DANGER – MAY CAUSE AWARENESS, AWAKENING – IF SYMPTOMS OF BUDDHAHOOD PERSIST CONSULT YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY.
I warn you that this piece of writing has the potential to destroy your concepts, your mind is liable to shattering and dissolving. So please feel sane, feel happy and healthy before reading.
I want to invite you to explore the building blocks of life and existence with me, for a short while. I want mainly to look at time and space, and the greatest and most miniscule aspects of our universe. Also, by way of a wander, at our concepts and ideas, beliefs and identities.
Lets start with impermanence; and how it relates to time. Time is quite surreal when it is explored, I am fascinated by the concept of time from the perspective of beyond the linear, as if there were a space around this passage of time.
We can say that our universe came into being, and for that reason, we can propose that it will pass away, like any other phenomena we can examine.
A passage of time is identifiable by its portioning, its beginning and end, and thus its length. Our time came to be to mark the passings of natural events, the sun’s passage across the skies in years, eras and days, and the moons passage with its waxing and waning.
So we apportioned units to time, such as years and days, all of which have a beginning and an end. Hours, minutes, seconds, all come into being and pass away. Then there are milliseconds, or moments, and they all can be said to come and go. Thus they are all impermanent in the way we can experience impermanence.
We can watch time pass if we choose, on a boring day at work. If they come and go, the question arises as to where they come from and go to, and this we think is obvious, it is the past and the future..
I like this idea of total impermanence, visible in the massive and the miniature, whether that be in time or space. For space too is measurable, and begins, and ends. It is a bit of a mind twister, a koan, to ask whether space is impermanent.
As for the objects that all sit in space, impermanence is much more simple, although most people don’t reflect on it. The whole universe, we see, is probably impermanent. Certainly formations of suns and stars and planets are impermanent, they come together, they go nova, they drift apart or join together. There is nothing that is in space therefore that we can say will never change or dissolve.
The nature of everything is dissolving, by nature of coming to be it can be said to have a quality of dissolution. On the more local scale, the geographic entities of our planet, the mountains and seas and rivers are all by nature process, change, flowing as they do from one form to another, albeit very very slowly.
We can say of all life, that it too, has some sort of beginning and end, or transition, or process – however you choose to see that. Our civilizations, empires, cultures, all come into being, change and fade away, sometimes visibly in our lifetimes. All the creatures, all the people, we know are by nature here only for a while.
This can seem to be very sad, and loss is tragic and heartbreaking, but insight into impermanence can actually be liberating. It is the way we delude ourselves to see things as fixed and stable, lasting, and able to give us what we want or need, which causes us suffering. We try to make permanent the impermanent.
Seeing our pay rise or our routine or our salary or our partner or our family or our next new car or phone as somehow able to make us happy, causes us suffering. These things are nice, but we are conditioned to think they are what its all about, these things. People are slightly different, but material things have become our religion, and our religion is hurting us and our world, frustrating us at every turn. We are disappointed by life, by things, by passing away.
This disappointment is born from the same delusion that makes us grasp at things. Grasping, craving, attachment, by its nature will be disappointed eventually. What we crave will elude us, or if we should obtain it it will pass away. By the time we attain whatever we crave, we may not even want it any more, as the flux is twofold, it is interior and exterior, thus the mind that craves changes as well as the object(s) we crave.
We ourselves change, and are always changing in the direction of our own destruction. Our bodies will frustrate us, hurt us, get ill, and obviously die. So its all to do with the delusion that causes craving, that in turn causes suffering.
We see things, we see an illusion, and a delusion is formed. This delusion seeks to attach itself to identity or objects to create itself. It must by nature be disappointed. Greed is never satisfied. So it is so very simple, we need to see things as they really are, and treat things, identities as they really are. So lets explore how they really are, and try to loosen that craving, reduce that suffering.
Lets have a look at our possessions, our bodies. They, we know are made of parts, which together become a thing that we label and want or cling onto. These parts are also made of parts, so all things are dissolvable by applying this way of thinking. Right down to atomic, molecular structures, all things are change and flow. Atoms join and part from our bodies constantly and in great quantity.
Beyond even this, there is the matter or quantum matter which makes up the field from which all this arises and to which it all returns. Like space, this field is difficult to assign limits, ends, or beginnings to.
