When Is It Right To Change The External Circumstances?

by James


I have come to loathe my job even though others would say I have nothing to complain about. I show the symptoms of burnout and the urge to leave is enormous and growing. I get a lot of unpleasant physical sensations whenever I think about work. I try hard to stay in the present moment, letting such thoughts and sensations go without identifying with them but they seem to be getting more frequent and stronger.  

I know that present moment awareness works in as much as when you get it right you can endure almost any external situation. If I do succeed in always living fully in the present moment I would never leave the job! Part of me says I should stay in the job regardless but sometimes it is right to make changes to external circumstances. The dilemma is that if you are always living fully in the present moment, accepting whatever is, how can you ever know when it really is the right thing to do to move on?  


Good question, well put.

If you are fully present, accepting what is (within and without), you will have a deeper feeling that you “know” what needs to be done. Or action is even more spontaneous, and you notice yourself acting or speaking with no intention or pre-planning, as if you are listening to the words coming out, or witnessing the body act by itself. Either way, it seems important that we discern what is a true, guiding feeling, and what may just be egoic resistance.

Never feel as if full acceptance of this moment means action can not be taken to change the situation. The only difference tends to be that action arises from a deeper place. Action sprouts from intuition and space, rather than from a claustrophobic personal mind. Yet, even action coming from a very personal place is not to be judged. Let it all happen.

If your arm was on fire, you could accept that it was happening, but this doesn’t mean you would let the arm burn. Perhaps you would put out the fire.

You mentioned the urge to leave is enormous and growing. Be with it fully. See where it is arising from. Be the space for it. Have no intention to even “know” what you should do. From here the urge will translate into action if it is coming from a “true” place, and it will command less power if it is only coming from personal resistance. It sounds to me that this feels like a deep urge, not just a mental feeling, but as if it is from your heart or from your being. If so, it is likely a driving force for external change.

The easiest way to know what to do is to give up any intention to know what to do. Don’t try to work anything out. Let everything be. Leave it to the intelligence of life itself. Then your useful feelings produce action quite naturally, and the ego stuff just fades away. If these urges are true guiding forces, then you can rest assured they know what to do. Put your personal mind aside and see what happens.

Full acceptance of this moment and its contents reduces suffering, and allows space for right action. If you remain in the job or feel as if you can not leave, then surrender will cut the suffering. The job even becomes a vehicle to burn away inner suffering tendencies. You become even less dependent on externals. If you do end up leaving, there will likely be less mental deliberation about it, less mental decision-making than we are often used to. The solution (if one is required) will arise naturally when we stop searching for it or trying to grasp it.

So through presence, your decision-making is less personal, more intuitive. You are not so bound by the ideas of “should” or “shouldn’t”, nor are you so fearful of future happenings. You do not make decisions based on past conditioning, it is more as if decisions are made for you when needed. The right feeling, intention or action will emerge when required.

What the mind may do is step in to search for a solution to “should I stay or leave”. Then it turns the whole thing into a problem which demands an answer. Don’t force anything.  

If a Zen master was sitting in a hall, and a hundred chatting people walked in, even though at his core he is unaffected, energetically he may feel to leave, so he finds himself walking out. External changes can happen when your outer circumstances no longer reflect your inner climate. As you become more alert and conscious, the outer life can change with it, without any real personal effort.

Hope that has helped somehow. Thanks for your question. For anything else feel free to comment below.



Comments for When Is It Right To Change The External Circumstances?

(from previous website)

Jan 12, 2014
Good advice much appreciated. 
by: James

Thank you Adam very much for taking the time to put together this comprehensive response. What you say makes good sense and somehow already takes some of the pressure off. I will adopt the approach you suggest. Thanks again for your help. 

Jan 23, 2014
when is it right to change 
by: Satya

I liked your answer and I need one more hand on this. 
One point I was worrying about the job loss, then after years, I felt neutral, now taking it as an opportunity with severance pay. In this case, mind is toggling between enjoying the job and thinking about current stagnant position. Seems both are right, I think that if I try I might get a new job. Should I force myself in one or toggling is best natural course to reach next?

Jan 23, 2014
by: Adam - InnerPeaceNow.com

Hi Satya, 

So if I understand you correctly – you do not mind if you lose your current job, but feel torn between staying at your current job which you enjoy, and pursuing another job that may have more opportunities for progression in the business. 

I would not say to force yourself to do anything. Forget what you have been told about what you should or should not do. Don’t make a decision based on “shoulds” or “should not’s”. If you enjoy your job, be grateful for this, many people do not. Be clear whether the “stagnant position” is not just an idea created by your mind. We can often have such an ambitious mentality, that we can miss out on present enjoyment. I would say do not base your decision on the fact that we are constantly told to be “climbing up the ladder”, so should always seek new opportunities. Be grateful, to begin with, that you are in a job you enjoy. 

