Why change is hard and what we can do to adapt.
Movement brings about change. Everything in existence is continuously moving. Massive stars and galaxies are swirling under the influence of gravity, water in the oceans slowly churn, air continually circulates in the atmosphere and our bodies, there is a constant movement of air and blood. Why should the mind be any different? Thoughts are steadily moving, and the landscape of the mind changes from moment to moment. No two moments in nature are the same. In the body and the mind, we cannot find a place of absolute stillness. We intuitively know that there is some part of our being that connects with the still and the changeless, and we are in search of that aspect.
In existence, change is not a preference. It is the essence.
In the mind, under the influence of the free will, we pick and choose the changes we desire. Sometimes there is a resistance to change. Deep down we seek preservation of the self. Change comes in the way of that desire through the aging process. However, resisting change is very different from the experience of a changeless inner state of awareness.
Any resistance in the mind creates more turmoil and takes us further away from peace and joy.
The mind is at the crossroads of the outer and inner dimensions of life, between the changing and changeless. The mind is where we begin the personal quest to reach the aspect of the unchanging. In most people, it is an unconscious seeking, which we loosely call as the search for happiness. We hold onto thoughts and experiences which bring pleasure with the hope of stabilizing inner joy which can fluctuate as wildly as our thoughts.
By linking thoughts and experiences with inner peace and joy, we set ourselves up for eventual failure. This precondition cannot lead us to the changeless, eternally joyful state.
Thoughts and experiences have a close and personal feel, compared to other changing phenomena such as the movement of the earth around the sun, ocean and air currents, and even the vital organs of the body which are not under our direct control. Since thoughts can be directly influenced and controlled to an extent, giving us a feeling of power and being in control, we link happiness to specific patterns of thinking with which we resonate with positively and profoundly.
We easily derive joy from change when it applies to Nature, such as that of the seasons, a sunrise as the night turns into day and sunset as day turns into night, but change within the mind is often a disturbance.
We forget that change is the very nature of the mind, and holding thoughts hostage to extract happiness from them goes against that fundamental nature. Just as stagnant water may become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and consequently, a danger to health, stagnant mental energy in the form of thoughts we hold onto may be unhealthy in the long run.
Allowing the mind to run its course freely will keep that energy in constant circulation, and new ideas and experiences may then arise from that circulating energy. Perhaps those new thoughts and experiences may bring a greater joy than the ones we may be clinging to in our memory.
The image we have of ourselves may not reflect what is seen by others. We hold onto our version of the image, keeping it static and strengthening it, while the perception in the eyes of people is continuously changing. If we compare the two images, they may be very far off from each other. What we think of ourselves is imaginary, and what others think of us is also illusory. Imagination is usually fleeting and transitory whether it is our imagination or that of others. The difference is that we hold onto our imagined image and resist change. We cannot expect others to hold onto our version.
In existence, change is relentless, and it does not take into account one individual’s position or need.
From an individual standpoint, change may be good or bad, but from the perspective of existence, changes are neither good nor bad. That is a law of the universe. Without change, the earth would not have formed, and human life would not have evolved. Every one hundred years, for all practical purposes, humans beings are replaced, and the world changes.
Resistance to change or wanting a change is greatly influenced by time and circumstances in an individual’s life.
The concept of time breathes life into the mind and sustains its presence. The past is the mind’s hegemony, and the mind gains the bulk of its power from the storehouse of the past. The past exists as a reference for comparison. Every time we make a choice, we seek confirmation from the past. A choice for something seeks validation from prior experience, as does a decision against something. We resist or seek a change by comparison with a personal database of experiences from the past.
The changeless does not need a comparison. There is simply no need.
When we don’t compare this moment to anything we have experienced in the past, or want to experience in the future, the moment does not change. Every moment is unique and stands on its own, and changeless ones may seem rare. Such moments can become more common when we leave out mental comparisons. Choosing between one or the other is all too common in the mind, and this behavior takes us further away from a stable blissful state of changeless awareness.
Just as through choice we seek or resist change, we can also employ the gift of free choice to be accepting of any change.
Such acceptance leads to an immediate truce with the mind. External change cannot bring about inner transformation, and it is acceptance of change without resistance which is the engine of inner transformation. Personal transformation cannot be forced through the will. It is a gradual evolution that comes about as a consequence of our attitude towards outer change.
We may be able to stop and disrupt an individual wave, but we are powerless against the mighty ocean. Similarly, we cannot control or hold back the flow of existence. We can hold onto individual thoughts and make such thoughts remain in our possession and manipulate them according to our will. But we cannot possess the mind as a whole. It has its nature which determines its functioning.
Neutral awareness best expresses our inherent nature.
When we free ourselves from comparison and choice, we can maintain our independence and neutrality of awareness, simultaneously allowing the mind to change according to its nature. Awareness then becomes like the pot that does not change and the mind will be like food cooking inside that changes. When awareness remains fixed, whatever changes take place in the mind, body and the world will readily be accepted, and life becomes highly palatable and enjoyable.