There are many gifts in impermanence.
HAPPENS IN TWO WAYS
We can say that impermanence happens in two areas of life.
One is in the world, in a conventional sense. Nothing stays the same. Even mountains change and erode over time. Everything we know and know about will eventually be gone. Eventually, everything human will be gone. This universe as we know it will be gone. It will be as if none of it ever existed.
Another is in my immediate experience. Here, I find everything is always changing. All the content of my experience is always changing, always fresh and new.
In both of these cases, reality continually wipes itself clean. What’s here is gone and something else is here.
Reality is radically impermanent.
GIFTS IN A CONVENTIONAL SENSE
When we recognize this within the realm of ideas and stories, we can find many gifts in it.
We can see that impermanence is what makes anything possible. Without the radical impermanence of existence, everything would fill up quickly and there wouldn’t be space for anything else. Impermanence is required for anything to exist in the first place.
At a more personal level, it can help us notice and befriend any fear and issues that come up in us from noticing impermanence. And some of us engage in this exploration collectively, which helps transform our culture just a little bit.
Knowing that all comes and goes helps us not take anything for granted. The people in my life, the place I am, my health, and so on, may and will all be gone eventually, and it can happen far sooner than I imagine. It can all be gone at any moment. So why not appreciate it while it’s here? Why not enjoy it? Why not enjoy even the things my personality doesn’t immediately want to enjoy? It will all be gone soon enough.
It will all be gone one day. I will be gone. Everyone I know will be gone. Everyone who has ever heard about me will be gone. Everything I produce and create, even if I am the most well-known artist or scientist, will be gone. All of human civilization will be gone. One day, it will all be gone. So why not do what’s meaningful for me? Why not do what makes me come alive? Why not do what’s juicy for me? Why not live from what’s most important to me? Why not live from what’s more authentic for me?
GIFTS FROM MORE IMMEDIATE NOTICING
There is also a gift in noticing the impermanence inherent in our own experience.
If I look, I may notice that all content of my experience is always changing. I can explore this through basic meditation or different forms of inquiry, including sense field explorations.
In a conventional sense, I am this human being. But can that be what I more fundamentally am? Can I be any content of experience, including anything my thoughts tell me I am, if it’s all changing?
What am I, more fundamentally, and in my own first-person experience?
I may find that my more fundamental nature is capacity for all this changing content of experience.
I am capacity for all of it, and what it all happens within and as.
THE GIFTS OF IMPERMANENCE
So there are several gifts in impermanence.
It makes anything possible.
Recognizing it in a conventional sense can help us become more comfortable with the inevitability of impermanence. It may help us appreciate what’s here a bit more, including what our first impulse is to not appreciate. It may help us free ourselves to live from what’s meaningful, juicy, and alive for us.
If we notice impermanence in our own immediate experience, it can help us question the idea that we are most fundamentally anything particular within the content of experience. And it can help us find what we already are, in our own first-person experience.
- The gifts of impermanence
- happens in two areas
- in the world, conventional sense
- in our experience, more immediate
- makes anything possible
- cleans the slate
- conventional sense
- appreciate what’s here while it’s here
- not take anything for granted
- it will all be gone, so may as well do what’s meaningful to me, juicy, alive
- more immediate
- if all the content of my experience is always changing
- can “I” most fundamentally be any of it
- what am I, more fundamentally, in my own first person experiene?
- happens in two areas
(Over short time spans, it may look similar and thoughts may even say “it’s the same”. And when we look more closely, we may find it’s always new, fresh, and different.)