The Long Slow Transformation of Human Nature


The inevitability of change

Human nature can be like the proverbial tail of a dog. It’s easy to straighten, but, as soon as it appears to be straightened it can rapidly unfurl to it’s original position.

It’s the same with spiritual progress, at times, we can feel we are making tremendous progress, then quite unexpectedly, and for no apparent reason, we have a resurgence of pride, insecurity or whatever it might be, and much to our disappointment we feel we have returned to some starting point.

A curious thing – when things become difficult, we inevitably blame other people. Problems always seem to stem from other people. If only the rest of the world could be saints – how much easier the spiritual life would be!

But, as Sri Chinmoy says:

“I am at once a fool and a rogue when I blame others for my own misdeeds.” [1]

Yet, when we are in a good consciousness, when we are sincerely happy, we can have only good feelings towards others. If other people have difficult qualities, we remain unaffected. This is one of the great differences between struggling and doing well. The old saying a saint looks upon everyone as a saint and a thief sees only others as a thief, is very apt in the spiritual life.

Those who sincerely practise a spiritual life, a life of self-improvement, know the inherent challenges of transforming their own self – not for nothing do the Upanishads state – “The Soul cannot be won by the weakling”. Yet, the periods of struggle do not negate a disciplined life; it should only act as a spur for greater determination. When you have tasted real joy and peace of mind – to lose it seems even more unfortunate. Whatever experience we have had in the past, we can definitely regain. The challenge is in remembering the good times and possibilities and not being weighed down by temporary setbacks.

Sometimes, it feels that the same old difficulties, the same old issues, keep cropping up in different forms. We escape from one difficult person only to find the same foibles in someone else.

But, rather than seeing life as a constant barrage of difficulties, it is perhaps more helpful to see life as a constant opportunity to make different choices. No one is compelling us to choose to see the worst in other people. No one is forcing us to be miserable in the vain hope our egoistic suffering will bring us progress. We can always choose to be happy, we can choose to ignore the wild demands of the un-illumined ego. When we choose the way of the heart – the way of acceptance and listen to our soul, life does not seem such a struggle; our problems can easily dissipate just through changing the way we look on the world.

“We are our own fate-makers. To blame others for the unfavourable conditions of our lives is beneath our dignity.”

– Sri Chinmoy [2]

It is definitely easy to read about the spiritual life, it is easy to know what we should be doing, it is even fairly easy to write about it – but, to actually live the precepts and make the changes permanent in our own nature – that needs formidable patience, and tolerance of our own limitations.

But, just because the transformation of human nature is an a long and arduous journey doesn’t mean it is not worth the effort. To live only with the vital’s desires and ego’s fantasies will never bring us anything more than a fleeting glimpse of an imperfect happiness – not least for those who have seen a glimpse of the soul life.

If only we could transform human nature through writing about it! If verbal verbosity was any guide, I could be singing with the angels by now. But, sometimes, it is good to, at least, know what we should be doing – even if we repeatedly fall short.

Even the loftiest journey has to start with the smallest steps and knowing the right direction is not without importance….


picture: Tejvan, Oxfordshire, 2009


[1] (271 – 700 Wisdom Flowers by Sri Chinmoy)

[2] (253 – 700 Wisdom Flowers by Sri Chinmoy)

9 thoughts on “The Long Slow Transformation of Human Nature”

  1. An insightful one.. yet again! Yeah… I’ve been checking this space for new posts… Hope to see more posts regularly.. Tejvan..!

  2. It is a pleasure to once again find a new post from you.
    All we can do is keep taking those small steps. Sometimes it seems like we find ourselves almost back where we started, but we’ve never truly lost all our progress. We must try to keep at it, being patient with ourselves, open to new inspiration, perhaps seeking out new teachers or gently pushing ourselves to try new things so we break out of the place we feel stuck. And we keep moving forward. Step by step.
    Peace and gratitude to you.

  3. Great article.

    Transformation is definitely a slow process when seeking lasting changes and improvements. Your article hits the nail on the head so to speak and is very insightful.

    It’s been a pleasure reading it.

    Marvin Barrett

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