Everything Changes

“Everything changes,” says the law of impermanence – one of the major insights of the Buddha. Nothing stays the same, no matter how much we desire it. There is no escaping the fact that everything changes, just like the weather, the tides, the leaves, and other physical phenomena.

As summer flows into winter through the transition time of autumn, the beautiful trees in my neighbor’s yard display the wonderful colors of impermanence. Even in Northern California, the changes in the trees are beautiful.

Trees Outside My Window, Photo © by Jerome Freedman

Everything Changes: Trees Outside My Window, Photo © by Jerome Freedman

Martha Beck puts it this way in her book, Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening (Bewilderment Chronicles)

Nothing’s gonna change my world. Have you ever taken refuge in that thought, beloved? It’s a lie, of course; your world has never stopped changing, and it never will. As you read this, everything you know and everything you are is dropping away, and away, and away, into the irretrievable past. Sometimes it’s fairly easy to ignore that, of course. You create a career, a relationship, a child, and you tell yourself things are as they should be, forever. It’s a lovely fantasy while it lasts, and it can be hard to let go when the illusion of stability inevitably ends.
– Martha Beck from Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening (Bewilderment Chronicles):

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Long live impermanence!”

If things were not impermanent, life would not be possible. Suppose you sow a seed of corn. If the seed of corn is not impermanent, it cannot sprout and become a young plant of corn and you would have no corn to eat. That is why impermanence is very important, crucial for life. That is why instead of complaining about impermanence you have to say “Long live impermanence!”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

So how do we learn to live with impermanence? We can embrace impermanence this way: “Everyone I love and everything I have are of the nature to change. I cannot escape impermanence,” or simply, “Impermanence – no escape.” When we breathe in we contemplate impermanence, when we breathe out, we recognize that there is no escape from impermanence.

Books by Martha Beck

Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening (Bewilderment Chronicles)

Martha Beck

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