Just as our mental and physical energies are always moving between states of expansion and contraction, or activity and rest, the world around us, and in fact the whole universe, is doing the same. Everything changes. In every moment, everything is changing in some way. I like the line from the movie, Phenomenon, where the dying protagonist says, “Everything is on its way to somewhere.” It’s a blessing that we don’t usually notice this, or life would seem unstable. When we are ill, we are particularly sensitive and change is even more difficult to handle. A change in medical routine or our environment, or in a blood test result, can seem like a catastrophe. When we are doing our best to manage our emotions and stay as healthy as possible, change can feel threatening.
To keep ourselves comfortable, we need an open attitude about change. We need to accept that it happens and may be beyond our control. The solution is to reach deep into the core of our being, the place of peace that is untouched by change, and rest into its spaciousness. From here, whatever happens externally will not be experienced as a threat. This doesn’t mean that we become passive; to the contrary, by being fluid with change and coming from our essence we are better equipped to clearly make decisions and ask for what we need. It also helps us accept that death is natural, and that we too, will be experiencing a mystical transformation from form to non-form.
There is a Zen story that epitomizes someone who is fluid with change. It goes like this.
Once there was a wise old monk who lived alone in a little house on the side of a mountain. People came to him for healing and advice about problems in their lives. He was well respected by the villagers.
An irate man showed up one day with his daughter, who was carrying a baby. The girl falsely accused the monk of getting her pregnant. The angry father told the monk he was responsible for raising the child. The monk replied only, “Ah, so.” He accepted the child and raised her as his own, teaching her meditation and the healing arts. His home was filled with the joy and love between them.
Years later, the mother came back and demanded that her child return to live with her in order to work in the fields. The monk looked into the eyes of the child with love, giving her courage and hope to carry on. Then he turned to the mother, bowed, and said, “Ah, so.”
You may think the monk was too passive and should have stood up for himself. We certainly can have compassion for his sacrifice in taking on the responsibility of a baby, and again when the child he came to love was wrenched from his life. The point of the story is that it’s possible to adjust to any change, no matter how difficult, if we are connected to our inner center that is changeless and flows with the life around us.
© Through the Dark Forest: transforming your life in the face of death. Pg. 126-128