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The Nature of Change

Colorful pears lined up

Change is Universal

Sign with words: All things ebb and flow in time and within each thing is the seed of what will become its opposite

Change is the outcome of how energy moves through various stages of opposition, harmony, and dissolution. Energy is never destroyed; it merely changes form.

Water can evaporate into a mist and can be still or fluid or solid as ice; it can rise as rain, return to the sea, flow into the river and evaporate into salt crystals. This successive movement is one example of how the 'One' was said to show itself in many forms.

Like light and electricity, we can reduce water into its base elements and still be at a loss to describe what it really is.

Nature in its Creative form explores diversity by bringing opposites together. At the same time, a constant movement of the Yielding takes form in life’s pursuit of balance. When you defend yourself against Creative change, you are forced to become open or Yielding. Floating along Yielding to your beliefs, events will force you to embrace Creative change. When either is overly demonstrated, the other emerges to strike a balance.

There is a profound harmony in the earth’s inter-dependent systems. Animals take in energy as food and oxygen, and discard it as heat, carbon dioxide and waste. Bacteria and fungus process the waste back into plants. These plants take in carbon dioxide and use it to build their own substances through photosynthesis, which releases the oxygen within the molecules. The animals breathe in the oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide that returns to nourish the plants.

At the same time that we observe harmony in these self-organizing systems, we also see mating collisions, battles for sustenance, and eruptions reflecting the earth’s fundamental transforming power. From the standpoint of regeneration, these processes are the same. Progress will always demand that some things fail, where others succeed. Yet, those that fail are always being made stronger.

Our image of a perfect world would reduce it to one of degeneration.

The natural world breaks through stagnation to keep life unobstructed and free flowing. At the same time, we see how it seeks harmony in its interdependent systems as it flows in a chain of sustenance from one species to another. "Something rises; it will fall. Something falls; it will rise." It is simply the nature of change.

While all things are driven toward growth, in the circular dance of Tao, you will also find that in time, all things turn back. Where a god is said to have created the world, the ancient Taoist promoted the concept of ‘wu wei’ or not creating, since a universe that is growing, changing and evolving cannot be said to have been created.

Modern science, after many years of grappling with elusive and mutable substances, now recognizes uncertainty as a core principle. The uncertainty principle reveals how an answer only emerges once a measurement takes place. Until this moment of discovery, the answer can only be described in terms of possibilities.

Uncertainty allows for novelty and we now observe a universe predisposed to the unpredictable because of the variations and novelties that become possible.

In the past, our search for absolutes may have blinded us to life’s fundamental inter-connectivity. Nature is profoundly powerful, not cryptic. It demands that we approach life with a fresh perspective and not solve it like a puzzle. Rather than creating unnecessary obstruction with preconceived ideas on the pathway to harmony, we merely master the art of following life for what it may teach us.

Life’s subtle mystery was respected for its playfulness. As the activating force of life, any attempt to describe Tao resembles what we find at the quantum level. When we set out to measure the fabric of life, we affect the result in a way that reveals our connection to it. Remaining at home with the indescribable, we can find meaning in active and spontaneous discovery. Life remains uncertain until it is measured: it has subjective meaning only in the moment of discovery.

Just as Tao demonstrates the movement of 'turning back,' we look back in time to resurrect an ancient wisdom that is timely and profound.

During the Golden Age of thought that emerged from several cultures at the same time, climaxing around the 3rd century BC, we discover something fundamental about the present. The fabric of life has always been extremely complex, yet it thrives on this diversity. It is always good, and each of us holds an importance place within it. "Before and after always follow each other, and doors must close before new doors can open."

The Master said: “Progress for the leader is marked by a slow return to original sincerity.” Like these ancient ideas that were distorted by time, the original sincerity that led others to follow a leader is often buried beneath the pages that set out to describe it. To follow Tao, you need only follow life to discover your unique nature or te. There is no dogma…no leaders….only a Way of following life for what it may teach you.

There is an ancient story that the rainbow is a promise of our well-being. This may well be true because as it arcs across the sky, it gives definition to the round way of things that we may never see.

(The Masters)