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  "Everything Is Changing"
(In Our Practice, Spring 2002)

By Cheri Huber

I have a friend whose favorite t-shirt proclaims "Change Is Bad." That's his motto. He knows what he likes, he likes what he likes, and he wants what he likes to stay the way it is. His wife just smiles. His attitude seems to work well for her.

I learned to love change long ago when I was training as a monk. My teacher seemed to thrive in an atmosphere that often looked chaotic to me. We would be going along in one direction, and suddenly we'd be heading somewhere else. We're going to put in another garden and grow organic saffron. No, we're going to build a sawmill. No, we're going to create a park with a playground and picnic tables. No, we're... Anyone clinging to notions that a plan meant something in particular was going to happen was in big trouble. Not that we never accomplished anything. Amazing projects were conceived and completed. It's just that what I thought was going to happen rarely had anything to do with what actually happened.

At first, the constant shifts in focus and direction were disorienting. (If you've read "How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be" you may remember the orange altar cum plumbing supply bin and know what I mean.) After enough stops and starts I began to enjoy the process. I stopped thinking I knew what was going on and began to anticipate the next twist in the plot. The "of course" was now accompanied by a chuckle when the freshest turd was dropped in the punch bowl.

It seems to me that much of our vital energy is tied up in trying to keep structures in place long past their time of usefulness. Habit, inertia, control, and fear cause us to remain in a fixed position in relation to ourselves and life even when doing so takes a tremendous toll on our health and well being. We could let go, but it doesn't occur to us or we think it would be hard or we're afraid we'll lose something. If we've resisted for long enough, if our energy has been spent slowly on clinging over time, we don't realize that what's wearing us out is not life but our effort to hold back life.

As we let go, the energy that has been tied up in the various places of resistance is released. Whoosh! Life opens up, surges through, moves, expands, and suddenly we see possibilities that weren't available before. It's like pushing with all our might against a solid wall that will not move. At some point, if we're very fortunate, it occurs to us to stop pushing, to turn around, and to see what else we might try. With that turn, the whole world opens up for us.

I heard someone say recently that "only dreams give birth to change." I would add that dreams acted upon give birth to change. A dream not acted upon becomes a source of despair rather than anticipation. Does that mean we should make fulfilling our dreams the focus of our lives? Maybe. Especially if not fulfilling our dreams has been the focus. It's grand to fulfill a dream, but I suspect it's far grander to recognize that the life we're living is a dream.

At the Monastery we're in a big "whoosh!" stage. Everything is changing: new roles, new jobs, new activities, new directions. Very exciting. Kind of like the first few moments of a roller coaster ride. In fact a roller coaster ride is a very good analogy. First we have the anticipation. Then the bottom drops out and we pick up speed. During this second phase other concerns and considerations fall away, the movement is all consuming. Then we begin to pace ourselves with the ride, and we start feeling more comfortable. In our lives, when comfort with change sets in, things can get tricky. Now conditioning, karma, habit, has an opening. Now, all our attention isn't required for survival. Better ideas arise. Collusion with conditioning arises. Self-hate offers its opinions. Inspiration fades. Enthusiasm withers. What are we doing? Ah, yes, practice.


Copyright 2003-2011 Cheri Huber