The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Impermanence

Understanding impermanence

Ask yourself these two questions: Do I remember at every moment that I am dying, and that everyone and everything else is, and so treat all beings at all times with compassion? Has my understanding of death and impermanence become so keen and so urgent that I am devoting every second to the pursuit of enlightenment? If you can answer “yes” to both of these, then you really understand impermanence.


A Zen View on Impermanence

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“Impermanence in the teaching of the Buddha also means interbeing, non-self. Because things change every moment, nothing can remain the same in two consecutive moments.

There are no permanent entities; there is no permanent self. A flower is made only of non-flower elements. You are made of entirely non-you elements. That is the truth.

You are made of ancestors, air, water, education, sunshine, clouds, and so on. You are a formation. You are beautiful, but you are a formation. Every formation is impermanent.

A flower cannot be by itself alone, because it has no separate self. A flower can only inter-be with the sunshine, with the clouds, with the earth.

If you remove the element sunshine from the flower, the flower will collapse. If you remove the element cloud, meaning water, from the flower, the flower will collapse. So a flower is full of everything.

Everything in the Cosmos can be found in the flower: sunshine, clouds, minerals, earth, time, space, humans, everything.

Only one thing is lacking in the flower— that is a separate existence, a separate self. Now you understand what is meant by “non-self.”

Non-self does not mean non-existing; non-self means you don’t have a separate existence, like the flower. A flower is there, full of the whole cosmos, but not having a separate entity.

There is no such thing as permanent and separate. There’s nothing that can be permanent, that can be separate.

Everything is impermanent, everything has the nature of interbeing. Nothing can be by itself alone, everything has to inter-be with everything else.

The Buddha expressed that reality in very, very simple terms: “This is, because that is.” If you had asked about the Buddhist teaching on Genesis, about how the world has come to be, the Buddha would have said: “This is, because that is.”

That is the law of interbeing, the law of interdependent origination, the law of no self. “No self” does not mean non-existing. Everything is, in a wonderful way, but everything is a formation.

When you practice embracing the object of your perception, whether that is a flower, or a cloud, or your anger, or a person, you know that all of these are formations, and that all formations are impermanent.

But if you look more deeply, impermanence and interbeing open to you the dimension called Nirvana.

Nirvana is the nature of no-birth and no-death. How can nirvana go along with impermanence and non-self?

The answer is that it is exactly because things are impermanent and without a separate self that their nature is the nature of Nirvana. It means the nature of no-birth and no-death.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~
August 3, 1998 – Plum Village, France

Drawing by Christopher Chase


Way of Buddha, Way of Waking Up

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“Examine for yourself what is really the truth. What is the reason for the misery and pain every living being undergoes? What is the cause of samsara’s delusion? It is nothing other than lacking the experience of our enlightened essence. We ignore what is primordially present within us: our Buddha nature. Instead, immersed in confused emotions, we chase illusory aims that endlessly result in more deluded experience. That’s called samsara. We have already done that for countless lifetimes, life after life, death following rebirth. Unless you now take this opportunity, while you are still a human being, to realize what is fully possible, you will continue in the future in the same deluded way.

Please understand that the Buddha nature is present within everyone. Nobody lacks this potential, not even a single person in this world. Unless you learn how to bring it into your personal experience, train in that and realize it, you remain deluded.

Delusion never disappears by itself. Spinning around on the rim of samsara’s vicious wheel, on the twelve links of dependent origination, you will continue life after life. We all die, are reborn, and die again, countless times.

But, in this present life, you can learn to experience your enlightened essence, and if you do that, you can, before passing away, attain the perfectly and fully awakened state of a Buddha.

The method to transform this human body into rainbow light at the moment of death is only through recognizing and realizing our Buddha nature; there is no other possible way. The instruction for how to do that is still available.

Place your trust in the three jewels: the precious Buddha, dharma and sangha. Receive this teaching from someone who holds an unbroken lineage; this lineage is still intact…

Everything in the world changes; nothing remains the same, nothing is permanent, nothing lasts. If you want to be successful, if you really want to take care of yourself –recognize your enlightened essence..”

~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Tibetan Dzogchen teacher

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Pointing out instructions, Dzogchen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72-Xq4_r9-I


Falling is in no way a disaster, but the discovery of an inner refuge

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Each time the losses and deceptions of life teach us about impermanence, they bring us closer to the truth. When you fall from a great height, there is only one possible place to land: on the ground-the ground of truth. And if you have the understanding that comes from spiritual practice, then falling is in no way a disaster, but the discovery of an inner refuge.

Source: TOP 25 QUOTES BY SOGYAL RINPOCHE (of 112) | A-Z Quotes


Impermanence

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“Taking impermanence truly to heart is to be slowly freed from the idea of grasping, from our flawed and destructive view of permanence, from the false passion for security on which we have built everything. Slowly it dawns on us that all the heartache we have been through from grasping at the ungraspable was, in the deepest sense, unnecessary.”

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, page 34.

Source: Holding without Attachment : The Tibetan Blog Of Living And Dying


Being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”

~ James Baraz ~

Source: (17) Tao & Zen


The Wind of Impermanence

Source: The Wind of Impermanence | Great Middle Way

muertos2Will I die first, or will my neighbor?

Will it be today or tomorrow? We do not know.

Those we leave behind and those who go before us

are more numerous than the dewdrops

that rest briefly beneath the trees and on their leaf tips.

We may have radiant faces in the morning,

but in the evening be no more than white bones.

With the coming of the wind of impermanence,

both eyes are instantly closed,

and when a single breath is forever stilled,

the radiant face is drained of life,

and its vibrant glow is lost.

 

Although family and relatives may gather

and grieve broken-heartedly, it is to no avail.

As there is nothing else to be done,

the once-familiar form is taken to an outlying field,

and when it has vanished with the midnight smoke,

nothing is left but white bones.

This is indeed indescribably sad.

—Rennyo Shonin