The passing of the season makes my awareness of the suffering of loved ones more poignant too. A beloved friend has been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer. My grandmother has been critically ill in the hospital. This, too, is impermanence in action. The difficulty appreciating change, I think, stems from our imposition of agendas onto experience. These agendas are mostly subtle and hidden, yet pervasive. We always want or expect things to be a certain way. I want my experience to be just so; I want my circumstances to be just so. When they are not dissatisfaction arises. A lack of agendas opens the way for interest to arise. If we don't have an agenda, a need for things to be just so, we can take interest in what actually is. If we can be interested we circumvent dissatisfaction. I tried to convey this sensibility to my mindfulness students at UVM last week. We did an hour long meditation and everyone was asked to resist the temptation to move. This instruction creates a crucible to examine our ceaseless agendas. We want entertainment, comfort, and the freedom to move about. How difficult is it to relinquish these agendas for one hour out of life? As we went through the practice, they were encouraged to examine the nature of concepts like restlessness, impatience, and boredom. We had the opportunity to touch the nature of discomfort, and even pain. We could see how "deconstructing" these concepts opens a space of perfection. Perfection is the place where interest makes seamless contact with what is present. There are no agendas to get in the way and no room for suffering or dissatisfaction to arise.
Things are perfect in their imperfection. This notion of perfection is not meant to encourage passive resignation to "imperfect" conditions. We can certainly work towards making things better. As Shunryu Suzuki said: "Everything is perfect, but there is much room for improvement." When we work towards change we respect the present and try to relinquish agendas that get in the way of realizing what we are trying to achieve. Many of these agendas revolve around impermanence. If we try to resist the changing of nature of things, we are caught being perfectionistic, which is anathema to perfection. The change of the season embodies perfection.