Impermanence

We all share a deep vulnerability. Everything changes. Wisdom is the ultimate protection because it helps us face life as it really is. —Michelle McDonald, clinical psychologist and editor of “Mind Moon Circle,” Sydney Zen Centre

We know all experience is temporary and nothing lasts forever. Holding back and not looking because of potential disappointment over its impermanence prevents us from seeing and causes us pain. Grasping and trying to make the experience last also causes pain. —Diane Mariechild, author of Open Mind

We’ve all heard and to some degree agreed with the idea that the only constant is change, yet we so often resist the idea of something we enjoy being gone from our lives. At the extreme of this resistance, we don’t want to see life as impermanent. Some believe that life is meaningless without the idea of an individual ego that transcends death. The existential angst of our western culture is seen in our avoidance of the topic of death, in our denial of death in the stories we tell children about heaven. Christians are essentially taught to live their lives with their hope of peace and happiness delayed until that bright future, in other words, delayed until their death. On the contrary, Shunryu Suzuki says that only when you realize that everything is just a flashing into the vast universe, your existence becomes meaningful (Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, p. 107). Leo Buscalia similarly noted that only because of the brevity of our lives do we take notice that we must seize and relish this day, this moment. When you experience a shift into that space of letting go of the illusion of control and permanence, you might find that you actually like it. There is a sense of peace and freedom when you internalize and accept truth.