Nearly thirty years ago a member of Ananda, Dr. Peter Van Houten, started a medical clinic, which has grown over the years to now serve over 5,000 people. People coming to the clinic often hope for a quick fix, a shot or pill to make them well or at least ease their symptoms. The clinic is in a relatively poor rural area and many of the patients smoke, drink, and use drugs. Dr. Peter knows that he will see these same patients again. And again. And again.
Spiritual teachers and counselors face variations on the same theme. Rather than physical health, people are generally seeking help with relationships, work issues, or life directions. When dealing with these issues people ask, sometimes obliquely, for approaches on how to get their partners or co-workers to change their conduct and be more harmonious. Until they ask for insights about their own behavior, however, it is likely that they, too, will return again and again.
Both of these groups suffer from the same fundamental mistake (which is the basic delusion of maya) that makes them think that happiness can be obtained by changing something outside themselves. People with habitual behavioral problems rarely ask the two most important questions.
The first question is: What do I need to change in myself? It is not easy to get people to see that their outer life is a projection of their inner consciousness. And yet, as long as their consciousness stays the same, they will magnetically attract the same issues and karmic patterns again and again. A statement that has been attributed to Einstein is, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”
Many people develop strong defenses to avoid looking at their own part in their chronic issues. Others feel guilty or have low self-esteem, but this doesn’t help either. It is better not to say, “I am bad,” but rather to say, “I have some patterns that need to change.”
The second vital question is: How can I raise my consciousness?
Healing can truly begin only when one not only accepts the need to change but also asks what changes are needed. It is usually better to look for directional changes rather than specific ones. That is, think first of how to change your energy patterns and only secondarily of the specific form the resulting changes will take. A dieter should think of how to change eating behaviors rather than just modify specific foods. Once we realize that outer circumstances and behaviors are created by inner thoughts, we are on the right track.
Paramhansa Yogananda made a very important statement about changing ignorant behavior. “Sin,” he said, “is not like dynamite, which you can explode from a distance without harm to yourself. It has to be defused within your own soul.” When we still our energy and uplift our minds, hearts, and souls by meditation, service, and good environment our problems will begin to evaporate.
In divine friendship,