If Impermanence Rules The Universe, Why Do We Fear Change?

“Success and failure are both part of life. Both are not permanent.”Shah Rukh Khan


Impermanence

There is one law that rules the Universe, and that is the impermanence of all things. No matter how we try to preserve what we hold most dear, when coupled with the laws of the Universe, nothing lasts forever. If we are lucky, we might be able to hold on to something important for a lifetime. If we are really lucky, we might even be able to preserve something for a few generations. Yet, given enough time, all things change at one point, come to an end, for better or for worse.

Why do we try so hard to preserve our lives in such a way that we resist change?

Is it because the fear of the unknown brings us great distress and anxiety?

Or, are we just creatures of habit who like living in a world that we’re familiar with?

Both of those last two points tend to be true for most people, I would say.

Buddhist monks in Tibet take a very unique approach when teaching the impermanence of all things to their people. What they will do on a regular basis is create a massive, beautiful, intricate piece of art out of colored sands, which reflect the history and lineage of their teachings, as well as those who represent their faith. The artwork looks to be a masterpiece after it’s completed and it takes thousands of man hours to create.

Yet, one day, after it has been completed, they simply sweep the sand aside and begin again. They destroy that amazing piece of art without trying to preserve it, to teach others that nothing in life is permanent and that suffering mainly comes from the attachment we hold to things. Holding on to that desire for permanence can be what leads to our suffering. They believe that it is right to allow yourself to love, to appreciate the beauty in nature, to love life, to create and to share, but to also accept and appreciate the fact that it is all temporary.

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A Tibetan Buddhist Sand Mandala. Photo courtesy of Tibettravel.org

It’s not to say that you should become detached from those you love, your own creations or to your life in general. The goal of this lesson is not to teach that life doesn’t matter, but just to accept the fact that impermanence is a fundamental rule of life. Nothing lasts forever, and when we experience a loss, we need to take a deep breath, acknowledge our emotions, but be able to accept it as an inevitable consequence of living. There can be no joy without some sorrow. There can be no life without death. There can be no success without failures. We don’t need to allow the bad things in life to completely ruin our present. It is a lesson that is not easily taught nor learned.

One day we will lose our lives. One day we may lose our money. Perhaps a close friend will move far away. Maybe our job will come to an end abruptly one day, or a house fire claims most of our possessions. These are examples of impermanence and quite negative examples of impermanence, but examples none the less. The Universe itself is thought to have an expiry date billions of years in the future. Can there be a better argument for impermanence than that?

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Yet, it’s human nature to seek comfort and to seek security. We are creatures of love and we are creatures of habit. It feels good to wake up in the morning and to know what we can expect in the days to come. It makes us feel empowered. It makes us feel whole and warm inside because we trick ourselves into thinking that for a moment, we know what to expect. We may even think that we’re special at times and that we’ll be spared the laws of the Universe, but it’s an ugly lesson to learn the hard way.

I don’t believe that this should be a source of depression or distress for anybody. It’s simply a form of truth. Perhaps if you are a religious person you can take comfort in the fact that there may be a forever for you in your afterlife. Whatever that may be.

I am not a religious person. I don’t believe in an afterlife as it’s described by any religion. Most of my beliefs have primarily evolved around science. Yet, I believe, because of science that we all have come from the same source of energy, the big bang, and that one day we will return to this energy from whence we came. I find this comforting. I find the idea that we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves to be comforting. I’ve wished before that my ego, what makes me who I am and what makes me unique could last forever, but perhaps this is small-minded thinking.

If we all came from the same source, what makes me more important than a rock or a tree or a wild animal?

Nothing, my consciousness and my ego would just like to believe that.

How do we know that we don’t all share one soul and that it’s simply our consciousness which produces the personality that makes us unique?

I’m not sure what it might be like to one day be recycled. Perhaps there is some truth to reincarnation. Maybe we are in some way passed on to a new life. We can not know for certain.

If you believe that all things in the Universe share our own struggle of being finite, perhaps you can understand why all life is deserving of compassion, because we are all in this together and we are all connected historically from a single point.

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The only thing that I really know is this, nothing lasts forever and it doesn’t mean that we should be depressed or give up on life because of it. It means that we should enjoy every moment of it to a greater degree. We should embrace our precious moments with our loved ones. We should enjoy every experience that we have with sight, sound, taste and touch. We should live life with a voracious appetite for the experiences available to us. We should love without abandon.

Loss and change, needs not be feared. It may never be easy, but our focus does not need to be on what we lose or can’t have.

If neither success nor failure is permanent, then why not attempt to live your life without fear?

Do all of those things that you’ve always wanted to do and let nothing hold you back.

What can you possibly lose, when you will lose everything one day anyways?

There is a liberating freedom in acknowledging that fact!

You are the creator of your life and a small piece of time has been gifted to you. It will not last forever. Rejoice for the gift. Do not mourn for it’s impermanence. Live this life to it’s fullest. There will be hardships no matter which path you choose. So choose the path that you will be happiest to reflect upon and make your choices count. This is the ultimate lesson to be had in life.

Sending you all lots of love and good energy!

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