The Changing Seasons
of the Moment
Christina Feldman

  

Stand still in the forest in autumn and let the trees tell you their story.  The vibrantly colored leaves falling from the branches speak to us of the seasons of life.  Birth, age, sickness, and death--all the seasons of change are held within the falling of a single leaf.  The leaf on the ground becomes part of the loam that allows new seeds to grow.  The leaf is not separate from the tree but is born of the tree; it is also not exactly the same as the tree.  Intimations of change are held in each passing moment and there is nothing in this life exempt from that rhythm.  We are taught by those intimations; to try to interfere with a passing season is to enter into conflict, struggle, and sorrow.  There is a freedom in absorbing the simple truth of change--to live in harmony with this understanding is to find peace in all the changes of our lives.

Seeing the changing seasons we understand the way to the end of separation, conflict, and confusion.  We learn to let go, to let be.  We stand amid the perpetually changing seasons of each moment.  Everything that is born will die; everything that arises will pass away.  Nothing is exempt.  Whenever we endeavor to separate ourselves from this rhythm we create a world of struggle and fear.  Each time we cling to or grasp any thought, experience, feeling, or encounter embraced in the rhythm of change, we set ourselves apart from the world.  Mindfulness is the art of non-interference, of not clinging anywhere.  In not dwelling anywhere, not fixating upon anything, we are present everywhere. 

The Buddha remarked, "The mind that does not cling, does not become agitated.  The mind that is not agitated is close to freedom."

Standing in the forest amid its life we come to see that no one is making all this happen.  The buds form on the branches, the sun, the rain, and the richness of the soil provide the conditions for those buds to develop into leaves.  The heat of the summer, the winds of autumn, and the first frosts of winter all affect the life of a single leaf, which will eventually fade and fall.  Everything is interdependent.  Life interacts with itself.  If the conditions changed, if there was a drought or the tree was damaged, a different process would simply occur.  The conditions of life are constantly changing and perpetually affecting and influencing our experience of each moment.  We are not always in control of these conditions and our commands are mostly futile, but we are not powerless.  The seeds of peace lie within the mindful presence brought to each moment.

The life of the forest is a reflection of our own life.  Within our body, mind, and heart, we experience the process of change in every moment.  Thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and experiences all arise and pass away.  Our world of this moment is affected and formed by where we are, what we are exposed to, and how we meet the simple truths of each moment.  It is futile to believe that at the center of this unfolding and interacting process there is a controlling entity.  As we learn to be intimate with ourselves and all things, we understand that nothing and no one is separate from the changing conditions of the moment.  Our understanding and sense of who we are undergoes countless changes in a single day.  The angry "me" changes into the "me" of tolerance and patience.  The hopeful, excited "self" of the afternoon has quite forgotten the "self" that brooded and obsessed over breakfast.  We begin to discover that it is impossible to find any sense of "self" apart from our beliefs.

The deep, transforming understanding of change, suffering and its cause, and the end of suffering, is the wisdom of mindfulness.  The secret of the Buddha's smile is endlessly speculated upon.  Perhaps he smiled at himself for spending years searching outside of himself for the freedom that was always in his heart.  Mindfulness is born in each moment we turn our attention to where we are.  With gentle, calm attention we engage with this moment; probing beneath the surface to understand the simple truth of the moment, we are taught by it.  Freedom is not complicated or distant.  We are asked to be present.  Suzuki Roshi, a wise teacher, reminded us, "To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day."
   
   

Internationally known
Buddhist teacher
Christina Feldman
shows readers how
to awaken to the
present in order
to capture those
moments of peace
and stillness, and
bring balance and
harmony to their lives.

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