Change is the only constant. And yet, a “conscious change” of the mind and heart is rare enough to be truly inspiring.
Life and experiences add layers, forcing us to introspect, shift and change —— so long as we are intelligent enough to learn and smart enough to evolve. Else, they also exist who stand and stagnate. Though most change in looks, manner of dressing, hairstyle or even in attitude, those who undergo intrinsic changes of the heart and head are very rare. Sometimes, extremely gentle and genial people become indifferent, and some who were generous-spirited, become self-serving. Surprisingly, there have been instances of people changing from positive to negative. Is it easier to give up good and turn towards evil, rather than the other way round ?
It requires a greater effort to give up a bad habit than a good one. Because it is tougher to give up a bad habit, we admire those who bring about positive changes. Rare though these examples may be, they are admirable and inspiring. Most of the time such a shake-up happens only after a big shock or a moment of self-assessment when you look at yourself from outside, and hate what you see.
This is what happened to Emperor Asoka after the Battle of Kalinga, when amidst the mass destruction and death, he had a “soul-changing” moment that transformed him from a conqueror and destroyer to a philanthropic administrator and spiritual propagator. And, it was another similar moment, much earlier in time, that transformed murderer-dacoit Ratnakar into the celebrated Maharishi Valmiki, who wrote the epic Ramayana. The sheltered Prince Siddhartha needed his first glimpse of human suffering to give up a life of luxury and live on as a Buddha, the Enlightened One.
These people were able to wipe out their past identities, superimposing new identities so strong and edifying that we hardly remember what or who they were, except in admiration. Life gives us all choices. What we do with these, depends on our wishes and intentions and will-power. Everyone has the right to turn over a new leaf. There is a depth and profundity to someone who has redeemed himself that may not be found in the “forever saints”.
Atonement is a critical step along the way. Making up for misconduct, apologising helps redemption ——– and nobody is an “irredeemable reprobate”. The “Tall Poppy Syndrome” ensures that people pull down the redeemed, consistently, using the past to judge their present or to predict their future. Life teaches us lessons, and we would be fools not to learn and internalise them.
Attempting to change into a better self is the sign of a strong mature person. Of course, the call has to come from within to be effective and lasting.