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  A Few Thoughts on Change

(In Our Practice, Spring 2004)

By Cheri Huber

Now, I don't know about you, but it seems to me that a person experiencing constipation is very supportive of change. In fact, we can see much of life in that scenario. The person is going along, taking in, assimilating, feeling the body get hungry, wanting more, perhaps looking around for the most desirable thing to ingest, but nothing is leaving the body. Soon the container is full. No more room. But the lack of room doesn't stop the desire, or the need, for more. So, the poor person tries to have more without letting go of what is no longer needed. The discomfort increases until this lack of letting go threatens the health and well-being of the individual.

For most of my life I would make at least one trip a year to the emergency room, usually during a retreat, to get antibiotics for the sinus infection that had moved into bronchitis.

One of my happiest developments was a runny nose. All my life my nose would clog up and I would get a sinus infection. The infection would migrate to my bronchial tubes and I would be down for the count. One day (perhaps after all that work on the sixth charka!), my nose began to run. O joy! O bliss! Not everyone's idea of heaven, but then not everyone has had a recurring sinus infection that miraculously departed with the flow.

I love Italian food. Many folks will tell you Italy has the best food in the world. I bet those folks are right. However, I just spent several weeks in Italy, eating only Italian food, and after a while all I wanted was something different! Give me some Mexican food, Chinese, Japanese, Ethiopian—anything that doesn't start with olive oil and end with garlic.

We have lots of examples indicating that change is a very good thing for human beings. If water doesn't move and change, it becomes something smelly and dangerous. Money that isn't allowed to move, that is hoarded, separates people, and will eventually separate the hoarder from a sense of sufficiency, leaving the one craving "enough" in a state of insecurity and fear.

I have a friend who often wears one of his t-shirts proclaiming "Change Is Bad." (One of his t-shirts. This is a big enough issue for him that he has more than one shirt with the same message.) But I think he's wrong. I don't think change is the issue at all. I think the Buddha got it right when he laid out for us the four causes of suffering.
  1. Not getting what you want.
  2. Getting what you want and not being satisfied.
  3. Being separated from those or that which you love.
  4. Being forced to endure the presence of those or that which you do not love.
Now isn't that it? I want what I want when I want it. Oh, and by the way, I don't want what I don't want when I don't want it. Change is irrelevant. Give me what I want and I don't even notice a change has occurred. Give me something I don't want and all I can focus on is the way it used to be.

Of course the biggest argument of all for exploring and maintaining a good relationship with change is that change is. Unlike suffering, it is not optional. Change is constant whether we want it, don't want it, like it, hate it, resist it, or welcome it. The only choice we have in the matter is in the amount of life force we want to waste trying to control it. We can dig in our heels, attempting to impose our sense of timing, and life feels hard. Or we can jump in, catch the wave, and surf the joy of life living at full speed. A good word to describe life living at full speed—change.

Gassho.

 
Copyright 2003-2011 Cheri Huber