Buddhist Impermanence and Greek Change, flip sides of the same coin…

Change doesn’t have to be a cause of suffering. It can also be a cause of liberation, if it’s compassionate, kind and helpful. And if that deviates from the standard Buddhist line of progression, then I’m sorry, but I think it holds true, at least for the modern day, with our modern ways. I personally haven’t shed too many tears over coming changes in a long time, but maybe that’s just a part of growing up, not sure, so maybe I better re-listen to Bruce Springsteen, since he sometimes gets it right, even if the Buddha didn’t. Now I embrace change, but true, it’s certainly better if it’s a change I initiate, so maybe that is the crucial line of distinction.

So when the Buddha is quoted as saying ‘sabbe sankhara anicca,’ i.e. all things are impermanent, the implication is that that is bad, but maybe that is a faulty conclusion. It is one of the three Buddhist marks of existence, after all, along with suffering and no-self, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate ‘badness’, so maybe it’s just a fact for your perusal, echoing Heraclitus some 3000mi/5000km away (as the crow flies) in Greece right about the same. Coincidence? Ask that crow; only he knows for sure, and he might be fibbing. The fact that both likely had ancestors from the same ‘hood up north 2000 years before is likely irrelevant at this point, so I won’t mention it.

Bottom line: everything changes but change itself, and if that scares you to death as a child about to move to a new town, or a young adult about to experience Love’s first great letdown, then rest assured: not only does this get easier, but you might even learn to like it, and seek it out, the other, if not another, geographical changes generally considered more socially acceptable than personnel changes, especially after a certain ‘use-by’ date, after which the changes become functionally impractical, and old dogs find it hard to learn new tricks.

But learn they can, if the will is there, and who knows what ‘sankhara’ means anyway? (It does NOT mean ‘karma’ as modern ‘re-birthers’ like to suggest) I say ‘things’ as shorthand for ‘I don’t know,’ but the devil may indeed lie in the details, if ‘formations’ implies that it is my own fault if they change against my wishes, since I set myself up for that fall in advance. Because he never said that everything changes, but that all ‘formations’ are impermanent, and that is not necessarily the same thing, if ‘formations’ can exist or not exist without necessarily undergoing any intermediate state from one existence to another.

But our lives necessarily proceed from one point to the next as if we had moved from one point to the next, not simply ceased to exist at one point and re-emerged at another. And so we measure our lives in time. And we mark our journeys in space. And we formulate emotions in reaction to it all. And we develop theories to explain it. So don’t become discouraged if the journey is long. All paths eventually lead home…