Sculptors can change the shape of the stone, not its structure
Sculptors often seem to do magic, transforming a stone into a magnificent statue. Still, they have limits: they can’t make sandstone to marble.
Our mind oscillates between believing that we can change things infinitely and that we can’t change them at all, especially with regard to changing our own nature and personality. We all have certain habits and traits that we would like to change. And by working at changing these, we can improve ourselves. Simultaneously, the urge to change can make us unrealistically overambitious.
A fish can learn to swim faster, but it can’t learn to fly like a bird. We easily recognize the limits of ability to change in the natural world, but not in the human world. In today’s world, we are often taught to believe that whatever is on our mind we will be able to do it, and quite often what we set our mind on is determined by externals, by what is glamorized in the society, by what we are infatuated with based on whatever the society and the culture consider as successful, and thus we strive and slave to achieve it. So for example, if a person who has practically no musical sense tries to become the next Mozart, or somebody who is good at athletics wants to become the next Olympic-gold-medal wearing athlete, those people might be very good at say mathematics or art or some other skill, but if they try to force themselves to do something that is not in their nature, then they simply make themselves miserable because of forcing themselves to work at something which they don’t really like, and miserable externally because of being unable to do what they think they should be able to be doing.
The Bhagavad-gita (3.35) states that we all have our natures, and it is best that we learn to work in harmony with our nature. To the extent we learn to see our life situation as one of having the capacity to change the shape of the stone, but not its structure. The extent we can find the balance between thinking that we can change everything, and thinking that we can change nothing – which is the extreme to which we often gravitate on being frustrated at being unable to change things, but by recognizing that we are like sculptors for ourselves, and that we have some things in our control but not everything – we can learn to accept unchangeable aspects of our nature, and we can change on the changeable aspects. Rather than trying to aim for some success based on some external definition of success, we can focus on striving to succeed based on our own standards, based on what we feel internally inspired and equipped to do, and thus move towards a success that is both likely to lead to external achievement and internal fulfilment, and to be able to know what we can do and what we can’t do, what we can change and what we can’t change.
We need to accept what we are as God’s arrangement and we need to connect to Krishna through the process of bhakti which firstly brings us to the mode of goodness, where we can see things better and it also gives us access to guidance form Krishna from within, both of which help us to understand the difference between the changeable and the unchangeable and thus work to shape the stone and not change the structure of the stone.
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