A Skillful Reflection on Transition

From the Taoist viewpoint, the polar opposites of light and dark, giving and taking, night and day, man and women, and yin and yang are not seen as separate or in conflict, but as interdependent and complementary. In fact, one creates the other. “Is there a difference between yes and no,” asked Lao Tzu, Taoism’s first sage. “Is there a difference between good and evil?” He replied, “Under heaven all can see beauty only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is evil.” What are we to make of this polarity then? How do we deal with the tug of war between these seeming opposites? Indeed, the answer lies in the understanding that they are interdependent, two sides of the same coin.

It has been said that in the 2 weeks preceding a significant event – even an inherently positive one – we experience the greatest turmoil. During this time, the energy from up ahead blows down on us like the wind before a storm. At this time, we have a tendency to jump ahead into the throws of the transition. As a result, we are at greatest risk for becoming imbalanced, even sick.. While all our lives we are taught to equate moving forward with positivity, we often forget that this movement is far bigger than we are; and rather than acting on our impulses, we would be best served delaying our own action while observing the initial stages and changes that are beginning to amass in front of us.

Right at this moment, these changes are happening…and just like you would in advance of a storm, it is advisable to stay grounded. From the unearthed worm, emerging intently from the dirt that protected him all winter to faithfully attract the robins, to the subtle change in our daily pace from one season to the next, it is critical at this juncture to be aware of what is occurring around us. At this pivotal time and setting, it is best to operate at a high level of discretion and discernment, and exercise the necessary judgment to remain grounded throughout the transition. Indeed, the changes that we first associate with spring; the worms, the robins, the snow drops and crocuses all happen on the ground, well before the trees bloom or the skies clear.

Nature is a curious thing, in that it is indifferent to the processes it sustains. The great wall of water that refills a river after the long dry season also floods crops, drowns unsuspecting animals, and destroys nearly everything in its path. Nature’s moral relativism can be hard for us to comprehend. Since so many of the processes that sustain life also take it away, it is impossible to determine whether something is good or bad. Many of us do not do well with this level of ambiguity at first, but life’s opposites are merely expressions of a deeper underlying unity; a cycle that connects and defines life in all its forms and processes. Instead of choosing sides, we should see how opposites merge into one another. Suspending our judgment is one way of doing this. No matter how eager we are for the future, change does not all happen at once, and sometimes the bigger picture or a meditative retrospective is the missing link between haste and triumph.
The ground is also a place where we can get our footing when tempted to lurch forward. On this day of the seasonal cycle, there is something very comforting about finding the utmost stability in the very place where the most movement is occurring. As porous pieces of land give way, flowers break through and chutes of grass begin to sprout again, and with it our impulses. But, don’t put your jacket away just yet. Evade the hustle by moving forward steadily, leaving winter behind for sure, but not so fast…never forgetting to observe the beauty of each step of the process – both sides of the coin.

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