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Change

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Change

Change Can Only be Good

When it is allowed, change can only be good, can only be expansion. The natural movement is towards greater abundance. If you are not experiencing expansion and abundance it's because you are interfering. There is no other reason.

Courage Needed to Face the Change Inquiry May Bring

In other words, for us to continue with inquiry when we are afraid, we need to be courageous, we need to be strong of heart, we need to become lionhearted. But what we need to become lionhearted about is the truth. All kinds of things can happen—disruptions, hardships obstacles, fears, and inadequacies. You might feel helpless for a few days, or a few years. Some people can go crazy on the spiritual path, and some people even kill themselves. These difficulties of the inner journey are well known and have been documented throughout history. So there are dangers, and it can get scary. But it can also be exhilarating. The spacecruiser is going into territory you’ve never seen before. You don’t know what kind of creatures you will find; you don’t know what kind of perceptions will arise or how they will affect your mind. You don’t know whether you’re going to experience yourself differently, whether your life will change forever. The journey is exciting, it’s beautiful, it’s creative, but there’s always an edge of fear. If inquiry is truly happening, then you’re always walking this edge. You are terrified or completely thrilled at each turn in the road. You’re leaving the old and familiar and going to the new and unexpected. Whether it is a step in the dark or a jump into the abyss, the unknown awaits.

Even Though the Ground of True Nature is Unchanging, that Ground is Not Separate from All that Manifests in It

It is the nature of our True Nature to be not only a presence but a dynamic presence, a dynamism that is always disclosing its potential, revealing all the forms it can possibly be. True Nature is not a monolithic presence that stays the same; it is constantly transforming, always responding to what is going on. And it always continues to be True Nature. Sometimes we experience ourselves in a dimension of True Nature that is unchanging. But even though the ground of True Nature is unchanging, that ground is not separate from all that manifests in it, and all of those manifestations are constantly changing. True Nature is rich with possibilities; its potential is immense and it never ceases to disclose its treasures. It is always revealing its potential, displaying all the forms possible. We are learning here about the relationship of True Nature to the various manifestations. Part of our ignorance is in not understanding clearly what the relationship of True Nature is to everything else. Everything else is just a form that True Nature takes. Or you could say that True Nature manifests itself in its various forms. But it is still True Nature. So although it is always changing in its manifestations, we are not being something else. We are being ourselves. The ego creates a sense of being oneself as a fixed, unchanging self. True Nature doesn’t need that kind of stability.

Experience is in Continuous Change and Transformation

Our inner field is pure consciousness is also pure potential for experience. How does this potential become actuality? How does this seed become actuality? To explore this we first need to remember that our soul is not a particular state or condition; it is the medium and locus where all states and conditions arise. The fact that our inner state and events are forms within and part of the soul means that the soul is in constant change. It is clear when we contemplate our experience. We notice that experience is in constant and continuous change and transformation. One thought follows another, one feeling leaves only to vacate the space for another. Inner sensations and movements are never still. Our inner space is like a multiple intersection at the center of a major city, where all streets and lanes are busy most of the time, with an incessant flow of traffic of various kinds and sizes of vehicles. Our inner space is not only busy with content; it is in incessant movement, transformation, development, evolution or devolution, expansion or contraction, and so on. These are the external forms of our soul’s field of consciousness; she is rarely at rest, rarely settled. And when she is settled, this is only a momentary state like all other states.

Only Space Can Change the Personality

The personality (which is determined by the self-image) cannot change itself. Only space can change it. All the personality can do, or not do, is whatever is necessary for it to be in the condition in which space can manifest and act on its boundaries.

The Void, pg. 106

Realizing that the Form of the Universe is in Constant Change

As we realize that the form of the universe is in constant change, one of the main insights of all spiritual work arises. We understand that holding onto things, not wanting things to change, is a major source of our suffering. From the perspective of the totality, change is neither bad nor good. From the perspective of our separate entityhood, we consider certain changes good and other ones bad. We call some of them death and some of them life, some of them pleasure and some of them pain. This perspective necessarily and always involves suffering because it ignores the truth of the constant transformation of the totality.

Remaining Where We Are Around Change

Change is difficult for the ego. Ego wants stability, sameness. We believe that our sense of self cannot find or keep its mooring if things keep shifting. But the fact is that reality is always a shifting ground. And our consciousness, our awareness, is more like mercury—very slippery, very fluid, easily changing and flowing. So when we talk about remaining where we are, it does not mean that we remain static; it implies being at ease with the continual transformation of where we are. Our tendency is to want to stay the same and have our experience remain the same, especially when we like it. And that becomes a rigidity in our consciousness, an inflexibility that is not natural. How can we approach this situation and understand what is at work here?

