The importance of IMPERMANENCE

written insights Aug 19, 2021

The importance of IMPERMANENCE


Tejasvini - Oct 2019 - Question

“Dharma Bodhi could you please give a teaching on "emptiness of any permanence" and its implications in our spiritual sadhana. Thank you”


Dharma Bodhi (Kol Martens) - Response

The importance of IMPERMANENCE ...

The clear understanding that EVERYTHING of form or no-form in this Universe is inherently impermanent is one of the key principles of any true Dharma path.

Without this understanding permeating our minds and our experience of life we will again and again fall into the trap of attachment. Impermanence and attachment (one wing of the "swan of yoga") are two sides of the same coin.

Attachment is generated from two things:

  1. An inaccurate perception that our inner nature lacks something fundamental to the experience of satiation. In the search for what is missing we become attached when we misconstrue temporary satisfaction for eternal satisfaction.
  2. Fundamentally attachment and the sense of lack both stem from the erroneous notion that there is a permanence to the self. We are attached to the self that we generate, and it seems to lack something inherent that is needed in order to feel whole.

Contemplating impermanence of your body, energy, emotions, stories, memories, relationships, thoughts, and the universe around you will bring you to the clear understanding that there is no "self" other than the one we construct from moment to moment and have brought along from countless other existences in various realms.

Once the foundation of impermanence and its progeny - non-attachment - is stable we can engage in spiritual practice in such a way that actually brings us closer and closer to our essential nature.

Before being saturated in impermanence and non-attachment a sadhak can only ever be working with the apara śakti or dual energy of existence and with this comes much delusion about spiritual work and our sadhana, path, progress, level of attainment, etc. Yogins are practicing with their bodies as a piece of "jada" or dirt as my teachers would say. Yogins developing the body for the sake of developi g the body or even for the sake of developing the good feelings that come from yoga are doing nothing but reifying a sense of self.

For decades I have been the lone hermit in the woods shouting out that yoga and meditation are useless while one has still not been suffused with the sweet liberating fragrance of impermanence. Real time must be spent in foundational or preliminary practices that immerse us in impermanence and non-attachment until we are suffused and overflowing with these virtues. When we become "stuck" in our spiritual work we need to go back to basics, and this includes a healthy re-visiting of impermanence and non-attachment.

I am constantly struck with amazement and wonder at the "teachers" of Dharma out there, whether self-authorized pseudo-gurus or lineage authorized gurus, who demonstrate such low levels of non-attachment and obvious investment in their individual nature...their ego. It is sad that the newcomer to spiritual work is often captured and mystified by the entrancing oratory and intellect of these snake oil salesman proclaiming to be realized when they are so obviously out for adulation, a buck, or worse.

And this brings us to the second great point of this teaching:

Embracing impermanence nourishes the development of wisdom. Wisdom and grasping at permanence of self or world cannot co-exist. So meditating on impermanence and non-attachment sharpens the sword of wisdom.

Dharma Bodhi


Back to Free Resources & Insights  >