Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightening in a summer storm,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
— Diamond Sutra
In such a fearful culture as ours it is difficult to see the upside of impermanence. Thích Nhất Hạnh directs us to focus on the wholesome attitudes relating to the ephemeral nature of form. “Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. Life is possible. If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into a stalk of corn. When we can see the miracle of impermanence our sadness and suffering will pass.”[i] This insight itself is miraculous. Through the realization of impermanence, we can transcend all our suffering.
Native Americans, perhaps because of their closeness to the natural world, witnessed the undeniable impermanence of all form. Crowfoot (1821-1877), a Blackfoot warrior and orator said it this way: “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”[ii]
The great prophet and mystic Jesus sums up our article in a quote taken from A Course in Miracles. “[He] does not seek what only he could keep, because that is a guarantee of loss. He does not want to suffer.”[iii]
[i] Hạnh, Thích Nhất. “The Practice of Looking Deeply.” Shambhala Sun. Boulder, Colorado, September 2002, p. 32.
[ii] McLuhan, T. C. Touch the Earth. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971, p. 12.
[iii] A Course in Miracles © Volume Three: Manual For Teachers (Farmingdale, New York: Coleman Graphics), published in 1975, by the Foundation for Inner Peace, P.O. Box 598, Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598, www.acim.org and email@example.com. p. 13.