It is said that change is the only constant in life. This paradoxical statement captures the essence of fudoshin, or “unchanging heart”. Change meets us many times on our path through life – the formidable herald of a crossroads whose imposing gaze can make us turn back if we do not have the heart to face it. The heart we must cultivate to do so is fudoshin and at the heart of this concept is the ability to adapt.
To have an unchanging heart is to anticipate shifts in our reality, to remain resolute in our purpose and to persist in our progress despite the resulting disruption to our lives. This may entail showing strength during times of crisis, maintaining integrity when it is tested, and continuing forward when our path is obscured and all signposts we have come to expect have vanished from sight. In all cases, we must cultivate peace with the unfamiliar and rather than resist it, learn to accept its influence.
To accept the unfamiliar is a process of transformation in which the raw materials of our identities are made into a new configuration. The uncertainty of how we will come out of the transformation can be disconcerting, but there is also opportunity in the perspective we acquire along the way. Even when change entails breaking down the aspects of our lives that we hold most dear, we may find we have gained something important along the way, unlocking hitherto unknown potential only by demolishing the boundaries of our comfort zone. To cultivate an unchanging heart is to build our capacity to reinvent
our self-concept time and again, without mourning previous incarnations or the circumstances that sustained them, and to embrace the growth catalyzed by change.
We must be aware that change will present itself in many different manners and that our growth will depend on choosing the appropriate response. Some changes may explode in our midst, requiring a rapid and total shift in our behavior to avoid getting burned; others may trickle in deceptively slow so we must maintain constant vigilance to prevent a flood of chaos when a tipping point is reached. Other changes may blow us about directionless until we learn not to resist; once they have settled down and
we are grounded once more we can adjust to the new surroundings. In some cases, a deep and profound change that shakes the foundation of everything we think we know may require us to rebuild it slowly in a different structure with the aid of new materials.
There will certainly be times when our hearts are heavy and there seems no sense or value in the curves we have been thrown. At such times we must rely on our training and the way we have cultivated our hearts from so many previous challenges and adaptations. We must trust that this training is still at work outside of our immediate awareness and that the response we need is growing somewhere inside. If we
can do this, we may well find that sometime, quite unexpectedly, something seemingly unrelated moves something in us and we are finally equipped not only to accept a new reality but also to thrive in it.
No one is immune to change and it will find us no matter how much we try to shield ourselves from it or how stealthily we try to evade it. When the inevitable happens, our ability to adapt is the only thing we can count on to be stable. If we can meet the changes we encounter in life with the regular anticipation and adaptability of the turning seasons, we can embody the concept of fudoshin and we can trust in the wisdom that the more things change, the more they stay the same.