I remember distinctly the last time i visited Tughlakabad fort. I was seated atop its highest point and all around me were nothing but ruins, ruins of what had been a fine city, ruins of what once had been alive, with a king, his subjects and all that’s good and bad. And now look how time has erased all signs of the good/bad times people must have had here and in another 100 years or so, we wouldn’t even know if a fort existed there ever. Thinking of how a once mighty empire is nothing but ruins now was my first realization of impermanence.
Slowly I started seeing it present all around, in all things I saw/felt and the realization of experiencing it as such a fundamental law of existence was so powerful, so startling that it changed the way I perceive things. It brings with it, albeit only for a few moments, a weird calmness, peace and detachment, which isn’t like anything I have experienced before. During my Vipassana course, I had a strong experience of the impermanence of what i perceived to be my physical body, of how each part of it was vibrating and how i couldn’t distinguish between where it was a particle or a wave, where it ended and the infinity began. That experience with its immensity scared me and i went cowering back into my shell, refusing to believe or even understand what it was all about, I was still too attached to my physical self to be able to realize that its changing every instant. I still am attached to it and thus, am yet to fully comprehend my experience.
Post Vipassana, i could sense the presence of impermanence all around, in the trees, in people, in flowers, in anything alive and bubbling, i could see it. I could see it in the feelings and emotions and thoughts that keep propping up in my head from time to time. I could see it in the way the world/society treats the young and the old. I realized how its a cycle everyone must go through, a cycle of coming and going, of life and death, of arising and falling. Each time i saw it and i tried to reason with it, to fight it, to control it, i ultimately found my peace in this beautiful quote by Buddha: “This too shall pass“. I find it true for everything: The seasons, they arise,live their time and then leave. The flowers do the same rise from a bud, live their time, do their duty and then wither away. So, is it with the trees and with the fruits and the animals and the humans and each of our emotions or thoughts or feelings. Think of any one feeling and observe it, how it rises on its own accord, triggered mostly by things we almost never realize. Once risen, it stays its time and impacts us and then it leaves as silently as it had come. Don’t they all say that time is the best healer for there is nothing that won’t pass with time. Everything that arises shall fulfill its duty and then fall. That’s simply how it works. It took me some time to accept but so is it going to be with me and all those I love, all: my family, my friendships, my relationships, my emotions, feelings, dreams, me myself. All of it will pass through the same cycle.
This realization, brings with it a plethora of new questions: Am i just another cog in the wheel? Is free will then just an illusion? Am i just an instrument then through which some supreme power is carrying out its will? How do i distinguish my individuality from the oneness? Do i as a human really have a choice or am i simply programmed like the animals to do the duty of reproduction and survival? I would end here with all these questions and a beautiful quotes from Buddha’s writing’s, do ponder over them. 🙂
“All conditioned things are transitory. When one understands this with
wisdom, then he is disgusted with suffering. This is the path to purity.”
– Dhammapada 277
8 thoughts on “The Impermanence Of It All”
Very beautiful set of thoughts; when you began I was expecting the sense of the famous poem OZYMANDIAS by Shelly, but you took us into a journey with you, instead!
Thank you so much for the kind words. Also, I have now got to go and read that poem too.. 🙂
I love this piece. I view the world more through physics than spirituality, but in the end I think it is the same thing. Einstein wrote, “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distance between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” I think this is the same as impermanence, taken one step further. We perceive cycling in nature and even in man-made objects, but all that ever has been and will be is now. There is no permanence when we realize humans have constructed the concept of time.
I am happy you connected with the piece. Yes, I believe science and spirituality are just opposite sides of the same coin. One focus on the external for research and the other on the internal. The concept of time which we have constructed amazes me for in reality, we don’t know what time is. You are right, all that we know is of the Now.. that’s all there is and that’s all that would ever be. Thank you for reading and sharing your insights with me. Take Care. 🙂
Beautiful reflection. While I certainly don’t claim to have the answers to the questions you pose (many being largely metaphysical in nature), I’d say that it is best to focus on what can be done in the here and now; the ethical and moral questions that (I personally we) we can seek out fulfilling answers to in the here and now.
So true buddy. I don’t know how I missed replying on the comment, sorry for the late reply. You have said it correctly, the only thing we can actually focus on is in there here and now for nothing else is in our control. We can only impact the present moment with our efforts(which also, I don’t how much of it we actually can). The irony of life is that to actually exist as one is, in the now, the here; One doesn’t need to either try or not try. Something which is the simplest thing actually turns out to be the toughest due to our very own created ideas. Ahhh!! Life.. Thank you for stopping by buddy. Take Care.. 🙂
The questions never end! I like the way you present yours in text 😊
True that.. The questions can never cease even despite the realization to some degree of there being no answers.. Life.. 🙂