Resistance to Change

The second category of resistance to change is our attachment to our experiences. We can identify with any kind of experience, but we tend to get most attached to new experiences that we find pleasurable or freeing. Identifying with an experience means that we don’t want it to go away. We like it the way it is and will be disappointed if it changes to something else; we will feel it as a sense of loss. So we engage in subtle, or not so subtle, holding on—getting glued to the experience, trying to nail it down, trying to stop the unfolding of the moment in order to keep things as they are. Even when we are more open, even when we are experiencing our True Nature, we are not freed yet, we are not secure in the dynamic freedom inherent in being what we truly are.

Seeing the Truth of the Moment

Seeing the truth of the moment develops and unfolds the moment in whatever way it needs to go, independent of our desires and beliefs. In the practice of inquiry, it is vital that we are not trying to orient what is happening, to direct it in one way or another. We don’t inquire, we don’t practice, in order to change where we are. We inquire simply to see what the truth is in that moment—and that might or might not change as we inquire. We cannot know ahead of time which way anything will go. What is happening might change toward something we like or it might change toward something we don’t like. Letting go of aims is difficult because we all have our preferences and our ideas of what is good and bad. And we also have all manner of spiritual ideals that we have absorbed throughout our lives from reading books and hearing stories and learning practices.

The Ordinary Concepts of Change and Movement are Based on Reified Concepts of Objects and Phenomena

More accurately, the ordinary concepts of change and movement are based on reified concepts of objects and phenomena, the products of a process of reification that dissociates us from the direct experience of our ground true nature. The reification is exposed when we recognize how change occurs from the vantage point of true nature, as on the dimension of dynamic presence. We begin to see the reality of change, which reveals that there is no such thing as movement. Change entails a transformation of appearance over the entire field of presence, similar to cinema frames changing; however, it is a continuous change, not a series of discrete changes as in the case of an actual cinema film. By revealing the nature of change the dimension of dynamic presence also discloses the true meaning and sources of development, growth, evolution, and all processes and phenomena that have a continuity in time. Before we discuss these we need first to explore in some detail the experience of change in the dimension of dynamic being. We experience this universal transformation in various ways, according to the subtlety of our realization; these have been reflected by the various wisdom teachings of humankind.

The Perspective of the Dimension of Dynamism

From the perspective of the dimension of dynamism, it turns out that there is no such thing as movement. Since there exist no separate objects there are no objects that move. There is only the appearance of movement. We have discussed this in terms of inner objects in chapter 6, when we were exploring the changes of inner experience. But in the boundless dimension of dynamic presence we experience Being not only as a boundless field of presence, and see all manifest forms—both inner and outer—as expressions of this presence, but, furthermore, this presence is dynamic and mutable, perpetually changing its appearance. The various manifest forms are nothing but the patterns and shapes that this infinite fabric of presence takes. There is no such thing as a separate object that moves in space from past to future. What has been seen as a moving object is seen here as a manifestation of a particular location in the field of presence, a shape that keeps appearing but in different locations, giving the impression of a moving object. We go back to our example of the cinema screen from chapter 6. We see a man moving across the screen, but in fact there is no movement. The totality of the picture changes from one frame to the next. Because this change of the frames happens gradually, and because the change occurs faster than our eyes can discern, we see a continuous picture of a man walking. Yet, we know it is a picture that is simply changing from one instant to the next.

When You Realize how Things Actually are You Know that Things Simply Change: Appearance Changes but it is not Actually Death, Rebirth, Sickness Health

Time has nothing to do with who you are. Time has to do with appearances, which come and go. Your body, your senses, the appearances of things, are like your clothes; they come and go. You could say that your shirt was born when you first put it on, and it died when you took it off. You put it back on—a rebirth! When you know the fundamental reality, you see that you can put things on and take them off, but there has never been a death, a birth, a rebirth. All that is only appearance. I am not saying that the appearance is not there, or is completely nonexistent. It is just not actually happening, from the perspective of fundamental reality. Things certainly do happen from the perspective of appearance. You are born, you see a world, you have parents, you grow up, you live, you die. But from the perspective of how things actually are, these things are not actually happening. To live in the world and to know yourself, you have to take both worlds into consideration: reality and the appearance of reality. When you believe only the apparent world, you create all kinds of ideas about how things should happen. Sickness comes and you push it away; health comes and you hold on to it. Misery comes, you try to push it away; happiness comes and you try to hold on to it, and you increase your suffering even more. When you realize how things actually are, you know that things simply change; appearance changes, but it is not actually death, rebirth, sickness, health. Never has it been different, never since the dawn of consciousness has anything actually changed. We see something coming out of something, we call it birth. We see something that used to move, stops moving, we call it death. We have created these words to describe certain changes of appearance. But if you forget about these words, if you forget everything you have learned, if you see appearance without all these thoughts, if you are mentally alone, you simply see things arising and disappearing. You do not need to call them anything. You do not need to react. You do not need to call yourself by a name. These names are conventions; this is why that reality is called conventional reality. That reality is created through language. But who we are exists without language, prior to language.  

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