Every experience that you ever have will come to an end.
All people you have ever known will eventually die.
All things you have ever laid your eyes on will perish.
Life is an impermanent process
To some people, this is terrifying. To me, there’s nothing more freeing. But why is that?
Life is a short window, and everything is always in a state of transition. A whole lot of pain is created by holding onto things that are inevitably shifting out of your life.
Accepting that all things perish takes a huge burden off you, and allows you to see life in a bigger picture way: One where you can enjoy the ride because let’s face it – You don’t have much to lose.
So you have two options. Hold on for dear life until the suffering becomes too much to bear, or surrender to the unknown and allow your experience on Earth to be one hell of a journey.
I know what makes life a whole lot more manageable for me, but what about you?
What is meant by the impermanence of life?
The impermanence of life refers to the ever-changing nature and eventual perishing of all things in our universe.
From people to plants to planets and stars. To molecules and even the universe itself.
When you realize that each experience that has ever existed will come to an end, you can gain a different perspective on life – A perspective integral to many spiritual faiths around the world.
This doctrine is central to Buddhism, while also a prominent theme in Hinduism, Taoism, and Sufism that teaches us a valuable lesson: We can’t take our bodies with us, and accepting the impermanence of all things brings us closer to our divine nature.
As holding on can cause a lot of pain, the teachings of impermanence are about letting things go in their own time without needlessly holding on or causing a forcing current within your life.
All life will be recycled into the universe. All stars will eventually burn out. The universe itself will come to a close, so nothing, regardless of how big or small can escape an ending.
To learn more about the spiritual laws of the universe, read the article below:
Why impermanence is a good thing
Viewing life through a lens of impermanence helps us cultivate acceptance. I have never felt more at peace, fully accepting that I’m going to die at some point – That life is a temporary phenomenon.
While some people refer to the impermanence of life as a problem, I emphatically reject this statement. If you think impermanence is a problem, then you’re approaching it from a very materialistic standpoint.
Impermanence, if seen through the right frame, is a very liberating law of the universe. Thinking about everything passing might fill you with existential dread. But existence being a temporary phenomenon makes you realize that there’s no point in taking life so seriously.
Thinking about life through a frame of impermanence creates space for a beautiful way of life where each and every moment, experience, and thing are just tiny glimpses of an endless current. This doesn’t discern good or bad, right or wrong, success or failure. Through this lens, everything is precious because everything is limited.
Impermanence is positive because it provides true equality and egalitarianism to life. This means that all suffering will end. All horror that is experienced is ultimately short-lived. The impermanency of life means there’s an ultimate egalitarianism of life because all life will begin and end humbly.
Viewing life through a frame of impermanence is beneficial because it:
- Alleviates the fear of death, to live a better life
- Alleviates stress, worry, and suffering
- Cultivates inner peace
- Allows you to embrace change and let go
- Helps you stop resisting life, and flow with it
- Helps you stop being so attached to material things, and instead focus on deeper fulfillment
- Encourages an existential pursuit of growth and learning, rather than material acquisition
- Puts everything into proportion and gives a sense of universal equality
Putting impermanence into practice
As with the cycle of growth and decay, all things in your life will perish too.
If you have parted ways with someone, instead of desperately holding on, realize it’s time to move forward with your life. Of course, allow yourself to go through the motions, but allow yourself to organically move on when it’s time.
Society is constantly changing. Holding onto your old ways might work for a while, but eventually, those old ways will become redundant. You need to change and adapt.
You need to let go of former identities, situations, people in your life, work, opportunities, and the list goes on. All things in life are in a state of transition, and you can’t press the pause button. So stay on top of the wave by allowing your life situation to continuously evolve.
Developing nonattachment through impermanence
Impermanence doesn’t lead to suffering, attachment does. When you’re holding onto something, you’re creating resistance within your life by refusing to let go.
So instead of holding onto your family house, your beloved car, or your favorite item, gracefully let things go when their service is up.
Use it as an opportunity to move on to something else and to change up your life a little bit.
Cultivating a healthier view of mortality
Instead of viewing death as an unquestionable horror, I challenge you to look at it in a way that brings you a sigh of relief.
Life is the adventure from point A to point B. Sooner or later we all cross that line and leave this world, so how can you see it in a way where it makes you feel… excited?
Even though I love my life and milk every drop of experience out of it, death gives me a sense of peace. I know that if my life turns out to be a massive failure, I’ll be happy to pass on to the next experience. If I’m a big success, I’ll leave with a smile on my face knowing I did a good job, but it doesn’t matter either way.
What matters is that I see death as the turning of a chapter.
By no means do I believe it’s the end of experience, not at all. Death is moving onto a beautiful mystery, and I’m excited to see where that mystery leads after this experience finishes.
This too shall pass
Going through a rough spot in your life? Although a painful experience may feel like an eternity, it too shall pass.
Look at impermanence as a sort of mercy of the universe. You can only be tested so much until you’re given a chance to breathe.
Telling myself this too shall pass has become a motto in my life during difficult situations. If you’re in a difficult situation, tell yourself that this too shall pass. If you’re in pain, this too shall pass. So at the end of the day, what do you have to lose? You’re not going to be in pain forever, so might as well fully experience it.
Do what’s within your power, and let go of what isn’t. Try to move the needle in your life to change the situation, but realize that sometimes it’s just a matter of time.
For better or worse
You don’t know where your life is going to take you because it truly is a mystery. You can either look at that mystery in a frame of uncertainty, or in a way that instills hope.
People fear change because they are afraid of their life situation becoming worse than it already is. After all, nobody wants that. But sooner or later your situation will change one way or another, so dreading what could be and thinking of the worst case doesn’t do much good. Not like you can avoid it, so why torment yourself?
I find that a better way to look at change is through a lens of optimism. Realize that your situation can get better.
You are constantly learning and growing, and you have more tools than you had before. So when things change, think about how the situation could be better than what you have. This optimistic lens helps develop this outlook.
Make the most of this experience
That woman you like? Ask her out.
If faced with an awkward rejection, it doesn’t matter anyway now does it? Your life is going to continue forward. New people will come into it.
But even if you have lived the most boring, sedentary life imaginable, you know what? It doesn’t matter.
Embrace life change
If the law of impermanence teaches you anything, it’s that you need to allow life to transition.
Change is inevitable in every form it takes. Stop treating it like the enemy, rather see it as a possible thing, and this will help you a lot.
Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. Get out of your comfort zone, pursue new opportunities, live your best life, and milk this experience of life. You’re here for a moment, so might as well enjoy the blink of an eye that you’re here.
Breaking cycles of attachment
I’m a minimalist.
I don’t like to have a lot of things because it just adds a lot of clutter to my life. Instead, I like to have the naked essentials because I feel more free. I would encourage you to minimize, and see how much you need.
Attachment can be tricky to break. Naturally, we’re going to get attached to things. If it’s not an item, it’s a person. If it’s not a person, it’s a house or a location.
You develop nonattachment by allowing everything to organically move in and out of your life. Enjoy it while it lasts, feel it when it goes, and replace it when needed.