Chapter 8 (Part I) - Impermanence and Interdependence
These 2 words dissolved the notion of "self" that I've been carrying all along.
I always believed and said that "change is the only thing constant" and yet when someone said " you've changed a lot", I always took it as some sort of criticism or a sarcastic comment. Studying more about Buddhism has taught me to observe this phrase from a more granular viewpoint. It made me zoom in a little more and see that everything about my existence is constantly changing. Old cells die and new cells are regenerated, there is a constant flow of blood throughout my body, aging is another classic example of impermanence. So what exactly is permanent? The standard operating procedure of my physical existence is continuously changing and yet I want to cling to something or someone that I can call mine or have permanent possession of! Definitely, something to look at! The deeper I looked for an answer, the more clear it became that calling something mine wasn't the real problem, expecting for it to remain mine forever was! MY family, MY friends, MY body, MY beliefs, it's good to have these feelings but understanding and accepting that none of these are permanent and all of these are subject to change has given me a different level of content and peace in my life. Does that mean that losing any or all of these would not make me upset? Nope! That's not true! I read a story that goes something like this:
A man went on camping and the lush green, dense forest calmed his mind, fresh air filled his lungs with joy and serenity. He was enjoying his walk and making plans on how he can add camping as a regular activity in his schedule. All of a sudden, a bear jumped out of some bush and the man was stunned and petrified not knowing what to do, cursing how this camping had turned out to be the worst decision of his life. At that moment, the bear takes off its mask and reveals that they were just a group of pranksters who scared the campers. The man returns and shares this incident with another friend who planned to go on the same camping trip. The other person was now mentally prepared to see a prankster wearing a mask to scare the campers however he didn't know when and where he would meet them. When the prankster finally appeared in front of him, he was startled but it didn't take him that long to realize that it was all a prank.
What this story taught me was that 'change is inevitable' and as and when it happens, I might still be startled and shocked but knowing that 'change is inevitable' will help me be prepared to deal with it. It reduces the reactive mechanism and helps in seeing things through. Similarly, cutting ties with someone you love, losing a loved one, losing a job, dealing with sickness, etc are all the circumstances that one will go through at some point in their life. Truly accepting that everything is impermanent has made me live more compassionately than ever, being more humble, being more grateful for what I have, and to share what I can to make a difference from this tiny corner of the earth that I occupy.
Interdependence will form a part of another blog post (:
~ Anila Andezhath