What is the one constant in everyone’s life? No matter black, white, brown, or green…no matter if you live comfortably with means, or are barely scraping by…no matter if you live north, south, east or west…animal, insect, plant or human, impermanence is at play in your life.
Over the last year, our lives have been greatly impacted by this often times unwelcome part of the life cycle. Everyday things change. Our likes and dislikes, our health, plants bloom and die, trees loose leaves, even as simple as outgrowing our favorite outfit, everything is in a constant state of living and dying…change. We live our lives as if we have a life-time of living to be had, fall through each day as if there will surely be another. Will there be? Are you sure?
In my Buddhist practice, my teachers and their teachers and right on back to the Buddha, have always talked about impermanence. Nothing is without change. It is not only about a physical human death, even that is not permanent, but more about the constant flux that is a naturally occurring part of everything, living and dead. Humans are the worst at accepting this phenomenon. We try hard to make sure things are as we like them, to be sure we are always comfortable. We diet to stay the same weight, facelifts to prevent the inevitable force of gravity, even engage in risky behaviors to slow the aging process. Western medicine is all about treating the diseased so that death can be cheated. We never even think about death. To speak of our death is considered taboo, macabre, not something accepted in a “normal” daily conversation.
I know that the hardest part of accepting death, is to realize that death is not the end, not a permanent condition. Yes, our physicality comes to an end, but there is so much more to all living things that just a failing vessel of blood and organs, all things are made of the most basic of matter, water and carbon, formed into a structure that can resemble many different things, from a tree to a worm, yes and the human body. The essence of which is held together by energy. This energy is universal, it exists in the chair you’re sitting on, the flowers blooming in the spring, and even the ancient old growth forests rotting on the forest floors.
OK, so you may be thinking, how do I stop or slow change? How can I accept something, death for example, that seems so final…so permanent? What happens to that life force when the vessel dies? Religions have been trying to pacify the panic and mourning that goes along with death with the promise of heaven and hell. Alchemist have been trying to find the secret of eternal youth since the beginning of time. No matter, impermanence is just a universal condition to be accepted and worked through on a daily basis. If you knew you were gonna die tomorrow, would you do anything in your power to stave off this inevitability? You are not alone. Why not live everyday as if it were your last?
If I told you that to slow, maybe even end the violence in the world, the pestilence, the hate, anger, and all the “man-made” destruction of the planet, all we have to do is live each day as if it were a gift, treat each other with kindness, show unconditional love and acceptance to our fellow human beings and stop harming even the smallest of insects, would you at least try? It is so much easier to find fault, to feel the anger and act without thinking, to pass judgement and spread gossip, to continue to pollute rivers and oceans as if they were an endless resource. To avoid change at all costs. What if we all just gave it a little effort? What if everything you said to someone, stranger or friend, ally or foe, went through three gates first. Is it true? Is it necessary? The hardest one, is it kind? What if you smiled at a stranger, held the door for someone, didn’t honk and yell at the driver you feel is being crazy or stupid. Could you make a pact to do one kind thing for someone or something everyday? Could we each start a pay it forward society just by one kind act? What if it were really that simple?
The world is suffering, we all are dying everyday, tomorrow is not for certain. Every where Chris and I go, we bring love and light into someone’s darkness, whether we know that person or not. We are not alone. It is never too late but it does take an army to move an anthill these days. I implore you to at least try, how can it hurt? We can’t stop change but we can influence it with just a few random kindnesses.