THE LAW OF IMPERMANENCE
The Law of Impermanence is also known as the philosophical problem of change which is a central part of human life. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not and this can be perceived as a dilemma to many of us who are constantly wanting certainty to reign supreme. The Buddha called impermanence one of the three distinguishing marks of our existence, an incontrovertible fact of life. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can let go and not struggle against it, that’s called enlightenment.
The Buddha said, “but you think you have time…all conditioned things have the nature of vanishing.” and The Dalai Lama said that “Awareness of impermanence and appreciation of our human potential will give us a sense of urgency that we must use every precious moment”. Impermanence and mystery are two central aspects of cultivating your contemplative intelligence. Everything is on its way from nowhere to now here and then back to nowhere, and so on. Both of these words are spelled the same, only the space in-between is different. Your chair, the oak tree, your car. All of it is crumbling, shifting and changing. If you don’t tend a human-made garden, it will literally be unrecognisable in just a few months. They pyramids, our sun and your own body won’t last. All of it is subject to impermanence.
Fear of death, is something that we play with the concept of ‘not now but later’. This inevitable transition, this death drive, plays a major part in how we live our lives. We can become selfish, arrogant, isolated or even develop risk taking behaviours to try and wrap our heads around the tragedy of life’s, and our own, importance. So what does contemplation teach us to do about this. Embrace it of course!
Our moods change like the seasons. Impermanence helps us to loosen our white knuckled grips on holding onto people, places and things that no longer serve us. We are on an experiential journey of discovery. This means that we have needs that drive us, propel us, forward and upward. We are here to do, to experience, to take part-in and to contribute to this grand design called life. Impermanence is evidence of change and if you contemplate quietly to yourself and look around, you will see that everything is slowly changing as surely as the world is turning. Allow impermanence to help you embrace this fact with curiosity. Impermanence is kind, because whatever it is, it is always over, and always beginning again. Much like the idea of reincarnation as a metaphor. Impermanence may be the only guarantee in life, so let us embrace it. Remember that every situation whether painful or joyful carries a hidden opportunity to be turned into something wonderful for yourself and others.
In the times of Noah, there wasn’t just a flood and chaos. There was a freshly plucked olive leaf and a new order. Like all of us, you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed a little hope. The kind of hope that impermanence provides. Impermanence also allows greater room for gratitude. And so we can embrace the law of impermanence with sincere joy and a this too shall pass attitude.
Today, let’s not worry ourselves with too much about what is going to happen next. The mind is not built to handle what the heart needs to hand over. Practice letting go and surrender to the moment as and when it occurs. Embrace new changes as if you choose those changes yourself. This is how you can transcend the weird and wonderful laws of life. We have been equipped to transcend the painful should we choose to do so. The hoops we have to jump through to change anything are based in having to overcome fear, doubt and the anxiety of not-knowing. Which really is 90% of life anyway, if we are honest. Through contemplation, connection and courage you can learn to not resist the flow of life, but rather to float along in ecstacy with it.
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