Colors: Change, Anyone?
Fall colors indicate changing seasons and act as harbingers of hibernation: sap ceasing to flow, birds flying south, and some mammals looking for a place to den up for the winter. The natural world is entering a resting cycle. We humans, however, are busy as ever. We bundle up and whine about the weather like it is a momentary annoyance or we buy expensive toys and hit the slopes until the spring thaw. We are so insulated from winter’s call to draw inward, rest, and reflect.
Our resistance to creatively adapting to natural cycles is mirrored in the extreme view of the climate change deniers. I find it fascinating that some members of an intelligent species can be so oblivious to observable fact. But this is no different for any of us when we refuse to accept change in our lives. Whether it is work situations, relationships, or cold weather, we often avoid dealing with shifting patterns. This inevitably causes suffering for ourselves and others because it clouds our vision.
A primary fact of existence is the law of impermanence. It is a key element of Buddha’s teachings. Imagine a tree thinking, “I want to hang on to my green leaves, even though it is getting colder. Those other colors are asking me to change. That is very disturbing.” If we deny change, we lose our color vision. Everything becomes black and white and we take one side or the other. The loss of color vision spawns exclusivity, elitism, nationalism—all kinds of species arrogance. Buddha suggested we get real with change and maybe get over ourselves in the process.
Next time you take a walk, notice the colors. Notice how they seem to blend seamlessly in nature. Falling leaves of yellow, orange, and red, sink gently to earth where they decay to feed another generation. The hardness of a city seems like a harsh contrast to nature’s flexibility, but colors permeate buildings and traffic patterns. Even those things are not immune to decay as evidenced by earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.
Now notice the hues in your mind as it observes the world. How does your mind tint (taint?) your perceived reality? Look at a color you do not like, embrace it like a long lost friend, and see what happens. Now see the red hue of anger projected on someone you find difficult and embrace them as a teacher. Can you change the color of your mind?