Oakville Zen Meditation

507: Only impermanence is permanent June 8 24

                                                        Only impermanence is permanent

Asked what was the most important message of his 50 years of teaching, the Buddha, without hesitation, replied to these words.

“Everything is transient, work diligently to appreciate and experience your impermanence.” It was his last words a few minutes before dying from mushroom poisoning.

As Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki head of the San-Francisco Zen Center said in his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind:

“ When we realize the everlasting truth of everything changes and is transient, and if you find our composure and peace in it, we will find ourselves in Nirvana that is state where all delusions and sources of suffering are gone.”

Suzuki is saying that, unless you accept the impermanence of all things and all living beings, Nirvana cannot be achieved. WOW!

The #1 key teaching topic of Zen Buddhism is the teaching of impermanence also called transiency or ongoing change. All the Zen teaching is condensed within this fundamental reality.

Think about this: can life and evolution will exist w/o ongoing change, w/o impermanence?

A wheat seed will stay a wheat seed: no crop, no food.

 The sun will not burn hydrogen continuously to make helium and it will be -150 degrees Celsius on Earth.

All living beings will remain at the stage of an egg and a sperm.

 Starting at around 35 years old, around 300 million cells die every minute in your body, and only 70% of them are replaced, this is aging.

Look at yourself and around you and you will see that everything changes continuously and forever.

Evolution is an unstoppable change, with no beginning and no end, just an endless circle.

This is the fundamental truth of life and the Universe itself is changing every second by expanding.

No one can deny this truth even if we don’t like it since we love what we have and don’t want to lose our attachments to our lives and the lives of loved ones!

Change is the only thing that does not change.

So, how can we incorporate impermanence and deal positively with it in our daily practice?

Since everything changes continuously, it is important to pay attention to the current moment as it is.

This is the basic principle of mindfulness practice.

We are facing 2 possible scenarios besides the routine stuff of daily life.

  1. A positive situation in which everything is OK, a nice and pleasurable time.

     Keep in mind that this positive scenario will not last and be prepared when it will end. 

This is not being pessimistic or negativist; this is being realistic, pragmatic, and rationalist.

 It is just a matter of time. By priming yourself to this negative outcome will:

    Make you more mindful of your current good time.

     Prevent reactive sadness, frustration anger, and other negative feelings when it ends.

     It will help you build equanimity and serenity.

    2. On the opposite spectrum: a negative situation in which everything becomes or is perceived painfully. Everything is falling apart.

          Keep in mind that this negative scenario will not last and be prepared when it will end.

          It is just a matter of time. By priming yourself to this positive outcome – it will end with:

               Help you to accept this negative scenario and feelings.

               Prevent overexcitement when such a positive outcome occurs.

               It will help you build equanimity and serenity.

Being mindful of and practicing impermanence regardless of the good and bad times is the key to maintaining equanimity which is a better balance between positive and negative feelings.

Remember the tightrope walker: her/his pole is horizontal. No one extreme dominates the other one.

.No ups and downs emotional yoyo.  This is serenity, and equanimity.