Fridays - Spiritual Healing
Understanding Impermanence Brings
Peace To Our Everyday Lives
by Thich Nhat Hanh
October 14, 2016
The Buddha taught that everything is impermanent — flowers, tables, mountains, political regimes, bodies, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. We cannot find anything that is permanent.
Flowers decompose, but knowing this does not prevent us from loving flowers. In fact, we are able to love them more because we know how to treasure them while they are still alive. If we learn to look at a flower in a way that impermanence is revealed to us, when it dies, we will not suffer. Impermanence is more than an idea. It is a practice to help us touch reality.
When we study impermanence, we have to ask, “Is there anything in this teaching that has to do with my daily life, my daily difficulties, my suffering?” If we see impermanence as merely a philosophy, it is not the Buddha’s teaching. Every time we look or listen, the object of our perception can reveal to us the nature of impermanence. We have to nourish our insight into impermanence all day long.
When we look deeply into impermanence, we see that things change because causes and conditions change. When we look deeply into non-self, we see that the existence of every single thing is possible only because of the existence of everything else. We see everything else is the cause and condition for its existence. We see that everything else is in it.
From the point of view of time, we say “impermanence”, and from the point of view of space, we say “non-self”. Things cannot remain themselves for two consecutive moments, therefore, there is nothing that can be called a permanent “self”. Before you entered this room, you were different physically and mentally. Looking deeply at impermanence, you see non-self. Looking deeply at non-self, you see impermanence. We can say, “I can accept impermanence, but nonself is too difficult”. They are the same.
Understanding impermanence can give us confidence, peace and joy.
Impermanence does not necessarily lead us to suffering. Without impermanence, life could not be. Without impermanence, your daughter could not grow into a beautiful young lady. Without impermanence, oppressive political regimes would never change. We think impermanence makes us suffer. The Buddha gave the example of a dog that was hit by a stone and got angry at the stone. It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.
We need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. If we are in good health and are aware of impermanence, we will take good care of ourselves. When we know that the person we love is impermanent, we will cherish our beloved all the more. Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment and all the precious things around us and inside of us. When we practice mindfulness of impermanence, we become fresher and more loving.
We can practice conscious breathing to help us be in touch with things and to look deeply at their impermanent nature. This practice will keep us from complaining that everything is impermanent and therefore not worth living for. Impermanence is what makes transformation possible. We should learn to say, “Long live impermanence”. Thanks to impermanence, we can change sufferings into joy.
A time dedicated to our Spiritual and Physical balance and harmony. Everyone is welcome. No previous experience with any spiritual teaching is needed. This meeting is recommended as a “Spiritual Support” to help all of us face our challenges and overcome them with balance and wisdom.
We hope to see you soon at
Spiritist Society Towards the Light.