Sunday, August 18, 2013

Still Here Excerpt 1

Time and change are interrelated. We measure time by what changes, and we measure change in increments of time. For many of us, apprehension over what the future may hold is synonymous with our fear of change. As Egos, we resist letting go of the known; change is nearly always viewed as a threat, since the Ego is only comfortable with what it can control. But this is where our conscious aging can help to relieve the anxiety we feel over change: for the Soul is not subject to change in the same way the Ego is. It does not measure time in the same way. Soul time is measured in incarnations. Each incarnation is like an hour-or even a minute-to the soul. As the Ego moves in terrestrial time, the Soul exists in Soul time. The Soul Thinks in terms of endless eons. By learning to remain in both time perspectives, we experience a stillness that enables us to accept the turbulence of change, and also to catch our breath. Freeing ourselves from the Ego's attachment to things remaining as they are, and acquainting ourselves with what exists externally in each present moment, we learn to approach change with curiosity rather than dread, and to be more comfortable with "not knowing" than we have been before.

I often tell a wonderful story that illustrates this brand of wisdom. Once, there was a farmer in a village who had a horse that he treasured. One day the horse ran away, and the farmer's neighbor came to his house to offer his condolences. "I'm so sorry for your loss," he said, trying to be a good friend. "You never know," the farmer replied. The very next day, the horse came back, leading a beautiful wild mare alongside him. Again the neighbor piped in: "That's wonderful!" he said. "What a Stroke of good luck!" The farmer replied, "You never know." A few days later, the farmer's son was trying to break the wild horse in, was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. Of course the neighbor came over to say how sorry he was that things had gone so badly. The farmer replied, "You never know." A short time later, the Cossack army came through the village in search of young men to fight in the war, but since the farmer's son's leg was broken, he was allowed to stay at home. "Aren't you fortunate man!" the neighbor said when he heard the news. You can guess what the farmer replied.

The point is that we never know what changes will come, or how they'll affect us. The law of impermanence, anicca, requires that if we want to reduce our suffering we learn to weather change as gracefully as possible, remaining open to what we do not know.

-Ram Dass (p. 129, 130)

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