Recently, a new Buddhist practitioner asked me which of the main teachings of Buddhism was making the most impact on my life. I immediately responded, “The concept of impermanence.”
I got a puzzled look and another question: Why didn’t I choose the teachings of compassion?
My reply was that compassion is an important moment-by-moment practice, one that’s evolved within the activities in my life.
The concept of impermanence, though, seems to be having the greatest impact on my daily life.
I told him that when I was a young Buddhist, impermanence seemed to take its form for me in death and possessions. If someone passed, I would comfort myself with the concept that death is part of the life cycle. If something was lost, well, even those inanimate objects we grow so fond of have a life cycle, too.
Yet as I have matured and grown in my faith and beliefs, I have seen a whole new side of impermanence.
This aspect that I have observed, day in and day out, in my life is the impermanence of self. Lately, I have seen that who I am today is not who I was yesterday, or a year ago.
I feel different each day. I behave differently each day, based on the food I eat, the amount of sleep I get, the events that occur and how I handle them. Most important is the amount of self-awareness I am experiencing in each moment.
Sometimes I am wrapped up in the feelings created by something and my self-awareness is, well, simply put, absent. So in that time, I may be expressing myself completely differently than I would under different circumstances.
If I take this concept outside of myself and attribute it to everyone around me, I can see that people really do change, with each breath they take. So, as my journey in life continues, I will carry on, living by the belief that impermanence is the river that we all flow down as we live our lives, changing with each turn, each waterfall and each splash we encounter.
And as I do, I will also practice compassion for those who may be suffering, in all its forms, knowing that it makes life easier to allow ourselves and others the freedom to change with each moment.
Diane Sodders, also known as Indira Grace, is one of The Star’s 13 Faith Walk writers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.