Endless Changes

A short verse from Dongshan, a 6th century Chinese Zen teacher:

Not getting caught by it is or it isn’t
Do you have the courage to be at peace with it?
Everyone wants to leave the endless changes
But when we stop bending and fitting our lives
We come and sit by the fire.

It takes courage to not be caught by “it is or it isn’t” by liking and not liking, wanting and not wanting, good and bad, and right and wrong. We all want clarity, and of course some things are good and bad, and some things are right and wrong. And yet, how do we have the courage to hear other points of view, to not dismiss those who don’t agree with us?

The reality of change can be daunting. When I’m teaching, I sometimes suggest that if you don’t fully embrace the reality of change, just look in the mirror. Is that person now, the same person I was looking at yesterday, last year, ten years ago. The reality of change is potent, mysterious, sacred, and freeing.

And, let’s all stop bending and fitting our lives. The last line in the verse, come and sit by the fire, I find as an invitation not only for rest and acceptance, but and invitation to act without anything extra.

I find so many practices in the midst of this short verse:
– letting go of dualistic, yes and no thinking
– leaning in to change
– finding effortlessness in the midst of effort