Life itself is like a vapor, yet we often strive for permanence, stability, and solidity. Our minds love the notions of stability and predictability. But whether we like it or not, as the sands of time shift, and consciousness increases, we find permanence to be a human delusion. People grow old, get sick, and die. Buildings fall and societies change. Sometimes, impermanence appears slowly, and at other times, it comes quickly and without warning.
Fighting the true and transitory nature of life increases human suffering. James wrote: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”(6) To embrace our impermanence is to embrace life itself and the preciousness of the present moment.
The idea of permanence is a mental construct. It is not the true nature of our lives. The only permanent part of life is the present moment. With greater consciousness, we can experience the stillness of our spiritual nature and increasingly let go of the choppy nature of our egoic minds. We can experience the equanimity that Jesus spoke of: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”(7)
Striving for permanence is a common egoic obsession, but spirituality can transcend it. To be a conscious Christian is to be in the state of “I am.” In Exodus 3:14, God says to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Impermanence is not a problem to solve. It is a friend to embrace. It is our teacher. We can live abundantly and lovingly by understanding that whatever can be lost, will be lost. Embracing impermanence can help us cultivate the wisdom of now. Of this breath. Of I am.
Resisting impermanence causes a perpetual state of suffering. It takes us out of life as it is and into the unconscious mind’s desire to always have things be different from what they are. The practice of meditation, silent prayer, and living in the present moment can help us let go of our unconscious mind’s obsession to resist life as it exists. Obsessively wanting things to be different than they are is a fool’s errand. Embracing impermanence as a teacher—by letting go and letting God—can bring with it the peace that passes understanding that Paul writes about in Philippians 4:7.
6. James 4:14, NIV
7. Matt. 6: 27–29, NIV