The most inevitable material fact of our universe is the one we have the stormiest relationship with. Either we fight it as it is appearing, or we mourn for it as it passes us by, but we are hardly ever at peace with change.
At every instant of our lives, change is guaranteed. We fight to keep it away, or work to get it here sooner because we think we know what should happen. We are certain (sometimes rightly!) that the change coming toward us will ruin or kill us. We think and hope that the right change will fix us (or them or it) once and for all.
There's the rub. Other than death, there is no "once and for all" regarding anything that is subject to change. If you take a moment now, you can ask yourself the question, "What changes?" Is there anything that does not change? Anybody, any situation, any location, any thought, any feeling, any opinion?
We may work for change in our political, social, or personal lives, and even rejoice when change appears, but all too soon we become fearful that it won't be enough or that it will disappear.
It won't be enough (nothing that is subject to change can ever be enough to truly fulfill us), and it will disappear. That's simply and starkly the nature of change.
Change is inevitable and yet even the worst is often ultimately not bad news, though it can be when it arrives. There are certainly deeply destructive changes that threaten us now as individuals, as societies and as a planet. We are right to work to bring about positive change and try to defeat negative change. We just have to finally face the fact of change.
Facing the facts allows for adaptation, or as recently said in politics, "being on the right side of history." We are in the midst of huge change in our country right now, and if we keep in touch through the media, we know the upheaval and hysteria that is accompanying it.
We can recognize and empathize with the anger, driven by fear of loss, in those who are desperately trying to keep what has already happened from happening. However they may be identified by both supporters and opponents, the essence of their argument is to bring back what has already changed. We have all tried that futile strategy in one way or another.
Historically, we know that those resisting essential changes can even be successful for a while. Revolutions can revert to what they were revolting against, we know we all personally regress in our emotional behavior at times, and dark ages can follow ages of expansion. Resistance to change can succeed, but only for a while, because change is a force that will not be denied. Fighting it can lead to some counter-change, but you cannot get back what has been lost. You may even get a semblance of "restoration" for a while, but change will finally have its way.
I've recently been watching an excellent BBC series, called "Mammals." It beautifully demonstrates the inevitability of change from the perspective of evolutionary time. It shows the emergence of mammals after the utterly disastrous change for dinosaurs. Over time, the documentary shows small night-scurrying animals evolving into planet-dominating creatures of power--the primates, elephants, humans, etc.
When I compare the magnitude of a multi-ton whale beside the cow-like, land-based earlier version, the force of change and the intelligence of adaption are obvious. When I hear that most of the species that have ever existed are already extinct, I recognize the fragility of us all.
If we are willing to admit to ourselves both that change is here and change is a force that is always coming, we can--paradoxically--take a moment to be still. At least for a moment we can stop fighting what we don't like and stop clinging to what we do like, We can let ourselves be humbled by forces beyond our control.
Here is the opportunity: in a moment of stillness we can recognize that through age and experience, through trauma and healing, through successes and failures there remains within us the same wonder that was revealed in our initial recognition of being. The initial I am sense is still here, unchanged. Life itself is still here, regardless of the uncountable changes in all life forms.
When our attention returns here we are fulfilled in ourselves, and then whenever changes occur, they occur around that fulfillment.
We may still fight for what we love, and resist what we think to be destructive, but we are no longer owned by those things that come and go. We are free in the midst of all that has changed and all that will change. What an adventure!
Gangaji is offering a Couples Retreat with her husband Eli at Esalen Institue Oct 18-23. She will have a public meeting Nov 5 and weekend retreat Nov 7-8 in the SF Bay Area. She will be in Sydney, Melbourne, and Byron Bay, Australia during November and December. Additionally she is having upcoming Gangaji Foundation teleconferencing events. Read more about Gangaji's events and catalog of books and videos online.