The Only Constant In Life Is Change

I have spent more than seven decades on planet earth and have experienced numerous situations during my life. So many young people have died, so many of my age have died and so many people older to me have died. Also, so many who were born rich in life are reduced now to a pitiable state whereas so many people with humble antecedents have risen high. So many countries have changed… the weather worldwide has changed… human nature has changed… values have changed.

There has been a lot of turmoil, tragedy and destruction all over the world. And yet all these changes are no more than a dream. When we look back deeply, we realise that there is nothing that is permanent and constant, nothing, not even the tiniest hair on our body. And this is not a theory, but something we can come to know and realise.

We may ask ourselves: “Why is it that everything changes?” And there is only one answer: “That is how life is.”

In our minds, change equals loss and suffering; and when change comes, we try to anaesthetise ourselves as far as possible. We assume, stubbornly and unquestioningly, that permanence provides security and impermanence does not. But in fact, impermanence is like some of the people we meet in life – difficult and disturbing at first, but on deeper acquaintance far friendlier and less unnerving than we imagined. I’ve seen friends becoming enemies and enemies becoming friends. Relationships change – great loves turn to great hatreds and so called ‘love marriages’ crumble to dust.

The whole universe, scientists now tell us, is nothing but change, activity and process – a totality of flux that is the ground of all things. What is our life but this dance of transient forms? Isn’t everything always changing… the leaves on the trees in the park, the light in your room, the seasons, the weather, the time of the day, and the people passing you in the street? And what about us? Doesn’t everything we have done in the past seem to be a dream now? The friends we grew up with, the childhood haunts, those views and opinions we once held with such single-minded passion… we have left them all behind. The cells of our body are dying, the neurons in our brain are decaying, and even the expression on our faces change depending on our mood. What we call our basic character is only a mind-stream’ and nothing more. Today we may feel good because things are going well – tomorrow, we may feel the opposite. Where did that good feeling go? New influences took over as circumstances changed. We are impermanent, and there is nothing solid or lasting anywhere that we can point to.

What could be more unpredictable than our thoughts and emotions? Do we have any idea what we are going to think or feel next? Our mind, in fact, is as empty, impermanent and transient as a dream. Look at a thought – it comes, it stays and it goes! The past is past, the future not risen and even the present thought, as we experience it, becomes the past within a moment. This is exactly the reason why we should not feel too elated in happy times or too dejected in difficult times, rather be a spectator and see life unfold in a detached way because happiness and unhappiness will play hide and seek throughout life. So you see the only constant in life is change!


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