The Presciousness of Impermanence

a talk by Cayce Howe, Sept 10
Details: It is hard to find a teaching that is more freeing than impermanence. Yet, how we get on board with accepting impermanence is the challenge. We will speak of ways to sit with, befriend, and commune with this great all-pervading truth.

We need impermanence. Impermanence is what allows us to grow. Without impermanence there is no possibility of enlightenment. It is only because of impermanence that we have the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of life. The ups and downs, the sadness, the immense joy and exhilaration.

On one hand we have the three defilements of attachment, aversion, and ignorance. On the other side, we have the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. In times of challenges we can use the nature of impermanence to move away from ignorance, away from suffering, and instead use wisdom to move towards happiness and grace. Impermanence is our opportunity to purify the causes of suffering and create new causes of happiness.

When we act out of attachment we realize that there is no way to quench the thirst. When we act out of ill will and aversion there is suffering upon arising. If we do not have Right View and see the world through ignorance, there is no way to freedom.

There is a story of a Native American grandfather walking on a journey with his two grandsons. The grandson tells the story of how hot the journey was and how he lusted after the upcoming river, how the heat of the day baked him to the core and his craving for the cool water was relentless. When the three of them reached the river both of the grandchildren leapt into the water, drinking as they swam. On the water’s edge grandfather was seen praying to the river like he always did. Slowly and patiently reaching down and taking a mouthful of the sacred water. Afterward, one of the grandchildren asked grandfather, “How is it that you are not affected by the heat, so willing to be at ease with such harsh conditions?” The grandfather looked at his grandson with an expression and apprehension that was as if he was not sure the grandchildren were ready to grasp his answer. Finally grandfather uttered “because it is real.” Only when we can become attuned to this reality of ours can we be free from suffering.

We ended the session with a meditation called “Good Enough.” Releasing attachment and aversion is coming into a place of acceptance on how things are, how we are. To counteract grasping mind the meditation of “Good Enough” reminds us that our partner is good enough, our car is good enough, our house is good enough car, our job is good enough. So often we have things that are good enough and yet we have the constant craving for more, for better. But when does the more cease? When is enough enough?

Right now you are enough, I am enough. We have everything that we need here in this moment for Buddhahood to be realized. There is nothing more that needs to be done, everything is in place. This is the realm of impermanence, the realm beyond life and death, beyond enlightenment and non-enlightenment ; and yet it is not a realm at all, it is simply the NOW.

The Preciousness of Impermanence

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