The Myth of Permanence

Excerpt from Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham:

The face of impermanence is constantly showing itself. Why do we struggle to hide it? Why do we feed the cycle of suffering by perpetuating the myth of permanence? Experiences, friends, relationships, possessions, knowledge--we work hard to convince ourselves that they will last. When a cup breaks or somebody dies or the seasons change, we’re surprised. We can’t quite believe it’s over...

This bittersweet taste marks our lives. The movie ends, our relationship’s over, children grow up. Impermanence is always pounding on the door. Of course, acknowledging impermanence doesn’t mean we get permanence. It means we’re more in tune with reality; we can relax. As we relinquish our attachment to permanence, pain begins to diminish because we’re no longer fooled. Accepting impermanence means that we spend less energy resisting reality. Our suffering has a more direct quality. We’re no longer trying to avoid it. We see that impermanence is a river that runs through our lives. We see that because we resist impermanence, pain and suffering are constants. We realize that pain comes from a desire for permanence. 

At this very instant, the weather is changing, our hair is growing, people are dying and being born, and the earth is shifting on its axis as it circles round the sun. We’re growing older. Perhaps our mood has changed since yesterday. Contemplating impermanence can be a liberating experience, one that brings both sobriety and joy. In essence, we become less attached. We realize we can’t really have anything. We have money and then it’s gone; we have sadness and then it’s gone. No matter how we want to cling to our loved ones, by nature every relationships is a meeting and a parting. This doesn’t mean we have less love. It means we have less fixation, less pain. It means we have more freedom and appreciation, because we can relax into the ebb and flow of life.