Appreciating impermanence


A cornerstone in Buddhist philosophy is the understanding that everything is impermanent and that our attachment to person, things or phenomena as they are, is thus a cause of suffering – as all this will eventually change. The way to get out of this suffering is to rid ourselves from these attachments.

The Thai meditation master Achaan Chaa, once explained “You see this goblet? For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.

The same goes for our lives. Relationships break up. The new, shiny car will eventually become a rusty wreck. Our children grow up and move away from home. The lucky streak of our favourite team will not last forever. Our health will eventually wane. And the sheer green of early summer and the most intense colours of the autumn will soon be gone.

In the same way as Achaan Chaa, we should learn to appreciate all the things and all the relations we have at this moment, just as they are. Because tomorrow they may be gone, or we may not be here to enjoy them. And if we would one day loose them, we can say with no regrets; “They were here for a while, and I enjoyed them fully for the time they were with me”.

Inspired by the book Thoughts Without a Thinker, by Mark Epstein.

Illustration: – Katzenfee50

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Author: Karl Ekdahl

International public health leader and creativity blogger.

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