“Fortunately, life is nothing but a continuing dance of birth and death, a dance of change. Every time I hear the rush of a mountain stream, or the waves crashing on the shore, or my own heartbeat, I hear the sound of impermanence.”

Sogyal Rinpoche

Once in a while we start to think about our lives and how there are things that remain the same while others don’t. I recently talked to a friend about how some things never change. He replied to me: Everything changes. I stopped for a minute. He was telling the truth. Minutes later I was reading about something called Impermanence – known as one of the three marks of existence in Buddhism.

Impermanence (Anicca) is one of the essential doctrines of Buddhism. It emphasizes that all conditioned existence is “transient, evanescent, inconstant”. There is no such thing as permanent and fixed reality. So, all temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction. In other words, what is apparent and verifiable in our existence is the continuous change it undergoes. Everyhting arises, changes and disappears. As Buddha expressed: “Decay is inherent in all component things”.

Buddha teach us to see life as a river. As a progressive moment or a successive series of different moments coming together to give us the impression of continuous flow. Everything moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another giving us the idea that it is one continuous and unified movement, when it isn’t. The river of yesterday it’s not the same of today. This moment is never going to be the same as another moment and so on. So, this is life. It changes endlessly.

Feeling lost? Take myself as an example. It is wrong to suppose that I’ll remain the same person my entire life. I change every moment (even from a scientific point of view). I am and I’ll be no more. And I am what I am in the context of the time in which I exist.

Impermanence and change are thus the undeniable truth of our existence. What is real is the now, this present that is for a fact a product of the past or a result of previous causes and actions.

When I feel sad or lost about something or when I’m facing a problem I can’t seem to overcome, I take a minute or two to think and see that everything is in constant change. What I’m feeling now will not endure. So, whatever bad feeling I’m having will eventually pass. And it is by becoming aware of it and by understanding it, that I can find something to appease my sorrow and achieve some quietude and peacefulness.

 

BONUS: If this subject got your attention, I recommend you to watch Tokyo Monogatari.
A beautiful movie of Yasujirô Ozu that expresses an understanding that all things 
must change.