Sunday, December 28, 2008

Change is a constant

Since change is inevitable, it makes more sense to embrace it than to offer resistance, says Narayani Ganesh

    The year 2009 is being designated as the year of change. In Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto, Seihan Mori, chief monk at Kiyomizu temple, declared “change” to be the country’s character or “kanji” in the coming year, on the basis of a popular vote. Admitting that the choice was probably inspired by US president-elect Barack Obama’s campaign theme, the monk said that it is also an expression of the people’s wishes to see change in different spheres on the basis of a popular vote. 
    However, has any year been free of change? Could a future year be changeless? Unlikely so. If the universe and everything in it is in motion, and planet earth throbs with life, it’s because there is constant change. If the political process is surviving well or doing badly, the economy is growing or shrinking, markets are thriving or plunging, scientists are discovering new species or adding to the list of extinct or endangered ones, it is because of change. 
    Change is a constant. Even as aging cells in our body die, new ones are taking their place. When all the cells of the body die, would it mean that the body has reached a changeless state? No. We are more than the sum of our cells. The ‘dead’ body continues to play host to micro-organisms whose home it was for long. With decomposition, the body’s constituents reorganize as different states of matter, the molecules merging with the cosmos, only to take another shape, another form — and the cycle continues. Nothing is destroyed forever. It’s there, somewhere, reconfiguring in part or whole, here or there, or just circulating anonymously, but undergoing change, nevertheless. 
    Change is a continuum everywhere and at all times. Change begets change, and so is in perpetual motion. 
    It’s been said that you never step twice into the same river. The flow of water ensures that. It’s constantly changing, just as you are. For, like the flowing river, you too are not the same person. Your body is not the same; neither are your thoughts. Physically, you are undergoing constant change. The thoughts that run through your mind, your observations, perceptions, attitude, everything is as fluid as the water’s flow. The river is not the same and neither are you. 
    When the Japanese monk in Ky
oto announced the popular decision to call the year 2009 the year of change, he added, after some thought: “However, it is the individual who must change.” To qualify this statement, one might say that when we wish for a particular kind of change in an impersonal manner, expecting it to happen through the actions or decisions of others, the chances of it happening are less than if you began working on your self. Rhonda Byrne writing in The Secret, goes a step further. She says just sending out wilful thoughts for that change to take place will make it happen because the thought reverberates through the cosmos, the law of attraction plays out, and the wish is fulfilled. The premise of all these views is that we accept that nothing is unchangeable. 
    An anonymously authored bestseller titled Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation — published 15 
years before Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of The Species By Means Of Natural Selection — talked of a “law of development” in living creatures whereby “one species transformed into another by external circumstances, in incremental stages, from simple life-forms to complex ones.” In other words, all forms of life are engaged in a continuous process of adaptation to ensure survival. Darwin’s theory of evolution was more specific, attributing the origin of species and their diversification to the manner in which they adapt themselves to the environment in order to survive. This is what climate change experts are saying – that we have to learn to adapt to changing circumstances in order to better face the challenges before us. Theories are not cast in stone either, whether they are of evolutionary biology or political ideology; the process of thinking, debate, experience and expansion of ideas add multiple dimensions to a theory or philosophy, sometimes enriching it and other times replacing it with an entirely new one. 
    Our thoughts are constantly evolving, and the continuity of this process is ensured by constant change. Philosopher J Krishnamurti asked: Is it possible to leave thought and bring about a change outside the field of thought? He was exercised that if all thought occurs only in the mind, is not thought conditioned by the boundaries we set for the mind? Could thought generated in the confines of the mind really be called part of change? According to Krishnamurti, radical change can take place only outside the field of thought, and not within it. He calls as real meditation the state when the mind can leave the field of thought – on seeing the boundaries of the field – with the realization that any change within the field is no change at all. 
    One of the 112 meditation techniques in the Vaigyan Bhairav Sutra is about change, explains Amrit Sadhana at the Osho Ashram in Pune. The sutra goes like this: Change, change, and change. That is, there are three aspects to this technique of meditation. First, watch nature, and enjoy it. The second step is to watch people. Observe. Absorb. The third step is to sit down and watch your self from within. See how you’ve changed; see how you’ve evolved since childhood. Finally, you come to realise that if change is inevitable, it makes more sense to embrace it than to offer resistance. This is what Osho meant when he said: “Dance the change.” 
    Meditation is upheld as a way to find refuge from agitation, to discover the centre-point of absolute tranquility and peace in the midst of tumult, so that even as the continuum of change plays out all around and in you, there is also room for a state of changelessness and utter calm. 
    The changelessness of constant change is like the ‘stillness’ one perceives on observing a top that spins at high velocity. Despite the spinning top sending ripples throughout the universe, the speeding object looks to be absolutely still. As our thoughts churn and all matter or what constitutes them engage in perpetual motion – even as you stir that cup of coffee, unintentionally emulating cosmic stirring – what remains free of change is the changelessness of change.

Article is taken from Times of India Hyderabad Edition dated 28.12.2008


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