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The benefits of change

The benefits of change

I received an email not long ago, and somebody was talking they had just completed a major thing in their life, and they were saying that as they grow older, they find that change is less and less appealing and more anxiety-producing. That is certainly understandable because we all have some need for predictability and security and so on. The difficulty is: the nature of things is that they change. There’s no way that we can stop them from changing. The more we dislike change, the more we’re condemning ourselves to anxiety. We have to change the mind so that it can accept change and actually see the good qualities of change.

Personally speaking, I think change is wonderful. Otherwise I would still be in diapers and so would you. Because there’s change, we can grow, we can learn, we can be creative. Creativity exists within the medium of change. We can become Buddhas because change exists. If there were no change then, oh my goodness, think that we’d always have to be the way, I don’t even want to say the way we are now, but think of the how you were five years ago. You would always have to be like that. If you’re depressed, you’re always going to be depressed because nothing changes, and it’s like, ugh yuck.

So it’s actually quite good that there’s change, isn’t it? We can’t always control the change around us, but the thing is that by working with our mind and subduing our mind, then our mind becomes more flexible, more accepting. Even though we can’t control the external environment, the internal environment can be at peace. You look at His Holiness, he couldn’t control the change that happened in 1959 when he had to flee his country. He’s been a refugee ever since. By working with his mind, he can be happy despite that kind of change that he didn’t even want.

That’s the thing, and that’s what Dharma practice brings, is that ability to work with our mind so that change, instead of leading to anxiety, can lead to a sense of happiness in which we are enthusiastic about developing our good qualities and developing bodhicitta and progressing along the path. We think that’s great, and we don’t want to be stuck in some kind of fixed world, even though to our deluded mind that may seem very comfortable. Who wants to be stuck in a world of depression or a world of fear or a world of anger or world of greed and attachment? None of us do. Impermanence actually gives us the opportunity to do away with all of that and to become beautiful Buddhas. So, let’s go for it.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.