There are three facts in life, Impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha) and Non self (anatta) Today we will contemplate Impermanence
Our existence and reality thereof can be only understood if these three facts of existence are truly comprehend not just from a logical stand point, but must be personally experienced, this is why we meditate, to see or witness this as a personal experience.
While meditating we contemplate these three truths of existence, from every action or conscious thought we contemplate these three truths. With great diligence, being careful and mindful we will start to experience this very truth for ourselves. With the realisation of these three truth, comes enlightenment, and only by diligent observation of these three truths within our own lives, realisation is possible.
Within every breath there is Impermanence, suffering and non self. anicca, dukkha and anatta. Within everyone of us, these three facts of existence reside.
The Buddha spoke these words on impermanence.
“The perceiving of impermanence, bhikkhus, developed and frequently practiced, removes all sensual passion, removes all passion for material existence, removes all passion for becoming, removes all ignorance, removes and abolishes all conceit of “I am.”
It is easy for us to see impermanence in action and within every aspect of our lives. We can see impermanence in objects both material and mental as well as inanimate or animate, organic or inorganic. From great mountains and oceans, to thoughts and feelings all is impermanence.
Impermanence within ourselves
Impermanence is in ones self, our posture is always moving forever changing position from sitting, standing, walking or lying down or aches and pain sets in. Our state of health is always impermanent never stationary, we are subject to seasonal colds and flu, runny noses sore throats, cuts and bruises as well as infection, disease and hunger.
The growth and therefore decay of our bodies is impermanence, our hair constantly needs cutting or styling, our nails are the same. Our bodies need to be kept clean from sweat, dirt, grease and grime that are a constant reminder of impermanence. And of course the nutrients we consume for our bodies are constantly in a state of change. Each breath we take turns from oxygen to carbon dioxide, the food we eat to sustain ourselves, goes in one end and out the other within 24hrs.
Impermanence all around us
There is impermanence all around us, with flowers that bloom, wilt and die, fruits that ripen and decay, trees are constantly changing shedding bark and each season a colourful display as dead or dying leaves. The hills and mountains are either growing or shrinking, rivers flow, always moving separate particles of water to make the stream or river. They may dry up or flood, become narrower or wider, deeper or shallower, their direction ever changing and impermanence.
Even the objects us humans make such as houses, bridges, communication networks, roads, governments, or revolutions are all in a state of continually changing. Houses fall into disrepair and crumble, roads were once simple animal tracks that have increased in size and now covered in tarmac to accommodate an ever moving transport industry. Governments come and go just as dictatorships. Our technology seems sometimes to be moving at such a pace that it can seem like the moment you have mastered one thing it changes into something new.
Our own mind
And even our own consciousness is forever changing, if you are reading this as someone middle aged or from an older generation then you can look back at times through your life and feel it was a completely different person back then. Our thoughts change like the seasons, following styles, fashions and trends, we can experience anger, delight, hatred, love, frustration and contentment sometimes within only a few short moments. Anyone who has sat an exam can tell you the emotions that run through your mind, all seemly changing from one to the next then back again. Thoughts of happiness one moment can be replaced by negative in the next. What we perceive to be good one day may not be the next, what we see as wonderful can turn boring, what we hear as stunning can turn repetitive. Each and every moment our minds our changing, never the same as the last moment, always moving.
Logic vs Experience
This is all logical and we can easily see the impermanence within everything around us when we spend a little time analysing, so why then, with this logical understanding does enlightenment not occur?
Everyone of us knows that our body is subject to die, however most of us run around believing that the health and vigour we experience as youths will stay with us forever, punishing our bodies with drugs and alcohol, or doing adrenaline sports that push our bodies to their limits. We see people smoking cigarettes, knowing the harm they are doing to themselves and others but continuously smoke. We can see the pain of loosing someone close to us, even though logically we knew they were subject to death. So Logic or knowledge isn’t enough on its own to set us free.
We need to truly and deeply experience these truths for ourselves and within our own lives. With meditation we practice diligently and mindful we watch our breath, as a bodybuilder strengthening their muscles so we train our mind muscle, slowly we develop a strong one pointed concentration which we can now use to penetrate these deepest truths by witnessing this very impermanence in action.
When we experience impermanence within our own bodies we start to see the second truth or fact of life, dhukka or suffering. Because everything is impermanence, always changing we see that our clinging and attachment to ideas, thoughts, objects either inanimate or animate, will always end in suffering, the very idea of trying to hold onto to something that is always moving forever changing, is as ridiculous as trying to jump from the bus stop into a seat of a moving bus, blindfolded.
Once we have experienced impermanence first hand within our own bodies, what is there in the body to call Me, Mine or I? Because it is always changing forever moving. As we experience first hand impermanence within our own mind or consciousness, what is there in the mind or consciousness that is Me, Mine or I? Because it is always changing forever moving what can we grasp as being the Me Mine or I? This is realisation of the third fact of life, Non Self, egoless, No Me, Mine or I
Realisation of this third fact of existence (anatta) that there is No Me, Mine or I, liberates us from suffering, a calm and peace fill every moment as we no longer find attachment to something that is forever changing, we no longer cling or crave, we have let go, abandoned that which caused us to suffer.
Our job as meditators is to see first hand, to experience with real clarity that which is impermanent, forever moving, always changing directly within our own bodies and our consciousness. With great determination and practice of Samadhi Meditation our minds become firm in one pointed concentration and the exploration within our own minds and bodies can begin.
Gradually over time our concentration on our breath becomes very solid, our minds our happy to watch, breathing in, breathing out. Once we have established ourselves thus, it is time for Vipassana Meditation and the art of investigation of mind phenomenon, each and every stage of meditation practice will take us a step along our journey, ever closer to freeing ourselves from suffering and liberating our minds.
Wishing you every success in your meditation journey, and if you need further Help it would be my honour to aid you in any way I can, use the Contact Us page to get in touch.