Here we are . . . the first full day of autumn . . . seasons changing, nature and her cycles: metaphors for life and transformation . . . autumn represents the end of a cycle, completion, harvest . . .
The Tao Te Ching says,
The unfinished becomes complete,
The crooked becomes straight,
Empty becomes full,
And what is old becomes new again.
I like the idea of old becoming new again. Autumn also represents aging. The leaves at the end of their cycle have grown old, they turn to gold and red, and while newness may not seem apparent to us, there is certainly beauty. What did Albert Camus say? “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
After the leaves turn colors, they fall the ground to become compost that helps other plants to grow and they become food for worms, then the worms become food for ants and beetles – a continuous cycle.
With completion, there is also continuation. When we come to the end of a cycle, a new one begins.
So it is with the ebb and flow of life.
We might ask where, within the seasons of life, is there fulfillment? Surely, there must be some measure of satisfaction and happiness that accompanies completion . . . Where do we find it?
But sages like the Buddha and Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching, would tell you to wait for it. They’d say that when we seek fulfillment, it will often elude us. Satisfaction and happiness come when we simply go with the flow. That sounds like a rather worn out cliché, and it is, but it is also true. Buddha taught that the inclination to seize, to cling and contend was the chief source of conflict and suffering. Nagarjuna stressed the term “non-contentiousness” (anupalambha), the very heart the Buddha’s dharma. And Lao Tzu ends Chapter 22 of the Tao with this:
Because sages do not contend, no one can contend with them
When the ancients said, “the unfinished becomes complete”
Were they speaking empty words?
Become whole, and all things will return to you.