To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.
The Buddha – As quoted by Sogyal Rinpoche in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
As the Buddha said, our lives are like Autumn clouds, passing by in an instant and constantly changing, impermanent until our deaths. Our suffering comes from clinging to this perceived permanence in our lives. A thought in the way things should be, or the way things are supposed to be. Change becomes a bad word to us. A word that equals loss and suffering. We put energy in trying to avoid or ignore change yet the inevitable flow of life happens and we suffer.
The greatest avoidance of change the western mind focuses on is the avoidance of death. We bar this conversation or thought. We hide from it until it is too late. And, just like the Autumn clouds who form in the west then morph and change throughout their life until finally succumbing to the elements, our lives end. As much as we hope for the miraculous cure or life extending drug, our lives will end. I can feel the shudder inside of you as you read this. We take this fear to our deathbed and we die constrained and without peace. This is the ultimate clinging to permanence.
Rinpoche tells us in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying:
What is born will die,
What has been gathered will be dispersed,
What has been accumulated will be exhausted,
What has been built up will collapse,
And what has been high will be brought low.
Freedom comes from letting go. This peace comes when you flow with life and stop clinging to your idea in how life should be. The Autumn winds will come and the clouds will billow, and then dissipate. Our lives are in but an instance. The only thing you have is this moment in front of you RIGHT NOW. This is it. The past does not exist and there is no future only this gift of the present.
Rinpoche suggests we ask ourselves two questions to evaluate if we truly understand impermanence:
- Do I remember at every moment that I am dying, and everyone and everything else is, and so treat all beings at all times with compassion?
- Has my understanding of death and impermanence become so keen and so urgent that I am devoting every second to the pursuit of enlightenment?
We are not fully free until we let go. We are not fully free until we embrace death as a natural part of our journey. Do not wait until your last breath to face this truth. Be mindful of this impermanence in yourself and all living beings. Live now and BE. Be happy…Be Love.
Call to Action:
- Get present to the places in your life you are attached. Let go of expectations and be present to the NOW in your life.
- Get mindful that all living beings on this planet are dying. Accept this as your journey. Accept that you can bring NOWNESS to this world, that you can bring compassion and love to all living beings.
- Be LOVE
Thomas D. Craig
Author A Cup of Buddha