The face of impermanence is constantly showing itself. Why do we struggle to hide it? Why do we feed the circle of suffering by perpetuating the myth of permanence? Experiences, friends, relationships, possessions, knowledge – we work so hard to convince ourselves that they will last. When a cup breaks or we forget something, or somebody dies or the seasons change, we’re surprised. We can’t believe it’s over.
… Permanence would be awkward. There would be no beginning and no end . . . Everything would last forever. There’d be no seasons. We’d never be born, grow up, fall in love, have children, grow old or die . . .
No matter how we want to cling to our loved ones, by nature every relationship is a meeting and a parting. This doesn’t mean we have less love. It means we have less fixation, less pain. . . we can relax into the ebb and flow of life.
We don’t have to keep imitating an idea of permanent happiness.
Understanding the meaning of impermanence makes us less desperate people. It gives us dignity. . .
~ SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, Turning the Mind into an Ally
For me this dignity is essential in cultivating a heart of compassion (and Sakyong points to this also). If my heart is full of fixation there is no room for anything else to exist. It’s as if this letting go is a first step in taking the focus off of merely myself and opening up to something larger than myself.
I find that embracing the nature of impermanence in the seasons, in financial areas, and relationships to be easier these days. The impermanence in knowledge is becoming more evident in this information age as “things” we thought to be true are quickly outdated and replaced by new information – it’s funny, I still hold certain knowledge to be more permanent – I grasp this tighter; I hold on with a closed fist – especially when I do not see the difference between knowledge and my opinion or I try to make a certain knowledge “fixed” rather than unfolding (which happens when I am caught up in my blue or orange development – see Spiral Dynamics).
I hope to cultivate a bit more dignity in this area.