If Everything was Permanent

by Friends of Godwin


Before Prince Siddhartha became a Buddha one of the things that he encountered was the fact of death, old age and disease. When he encountered them there was a need for him to find a way out of them. Death and impermanence are very important in our lives, although sometimes we are not very happy to look at them because change or impermanence can be a source of frustration. We may be very attentive in one meditation session and perhaps we give ourselves a plus for it; but in the next session we are not attentive, we are not present, and we give ourselves a big minus. This kind of suffering can come from such comparing.

But if everything was permanent, how could a flower grow? How could the sun rise? How could I speak? How could I be silent? Changes which do not create suffering for us are no problem. But changes like death, like sickness, like old age, like the break-up of a relationship cause us suffering. Yet all these things can be seen equally as change. For example, when you have a relationship and suddenly the other person leaves you, or does something that disappoints you, you forget about the fact of change, and you want that person to live up to the fixed image you have of her or him.

Getting something that you don’t want certainly can create suffering. But it is interesting to find out that even when we get something we want that can also give rise to suffering. Initially there may be satisfaction, but afterwards the feeling of satisfaction lessens and you start looking for something new, another toy, something different which can give you back that initial feeling of satisfaction.