Change is inevitable – don’t resist, rather learn to adapt

Most of the problems and frustrations we have in our life come as a result of our attitude towards change.  The cycle is usually some change happens, we become upset about the things we lost in the change and we develop aversion towards some of the new things that have come about as a result of the change.  Then, usually after some drama and a fair amount of time, we come to let go of what we have lost, we come to accept our new inconveniences, and we even come to discover some new good things in our changed environment.  Just when we get comfortable and happy with our new situation, some new change will come about and the whole cycle starts over again.  This cycle occurs with basically everything:  our friends, our jobs, our kids, our surroundings, our enjoyments, etc.

For our family, this cycle primarily plays itself out in the form of being sent to new postings.  Every two to three years, we will be sent someplace new in the world and have to start our lives all over again.  But this cycle started long before I became a diplomat.  In the last 21 years, I have moved a total of 18 times!  Not always to different cities or countries, but to different homes or contexts.  I never seem to remain…

In reality, this is the natural state of affairs in samsara.  Everything is constantly changing.  This is a fact of life, whether we accept/like it or not.  Some people use all of their energy trying to resist this inevitable change.  They do everything they can to keep everything the same.  When we approach life this way, we begin to fear everything, view everything as a threat, and we increasingly enscone ourselves in an artificially static world.  It eventually grows harder and harder to hold back the tide of change, our mental strain grows and grows, we become increasingly grumpy, dissatisfied and picky.  We get stuck in our habits and can’t imagine life any other way.  The radius of our world gets smaller and smaller, the information and new perspectives we become exposed to narrower and narrower, until eventually we find ourselves in a single chair in an informational echo chamber of things confirming what we already believe.  We become completely stuck, enmeshed in what is for all practical purposes a karmic straight jacket.  To do anything out of our normal routines becomes inconceivably hard.  But even then, like it or not, change comes – and for us, it becomes all the more traumatic and wrenching. This is no way to live a life!

Since change is inevitable, instead of resisting it, we need to learn to embrace and adapt to it.  We should view each major change in our life as if we have died and been reborn in a new life.  We take from our old life the lessons we have learned, and we enter our new life with a mind eager to discover what is around the corner.  Each new change will force us to grow in some way, to change ourselves, to learn how to be equally happy in any and all circumstances.  The reality is all worlds, all lives are equally empty.  So no matter what new world or circumstance we find ourselves in, we have an absolutely equal chance of being perfectly happy.  This is simply a fact.  Our job as a Kadampa in this ever-changing world is to gain the ability to be equally happy everywhere.  Each new world is an opportunity to expand the envelope of our capacity to transform new and different circumstances into something we consider to be “ideal.”  As we tell our kids, “every situation is equally good, just in different ways.”

This is also where reliance upon Dorje Shugden becomes so important.  Through relying upon him, we can know with absolute certainty that whatever changes have happened in our life are exactly what we need.  We can know that our new circumstance is exactly perfect.  Knowing this, our only remaining task is to realize how and why.  If we don’t know, we just request wisdom blessings from him that he reveal to us how and why our circumstances are indeed perfect.  We might not get an answer right away, but before the end, it will all fall into place and we will realize how amazingly skilful he is in shepparding us to enlightenment.

It will sometimes be hard, it will sometimes take longer than we would like, but through embracing this task of learning to be equally happy in every new situation we find ourselves in, we will develop the ability to always be happy.  From this, an enormous confidence comes which knows we will be able to take this ability with us in life after life.  It is not enough to just be happy in this life, we need to learn how to be happy in every life, life after life.  Learning to embrace and adapt to change is, therefore, not only the key to happiness in this life, but to happiness in all our future lives.

Your turn:  Describe some change that you have resisted.  How did you eventually learn to adapt to it?

3 thoughts on “Change is inevitable – don’t resist, rather learn to adapt

  1. Hi Ryan, What I have noticed through out my life is that when things start to get too comfortable I up and move. It is my choice, my change. I don’t feel “done to”. In fact I have loved the change. Only lately, as I reached the speed limit on the US Highways, I am limiting myself a bit. I have been in Mazatlan a year now. I found Argentina difficult and after 8 months of trying to adapt I ran back to Mazatlan. To paraphrase Ven. Atisha, ‘Until you have stable realizations, run from people, places and things that disturb your mind.’

    It is like a BIG change time now. Getting old body. I guess it was my choice of actions for many lifetimes that is creating this bodily change, I understand that however it doesn’t mean that I like it.

    • Hi Khacho,

      You bring up an interesting point, which I guess would be the other extreme of change. Normally we resist it and try stick with the status quo, but sometimes we also seek it out trying to run away from what is difficult. So the question, it seems to me, is how do we know when we should “stick it out” and work through the difficulty vs. accept the changes taking place around us. For me, I try pursue a three step process:

      1. Using my own wisdom (and requesting blessings) I try figure out what I think is the best thing to do (balancing external and internal considerations, being practical, reasonable, etc.). Once I have decided what I think is best, I then start acting on that trying to bring about the outcome I think is best.

      2. I then request Dorje Shugden, “Hey buddy, I think X is best, but I accept I might be wrong. If X is best, please remove all the obstacles preventing me from doing X. If X is not best, please sabotage all of my efforts trying to bring it about.”

      3. I then accept whatever happens after that. If my efforts get sabotaged, then I stick it out. If the obstacles clear, I follow his lead. But either way, I know it is what is best.

      So far, at least, this has always worked for me. Sometimes it has taken the form of real miracles, and sometimes it has taken the form of unmitiagated disasters. But since I know it is all inspired by my Dharma protector, I am able to accept it as best.

      I hope this helps,

      Ryan

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