Yesterday I read that some birds in the Amazon rain forest are shrinking in size, and have been over the last 40 years.The scientists studying the birds attribute the shrinking to climate change, as the change in the ratio of their surface area compared to their volume allows the birds to better handle the warming temperatures. It seemed remarkable to me to read this and consider that they are changing so rapidly, in only a few generations. It was only the day before that I had read that our galaxy, the Milky Way, will begin to merge with another galaxy in two billion years, causing it to change into a new combined galaxy, thus no longer existing as what it is today. Not surprisingly neither one of these reports made the front page of any newspaper I was aware of, nor did Fox News or MSNBC give them any time in their broadcasts. Their concerns are with the debates du jour, and how could it be otherwise?

What a difference in the scale of time between the Amazon birds and the Milky Way, it stretches the mind to compare the two. But what is not different is that both reflect this immutable fact of change. Why is there always change? Why does nothing stay the way it is?

Thinking about this, I pulled out my many years old copy of the I Ching (since college, no less), and inquired of the oracle as to why there is change. The hexagram which came in response was subtitled “Molting”: the act of shedding something old to make way for new growth. And the I Ching went on to say that a well must be cleaned out from time to time or it will become clogged with mud. That sentence and the word “molting” provided me with some food for thought.

Why change, then? Why change always? It seems that there is continuous change because there is continuous creation. Continuous arisings, and these new arisings also require a place and a time to exist. All of what is existing now is not simply changed and destroyed, rather it departs in order to be replaced by something new. As long as this remains an intellectual exercise, all well and good, and we nod our heads in agreement. It is when it is our turn, or the turn of someone or something dear to us, to change, to depart, that we are undone. There’s the rub. But if I am in love with creation I must at some point come to terms with the fact that there are new worlds waiting to take their place on this stage, and new ideas, new life forms, all of it, and they need to take this space. Our space.

I suppose the direction, then, is to care without clinging. Just as our ancestors and all that they coexisted with made room for us, the future wonderful manifestations of the force of creation will need to have their time in the sun. And it seems that even the sun itself will need to make way one day.

Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going –
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
     — Kozan Ichigyo, 1360​




  1. Hexagram #49- Also “Revolution” – The conflict between Fire and Water to bring about something new.

  2. Yes, exactly, Jeff. And, remarkably, the title of this hexagram in the outstanding recent John Minford translation is the word “Change”. So, the answer to my question about change is titled Change. Amazing, but not surprising. Be well, Dennis

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