Change is the only constant

The essential point of Buddhism is that the world is neither purely subjective nor purely objective. The world we experience is a human world, shaped by our genetic tendencies. Our world is an inter-subjective world, created by our culture, parents, friends, and other influences. And our world is a personal world, shaped by our unique feelings, thoughts, and wishes.

A world shaped by living beings is a world shaped by their wishes. But that world is constantly changing, whether they like it or not. Living in a world of constant change is frightening and destabilizing to our expectations.

We have each built a sense of self based on how we look, how we feel, what we think, and what we want. But how we look, how we feel, what we think, and what we want is also changing continuously. And we’re constantly meeting people who look different, want different things, have different ideas, and different behaviors. Those changes are disorienting, and can make us feel disappointed, confused, and afraid.

Buddhism itself has grown up in many forms based on the values, understandings, and wishes of past teachers and communities. Members of those communities love and cherish the forms Buddhism has taken. But the world is changing dramatically, and so the form of Buddhism must change. Some of its values, understandings, and goals must change. We may not want things to change, but fighting change is the fastest path to misery.

Those who are attached to Buddhism enjoy its traditional forms, values, views, and practices. But if we are attached to traditional Buddhism, we will experience suffering if those forms, values, views, and practices change. The forms, values, views, and practices of Buddhism will always continue to change, that is its very nature. But the essential truth of Buddhism will never change: that there is no basis for fear if we see the truth of constant change.