Tagged with: impermanence

Reflecting on our own impermanence helps us stop following the dissatisfied mind of desire whose impulses are seen as without meaning in the face of death. When we don’t face impermanence and death, our lives become busy, complicated, and stressful. When we do face them, our lives become simpler and more full of meaning. Our fear of or aversion to facing these subjects is a trick that the mind plays on itself, which keeps us caught in the trap of self-centered, compulsive, neurotic egotism. The illusion that we exist as solid, permanent entities is in fact a trap or prison for our hearts; facing the truth about impermanence is the doorway out.

Reflecting on our own impermanence helps us stop following the dissatisfied mind of desire whose impulses are seen as without meaning in the face of death. When we don’t face impermanence and death, our lives become busy, complicated, and stressful. When we do face them, our lives become simpler and more full of meaning. Our fear of or aversion to facing these subjects is a trick that the mind plays on itself, which keeps us caught in the trap of self-centered, compulsive, neurotic egotism. The illusion that we exist as solid, permanent entities is in fact a trap or prison for our hearts; facing the truth about impermanence is the doorway out.

Sometimes people feel that recognizing the truth of suffering conditions a pessimistic outlook on life, that somehow it is life-denying. Actually, it is quite the reverse. By denying what is true, for example, the truth of impermanence, we live in a world of illusion and enchantment. Then when circumstances change in ways we don’t like, we feel disappointed, angry, or bitter. The Buddha expressed the liberating power of seeing the unreliability of conditions: “All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. Becoming disenchanted one becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion the mind is liberated.”

It’s telling that in English “disenchanted,” “disillusioned,” and dispassionate” often have a negative connotation. But looking more closely at their meaning reveals their connection to freedom. Becoming disenchanted means breaking the spell of enchantment, waking up into a greater and fuller reality. This is the happy ending of so many great myths and fairy tales. Being disillusioned is not the same as being disappointed or discouraged. It is a reconnection with what is true, free of illusion. And “dispassionate” does not mean indifference or lack of vital energy for living. Rather, it is the mind of great openness and equanimity, free of grasping.

Sometimes people feel that recognizing the truth of suffering conditions a pessimistic outlook on life, that somehow it is life-denying. Actually, it is quite the reverse. By denying what is true, for example, the truth of impermanence, we live in a world of illusion and enchantment. Then when circumstances change in ways we don’t like, we feel disappointed, angry, or bitter. The Buddha expressed the liberating power of seeing the unreliability of conditions: “All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation. Becoming disenchanted one becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion the mind is liberated.”

It’s telling that in English “disenchanted,” “disillusioned,” and dispassionate” often have a negative connotation. But looking more closely at their meaning reveals their connection to freedom. Becoming disenchanted means breaking the spell of enchantment, waking up into a greater and fuller reality. This is the happy ending of so many great myths and fairy tales. Being disillusioned is not the same as being disappointed or discouraged. It is a reconnection with what is true, free of illusion. And “dispassionate” does not mean indifference or lack of vital energy for living. Rather, it is the mind of great openness and equanimity, free of grasping.

earthdrop
Student of Your Life

Even though we understand who we are, we have to see what we are. Are we separate from the grasses, trees, or birds? No, we are grasses and trees, snowstorms and fine days. So we have to learn what the storm is, what winter is, what spring is. We have to understand everything in our whole life. So accept that life is just a continuation of learning. Day after day, life after life, we just have to learn constantly. That’s enough.

- Dainin Katagiri

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