Impermanence and Crisis


Although impermanence is a part of life, most people do not fully grasp its true nature. And yet, guided by the intellect, they often feel confident, believing to understand the essence of everything, even if reality proves otherwise. Namely, in practice, when happiness turns into sadness or health into illness; when friends leave and romantic love disappears; when social and economic security collapses or death approaches, most people feel unprepared and resist to accept change.

everything that “appears” is already in that very moment in the process of “disappearing”

But, no matter how hard they try to refuse unpleasant or to hold everything that seems precious, such an attempt is always unsuccessful, because everything that “appears” is already in that very moment in the process of “disappearing”.

The human refusal to accept change is reinforced through the degree of its desirability, with change that seems favourable being labeled as good and those that appear unfavourable as bad. But, in essence, everything that people consider "good" or "bad" is in a constant transition from one state to another and neither the appearance of the "bad" nor the disappearance of the "good" can be prevented. Even more, "the good and the bad", perform simultaneously on the stage of the life theatre, and remain on it as long as their role requires.

There is no moment in which the "Self" is unchanged and constant

However, not only every situation we experience, but also the "Self" that experiences those situations is subject to the same principle of transience. There is no moment in which the "Self" is unchanged and constant. In fact, every moment brings a new and fresh "Self", and this what seems to be a fixed “I" is actually just a line of different "Is" that come one after the other. In essence, we can say that all of existence, and we as part of it, flow like a river in which not a single drop repeats itself.

only when we enter the realm beyond the senses can we understand that everything is constantly flowing through phases of appearance, change and transformation and that, in essence, nothing truly appears or disappears

Since the sensory organs constantly flood our system with new information, the impermanence is obvious, but its nature is not. The reason is man's limited ability to perceive existence as a whole. Namely, our system is reached only by information that exceeds predefined boundaries, which means that much more information remains outside that range and is therefore invisible to people. Actually, our sense organs largely separate us from the whole, which is why only when we enter the realm beyond the senses can we understand that everything is constantly flowing through phases of appearance, change and transformation and that, in essence, nothing truly appears or disappears. This profound realisation not only led Shakyamuni Buddha to teach his followers about Anitya (impermanence), but it is also the root of the teaching that says that the world we perceive as solid and real is basically Maya (illusion). In fact, everything that exists is just apparently firm and permanent, and it is also only apparently born and dies. The truth is that nothing is the way our senses suggest or how we experience it based on that suggestion.

impermanence gives neither the past nor the future a space or time and only allows the existence of the eternal "now"

This also applies to our perception of time. Namely, limitation of our perception makes us believe in the existence of a fixed past, present and future. However, impermanence gives neither the past nor the future a space or time and only allows the existence of the eternal "now". Actually, this is the only time in which life can take place and no matter how real the past seems to us, it is just a mind product that consists of selected "now" moments that are artificially accumulated. Thereby, consciously experienced "now" moments are connected in a current that seems to flow continuously through our "historical line", while the other, unconscious moments disappear deeply in our subconsciousness, like drops scattered on all sides and immerse in the ground.

The mental projection of reality, in which we experience the world as a continuity of solid forms and states that move linearly along the timeline, is a consequence of our physical existence and our mind as the part of it. "Past, aging and permanence" are therefore only an artefact of our material being, which carries the ability to enrich the collected and stored information with a time component.

Just like the river, also existence, in its attempt to free itself, puts great pressure on everything on its way. This pressure causes the feelings of personal incompleteness, insignificance and meaninglessness that lead to life crises and suffering

These complex mental structures prevent people from perceiving the true nature of existence and resemble a dam that disrupts the natural flow. And just like the river, also existence, in its attempt to free itself, puts great pressure on everything on its way. When obstacle is made of mental formations, this pressure causes the feelings of personal incompleteness, insignificance and meaninglessness that lead to life crises and suffering.

When that happens, in their efforts to solve the crises, people try to find a solution primarily through their mental formations, including the ego and the intellect. However, the constant recurrence of the personal and global crisis is evidence that such an approach is doomed to fail, because it focuses on the wrong end of the problem. The fact is that any attempt to understand the source of the suffering and the causes of the crisis solely through the intellectual mind and mental formations is as pointless as trying to understand the nature of the river by examining the dam.

The stronger the ego and the more complex the mental formations, the greater the created obstacle and more destructive energy behind it

More importantly, without a deeper understanding of the nature of transience, people continue to build powerful and even more complex mental constructions. In doing so, they do not realise that the inner pressure they feel is actually the energy of the interrupted existential flow that accumulates and grows. The stronger the ego and the more complex the mental formations, the greater the created obstacle and more destructive energy behind it. As a result, the accumulated energy will break through the mental dam, and take everything with it like an uncontrolled torrent. Thereby, even the strongest ego, which feels unwavering and secure when supported by mental formations, will start to crack as soon as the first stronger crisis appears. The false sense of security collapses.

However, it is precisely crises that offer the opportunity to notice and accept transience. Namely, any attempt to resist change or hold something by force never brings a solution, but even greater suffering. This means that only when people are liberated from the mental formations that build the conditioned mind, does existence continue to flow freely and undisturbed. Whereby, suffering is replaced by bliss and peace.



#impermanence #change #self #mentalformations #mind #ego #time #conditioning #illusion #separation

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