The Change Trap

The Monk & The Executive

We live in the most change-obsessed culture in history. We change our clothes, our hair, our body structure – and sometimes even our noses. We want to change our attitudes, our brains, our marriages – and sometimes even our chakras. We applaud those who take on herculean challenges to shed weight or gain muscle. And we proudly run ourselves on a treadmill of self-improvement every day.

But these days, I am taking a step back. And I am sitting down. Because I am seeing that constant striving to achieve that external image of perfection is bondage. And that everything I want to change about my life makes me a victim of something or someone outside. It’s shockingly big when you see that this applies to spirituality as much as consumerism.

I am learning this from my three-year-old son. Last week, he told his healer mother who was trying to help him recover from a throat infection: “Mama, I don’t want healing now!” It was such an unexpected sentence – I would never say ‘no’ to spiritual support. But he seems to see his life differently. He cannot be controlled even by spirituality because he doesn’t yet have the desire to be more peaceful than he is.

As grown ups, we think differently. We have complex strategies to be more peaceful and happy. We are hooked onto whatever promises salvation. To whoever says our life can be ‘fixed’ for a fee – from affirmation teachers to cosmetic surgeons, from financial advisors to gym instructors, from fashion designers to feng shui experts. In fact, all advertising is based on convincing us why we need to change and showing us the way.

Yes, the rings are all out there; but the hooks are in me. And the hook underlying them all is the belief that I am fundamentally wrong as I am.

What if I could take a deep breath and let go of wanting to change who I am for a while? Not wanting to permanently get rid of sadness and suffering. Not wanting to banish the trembling of anger and fear. Not wanting to perfect the ‘imperfect’ body and silence the mind. Not even wanting to conquer sexuality and unenlightenment. What if I could be fundamentally okay just for this moment?

I would probably be a lot like my 3-year-old. Not always laughing, but not scared of tears either. I would be powerful, not because I created strength, but because I was not ashamed of my weakness. And I would be very silent inside – because the mind would have so much less to do.

28 thoughts on “The Change Trap”

    1. Good idea! What a happy surprise to hear from you after so many years… Thank you for the blessings! And for everything else that happened through you for GD and me 🙂

  1. “I don’t want healing now!” – what a classic! 🙂 This is going to stay with me for a while… I’ve met one mentor of yours and now I am eager to meet your little teacher. Love

  2. I think you’d really like my post on “Courage to Change.” It’s exactly what you’re talking about in this post. I had a very good read. Thank you! : )

  3. Wow, this is exactly the message I needed to hear today. I don’t even realize half the time how much pressure I put on myself to change, to change my “negative” thoughts/feelings, to be enlightened, to grow, to be in some sort of positive state. When I read that one paragraph starting with: What if I could take a deep breath and let go of wanting to change who I am for a while? I felt my whole being sigh with relief. And your son in his wisdom knowing it wasn’t time to heal now. I think we lose so much of that natural wisdom along the journey. Thank you for this reminder.

  4. One of my favorite meditations that I first learned when starting out in meditation was one in which you focused on how perfect you are right now. I remember the monk leading the meditation mentioned “Right now you are perfect and complete just as you are, in this moment. There is no need for anything right now, no need to eat,no need to drink, no need to scratch in itch, just take in your perfection as you are right now.” That one really resonated with me as I have addiction in my blood, my whole life I have always had the feeling that I need something more, it took years to realize that I can be complete at any second I choose to be. 🙂 Beautiful post!

    1. Wow – thanks for sharing… would love to read a full post on this subject by you. It’s a beautiful meditation. I remember when I asked my teacher the definition of meditation 20 years ago, he had said : “meditation is not fighting with what is.” So simple.

  5. oh my beloved DD (demand draft) ! yesterday whosoever forgot to mention that the photograph used in the blog “the change trape” is really excellent. Bravo! whosoever.

  6. So true , we are always seeking to fill a gap as if something is missing , this seeking takes various forms but we feel that the gap is still wide open , only if we were to get that there was no gap to be filled , that we are complete as we are .. we dont need any one , any thing , any experience to fill this gap , the seeking implies a gap and that itself needs to drop .

  7. “Not always laughing, but not scared of tears either. I would be powerful, not because I created strength, but because I was not ashamed of my weakness. And I would be very silent inside – because the mind would have so much less to do.” Such blissful and hearty words!

  8. I’m so glad to have stumbled on your blog:-) Of late I’ve been thinking on the very same lines as this post. Even when we worship or hail an external entity as God or Guru..we may be indirectly denying the God or guru in us!..

  9. The line ““Mama, I don’t want healing now!”” – Never heard of anything like this which is actualy liberating. If only we can accept ourselves as we are & live a life, nobody ever can make us feel inferior.
    And the picture, OMG – worth a a billion!!
    You have a great blog, Aalif. Thx

  10. Thank you for this brilliantly refreshing read! Ironically I was just talking to a dear friend of mine about how I felt like I was having “spirituality overload” and how it was bringing me down instead of lifting me up 🙂 Much love to you and your inspiring three yr old!

  11. Lovely post – I identify with it very much. This is a realization that I come back to again and again whenever I find myself resisting what IS.

    So nice to connect with you! Thanks for following my blog – I look forward to reading more of yours!

  12. Had read this post long back! But it was stuck in my system, I would always comeback to it, when I needed some peace. Time and again, this truth calms me down. Thanks a ton for sharing it so beautifully! I truly enjoy your blogs and I am a big fan of your entire family 🙂 Way to go..

    1. Thanks Sourabh… The Change Trap is one of my favourite blog posts too. Another one that I go back to time and again is an early post called “The Fixer of Polarities”. You may like that too… Here’s the link: 🙂

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