“‘All conditioned things are impermanent’ — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.” – Buddha
As many of you know, several of the things I like to read and write about are new philosophies, intellectual material/traditions and funny stories. I do this in order to see what the wisdom of others can teach me about my own life so that I might share this new-found knowledge with others. Many of the articles I write and share with others is based on this hodgepodge of ideas generated from this mix of material that I continually add to as well as remove bits from.
The quote above talks about impermanence. If you have ever read some of Buddha’s teachings, you will see that one of the beliefs of Buddha is the idea that everything has a life cycle – whether it is an insect, a tree, an animal, or yes, even us humans.
Think about it – all things mentioned comes into being, then grows, ages, withers and decays, and subsequently dies. This belief applies to trees, plants, insects, animals, fish, birds, people, ideas, thoughts, buildings, and so forth. Buddhism would argue that everything in the universe does this – there may be a different time sequence for each item mentioned – but the fact is – eventually everything subsequently dies.
What does this type of thinking tell us? Well, one way of looking at it and when you stop and think about it – is true – tomorrow will be different from today and will consist of a mix of ideas and things that we experience today. All that has changed is that the ideas and things we thought of only yesterday have aged some, as have new ideas and things we might be thinking about as they enter their own cycle of life.
Depressing? Might be! But then who is to dispute the fact that everyone and everything is on an uninterrupted march towards its own demise. We know this! Remember Benjamin Franklin’s comments in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, in 1789 when he said: “Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Most of us are aware that an end is a natural part of everything – we may not like it – but we are aware of it. Let’s face it – that’s a normal part of life. Why else would we spout on certain occasions – enjoy and appreciate what you have – life is shorter than you think!
But getting back to Buddha’s philosophy – thinking this way makes us truly recognize that nothing was or is permanent. What better rule or thought to jog us back to reality every day. By acknowledging that nothing in this life is permanent, perhaps we will remember to say: “I love you” to our loved ones more often. In addition to saying things like that more often – we should also make it a habit to do the things that are truly important to us now rather than later. By accepting this philosophy, we might just appreciate today more. In addition, we will appreciate the little things in life more and more as well.
One of the things I love about where we are right now is the fact that in the morning I can sit outside and listen to the quiet, or a robin chirping away as he flitters across the lawn in front of me searching for breakfast. And then there is the wind whistling through the trees or watching the different clouds make their way across the sky while I try to determine what the shapes might be. But as was stated in Buddha’s quote, “All conditioned things are impermanent,” The robin will eventually grow older, may become a parent or fly away; the squirrel may scamper across someone else’s lawn; and the lowly bumble bee may fly off to yet another flower to pollinate. The wind may die down and not even a leaf will flutter and the clouds will either move on or dissipate leaving no sign of ever having been there. More reasons to enjoy these things now.
In the summertime we spend quite a bit of time in our air- conditioned house but on occasion enjoy the warmth of the sun on our skin when venturing outside. Truth is that the sun on our skin feels so warm and enjoyable when we go outside we fail to realize that there may come a time in our lives where we may no longer be able to go outside and feel the warmth of the sun on our bodies comforting us from the coolness of the air-conditioned room which we had just left. We age and time marches on.
The point I am trying to make is just this: These are merely some of the reasons for appreciating what we have in the here and now. Were one to make a list of the many experiences we enjoy every day, experiences like the smell of fresh bread baking in an oven, the feel of that favorite pen gliding over the paper as we make our first journal entry for the day, the smell of the outdoors after a spring rain, even the soreness of our bodies after we have stretched for fifteen or so minutes upon awakening in the morning, we might just recognize how lucky we have it. These are the things we should appreciate each and every day. While they may be little joys – now is the time to slow down and enjoy them for we won’t always be able to do so.
While we may not be getting any younger – that is no reason to say we shouldn’t enjoy now all the little experiences we can that make us happy.
Until next time!