On staying sane in times of change. Part II.
(part I here)
If there is one thing in which different philosophies, worldviews, spiritual systems, and cosmologies coincide regarding reality is that change is the only certainty in this world. Impermanence – name it in eastern philosophies, change – in other places. However you understand this, it seems that change permeates all our experience in this world. The body, mood, and thoughts change daily, sometimes per minute and even seconds. We change jobs, partners, friends, house, country, and pets. Our body decays, we get old. The nature of reality is that of change.
This understanding is important so we may learn to internally zoom out of things that, at the end of the day, will change. Wink at equanimity here. The attachment to things that change is, ultimately, the source of our suffering in life. Letting go, again. This time it´s not only about our past experiences but also about the future. Of course, it´s never about our future plans or past experiences, but emotions, attachments or “desires out of control”, and judgements about them. Once you release these burdens, you can plan your future more effectively and realistically – we may acknowledge the fact that our plans do not come to a fruition because, many times, we expect either too much or too little about ourselves or about the circumstance. As per your past experiences, you will be able to learn from them and get wisdom out of them for yourself and others. Once you get insights or wisdom, being of service to others follows.
“Cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words, and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest.” Dogen
If the nature of reality is that of change, what about our own nature? How different are we from reality? We may accept that we don´t differ much from it. We are real, actually. And if so, if we are real, what is left of ourselves when things change? What do we lose or gain about ourselves in this changing game? The question about our deepest identity, the “self” that remains when things change, can be addressed by a more subtle approach. And just to point towards a direction, we can consider that our consciousness – meaning here how we process/understand information delivered by our perception and the response to that awareness – and reality are one and the same. In other words, reality is conscious and consciousness is real. (Physics has something to say about this. You can check out this article and read about how material is the reality, in case you think that it is only and strictly a matter).
The nature of both, reality and consciousness, is one and the same. Our consciousness changes along with our reality, and vice versa. If we think in the so-called spiritual practices, or practices that connect us with ourselves at the consciousness level as meditation does (we thus know what is going on), we realize that they are highly practical: ritualistic and down to earth (quietly enter to the room, sit down, adjust your body, feel comfortable, close your eyes, gently bring your attention at one single point, two fingers-width above the navel, and keep it there… how ethereal is that?). And there is no other way in which can be so since we engage with reality when we are in tune with it, so we go with it, we flow with it, and allow the process of change take place.
This process of change is not only very visible and positive while meditating regularly or maintaining a spiritual practice, but due to other circumstances too – although the experience of change is rougher, I would say. And so you find yourself one day holding a baby, your baby, for the very first time in your life and one of the things that cross your mind is “how much I love this small body and how fragile it is!”. This temporary thought creates an important feeling within yourself and suddenly you understand, beyond words, that her/his fragility is your fragility too, that you are now responsible of that small body, and that this new understanding brings about transformation, something changes in you and you are not the same anymore. In a way, you are becoming more real.
To be continued…
Credits for the image @sakshi101889