Jul 05

Change and Continuity

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Most of us know this quote from the Bible, which is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  And those of us who grew up in the 60s know the wonderful song by the musical group The Birds, called “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which sets the words from this verse to music.

The verse goes on to talk about the major changes that occur to all of us throughout life. But along with these major changes are many smaller ones. In fact, if you think about it, you realize that change is actually happening every second—we just don’t always notice it.

When change feels sudden, or when it feels like many changes are happening at once, it can be difficult to cope. You may feel disoriented, anxious, even lost. Yet no change is final. There is always a next step. There is always continuity, “the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.”

It’s true that each time change occurs, something is lost. You may be thrown into a feeling of emptiness. But eventually a new beginning occurs. However, don’t hurry to fill the void. Take your time. Each step will present itself as the process continues to unfold. We are always moving forward, always in transition, whether we like it or not, and each transition we go through requires our acceptance.

This very aspect of change is what allows us to grow.

The Tibetan teacher Traleg Rinpoche said that:

“If we were not in a state of transition, we could not talk about transformation. Our life would be a closed book. But according to the Buddhist teachings, our lives are not closed books because of this constant forward movement. If we feel that we are stuck, that is only our misunderstanding of what is really going on, for something is always happening even if we do not notice it.”

Life is a state of flux. But as we learn to navigate the changes that are always occurring, we can look forward to something new unfolding—both within us and in the world around us.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” –Alan Watts

“To exist is to change, to  change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” –Henri Bergson