“Is any man so foolish as to fear change, to which all things that once were not owe their beings? And what is it that is more pleasing and more familiar to the nature of the universe? How could thou thyself use the ordinary hot baths, should not the wood that heats them first be changes? How could thou receive any nourishment from those things that thou has eaten, if they should not be changed? Can anything els almost (that is useful and profitable) be brought to pass without change? How then do you not perceive that for them also, by death, to come to change, is a thing of the very same nature, and as necessary for the nature of the universe?” ~Marcus Aurelius
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. ~John F. Kennedy
It is really odd that so many people fear change when change is entirely the way of existence in the physical universe. Change is happening every second of every day. Some change is obvious, some is subtle, but there is always change happening. And change comes in many shapes and forms, lets look at a few of them.
Aging is Change
Aging is one of the most common forms of change. Nearly everything, whether living on not ages. When scientists talk about the half-life of radioactive elements, they are talking about a form of aging. When stone is gradually ground down into sand, that too is a form of aging and a form of change. Such change is inevitable so fearing it is pointless. To fear change is to fear life. On the physical plane, there can be no life without change.
Growing is Change
While it is related to aging, growing is not quite the same thing. Aging is about a gradual deterioration while growing is about improvement. When we are born into this world as a tiny baby, it isn’t a state we would want to remain in forever, so this is one case where very few people fear change. We want to change from being a baby to an infant, a child, and an adult. We want to change from knowing nothing about the world to have a mind full of facts, beliefs, and opinions.
Aurelius makes the point that change is necessary with the example of a hot bath in a Roman bathhouse. You could not get a hot bath if you did not change cold water into hot by heating it with fire. This process makes two major changes. Not only is the water changed from cold to hot, but the wood is changed into ashes, smoke, and heat energy. While this example is not a bad one, there is a similar one that is far more important. The energy of the sun heats our planet. While we may say that isn’t change because it happens every day, it is changing because the temperature varies throughout the day and throughout the year. It is this heating of the spinning planet that creates the wind, ocean currents, and just about everything else having to do with the weather. No one fears change when they are caught in a severe snowstorm, instead, they are rooting for it, praying for it.
Aurelius gives a better example when he talks about the food we eat. If the seed didn’t change into a tree, we would have no fruit. If the tree didn’t change by producing blossoms at the appropriate time, we would get no fruit. And if the blossoms didn’t change into tiny fruit buds that grow and change every day until they become mature fruit, we wouldn’t have any fruit. A whole chain of changes must happen to get fruit. And the same is true of nuts, vegetables, and even meat. If cattle don’t change and get pregnant, there goes the beef industry. Another good reason to not fear change.
Why We Fear Change
Of course, there are many types of change we don’t fear and largely ignore, such as those already mentioned. But when we do fear change, it is usually because the change is not clear and well defined. We fear moving to a new place because we don’t know exactly what living in a new place will be like. We fear changing jobs for much the same reason. But most of all, we fear death because, as far as most of us are concerned, we have no idea what awaits us on the other side of the veil. That is the reason why there are such things as mystics and spiritual adepts. They don’t fear death because they visit the other side, or at least the most advanced ones do. They don’t fear the future because they know God’s Plan. So mystics and real spiritual students don’t fear change, instead, they use it for personal growth. A wise choice.