I went a round in the ring with impermanence the other day and I gotta tell ya, impermanence whipped my butt. Am I allowed to say butt in a Buddhist newsletter? It’s politer than the alternative I had in mind. Anyway, the lead up was typical of your average boxing match. Both parties go in cocky and overconfident and, of course, one is going to lose. That would be me!
Living with my father, as the Alzheimer’s progresses, was the ground from which the slight sense that I was getting to grips with the ‘complication-that-is-impermanence’ came from. Engaging with a person with Alzheimer’s is pretty much boot-camp for letting go. With all the practice, I figured I was getting the hang of this whole impermanence business.
Until a friend went on a road trip and her car was broken into. It happens. She’d been away for a while and many valued personal items were stolen from her packed-up car. She also lost, and this is where the sticking point came for me, an entire bag of her most precious Dharma texts and other daily practice treasures.
It was here that my mind baulked. No! This is not right. It can’t be. Not Dharma texts. These were some of my thoughts when I heard the news. Where on earth had these caveats about what type of impermanence was acceptable, and what type was most definitely not acceptable, come from? I was unaware I had any such stipulations.
Impermanence is tricky and I tend to fall into the trap of trying to ‘make nice’ with something that sure, has it’s moments, but generally isn’t all that nice. The expressions of impermanence that I don’t like, or that seem harsh and unfair, are difficulty to come to terms with. In particular, the ones that catch us unaware and trigger the attachment / aversion response that lie at the root of so many of life’s daily struggles.
So for now it is back to the drawing board, or should I say the Ngondro prostration board! There is work to be done. My understanding needs to deepen and there is reality to explore and engage with. This time on it’s terms. Not my terms and conditions but the more universal truth ones.
Till next time,