This article is written in continuation to the article on Mindfulness. I had initially covered it in two aspects about what mindfulness is and how to achieve it. In this article in focus on yet another important aspect of mindfulness- Anicca, Impermanence.
Buddhism has three important doctrines and ‘Impermanence’ is the first. It is also called Anicca in the Pali language spoken during Buddha’s time. I discuss only this first doctrine – impermanence – as this is the most important doctrine and the easiest to understand. Also understanding Anicca can lead to instant mindfulness. Thus mindfulness and impermanence are inter-related.
According to Buddhism everything in life is impermanent. I am a practising Buddhist and have realised the true essence of Anicca over a period of time. Everything starting from a spec of life to where we are, what we are going through, what we feel, what we do, what is, was and will be, are all temporary. Nothing is permanent in nature. If you apply this logic to your life then you may come to understand that all of your sadness that you are going through at this very moment is impermanent, bound to change. Similarly your joys, happiness, profits and gains too are impermanent. Nothing stays for ever or lasts till eternity. Nothing in this cosmos is permanent, not even our Universe. Everything is ever evolving, it is dynamic. There is a constant change. What is good today may be bad tomorrow. What is beautiful today will be ugly later. What is right now would be wrong in the future. According to the Buddhist philosophy, nothing is permanent. This is also what Siddhartha Gautama Buddha taught. His teachings were based on the premise of impermanence. Any attachment to your existence or existing circumstances will lead to suffering (dukkha).
Freedom from suffering is Nirvana (extinction of all concepts, ideas and sufferings). To attain liberation one must understand that impermanence is the essence of life and therefore any attachment to the present existence is foolish or insensible. The present existence could be made of sadness, joys, happiness, pain or misery. One must know that what is now will soon end for something else to arise. The moment this realisation dawns upon you, you will attain true liberation. You will understand that worrying about your money is pointless. You may realise that worrying about your weaknesses is pointless- it is there today but you will certainly overcome them tomorrow. You will realise that the sadness that prevails today is temporary and will dissolve tomorrow. If nothing is permanent what is the point in attaching ourselves to the maya or desire. Desire itself is impermanent. Today you desire one thing, tomorrow another and later something else. Then why waste your life achieving one desire after another. Doing so will only throw you into the vicious circle of mohamaya (desires). The moment you realise this truth of impermanence that what is, will not be tomorrow, you will be free from your suffering; attachment ceases. For e.g., dictatorship was impermanent, so is democracy. We have seen some of the largest countries go through these two phases of impermanence. Your human form is young today and will be old tomorrow. Your body exists today but will not in the future. Youth and beauty both are impermanent. There are umpteen examples that I can give you to help you realise this larger truth. All that you need to do is look around and you will know what I am taking about. Everything that you see comes with an expiry date as it is all impermanent. So if everything is so unstable in nature, does one truly need to be attached to them? Won’t attachment to this unstable nature of situations cause pain and suffering? Thus from now on whatever phase of life you are in, know that it is impermanent. This may sound like good news or bad, but again the nature of this news too is impermanent. Do not try to fight it or secure it for ever. Nothing will stay for ever. The only way out is harnessing the present moment awareness where you are neither living in the past nor in the future, where the worries of tomorrow or gains, profits or wealth of the now don’t influence you to stay desiring this forever.
The best way to deal with impermanence is to live in the moment, in the present. Unlock the nature of Being in you. Right now you are just living a human life, not that of a being. ‘Being’ means ongoing, in the moment. It is time you woke up from the deep sleep of mindlessly chasing superficial aspects of life and causing yourself more pain and misery. One of the very important ways to overcome Dukkha and understand the true essence of Anicca is Apranahita (Aimlessness) which will be covered soon in my next article.
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