There’s this story of Shunryu Suzuki, the Zen Master who founded The San Francisco Zen Center from one of his students. He said “I’ve been listening to your lectures for years but I still don’t understand, could you please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce buddhism to one phrase? “And his answer was: “Everything changes”
Although we know this, intellectually really well, somehow the understanding of the impermanence of life gets lost in our daily attachment to sufferings, desires and delusions.
It’s not a hidden truth, it’s not mystical or esoteric. We understand how we are in a constant shift however we forget. The practice is to go from an intellectual concept to the direct level of the ongoing experience of change as it's unfolding.
How can we notice if we are forgetting? How can we notice we are living from a fixed state? It can be quite challenging and difficult to not see these changes as a mistake, because deep inside what might surface is the thought of “Did I do something wrong?” or “If I just had done it differently or better, it wouldn’t be happening like this.” and somehow blaming, judging, criticizing ourselves or even choosing to stay in the rigidity seems more like a better option than to just see how everything changes, constantly.
This habit, this pattern of attachment goes really deep, the wanting for things to stay the same and there’s a reason why behind it. It’s not only about what is pleasant, we hold on to what’s unpleasant too, we hold on to suffering to justify to ourselves the feelings of anger, envy, jealousy, pride etc. For example, how often do we get caught in our righteousness position of “I should be feeling this, because of this thing someone said or this thing that happened, or whatever circumstance” and in this search for validation, we lose sight and contact that we are the ones suffering.
In the Mindfulness practice what we cultivate is noticing what’s arising and how we are relating to it: “Do I like it? Do I hate it? Is there fear? Is there resistance? Am I adding more suffering?” This last part is really up to us, no one makes us relate to our experience in a particular way. As long as we think that someone else is making us feel a certain way, we are giving away our power, our power of choice.
Can you see the connection between impermanence and attachment? Just look back at your past experiences, from this perspective it’s so clear to see this changing nature of it all, think about the experiences you had a year ago, a month ago, a week ago or yesterday...they are totally gone, what stays is how untangled or not we got in them in. So the practice is to bring awareness right into this flow of change so we can perceive it from the inside. When we do this we can truly see the truth of change and overtime from seeing the change and directly perceiving it as its happening, our hearts and our minds relax, we relax into the experience.
Rooftop Meditation: I'd love to invite you to come to my last guided meditation of the year at the Freehand Hotel / Nov 11th at 10am (we'll have Vital Proteins serving us some great drinks after the meditation).