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Thread: Long Live Impermanece!

  1. #1

    Long Live Impermanece!

    A Discourse by Thich Nhat Hanh

    The Buddha taught that everything is impermanent- flowers, tables, mountains, political regimes, bodies, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. We cannot find anything that is permanent. Flowers decompose, but knowing this does not prevent us from loving flowers. In fact, we are able to love them more because we know how to treasure them while they are still alive. If we learn to look at a flower in a way that impermanence is revealed to us, when it dies, we will not suffer. Impermanence is more than an idea. It is a practice to help us touch reality.

    When we study impermanence, we have to ask, “Is there anything in this teaching that has to do with my daily life, my daily difficulties, my suffering?” If we see impermanence as merely a philosophy, it is not the Buddha’s teaching. Every time we look or listen, the object of our perception can reveal to us the nature of impermanence. We have to nourish our insight into impermanence all day long.

    When we look deeply into impermanence, we see that things change because causes and conditions change. When we look deeply into non-self, we see that the existence of every single thing is possible only because of the existence of everything else. We see everything else is the cause and condition for its existence. We see that everything else is in it.

    From the point of view of time, we say “impermanence”, and from the point of view of space, we say “non-self”. Things cannot remain themselves for two consecutive moments, therefore, there is nothing that can be called a permanent “self”. Before you entered this room, you were different physically and mentally. Looking deeply at impermanence, you see non-self. Looking deeply at non-self, you see impermanence. We can say, “I can accept impermanence, but nonself is too difficult”. They are the same.

    Understanding impermanence can give us confidence, peace, and joy. Impermanence does not necessarily lead us to suffering. Without impermanence, life could not be. Without impermanence, your daughter could not grow into a beautiful young lady. Without impermanence, oppressive political regimes would never change. We think impermanence makes us suffer. The Buddha gave the example of a dog that was hit by a stone and got angry at the stone. It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.

    We need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. If we are in good health and are aware of impermanence, we will take good care of ourselves. When we know that the person we love is impermanent, we will cherish our beloved all the more. Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment and all the precious things around us and inside of us. When we practice mindfulness of impermanence, we become fresher and more loving.

    Looking deeply can become a way of life. We can practice conscious breathing to help us be in touch with things and to look deeply at their impermanent nature. This practice will keep us from complaining that everything is impermanent and therefore not worth living for. Impermanence is what makes transformation possible. We should learn to say, “Long live impermanence”. Thanks to impermanence, we can change sufferings into joy.

    If we practice the art of mindful living, when things change, we won’t have any regrets. We can smile, because we have done our best to enjoy every moment of our life and to make others happy. When you get into an argument with someone you love, please close your eyes and visualize yourselves three hundred years from now. When you open your eyes, you will only want to take each other in your arms and acknowledge how precious each of you is. The teaching of impermanence helps us appreciate fully what is there, without attachment or forgetfulness.

    We have to nourish our insight into impermanence every day. If we do, we will live more deeply, suffer less, and enjoy life more. Living deeply, we will touch the foundation of reality, nirvana, the world of no-birth and no-death. Touching impermanence deeply, we touch the world beyond permanence and impermanence. We touch the ground of being and see that which we have called being and non-being are just notions. Nothing is ever lost. Nothing is ever gained.

  2. #2

    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Thank you for posting this, Seiryu! Thich Nhat Hanh always seems to have interesting views, and I've been looking into more and more of his writing (due in no small part to posts such as yours). There's an awful lot of thinking for me to do lately...

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Leaves falling
    geese flying south
    sunrise due east
    holds the promise of snow and long nights
    holds the promise of spring

  4. #4

    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Is impermanence impermanent?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    A Discourse by Thich Nhat Hanh

    The Buddha taught that everything is impermanent- flowers, tables, mountains, political regimes, bodies, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness...
    I misread this as: "The Buddha taught that everything is important..." Then I read it again, realizing that it didn't sound right. Then this thought jumped into my head that said, "Everything is important and impermanent... and it's important that it's impermanent." I felt this huge relief, which is very unlike me, at the thought that everything I enjoy will end... it made the things I enjoy seem very exciting and important in the moment. I felt soothed that the "torment" of so many different thoughts and judgements always end, whether I like them or not. Again, very unlike me, and a sign of progress... though there's nothing to progress to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    ...It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.
    _/_ (Very simple teaching we've heard a hundred times... but sometimes, the hundredth time we hear it, it enlightens us.) I realized this so profoundly when I was trying to capture something in writing yesterday. I realized that I was suffering from wanting to capture what I was feeling, and not just enjoying the feeling for what it was. I was trying to morph it into a time, place, and character, when it wasn't any of those things. It was just a fleeting brightness, and then gone-- and I wanted to keep it and give it a name. There are times when writing comes, and times when good feelings come, but you can't always turn one into the other, and you definitely can't force it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Is impermanence impermanent?
    Good question... :shock:

  6. #6

    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    The only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes...

    and even then...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Is impermanence impermanent?
    :lol:
    Never thought of that! Good question Risho _/_

  8. #8

    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Seeming contradictions like "is impermanence permanent?" are products of discrimination and language. Though we use it like a word and a concept, "impermanence" is neither a word nor a concept. Being able to sustain and move beyond words and concepts is central to realizing "impermanence," anatta/no-self -- that is to say, to Zen practice.

    This message brought to you by Everything and Nothing. Mu!

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Long Live Impermanece!

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Is impermanence impermanent?
    Yes.

    Now go sit.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

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