not always so

Well, now I can actually say it. I am caught up. Since I caught up, I have been absolutely exhausted and while the temptation is to take a few days to rest and eat and recover, that is a sure fire way to fall behind again. One simply has to keep on going and the recovery part comes as life remains calmer. I did take Tuesday to myself to nap and eat and enjoy just having no deadlines to meet. Now it is Wednesday and I am getting back into the loop.


It’s funny, as I keep moving forward (after several years of standing still) how smoothly things are joining together and how easy it is now to see what needs to be let go and what I should gather. The endless obsession with GO is now blending with the Zen. My zen teacher finally found what it is about the two that makes them a unique and powerful tool of change – they embody the philosophy of “not always so.” This, she says, is the core philosophy of life and the key to living.


I explain this to my kneesnappers using the GO board, only instead of the black and white stones (yin and yang), I use red and clear stones – I tell them that, “Today, we will play with fire and ice.”

Then I ask them a few questions, illustrating the questions with the stones on the board. First, I put down one red stone and begin to surround it with clear ones while I ask, “If you through ice onto a fire, what will it do?”

And the kneesnappers answer, “Melt and put out the fire.”

“So, ice is stronger than fire?”


And I change the board and put one clear stone down, then begin to surround it with red ones. “If the ice is set on fire, what will happen?”

“The ice will melt and the heat from the fire will make it evaporate.”

“So, fire is stronger than ice?”

And they pause…


I have said it before and I will say it again. The only constant in life, the only truth – is change. What is the only way of doing things – is not always so. What never works – is not always so. What will cause a specific effect – is not always so. That an effect does not always have the same cause  – is not always so. That life is difficult – is not always so. That life is wonderful – is not always so. That we are deeply in love with someone – is not always so. That we sometimes feel less love for someone – is not always so. That something threatens or frightens us – is not always so. That something gives us comfort – is not always so.


If nothing is always so, then what is? Simply, your ability to change and respond. But that is not always so.


We become open hearted, we lose our need for judgment, our expectations that lead to disappointment and pain, we lose our bias when we realize – we are not always so.


The kneesnappers get this easily. That what is one moment, is not the next and can be again soon but not necessarily so. Adults have a harder time with it. They can conceptualize it but have a hard time internalizing it – living the principle. Go (baduk, weiqi) allows us to explore how what we know – is not always so.


My charge from my teacher is to rid my life of the things I have kept out of belief that they are always so.


c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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