Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The second preliminary is the contemplation on impermanence. The key point is that all conditioned phenomena are impermanent.
There are several implications to consider when contemplating impermanence. First is the impermanence of the outer world. No matter where we look we cannot find anything permanent or lasting. Our environment composed of mountains, lakes and trees is constantly changing. The beings that live in the world are constantly undergoing birth, aging, sickness and death. No matter where we look, high or low, nothing permanent or lasting can be found.
Second, we can examine the inner world- our own life, body, thoughts and feelings. When we look closely, we cannot find anything that withstands the test of time. Our body undergoes many changes throughout life, our thoughts come and go like a never ending movie, our feelings constantly rise and fall like the tide. Whether our experiences are pleasant or not, they come and go leaving only a faint memory similar to last nights dream.
People often say, 'I cannot believe how fast this month/ year has gone.' It is quite strange that even though we notice how quickly life passes us by, they do not apply it to their future. We stand with our mouths agape at how fast the past ten years have went, what about the next ten? Do you think they are going to slow down? This life is like a water bubble, clearly apparent for a moment but vanishing in an instant.
The third implication to consider is the faults of permanence. We often consider phenomena, whether that of the outer world or the inner world, to possess an identify of their own. We think that they really truly exist from their own side. We tend to fixate on notions of self and other, mine and yours, right and wrong. It is this fixation that then leads to fear, stress, anxiety, anger and attachment.
When we understand the impermanence of the outer and inner world as well as the faults of permanence, we can come to embrace a larger scope, which is that if everything is impermanent then change is possible. We often feel stuck- in situations, work, feelings and thoughts. When we contemplate on impermanence we gain certainty that nothing is fixed, that while things may seem very solid at the time it is really just our mistaken perception. By loosening our fixation on identity, we come to eliminate the extreme and faults of permanence. We come to appreciate the larger scope, that reality is dynamic, flexible, a vast web of dependent origination.
We then come to the decisive experience of impermanence. By not getting caught up in the dynamic display of the environment or beings, we come to discover the fundamental ground of being, the true nature of reality which is unchanging. Having never existed as anything whatsoever, it manifests in any way at all. All that appears and exists within samsara and nirvana is nothing but an ornament of awareness, the unceasing play of dependent origination that is utterly beyond speech, thought or expression. Life opens itself to an endless dance of creative display. Our minds, free from fixation, come to appreciate and rejoice in experience rather than being bound by it.
While there is uncertainty as to the time of death, death is certain so we must realize our true nature now. For too long we have thought we had so much time, but now the sun is setting and life has run its course. We have no time left to practice, our body is growing old and weak, our mind frail.
Life is a passing glance of possibility. Do we act or not? Seize the moment!