a cork board


Impermanence
PMpWed, 02 Nov 2011 16:46:25 +000046Wednesday 1, 2010, 4:46 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Some time ago I went to the Buddhist Temple down the street from my house (which is absolutely astounding in so many ways and I am lucky to have it so close by) and I meandered into their book store. There were countless books on Buddhism, some huge and some slim, some volumes and some single editions and some I felt lost just looking at. I wanted to start somewhere that would build a foundation for me. I didn’t want to become a Buddhist, but I wanted to explore some of the basic principles so I could build a house on top of that. So, I found a book called “The Core Teachings: Buddhist Practice and Progress 1” by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The read is smooth and slow and easy to understand. It uses basic language and does not over complicate things. I have not finished the book, because when I reached the section about the Dharma Seals I began to read and re-read them slowly and I could not grasp it. So I decided to take a break, because the concept of Emptiness never fully sunk in with me.

One of the things that did sink in though, was impermanence. In the book he talks about the Origin of Human Suffering. He spoke about the idea that nothing stays the same, that is the nature of the universe and of life. Things are constantly changing and evolving, because one experience is built on top of another, and so on and so forth. And because, as humans our nature is to grow attached to things, we then attach our emotional ties to them the way they are. We begin to covet them and hope and pray they stay the same. And when they change (as they always do), we become heart-broken. So this is the origin and beginning of human suffering. Impermanence is one of the guarantees in life, we can be absolutely sure that nothing will remain as it was.

But why do we continuously expect ourselves, our friends, family, job and world to stay the same? A lot of time we will meet people when they are at a crossroad in their life. Our paths may have very well crossed for the sole purpose of making the transition smoother for either us or them, or both. But we become attached to these relationships and the way we are as people. When the tides shift and the underlying, unknown purpose for the relationship is at an end we are left standing in the rain wondering what happened. Why can’t things be the way they used to be? Why did they change? Is it me? So begins the cycle of unhappiness that will carry into future friendships and relationships.

We start to eat away at ourselves because we expected that particular relationship to never change…but nothing stays the same, ever. We should be living our lives the way a river flows through a vast lay of land; picking up items along the way, leaving them behind when the time comes and moving forward with an unstoppable force. We should not be swayed or deterred by losing things or people along the way. If something is meant to be there, it will be. Everything runs its course and when the time comes for it to no longer exist, it perishes. Or there can be a very long and necessary break.

I decided to write this because I’ve been thinking about some of the acquaintances I’ve made over the last few years, the various people that have come in and out of my life. Some of them I let into my life deeply, while others, not so much. Some have changed right before my eyes; some turned into different people and some, well, their true colors finally started to show…but some of them turn into lifelong friendships. But it’s the ones that I never saw coming, the ones that I thought were real friendships and turned out to be nothing but a passing phase that get to me from time to time. I try to hold onto them the way they were and it just doesn’t work. Whatever the cause, we’re barely acquaintances anymore; we’re just a series of passing social pleasantries. And that’s okay. That is no reflection of me as a person, or them for that matter. I don’t need to classify them as shallow or harbor any resentment to make myself feel better. I just need to see myself as a river, and if a piece of driftwood wants to be with me until I reach the ocean, then they can come along for the ride. If they don’t, that’s fine too. I will keep moving and keep changing and so will the rest of the world. Nothing is permanent except the idea of impermanence.

Keep on keepin’ on.

 

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