Friday, June 27, 2008

That Which Never Changes


"God" is a word impossible to get one's head around. "Supreme Being" is almost as bad.

Our yoga teacher -- my daughter's and mine -- sometimes refers to "that which never changes." There's something nearly possible to think about. But what could it be? Everything changes. Even mountains change. Even the universe changes.

But some things change so slowly that for our intentions, for purposes of the length of a human lifetime, they change so slowly and imperceptibly that we can perceive them us unchanging. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye," didn't much like the world, but he liked the dioramas at New York's Museum of Natural History ("where I went as a kid") because they never changed.

I've been spending time lately near the three-times-lifesize bronze statue of the Buddha in Golden Gate Park. As far as my limited senses can tell, it never changes. I'm sure it does, really. I'm sure it erodes. But it hasn't visibly eroded since I first visited it in 1965. It was cast in Japan 218 years ago, and brought to where it stands now in 1949. I'll bet it hasn't changed a bit since then.

He reminds me that suffering doesn't change either. For most of us, it comes and goes, but it always remains the one thing all human beings have in common.

2 comments:

Joe said...

Good thoughts! Interesting that we got the Buddha statue after WWII.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

The family that took care of that garden, and lived in it, was sent to a concentration camp in 1942. They were permanently gone from there after that.

I've always wondered if the Japanese Buddha statue being imported in '49 was some kind of statement relating to that family.