If a star is originally only gases that are compressed into a burning sun, then someday that star will become only gas again. If the universe was at one time pure energy, then all the stars and planets will become pure energy again; dust to dust so to speak. And this constant change, I believe, is truly the hope for us all.
It is no secret that we have constructed immense, magnificent egos from our thoughts and emotions - a seemingly solid, unchanging entity which we fondly call ourselves, or our “I" thought. It's the little man or woman that we argue with in our heads - the strange imaginary being that stands behind our thoughts. That “thing" that never grows old while at the same time watches us grow old. Our “I" thought.
Our “I" thought; that which causes so much angst as we try to protect it from all kinds of dangers, even though it is only a figment of a wondrous imagination. We protect it in every way, eat healthy foods, get enough exercise, read smart books, etc, etc. , yet it seems ever so vulnerable.
We picture it going to heaven someday and we do heroics things to make sure that our destination won't be hell. We even go as far as investigating this “I" thought itself to see if in fact it is real, and when we find that it isn't, we transfer that unrealness into another, more lofty ego, aka the holy man or woman. Try as we may, our “selves" remain to haunt us.
This is where the certainty of change comes to our rescue, however. Regardless of how strong our egos may be, they can't stand up to change, and eventually will go the way of everything else and succumb to the laws of change as they merge into their true nature, which is not an individual ego at all but a universal heart. And we can't stop this change regardless of how attached we are to ourselves, because we eventually disappear.
This should be a relief, although thinking about disappearing doesn't seem like a relief! Vanishing means leaving everything behind and that isn't fun; it's taken such a long time to become attached to so many people and things surrounding us that the thought of leaving everything behind is daunting. But change rules.
In the meantime, we sit here on earth reinforcing this idea of “I" as we separate ourselves from our fellow human beings, stubbornly resisting change and insisting that our selves are real and unchanging and eternal, and that we will never merge into a universal heart that we will share with our fellow human beings.
A drop falls into the ocean. Does the ocean notice? Does the drop keep its identity?
And then, according to change , the ocean itself lapses into its original nature. And then the planet. And then the universe. Until there is only “that, " the unchanging, beginningless, endlessness that we inherently are.
And then we are home.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com