change, start by changing yourself. Then all your relationships and your entire world will change.
Mahatma Gandhi said that we must become the change we want to see in the world. This is the essence of pro-activity; and even if we are alone in this world and in our true work (which we’re not), we can know what we’re doing and why. Then we aren’t merely acting out conditioned, egoistic karmic reactivity. We instead become conduits or vessels for proactive, selfless, inexhaustible, enlightened activity.
— Lama Surya Das
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