“If everything within ourselves and the world is constantly changing, how do we make a decision that we will be able to live with in the next moment?”
Well, you make a decision based on the optimum information you have available now, and on the total moment you experience from quieting your mind, and by deeply feeling the present. If you are quiet enough, and can find the place in you that is behind time, then your choices contain within them the nature of the way things will change.
However, for the lesser ones of us who don’t have that much clarity of mind, you make a decision now, knowing full well that conditions may change to make it inappropriate later on. I come back to a thought from Gandhi, that our commitment is to truth, not to consistency; and in a changing environment, you have to understand that conditions will change.
The minute you start to try to live your life as if nothing will change, you become an enemy of the way of things.
It’s like when you pit yourself against death; death is part of the way of things, and when you start to pit yourself against nature, you have to close down and arm yourself. So instead you learn to dance with change. You learn that to have less certainty about what the future holds, of who you’ll be when you grow up, or how it will all come out. Because when I look at life now, compared with 25 years ago, 30 years ago, 40… everything I thought about who I was and how it would come out had no similarity at all to the way it is.
Who I am now hardly recognizes who that was, who was absolutely sure he would be around all the way through. Who he was at Harvard would have hospitalized who I am now. And who I am now feels great compassion for who he was then. I doubt if we’d be friends. We would have very little business with one another. He would be very judging of me, which would be very poignant.
So I have learned, from going through so many transformations of who I know myself to be and how it is, that I must assume that those will continue. There’s no reason to assume they won’t, although they may not. Because I can’t – I don’t know that. So I’m not planning to continue to be who I am forever. It will keep changing.
And you get to be at home with change. You get to be at home with uncertainty. You get to be at home with not knowing how it all comes out. and you make a plan knowing full well that it may be totally irrelevant a moment later, and you’re at peace with that.
So I find that when I’m at a choice point, the best thing to do is to quiet and empty and go back to square one. But I try to stay at the choice point as long as I can, because that’s as interesting a place as any other place, to stay with not knowing what to do. But if you listen, it all becomes apparent in time. Patience is good. The tolerance for not knowing what’s what is quite an art form.
– Ram Dass