“Change is a central feature of life. It can be exhilarating, frightening, exhausting, or relieving. It can spark sadness or happiness, resistance or grasping. Insight into impermanence is central to Buddhist practice.
“Buddhist practice points us toward becoming equanimous in the midst of change and wiser in how we respond to what comes and goes. The Buddha’s last words were: ‘All conditioned things are impermanent. Strive on with diligence.’
“Impermanence is not a uniquely Buddhist insight. Many religions grapple with impermanence and suffering. The Buddha … said that suffering is not inherent in the world of impermanence; suffering arises when we cling. When clinging disappears, impermanence no longer gives rise to suffering. The solution to suffering, then, is to end clinging, not to try to escape from the transient world.
“It is possible to find ease and grace in the world of change; it is possible to trust the mind of non-clinging and so find our liberation within the world of impermanence. One means of reducing clinging is to see the transient nature of what we cling to. This insight can either show us the futility of trying to find lasting happiness in what is impermanent, or it can encourage us to examine deeply why we cling.”
*Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He has trained in both the Japanese Soto Zen tradition and the Insight Meditation lineage of Theravada Buddhism of Southeast Asia. image (top): http://www.kerismith.com.