When we are in touch with the reality of impermanence then we know that at some point everything will come to pass. This includes our lives, and the lives of those who we care about. The connection to impermanence is an important clue on our human journey. We can realize then, what are the most important things to us. In this inner value we bond with others who share similar views. This is a gift of reciprocity with life that allows us to focus our attention on serving each other rather than destroying each other and our planet.
Impermanence is something that we do not like to hear about in the occidental world. By most part everyone is focused on maintaining status quo. The lay-person’s status quo allows for feeling of false security and deepens our connection with samsara. When we examine this illusion we can see it is based in fear.
Realizing samsara in our everyday life is the first thing in understanding the core of Buddhism; The 4 Noble Truths. Whether we are happy, indifferent or unhappy we are always suffering. Our attachment, aversion, ignorance, inauthenticity and inability to face reality is what causes our suffering.
When we begin to practice the dharma something fundamentally begins to shift inside of us. We begin to realize our nature. Our nature has an opportunity to be unobscured by the conditioning. It is empty. These moments of emptiness deepen with practice, both on and off the cushion. Each moment when we connect with our unobscured nature we can realize the precious gift that it is to practice the dharma and share life in a compassionate way.
It is a blessing to find, learn from, and remain connected with a great teacher. The right teacher is like a torch of light in the midst of our confusion unraveling itself. The teacher has compassion, wisdom and skills to guide us in an appropriate way. Each student is unique and different and at various levels of their journey towards realization. The goal of the practice is realization.
For some people it is very painful to be aware. When we connect with our true nature we can train ourselves to practice awareness and mindfulness. Everyone who is intelligent to practice the dharma has an intrinsic understanding of awareness and mindfulness. In this way we can enter into a relationship with our mind and start contemplation and meditation, we can begin to make a noticeable change in our lives and help to improve the lives of others.
Our approach to mind is crucial. We need to understand our mind deeply. What we believe matters a lot. A non-believer is also a believer of a kind. A belief is a set value within a person. It is a value that can be altered and it can be deepened or discarded. Beliefs form after certain reinforcements have been put in place. The way our beliefs reinforce themselves and why they differ from person to person has to do with our karma and conditions of our life. Our individual karma is what makes us so unique on the human level.
Our beliefs shape the way we relate with the world around. Our nature is empty and has no beliefs, yet our karmic causes and circumstances make us uniquely who we are, the way we move in this world is affected by what we believe.
How we treat our mind is very essential to leading a good life. A daily discipline is what allows us to shift habitual thinking patterns, beliefs and gives us a deeper sense of meaning to the daily life. It brings us in touch with what is real, what we value and lets us find the middle path in the midst of projections and those who ask for change but don’t want to change themselves.
Rev. Dr. K. Sonan Wangmo
Image: Hand and foot of White Tara looking at the world of Samsara. Tibetan Thangka.