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everything changes

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Two days ago I reported a surprise visit from my Inner Critic. Several people wrote off-line, one commented on her blog, and my hospice coworkers made knowing noises and held me close. Apparently the phenomenon is a familiar one.

Peace has once more been restored, thank you. I am reminded of the wonders of impermanence, that fundamental wisdom about the fact that nothing in nature remains the same. One day’s disturbance is another’s calmness. The ocean’s movements are a fitting metaphor: rough seas and foggy mornings turn into gentle waves and sunny afternoons. Yet, it’s always the same ocean. When the surface is at its wildest, calm seas await just metres below the surface.  

ocean-bearI understand all that, intellectually. Yet from time to time, when fear and anger (along with their cousins jealousy, envy, and greed) take the upper hand, I forget that basic rule. For moments, even hours and days depending on the severity of attack and the slackness of my awareness, I become discouraged and lose sight of the big picture.  

Now, back in calm waters, I can see that all is part of an ever-changing movement towards consciousness. Dark moments are integral to awakening. As Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, give thanks for toothache, it shows what it’s like to have no toothache. Everything is practice and lessons lurk where least expected. Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all understanding, says the ancient Tao te ching.


5 responses »

  1. I think it is so important to remember what you say here, Peter, that we can know something intellectually and still get side swiped at the emotional level. I have heard it said that when we have reactions that seem out of proportion to what has happened that it could well be related to something karmic. In my experience this feels true.

    I also like to think about the compassionate side of suffering, (usually after I get out of the thick of it) in that it wakes us up and shows us where our work is.

  2. Please say more about “something karmic,” Carole.

  3. I think you’ve inspired my post for today. I was wondering what I would write about today and topic of karma ties in to what my partner and I were chatting about as we walked along the ocean today.

  4. my heart goes out to you for your brave sharing. I too am a friend of the inner critic, the judge I call him. He is always ready to beat me up when I least expect it. You have such a supportive group of people around you too – help sooth the rough edges of the critic attack.

  5. re: Carole’s mention (2 comments above) of “something karmic” led to my question and now her brave venturing into the land of explaining. Please visit her blog at


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