Beware of change! For change is thy great foe. This change will fight thee off, and throw thee back, out of the Path thou treadest deep into viscous swamps of doubt. — The Voice of the Silence
I remember reading these lines long ago and thinking of the Old Man of the Sea whom some hero — was it Hercules or that inveterate wanderer Sinbad? — must overcome; and always the hero had to remember that whatever form his antagonist took, it would still be the Old Man of the Sea with whom he was struggling. The tale, almost forgotten, assumed new significance; and even the warning against change, linked in thought as it was with the story, became more understandable.
We all have our "Old Man of the Sea" — problems, habits, traits of character, or some other ball and chain that we would like to be free from — and quite often when we think we have won the mastery over any one of them, lo and behold, there the thing is again, only in another guise!
Is there a purpose, then, in all these masks of the quick-change artist? Must we forever meet the same antagonist in form after form if we would down him? Not forever, but certainly until we see beneath the panoply of change and recognize the fundamental sameness of that which wears the masks. And herein lies their purpose, for everything is sevenfold and nothing can be known completely until each aspect of its composite character is understood. Then indeed shall we hold the Ariadne's thread that can guide us through the maze of our own bewildering nature with its more than seven times seven.
Human nature being what it is, however, this quest for the real beneath the seeming can quite easily get out of hand and degenerate into a sort of "witch-hunt" in which every wholesome innovation is pounced upon as misleading, disruptive — a thing to be destroyed before it can become contaminated.
Change is not always "the enemy." Sometimes it is man's best friend. Life is a constant expression of change, and would not be possible without it, whether that change be birth or death. Change means growth — physical, intellectual, spiritual — and the inability to change means stagnation and ultimate death.
Whatever we turn our hand to as a means of self-expression, be it the arts, sciences, philosophies — or just life — one rule holds good: Change. The finished product may completely veil the effort involved, but if it has achieved its goal, good has given way to better, and that to best.
This is true throughout Nature. What more lovely than an apple-tree in bloom! Yet those delicate blossoms must wither and die if we are to taste the fruit. The caterpillar lives his life, and probably finds it good as such lives go, but the beauty and color of wings, the power to fly hither and yon would be denied him were it not for the magic of change wrought during that seeming death in the cocoon. Shall man be less than these? He too must change: outgrow the happy irresponsibilities of childhood, experience the bitter with the sweet, die and be reborn again unnumbered times, if the man is to become a god.
Change — strange paradox! Whether we think of it as "friend" or "enemy" it is worth knowing better, for to understand Change is to understand ourselves.
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