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Consider your sad condition. You are always dissatisfied with yourself, always wanting to change yourself. So, you are full of self-contempt and self-intolerance which only grows with every effort that you make to change. Thus, any change you achieve is always accompanied by inner conflict. And you suffer when you see others achieve what you have not and become what you are not.
Compare the serene and simple splendor of a rose in bloom with the tensions and restlessness of your life. The rose has a gift that you lack: It is perfectly content to be itself. It has not been programmed from birth, as you have been, to be dissatisfied with itself, so it has not the slightest urge to be anything other than it is. That is why it possesses the artless grace and absence of inner conflict that among humans is only found in little children and mystics.
Would you be tormented by jealousy and envy if, like the rose, you were content to be what you are and never aspired to what you are not? But you are driven, are you not, to be like someone else who has more knowledge, like someone else with better looks, more status and admiration, someone more successful than you. You want to become more virtuous, more loving, more meditative; you want to find God, to come closer to your ideals. Think of the sad history of your efforts at self-improvement, that either ended in disaster or succeeded only at the cost of struggle and pain. It becomes an exhausting, self-defeating process akin to driving with your brakes on. Now suppose you desisted from all efforts to change yourself, and from all self-dissatisfaction.
You might see this as giving up, but there is another way besides laborious self-pushing on the one hand and stagnant acceptance on the other. It is the way of self-understanding. This is far from easy because to understand what you are requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else. You will see this if you compare the attitude of a scientist who studies the habits of ants without the slightest desire to change them.
If what you attempt is not to change yourself but to observe yourself, to study every one of your reactions to people and things, without judgment or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be non- selective, comprehensive, never fixed on rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment. Then you will notice a marvelous thing happening within you: You will be flooded with the light of awareness; you will become transparent and transformed.
Will change occur then?
Oh, yes. In you and in your surroundings. But it will not be brought about by your cunning, restless ego that is forever competing, comparing, coercing, sermonizing, manipulating in its intolerance and its ambitions, thereby creating tension and conflict and resistance between you and your essential nature.
No, the transforming light of awareness brushes aside your scheming, self- seeking ego to give your essential nature full rein to bring about the artless, graceful, un-self-conscious wholeness untainted by inner conflict.