The mind loves to create problems that it claims require thinking. This may be one of them. You have a job you enjoy, but a voice in the head finds something wrong, such as “yeh, but where is it going? Surely I should be progressing”. Be aware that any voice in the head is not you. You are that which hears the voice.  

Clearly you are already aware that the mind is toggling. Are you the mind? Are you toggling? Don’t let the mind make your problems and then request your attention for its own solution. Be alert to see of this is just a mental fabrication. 

Be open, open to life. If you do not try to form a solution or give any energy to this “dilemma”, then natural right action will take place. Don’t be in a hurry. Be quiet. Give yourself some space internally, and don’t take the mental content seriously. Either you will find yourself looking for another job because you feel that is what to do, or you will continue just enjoying your present job. 

If the internal toggling continues, let it happen, but witness it without interfering. Do not identify with your thoughts. From here any action needed will naturally arise, from the intelligence that springs from awareness instead of personal thinking. 

Hope that helps. 


Jan 25, 2014
protecting the "I or me" is the key to everything 
by: Satya

Wow!, you have said enough for my life time. I will read this whenever I need the same. 

Seems protecting the "I or me" is the key to everything. Easily gets biased, once it is biased then all energy will be spent in that direction and even I don't find at least one good stuff, thought level it comes, but at vibration level it doesn't match to get into neutral. At least one good thing is that I could able to notice it. 

"If you do not try to form a solution or give any energy to this “dilemma”, then natural right action will take place" 

I concur with you one hundred percent. 

Thanks again

Feb 28, 2014
when to make change external circumstances 
by: Anonymous

Thank you for being elaborative on the question of when to or not make a change to the external circumstancesI am learning to be in the present moment so that I may be in control of my life.

Jun 30, 2014
Thank You for your insights! NEW
by: Divi

I really got a lot from your article. Thank You. 
I enjoy being with people who live in the present moment. They're either laughing, crying, or neutral. I seem to wonder or worry about the future; but I'll try to desist now. I received this communique: "Apparently some objectives can easily be achieved. For this, the external circumstances have to match." I wasn't quite sure what that meant. How can I get my external circumstances to match my wants; to be where I want, and need to be; to be more conducive to my desires; and work it so that I can be 'in' success. I already have the ideas in my mind. Although I am not my mind; it is a tool to help me survive and I am an observer of my mind. I've noticed that whenever I make a decision and turn it over to the universe, the results are always better than I expected. Good old universe!

Jul 01, 2014
Divi NEW
by: Adam - InnerPeaceNow.com

Hi Divi, 

Not sure what you mean by the communiqué, where it came from etc. You say you are not your mind, but your question seems to have come from your mind. Be here. You are here. You are not going to go anywhere, you are always here. "Where you need to be" and "where you want to be" are only concepts, and if you make where you need to be more important than where you are now, then whatever steps you take towards "success" will not be very successful, since you will be avoiding the Now, wishing you were somewhere else. End the conflict with the Now. Want to be where you are, rather than wanting to be somewhere else. If you no longer seek to escape this moment, then your mind becomes receptive to a deeper, more powerful creativity, and you will also be happier. The most fruitful actions are usually those that come from spontaneity, from presence, from intuition or inspiration. These kind of acts are not done as a means to an end. They have a power of their own. They come from the creative nature of the universe, rather than from the purely personal mind. If you are empty, spontaneous creativity can move in, since conditioning is no longer taking up the room. Just be empty. 

Desires are fine in themselves, but when they dominate you, they can make you feel lacking, and they mask what you already have, what you can already be grateful for. Don't overlook all that you may already have. 

I find your question difficult to answer effectively, since I can not tell you how to get the external Life to match your wants. Everyone is trying to do this, and no one is happy for long. Everything changes, even desires themselves are unstable and often misleading. These words tend to point you to being open to what the universe wants, rather than you trying to get it to do what you want. Then everything takes care of itself. Action takes on a greater power, but it becomes less personal. The results are not really your business, and you already feel you have enough, which tends to generate even more in one's Life. 

I have no idea what kind of life situation you are in, but rather than trying to work anything out, or trying to get what you want, just give everything over to the universe. Whatever is a creative desire of the universe will take care of itself, through you, and you need not worry about a thing. We can hear a lot about "manifesting your desires", which seems to be just a creative way the Universe works. The only thing that seems to get in the way is the personal mind that adds extra false desires and sufferings. Don't even treat them as if they are your desires that you need to make happen. Where did they come from? Did you choose them before you were aware of them, or were you aware of them and then called them "yours". 

I must say i have felt some discomfort whilst writing this response, since I feel your question came from the mind pretending that it is beyond the mind. So this answer may not be helpful. Still, I wish you all the best, and thanks for getting in touch. 


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