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Readings for Impermanence

posted Jun 25, 2013, 6:28 AM by Mark Nunberg   [ updated Jun 25, 2013, 1:34 PM by Scott Jensen ]
Hi Everyone,
It was nice to be with the group last night. Below are some readings for your study. Please send me any good readings/resources that you come across and I'll share them with the group. Remember, we are observing the beginnings and especially the endings of activities. Also, notice the effect on the mind & heart as you contemplate the reality of change - does it agitate or cool the mind???

Next Monday we will take the last 25 minutes or so to meet in small groups. I'll say more about this on Monday, but you can note any insights, experiences and questions and then bring them to the small groups.

You can always find the emails, resources and info from past classes at the Buddhist Studies web page:

Do We Really Believe in Impermanence? Carol Wilson

The Context of Impermanence by Andrew Olendzki

All About Change by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Impermanence, By Gil Fronsdal

The Three Basic Facts of Existence I. Impermanence (Anicca), Collected essays with a preface by Nyanaponika Thera

Experience and Experiencing by Joko Beck

Impermanence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. Heraclitus said we can never bathe twice in the same river. Confucius, while looking at a stream, said, "It is always flowing, day and night." The Buddha implored us not just to talk about impermanence, but to use it as an instrument to help us penetrate deeply into reality and obtain liberating insight. We may be tempted to say that because things are impermanent, there is suffering. But the Buddha encouraged us to look again. Without impermanence, life is not possible. How can we transform our suffering if things are not impermanent? How can our daughter grow up into a beautiful young lady? How can the situation in the world improve? We need impermanence for social justice and for hope.

If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent. When a flower dies, you don't suffer much, because you understand that flowers are impermanent. But you cannot accept the impermanence of your beloved one, and you suffer deeply when she passes away.

If you look deeply into impermanence, you will do your best to make her happy right now. Aware of impermanence, you become positive, loving and wise. Impermanence is good news. Without impermanence, nothing would be possible. With impermanence, every door is open for change. Impermanence is an instrument for our liberation.

Definition of Anicca from Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka:

Anicca: Impermanent, transient or, as abstract noun, aniccatā impermanence or change is the first of the three universal characteristics of existence tilakkhana, which is easily observable and thus obvious. It is from this all-embracing fact of impermanence that the other two universal characteristics, suffering dukkha and no-self anattā, are derived see: S. XXII, 15; Ud. IV, I

Impermanence of things is the arising, passing and changing of things, or the disappearance of things that have emerged & become into being. The meaning is that these things never persist in the same static state, but that they are changing, decaying, dissolving, and vanishing from moment to moment Vis.M VII, 3.

Impermanence is a basic feature of all conditioned phenomena, be they material or mental, coarse or subtle, one's own or other's, internal or external: All these compounded constructions are impermanent sabbe sankhārā aniccā M. 35, Dhp. 277. That the totality of existence is impermanent is also often stated in terms of the five aggregates or clusters khandha, the twelve internal and external sense sources āyatana. Only Nibbāna, which is unconditioned and not a construction asankhata, is permanent, stable, still, static, lasting and constant nicca dhuva.

The insight leading to the first stage of deliverance: Stream-entry sotāpatti see: ariya-puggala, is often expressed in terms of impermanence: Whatever is subject to origination, is also subject to ceasing see: Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, see: S. XLVI, 11. In his last exhortation, before his Parinibbāna, the Buddha reminded his Bhikkhus of the inevitable impermanence of all existence as a spur to earnest effort: Bhikkhus, I tell you: All constructions are bound to vanish. Strive enthusiasticly! Vayadhammā sankhārā, appamādena sampādetha; D. 16.