“Impermanence is not something to be afraid of. It’s the evolution, a never-ending horizon.”
- Deepak Chopra
As we begin to bid adieu to this year, the doctrine of impermanence humbles any obstructions to be left behind. Practitioners have always understood impermanence as the cornerstone of ancient Buddhist teachings and practice. All that exists is impermanent; nothing lasts. Therefore nothing can be grasped or held onto. When we don’t fully appreciate this simple but profound truth we suffer, when we do, we have real peace and understanding, as did the monks who remained fully mindful and calm.
By way of explanation, impermanence defines life without attachment. This year has proven the redundancy of materialistic gain and hierarchical living - with lives bordering the deathly thresholds and families facing adversity. Apart from the virus protocols, this year taught us something prolifically wiser - gratuity.
Blatantly put, this year caused havoc. Finding the silver lining, opting for optimism and even forcing a smile proved difficult. For most, the promise of the new year meant better days - in whichever astrological, conscious, or religious way that it may deem true - change without motion is inevitably stagnant. To invite the change, we need to embrace the change.
To echo Winston Churchill, "Perfection is the enemy of progress". Throughout our time on Earth, natures course has sometimes led us to barren land. Unhealthy addiction, deceitful incentives, ungodly sinning and the large expanse of human vices - hinder spiritual enlightenment. To detach from said vices, is a step towards progress.
Hindu philosophy narrates the universal law of maya. Denoting from the Vedic Scriptures, Paramhansa Yogananda inculcates the following - "the physical world operates under one fundamental law of maya, the principle of relativity and duality. Since God in his absolute form is Complete Unity, the only way He can appear as the separate and diverse manifestations of creation is under a false or unreal veil of maya, or illusion to the human eye".
Under the influence of the three gunas, the soul is misled by matter, and subsequently entangled and entrapped. This tendency is termed maya (illusion). Under maya’s influence, the atman, (the soul) mistakenly identifies with the body. Under this sense of fickleness the soul aspires to control and enjoy matter. However, in so doing he continuously serves lust, greed, and anger.
Freeing ourselves from maya is the essence of the spiritual path, regardless of which religion one belongs to. This is done through perfect stillness and concentration, which can be reached by prayer, the practice of a particular meditation technique, non-attachment, devotion, and many other practices.
Strangely, in God’s creation, dharma and maya serve the same purpose. They ensure the order and regularity of the world and its continuation. Dharma does it positively and maya, negatively. Dharma protects you from falsehood, and maya shields you from the truth of your existence.
"'All conditioned things are impermanent' when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the Path to Purity". - Gautama Buddha
The never-ending cycle of recreation stands to cognize with mans' infinite blunder. The rhetoric of life after death, poetically indulges copious romanticized theories - yet deflects from the unknown. It is life's greatest question, and yet, our greatest motivation to live wholly. To be subject to the cycle, is to be gifted with chance. Everyday is a new chance to do better - to reach your pinnacle of dharma. "Let the past make you better not bitter' (Buddha).
Maya is perpetuated in humans in various ways. Egoism, attachments, and delusion are the three most important problems which arise from the presence of maya in us and in the world around us.
In ignorance (tamas), he is fully convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right. In passion he is unsure, hesitant, sometimes enjoying and at others times repenting. Only in goodness does the soul begin to develop wisdom – to see things in the real light. Thus enlightenment means moving away from tamas towards sattva. By so doing, the soul gradually escapes the clutches of maya and moves towards liberation.
The analogy of pursuing a mirage construes maya. If one pursues a mirage of an oasis in the desert, one will not find water but will be misled. Similarly, this world provides no real happiness, which exists only as an elusive dream and state of mind.
The candour of Atticus in his strident remark that "in the end we all die" versus Darwin's contest in "a man who has wasted one minute of his life, has not discovered the true value of living" - will always fluctuate our belief, but test our faith. For the time we are here, it is our choice to choose our destiny or accept it.
The practice of impermanence structures evasion from shackling bounds. Letting go of the past, disassociating with matter, finding your purpose in the universe, self-reflection, abstinence and discipline, and responsibility for your own happiness - introduce living without attachment.
The indistinct hum of capitalism slowly reverbed these ancient teachings of 'living without attachment', into haughty declarations that 'the sky is the limit' and 'man has no boundaries into greatness'. We have submerged into a pit so dark, that growth seems far-fetched. Reconnecting with divinity and peace has become long forgotten.
To assume the position of immortality and dominance, is a foolish consent to demise. In everything we are nothing, but in nothing we are everything. The paradoxical world of spiritual enlightenment is a paradox in itself. The greatest aphorism and most scientific statement is 'Be still and Know' - the Truth is not paradoxical; it is simple as God is simple.
Moments come and go, days turn into months, and months into years - by the end of it all, we realize that change is the only true constant, with nothing permanent. The world around us may appear solid and unchanging, but even rivers change course, mountains crumble, seas dry up, and stars burn out. The entire universe is in a process of constant flux, arising and falling away. Our brief lives give us the privilege of witnessing this grand procession for just a moment.
The attraction of modern day success in assets of luxury, finance, travel and status - have warped us into botched devotees. We have gotten too comfortable with short-term gains, forgetting the long-awaited road to nirvana. In toto, the prospect of the 'next years' success' - does not appear with magical reckoning, yet individual changes.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world".
The magnitude of memories, fascination of the world, strengthening of the mind, purification of the soul, and modesty of living invite liberal customs.
The green-eyed monstrosities, ailing addiction to felony. weakening of ones devotion, and caving to societal pressures invite eternal damnation.
"Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering."
- The Dalai Lama