The law of impermanence pretty much says that nothing is permanent. Letting go of the idea of permanence is important for more peace and less suffering. Letting go of the concept of permanent prepares us to better deal with situations when they become not permanent.
Since no physical or mental object is permanent, desires for or attachments to either causes suffering. Understanding that nothing is permanent can help get us through times of change and pain.
I like to think of it as riding the train. Each person gets off at a different stop. You ride the train longer with some than others. No one is permanently on the train.
In thinking of relationships, when two people are together for what appears to be forever, even that relationship is not permanent. Eventually the relationship will end through death or separation.
Truth be known, some should have ended years ago, but the idea of permanence keeps people together. The clinging, the attachment keeps them together.
I used to think, “I want a relationship that lasts forever.” I have even said to someone, “I want to be with you forever.” “This love is forever.”
We set ourselves up for something unrealistic, then when the relationship doesn’t work out or that person passes away, we are devastated because we are holding on to the concept of permanence. We are clinging. We are attached.
When it comes to relationships, I have found it essential to retain some level of non-attachment. That is completely different from detachment. I am certainly not talking about detachment.
I love the old Zen Proverb that says, “Knowledge is learning something every day and wisdom is letting go of something every day.”
Relationships are ever-evolving. It is important to be able to embrace the evolution and embrace the law of impermanence. Keeping in mind that in every instance, all will change, and this will change too.
Nothing is permanent. Not you job, your relationship, or your life.
There are however two constants in life. One is change. Change is constant. This is why non-attachment is key to peace and happiness. This is why understanding the law of impermanence allows us to let go when it is time to let go. Everything and every situation are in a constant state of change. Nothing remains permanently the same.
The second constant is spirit. Spirit is permanent. It never dies. It is always alive. So, while it is important to embrace the law of impermanence, it is also important to see that we are all connected spiritually because we are all spiritual beings.
I think of my mom and her passing. Even though our physical connection ended, we are still connected spiritually, and that will be permanent as long as I am in alignment spiritually and aware of the connection.
Let go of the idea that things are permanent. Just enjoy your relationship today, and let go of the idea that it is permanent or forever.
Embrace change. Cease clinging. Being able to do this will most certainly lead you down a path of less suffering and more peace.
Vince Shifflett is a nurse practitioner and writer living in Atlanta. Read more of his work at vinceshifflett.com.
This Q Voices column originally ran in Q magazine. Read the full issue:
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