Here is a question that has the wise arguing: “Change the world or change yourself?”

The materialists deride the “spiritual mindfulness brigade” for closing itself off to meditate when the world is burning – going extinct even. And the brigade counters (they are normally not the ones to start the argument) that nothing is permanent and that change starts from within.

Here, we can add some thoughts:

  • As within, so without.
  • You can never change anybody but yourself.
  • Throw away? There is no “away”. (Where is this “away”?)
  • Everything is in constant flux and change, always. (Anitcha, as we say at the end of a Vipassana meditation sitting. Change.)

Personally, I feel that the inner and the outer worlds are completely connected. Our inner climate is reflected on the outside (actually, inner and outer are one, inseparable, not even merely connected). Change the world or change yourself? I say change both; they might be one and the same.

And is it not human greed (ego) that has left us with issues such as climate change, poverty, war, and so on? With this even the scientists must agree. So for an end to all of the listed (climate change, poverty, war and so on) to end we need to tackle human greed, which can be traced back to “ego”.

Speaking of scientists, I also see no distinction between spirituality and science. Both are dealing with ways to understand and describe nature, but neither is nature. This links to ego and the extinguishing of ego. We ARE nature, but we have “things” like ego veiling our true nature.

Most people haven’t quite realised (yet) that what we take to be “reality” is but the shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave, and that in order to really change, to develop a different way of seeing – not only the shadows – to see the truth of what really IS, we need to develop a different way of being.

What does this consist of? It is a being that doesn’t see itself as separate from everything else. And this must be good news for a thriving planet earth, right? There are many ways to express this, but one expert is Rumi:

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

The inner change work boils down to removing the veils of conditioning (and the word apocalypse means ‘unveil’) and to free ourselves from ego. Ego is like a bundle of self images, nothing but false ideas of who I am. These ideas tend to make me “fend for myself”, likely harming others and the planet in the process.

If you’re a spiritual mindfulness brigade bashing materialist-sceptic and this text didn’t convince you that it makes sense to work on ourselves before we work to “save the world”, I wish you well. And I continue on my quest to know (and thereby change what is changeable within) myself. Also, when I set out to save the world (as I do!) I do so brimming with contentment, gratitude, goodwill and joy, knowing that also pain is there to show me the way!


by Claudia Roth, HEALING SUMMIT Co-Founder