master_bird.jpg (20821 bytes) Ven. Master Hsing Yun
Dharma Talks


The Buddhist Perspective on Cause and Condition

The Buddhist Perspective on Time and Space

The Value of Impermenance




The Value of Impermanence

 Most people do not like the idea of impermanence. The impermanence of life brings fear; the impermanence of relationships brings sorrows. The world is impermanent, going through stages of becoming, existence, decay, and extinction. Everything is impermanent and as unreal as someone’s imagination. Thus, when the subject of impermanence is brought up, most people feel it is passive, pessimistic, and meaningless. If we look at impermanence from another angle, it is active and dynamic. To understand the value of impermanence, we have to look at it from the following angles:

  1. Impermanence brings us hope. --- The definition of impermanence is that good can turn bad and bad can become good. It can bring us boundless hope; it lets us treasure what is good and improve what is bad. For example, it does not matter if we are poor; poverty is impermanent. If we work hard, we can succeed one day! If we become wealthy one day, our understanding of impermanence would help us learn to treasure our blessings. We know that if we do not value and preserve our wealth, our wealth, even an enormous one, can disappear. On the emotional level, one would appreciate otherslove and friendship. It does not matter even if others have ill feelings toward us. If we can change the cause of the hostility, there is still hope for a good friendship in the future.

  2. Impermanence embodies the spirit of freedom. --- Impermanence also means that our lives are not predestined. We all have the freedom to change our lives and destinies. For example, we can improve on our social skills to change our destinies. Such changes are within my control, within your control, and within everyone’s control. Impermanence treats everyone fairly; it applies to everyone regardless whether you are a royalty or a commoner. We all, equally and without exceptions, have the possibilities to become good or bad.

  3. Impermanence denies the control of gods. --- In our lives, one of the biggest vexations is not knowing about our future, making it very easy for us to hand over our future to the gods and subject ourselves to their control. Once we understand impermanence, we can decide the future for ourselves. We can free ourselves of the control of gods and become our own masters.

  4. Impermanence shatters the concept of predestination. --- Just as we discuss above, our lives are not predestined. Our future is within our control. If we can be righteous, refrain from violating others, and nurture a multitude of good causal relationships with others, impermanence can change a life of misfortune into a prosperous one.

Thus, the value of impermanence is as follows:

  1. Impermanence brings us hope.

  2. Impermanence embodies the spirit of freedom.

  3. Impermanence denies the control of gods.

  4. Impermanence shatters the concept of predestination.

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