All things change. Nothing ever stays the same. Everything that exists changes and is transient. Change is inevitable because this is a living, moving universe; it is not a stagnant universe. Ours is a universe that is imbued with energy, and energy that cannot flow has no purpose
. Thus, change is like the prime mover of all existence. It is the change-maker that gives rise to everything in existence: an ever-expanding universe, a swirling galaxy, a fiery sun.
The earth, too, changes continuously as volcanoes erupt and plates shift. And we humans are ever-changing as well, growing from a fetus to a child to an adult to an elder in a blink of the cosmic eye. All this change
is the essence of life and the essence of existence.
Transience is the most universal law of all phenomena. More precisely, change is essential to existence. Similar to the way a bicycle keeps from falling over by rolling along, there can be neither phenomena nor existence without change. This is not something that you can realize only through hard research and study; the law of transience can be observed in the entire nature of the extant world.
When we truly recognize the transient nature of life, we inevitably become more humble.
We come to acknowledge this fact, and say to ourselves ”Yeah, no matter how proud and confident I act, I am one little soul struggling with the suffering and impermanence of life.” When we see ourselves as one of many who share in suffering, we no longer resent or look down on others.
Because we know that everyone is doing his or her best to figure out how to be happy and live in a difficult situation, we begin to have more compassion, more respect, and more grace with the world around us. Even though we feel, in each twist and turn of life, that life isn’t permanent, many people nevertheless struggle against the impermanence of human existence. Why?
Perhaps because of the feeling of emptiness
that arises within us when we are faced with the reality of constant change. If life is transient, what can we hold on to? How can we ever feel secure?
What is the meaning of it all? If I am so insignificant, how can I live a life of significance?
We try hard to turn away from the truth of transience because it causes a feeling of emptiness within us. The reality of the immense cosmos is difficult to bear, so we don’t want to look at it.
We work hard to turn away from the truth of impermanence and try to forget the empty feeling that the finiteness of our existence gives us. We don’t want to awaken from our delusion and fantasy, so we continue to pretend that everything will continue to exist as it is, changeless.
Dropping our resistance to change is like saying yes to the energy of life.
Because we know that everything in our lives is impermanent, we no longer grasp at certain conditions, people, or objects in life, hoping to control and possess them. We are no longer the source of our own worst suffering because we are not attached; we know that jobs will change, people will come and go, and new baubles will become worn or broken with time.
If we understand that we can keep nothing permanently, we can remain unattached to the conditions and outcomes of our lives. Then, just like energy flowing freely through a healthy body, the energy of life
will be able to flow through our lives, bringing healing and vitality to our minds, bodies, and spirits.
It’s natural to resist change since we like to feel safe and to control everything, even things which we know we can’t. But remember embracing transience is true wisdom. If we accept that everything changes, we can go with the ebb and flow of life and ride its smooth or turbulent currents. Our motto more readily becomes, “This too shall pass.” When we understand the law of transience, we face life with an openness and acceptance of all that is in the here and now.
Editor’s Note: Principles such as the transient nature of life can found in Ilchi Lee’s book, Living Tao: Timeless Principles for Everyday Enlightenment.