Yoga wisdom tells us that we start at the most basic level. To create change, begin with an individual. What is even more basic than a single human being? The stuff we are all made of: atoms and subatomic particles. “You are what you eat” as the saying goes. But what about our mind? Is the mind also made of atoms? Not exactly…
Physically, we may consist of atoms, but mentally we are made out of stories. To create change, we need to change the stories that our minds are made of.
What is an atom, by the way? An atom is the most basic unit of every living and non-living thing. But isn’t that just another story? … Everything is a story.
When you were born, your parents told you the story that they were told by their parents, who, in turn, were told by their own parents. This re-telling has been going on since the very beginning of humankind. Yet, who was the original storyteller?
Our teachers, parents, friends, and peers contribute to that on-going story. They give us the only description of the world they know – their perception of the world. It may not be how the world really is. We ourselves contribute to the story of the world every moment of our existence by thinking and believing in what we have been told.
The stories we tell ourselves form our social and cultural values. This means that our stories, tales, fables, anecdotes, parables, proverbs, and colloquial expressions are the backbone, the building blocks, of our society as a whole, and our modern culture on the planet Earth.
For the last few thousand years, the stories that have dominated our consciousness, in most modern cultures, are the stories of mankind’s rule over the natural world, of the sense of separateness from nature and from each other, of the value of independence (instead of inter-dependence) and of our self-gratifying pre-occupation with our ego-mind.
No matter how simple and seemingly insignificant, our stories are the real cause of many global social and cultural problems such as war and violence; fear of the natural world and separation from nature; pollution, environmental destruction, and loss of wildlife habitats; over-consumption, materialism, inequality, and poverty.
Imagine if our stories were teaching us some virtuous value, or encouraging us toward a positive action. I mean all of our stories.
Imagine re-writing these metaphors:
“Kill two birds with one stone” would be “Feed two birds with one seed.”
“It’s a dog-eat-dog world” would be “It’s a happy-dog-splashing-in-the-pool world.”
“Take as much as you can, before someone else does” would become “Take only what you need, leave the rest for others”.
If our description of the world as we know it was always based on universal love, compassion, and interconnectedness, what would the world be like?
Nonetheless, our world is the way it is for a reason. We’ve all done our part in creating it. What matters now are the stories we tell. If we want to continue seeing abundance on this beautiful planet, some of our stories have to change.
Although it would take some time and effort, we can focus on making this process a journey filled with fun, exploration, learning, and love. We need to become more aware of the existing stories and re-tell them in a more positive light. We need to learn from the older cultures that have survived modernization and from their stories, as well as from countless teachers and seekers who have taken this path of wisdom in the past. We must take time to witness life and nature, and notice the innumerable lessons all around us. We must listen closely to our own hearts as they are also our teachers and tell their own unique story.
It is, in fact, very real and possible to create change in the world that is full of love and happiness. It may be our next evolutionary step, to transform to a more spiritual way of living, with stories as the vehicle.
Let’s begin today. Create change within you.
If your day is beginning, will you keep your eyes and ears open for a positive story? What positive story can you share with others today?
If this is the end of the day, what positive story did you hear today? What moved you today in a positive way? Perhaps, it’s worth remembering, writing it down, and sharing it with others.