Moments come and go. Days pass by, turning into weeks, then months, then years. You and the life you lead are continually changing. Nothing is permanent. The Law of Impermanence states that all relationships will end via death or separation.
What a pleasant way to start an article; Let me sit down, drink my cup of tea and think about how everything good in my life is going to go away at some point. Color me with the happy crayon. Maybe next week we can all sit in the broken glass together.
Let’s think about impermanence and how it positively affects our lives. Is impermanence positive? There is a flip side to every coin, and undoubtedly impermanence is one of them. The law of impermanence can ease us through times of transition and pain. What? Really? Well yes! The better we understand it, the better understanding we’ll have of the world we live in and the situations we find ourselves walking and working. It is beneficial to remind yourself of this as you confront adversity, and as negative emotions become overwhelming.
At some point, nearly all of us experience grief resulting from the loss of a loved one. Many of us will express sadness, pain, and struggles. We will display anguish over a breakup or termination of a job, or loss of a particular person or pet. And a number of us will become the unfortunate victims of crimes or wrongdoings.
Considering these possibilities doesn’t have to be morbid or morose. There’s no denying that each of us will experience difficulties in our well-being over which we have no control. If we can face these situations knowing that nothing is permanent, then we are more likely to handle and overcome them appropriately.
“Awareness of impermanence and appreciation of our human potential will give us a sense of urgency that we must use every precious moment.” Dalai Lama
Our struggle with impermanence causes much, if not all, of our suffering. We don’t want things to change; we want things to be the way we want them. And when they aren’t, we are stressed out, frustrated, disappointed, grieving, mourning, wishing things were different. But what if we could accept this impermanence, accept the reality of this moment, embrace it as we do the cherry blossom? We might be a bit more at peace with the truth.
How does the law of impermanence speak to you? Does it scare you? Depress you? Or free you? I like to connect it with the line, “This too shall pass.” We all have that friend who reads a bit of Ekhart Tolle or watches Oprah and offers us this phrase when struggles are upon us. “This, too, shall pass.” I can relate.
It will pass. As will the good times. As will the bad times. As will the businesses that you build, the friendships you form, the marriages, and the relationships with your children, your friends, and co-workers. All of it. All of it, at some point, will cease to exist as you either cease to exist or situations evolve.
A deep understanding of impermanence, one taken in fully without fear, frees us from attachments. If we genuinely understand that all relationships must end, then when one does, we also know the pain of the loss, too, must come to an end in a given time. We know that when one door closes, as they all must do at some point, another one must open.
By understanding impermanence, which has to flip both ways just like a coin, we can take solace in the fact that the relationship with the pain we may be feeling today also must end. It cannot live inside of us forever. It will change. We will change. Our circumstances will change. Life will bring us new experiences, new relationships, and new sets of impermanence.
Our external worlds will always be in a state of flux. Friends move, jobs dissolve, and people come and go. The closest of relationships can transform into the deepest of hatred. The house we grew up in will have to be left. The neighborhood isn’t what it used to be.
Some say death and taxes are our only guarantees, but I’ll throw “change” into that mix as well. Change is inevitable. We can embrace it, breathe into it, and allow it to be. Or we can fight it. We can become rigid against it, angry at it, or broken by it. Change is not concerned with how it affects us any more than the ocean concerns itself with the day to day feelings of the rocks it crashes into; it just hits. Wave after wave. Day after day.
Universal laws are pretty sociopathic that way. They do their thing and leave us to work our lives around them. Understanding them and embracing them will let us control the only part of our lives that we ever can – ourselves and the attitude with which we bring as the focus of our experience.
Impermanence should bring you comfort; it should allow you to breathe deeper into your belly, knowing that everything must come to pass, including yourself. Getting stronger is not all about meeting life with force, but sometimes leaning the other way and letting life work her magic even if it is painful to us at the moment.