There is a philosophy in Buddhist thought that proclaims that all things are impermanent. This applies, as I understand it, not only to the physical things such as cars and homes and clothes, but also to things such as relationships, moods, and viewpoints. Nothing, in the eyes of a Buddhist, is everlasting. Your clothes will get ruined and will need to be replaced, your relationships will sour or change with time and familiarity, your moods and viewpoints will be altered by the temper of aging.
Buddhist monks are known for creating elaborate works of art on the floor within, or directly outside of, their temples using only colored sand. Sometimes a monk may labor over this project for days, weeks, or even months or years at a time. The work is intricate and painstaking, involving the onerous task of laying down nearly individual grains of sand in detailed and subtle fashion to achieve a desired artistic effect. When the work is finished, it is either immediately swept away, or left to be trodden upon by passers-by, or perhaps blown away with the winds. There are those who think it is crazy to put so much effort into something that is only going to be immediately destroyed.
The monk knows that everything will be immediately destroyed.
One of the core teachings of the Buddha is that ‘all of life is suffering.’ The principle reason for the suffering is that we will lose everything that we hold dear, and the more we grasp and cling to the ‘things’ in our life, the more miserable we will be.
As I pass through life lately, I begin to understand how uncannily accurate this depiction of life is for me. As I begin to analyze my own moods and emotions about my life, I have come to find that I have been stressing and creating my own anxieties about things or situations that I have lost, or that I fear that I will lose.
When I should have known all along that nothing is permanent.
Acknowledge today that everything you hold dear, everything that you love, and everything that is important to you, will go away and never come back to you again. Acknowledge today that you are happy for what you love right now, but will not agonize over its loss. Acknowledge today that your entire life is balancing precariously atop a needle, and will soon crash down, only to be balanced again upon yet another needle, waiting only to repeat the cycle.
If you are like me, you will find a moment of peace in this.
There is a reasonable amount of certainty within me these days that the Buddhists are wiser than I once gave them credit for.