Week 5: Impermanence

 This week, Joseph explores impermanence, which is defined as “the nature of arising, passing away, and both arising and passing away”.    He highlights the importance of seeing impermanence because Buddha called it the doorway to liberation.  By seeing impermanence, one can, among other things, “eliminate all sensual lust, all lust for existence, and uproot the conceit ‘I am’”.  He explains that all that can change is unreliable, and that seeing impermanence one becomes disenchanted, dispassionate, and disillusioned, and the mind becomes liberated.  He makes many bold and intriguing statements, such as how seeing impermanence radically reshapes our relationship to reality.  “Everything we take as real is not real at all.”

(Here is a link to the talk from Joseph Goldstein)

He goes on to discuss how to practice contemplation of impermanence.  He suggests we look around at obvious examples of change.  He talks about seeing moment-to-moment change, and how that perception can lead from awareness of the content to a shift in the process of change.  He asks:  What is the quality of mind, when we are seeing momentary change, when the mind is not grasping, not clinging?

Finally, Joseph talks about stream entry.  He explores three different definitions the Buddha gave, the most famous of which is the uprooting of three fetters:  doubt, blind belief in rituals and ceremonies, and view of self.

Quotes from a Tibetan master, seven things:

1.              Consider all phenomena as dreams.

2.              Be grateful to everyone.

3.              Don’t be swayed by outer circumstances.

4.              Don’t brood over the faults of others.

5.              Explore the nature of unborn awareness.

6.              At all time, simply rely on a joyful mind.

7.              Don’t expect a standing ovation.

Some practices to consider doing:

1.              For one day, notice change around you on a large and, if possible, moment-to-moment level.  What is your quality of mind when you clearly see the process of change?

2.              As you go through an hour of any given day, consider all phenomena as dreams.

3.              What is your relationship to disenchantment?  Contemplate, or remember, moments in your life when you became disenchanted, and whether it changed your relationship to ‘reality’.

-Jeffrey Maloney