What would Buddha do about changing other people?
Do not examine the limitations of others. Examine how you can change your own.
So brief and so powerful, this is a lightning strike of wisdom. It sure lights me up, anyway. We never get anywhere dwelling on changing others, yet we indulge in it all the time. It's our excuse for not changing ourselves. This is why the most annoying limitations of other people just happen to be exactly the ones we have too.
When I teach college classes, I must examine the limitations of my students. In doing so, I try to teach them to do this themselves. If I fail them (sometimes literally), I have failed myself. Looking briefly at their limitations, I see deeply into my own. Even when we must attend to others' limitations, we learn most when we turn the examination to ours. Changing ourselves is not only the best way to help ourselves, it is the best way to help others.
Excerpted from "What Would Buddha Do?" by Franz Metcalf, with permission from Ulysses Press.
Franz Aubrey Metcalf, co-author of Buddhist Spirituality, works with the Forge Institute for Spirituality and Social Change and teaches college in Los Angeles. As Franz tells it, his Buddhism has not taken him to Nirvana but it did help him reach the top of California's 13,000-foot Mt. Whitney.