Applying time to contemplation of impermanence is interesting, as we could say there is momentary impermanence. If each portion of time and matter is change, then we can say that phenomena do not abide in ‘sameness’ for a single moment. Nothing about our world then, abides in sameness for a moment. Nothing about us, or our bodies, or our consciousnesses, abide in sameness for a moment. No idea, feeling, thought, let alone any concept upon which we hook an identity. No circumstance in our life is abiding in sameness for any possible portion of time!
To grasp these ideas, we can be forgiven for having visions of sprawling masses of condition and moment and atoms of body and food and air. A slow and continuous mutation of absolutely everything and anything. Of the visible and the invisible. Of the book, of the computer, of the idea, of the chair, of the breath, of the tingle in the hand. Its all the same. Its all so far beyond the label and concept we assign to it, this stuff of life, that language or concepts becomes useless.
What is the point of this kind of reflection? It can be frightening to some, it can reveal the groundlessness, the ignorance, or it can seem abstract and pointless. Analysis of reality is useful, because we are left wiser, more able to let go of things, of identity, of ego clinging, of self-grasping, selfishness and then greed.
As for hate, well what is hate, and who is this construct you create that hates, and what is this immense being, this immense and awesome configuration of condition and layerings of ideas and identities and karmas and dharmas, what is this being on whom you project this idea of hate?
Facing reality fully, leaves no room for hate. This emotion so infinitely small and insignificant, so wildly founded, deluded and misunderstood. Wounding.
No, to sit with this vision of reality, of beings, leaves us realizing that we cannot comprehend another being totally. Can we even say that we comprehend our own being to any extent? Can our ideas of life and how we should live it stand up to this kind of analysis?
So there is cold hard reality, but faced with it all, what if we chose to respond with love, and only love. What if we could find love for it all, awe, simply a kind of childlike innocent gaze which beholds all things knowing that there is no understanding of all things. A tender yearning for happiness amidst it all, something we all share.
What if love was the only way to understand all things? From blade of grass to sun, our response must be awe, fascination, gaze, and appreciation of the beauty and the mystery. As for beings, well there are no beings. As for time and space, there are no time and space. There is just the epic flux of being.
Also, with this gaze, comes a vision of interconnectedness, of how it is all woven together beyond space and time. This atom I see as me and mine, was once plant, that was formed by process of photosynthesis, by the plant’s processes that it somehow knows and is born with.
This atom that came into being surfing a wave so vast, a wave made up of all the conditions of sunshine and air and space and earth and fire and water, is now a part of me, a part of what I call mine. Perhaps it has joined my toe or my mouth or my brain, who knows. It s only with me for a while, it will fall away from me and be dust or change, butterfly or flower.
There are infinite atoms, all doing the same thing, changing and joining my body. Like my thoughts and ideas, they join me, leave, change. Spread. Affect.Transform.
This atom or that idea may be a part of somebody else now. This breath I must let go of is now nourishing aother being, or another plant. This water I must inevitably return to the cycle, this piece of consciousness, that possession, all to be returned, all to affect, all to ripple, all to become someone else or someone else’s.
Resting easy, familiar with impermanence and change allows us to let go, to cope with loss.
All phenomena are of the nature of things that we must be separated from.
Contemplating impermanence relaxes and loosens the mind, erodes its delusions and poisons, and because of the changing nature and our comfort in that process, we can find true equanimity and balance. Silent and gentle like the lion’s roar.
There is nothing that is not caused, conditioned. All situations, being, ideas and things. And causes and conditions are constantly changing. Motivations, volitions, choices, actions, karmas and dharmas, all flow. I am like a churning congruence of conditions, and so are you.
Realization of impermanence reveals the nature of suffering, so realization of the nature of suffering also leads to the realization of selflessness.
In this ocean of infinitely myriad causes and effects, we learn to sit loose, to kiss the joy as it flies, and to find light. We are drawn to the light, to the sunshine. We wish to be able to teach another being the way from suffering, we wish to be the solution, the love, the liberator.
A momentary formation of atom and idea, I.
If we remove the atom and go to the field, then we are all very definitely nothing but field, and so are you, and so are your possessions and your ideas, all light.
All the absolute nature of reality, the ground or the light from which all appearance is born. The infinite boundless radiance to which all emanation returns.
All made of sunshine.