By: Venerable Rev. Brian Chang-Jin Kenna
There is a quote by Bishop Reginald Heber, “Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil.” Spring is often the time of year when we begin to notice changes all around us. Spring brings with it a renewal as the sometimes harsh realities of winter are ending. Changes in the seasons are easy to take notice of and accept both externally and internally. But what about cultural change? Changes in the institutions and ideas that for many of us have existed before our time, but have been ingrained into us through family values, religion, and education. What happens when these things start changing? People often tend to see this impermanence as something external to them. It’s something outside, and they think they can “make it go away” just as we would close a window to a cold breeze. But one cannot stay locked in their home forever.
So how do we address this as Buddhists? How do we talk to others as Buddhist leaders in our communities about the cultural changes happening all around us? We teach about being agents for change, and what better time perhaps then now to be that agent. We have the opportunity to lend our voices to those who are trying to have a positive impact on our culture today. We have the opportunity to speak truthfully, with words that inspire and not tear down. But we also have a great teaching opportunity with those who are trying to close that window to the breeze. We can be aware of their suffering as well and use that as an opportunity to teach impermanence through loving speech and the ability to listen with intent to their stories as well.
Nothing stays the same, whether it be nature, our culture, our practice and ourselves. So as the seasons turn from winter to spring, let us use that as a reminder to slow down and observe all the continual change that is around us. To remember that we too are not separate from this impermanence and also never separate from our own true nature. True knowledge is not attained by thinking. It is what you are; it is what you become. – Sri Aurobindo