The real transformation is a transformation of values. Transforming arrogance into humility, greed into generosity, vengeance into forgiveness, envy into compassion, hatred into love and ultimately anxiety into fulfillment and happiness. When you associate with people who naturally teach these values with their words and lives, and we learn to value these values, then this is greatness. My guru, Srila Prabhupada, used to say that a person’s greatness is in their ability to tolerate provoking situations and maintain dignity and integrity.
Whoever we are, whatever we have, storms come into our lives. In the Bible it says, if you build your house on shifting sands then the storm will make it crumble. But if you build your house on a solid foundation a storm cannot tear it down. The foundation of integrity and values is what gives us the strength to not compromise our ideals even when there is the temptation – “how much more I can get if I compromise”, or the fear – “how much I can loose if I don’t compromise”. Those values are sacred and bring the inner fulfillment that can make us strong and bring us real happiness, and give others real happiness in our family and the world. That foundation is so important.
A beautiful analogy is of a fish swimming on the surface of the river and a hawk can plunge down anytime and grab it with its claws. The hawk of fate is flying over all of us and can come down anytime. Yet when the fish is swimming deep the hawk cannot reach it. Anxiety and frustration, these things are only on the superficial platform. They only really affect us when there is not something deep within ourselves, in our values and ultimately in our love for God, which is the deepest fulfillment.
The foundation is so important. Sometimes we are concerned with the things we can see that we forget that the foundation of our lives is our connection to God, to our values and our integrity and compassion. That’s what gives us fulfillment. Therefore, we should hear about these things and be with people who inspire these ideas, that’s the beginning. So we need to put some time aside to cultivate it. In our tradition, we chant beautiful mantras, its a meditation on God’s names which awakens those inner experiences.