Have you ever tried to change yourself? Tough, huh? But sometimes we have no choice. Once in a while, during a lifetime, we get a good look at what we are, and when we see what we are, we become so disturbed that a change can't be avoided.

It's actually the seeing that creates the change. It's almost as if the change takes place immediately upon that seeing, as if our eyes suddenly open and change is inevitable. Maybe our karma will continue to drag us down the same old tracks for awhile, like a heavy freight train with its brakes squealing and sparks flying, but the change is set in motion, sometimes beyond our control. Once that light bulb goes off, how can we go back to what we were? We can't, and although we might try, there is no more life left in our old ways.

This can be likened to a beggar who sees a rich man coming down the path. The rich man is to the beggar only a handout, and the beggar to the rich man only a bother. A handout and a bother; not two human beings.

And the rich man stops for a moment, he doesn't know why, and looks into the beggar's eyes. The rich man has never done this before. The beggar feels self-conscious, and asks the rich man what he wants, and the rich man says that he doesn't know. The beggar asks for money, yet the rich man continues to look into the eyes of the beggar, and the rich man feels a strange compassion for the first time in his life, and wonders why.

Years later, the rich man becomes ill, loses all of his wealth, and his family deserts him. One day, he finds himself on the same path where he met the beggar those many years ago, and now, he is nothing but a beggar himself.

A rich man comes down the path, and the beggar looks up, but the rich man looks away. He can't stand the sight of someone so disgusting. Open sores cover the beggar's body and his eyes are watery and almost closed. He wears only rags.

As the rich man passes by, the beggar pleads, "Please look at me. Please see me," but the rich man continues down the road. And as he does, the beggar remembers when he looked into the eyes of another beggar years ago, and that memory sustains him now. And suddenly, his karma is forever healed.

When we see something that affects us deeply, we change. Our hatred and our greed drain out of us, replaced by feelings we can only call compassion, kindness, and a common bond between human beings, called suffering, which spares no one. And then, we understand, in our hearts, that how we treat others is how we eventually treat ourselves - it is a universal law - it is called karma.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com