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At this point of the journey through the 10 Steps to Bliss, we start to see life through a different set of eyes. You have probably had multiple experiences of oneness, wholeness, or spirit. If you’re like me, you crave it. There is something so right about this connection with our Soul, the Higher Self, the True Self, that fulfills us deeply. It’s likely, from this moment forward, the majority of your journey will be looking for ways to enter this sacred space. As we move through life, we discover ways that help us connect. This is why I created Hope it Helps. The concept is, I share whatever is helping me connect with my Soul, in the hopes that it will also help you connect with yours. Step 5 of the 10 Steps to Bliss is about accepting impermanence. This is a tool that I have learned through studying Buddhism and the Dalai Lama’s teachings.
Step 5 of the 10 Steps to Bliss – Accepting Impermanence
There is nothing in life that confuses us more than the idea of permanence. I think every person on the planet would agree, after just a few seconds of thought, that nothing in life is permanent. However, our actions and reactions suggest something completely different. How could that be? I think it boils down to an overall misunderstanding of the process of life. When we obtain something we enjoy, like a job, house or spouse, we experience some form of finality. The search is over. It’s done. We have come to the end of the road. However, we’re missing something really important in this thought process. Nothing is ever done. Things have just changed…and they will change again. For example, you were single, but now you are married. That’s a change, but it’s not the end of the road. You may wake up every day in the same bed, next to the same spouse, with the same children under your roof as you get ready for the same job, so it’s easy to see how we can get caught in this idea of permanence. However, are any of those things truly the same? No. Every day things change for everyone and everything. Your spouse is changing every day, YOU are changing every day and so are your children and your job for that matter. None of these things are the same day to day, but because they have the same Labels, we consider them the be the same. Our brain does this to simplify things for us, so we have to be conscious enough to remind ourselves of of this reality called change.
This idea of “holding on” is what causes the problems. We hold on so tight to these ideas that we actually do not expect the one thing that is almost 100% certain…change. If you just got promoted to President of the Company, at some level, you think of yourself that way permanently. If you were to be fired or demoted 2 years from now, it would probably rock your world. In your mind, you are the President. But that, like all things in life, will change. When I say “all things”, I mean it literally. Emotions, thoughts, material items, relationships…everything. In fact, in every moment of life, things are different. They are never the same today as they were yesterday and will not be the same tomorrow as they are today. Of course, you don’t have to dampen the mood on the day you buy a new gadget. It’s not necessary to immediately tell yourself “this Nintendo will one day become obsolete, break or be tossed aside as worthless”. This is a concept that we accept as an overall reality about everything. It isn’t necessary to prep yourself for this reality with each element of life. If you understand and accept impermanence globally, then you won’t need to go item by item in your life. As those items change or disappear, you will just go with the flow because you deeply understand the nature of life revolves around change.
How do I begin to accept this?
Start with the logical reality that everything in the world changes every nano-second and it never comes back to the same place ever again. As soon as you being to realize this is true, meditate on the concept with this as your Mantra: “It is the nature of all things to change”. After you have let this sink in, you will experience expansion in a new way. Instead of resisting change, you will expect it. In your expectation of change, you will be accepting of change. In your acceptance will be an understanding that change is not good or bad. It’s just a part of life. Eventually, you will look forward to change because you will see change as a new start. Something fresh, a new beginning, or even an opportunity.
The hardest part.
I believe most of us struggle with impermanence as a rule because of the one thing that we all know is impermanent…us. Death isn’t a fun subject to talk about unless you believe in reincarnation. I’m one of the people who does believe in reincarnation and I definitely find some level of peace in that belief. If you’re interested in this subject, you should check this out: Scientific Proof of Reincarnation. Without belief in reincarnation, accepting death is difficult. We all know it’s coming, but no one wants to discuss it, much less accept it. This is a big part of ultimately understanding and accepting overall impermanence. There are many ways to go about this. Buddhist monks have been known to meditate for 24 hours straight on their death as a way to appreciate life. I think this is the best direction for the acceptance of death…the celebration of life! If you truly take on this concept, if you really accept your own death, life will take on all new meaning. You will take nothing for granted. You will be tempted to stop and admire every wild flower growing in the weeds. You won’t miss a sunset. You will catch yourself out in the rain one day looking up and just embracing this amazing opportunity to LIVE. Get over this hump and I guarantee an improved outlook on everything in your life.
Once we have accepted that our own life is impermanent, it becomes easy to understand that everything else is impermanent as well. So, instead of trying to hold on to everything as it is, we are able to relax and enjoy things while they exists in the present state. Because we know with 100% certainty, it will not stay that way forever. The advantages to this concept go beyond a higher appreciation for the good things in life and extends to the impermanent aspect of bad things as well. It’s a huge swing in your Consciousness for this reason. When something happens that is considered to be not ideal or bad, you will recognize the impermanence of this situation. You realize that it will not last forever. This alone is enough to help you remain centered and focused on what you can learn from any bad situation.
The big take-away from Step 5 of the 10 Steps to Bliss…
Everything is impermanent. All things you see and experience are dissipating at different speeds, but dissipating nonetheless. Enjoy the good things; they won’t last forever. Shrug off the bad things; they won’t last forever either.
Happy Meditating. I hope it helps 🙂