No Self

May be an illustration
I asked ChatGPT “explain the buddhist idea of no self”
This is its response that is very accurate, understandable, and appropriate.
The Buddhist idea of “no self,” also known as anatta or anatman, is the concept that there is no permanent, unchanging self or soul that exists independently from the rest of the universe. Instead, Buddhism teaches that all phenomena, including individuals, are impermanent, constantly changing, and interconnected.
According to Buddhist philosophy, the concept of a fixed self or soul is a delusion that leads to suffering. The belief in a permanent self leads to attachment, clinging, and craving for things that we mistakenly think will make us happy. This attachment and clinging, in turn, lead to suffering when these things inevitably change or are taken away from us.
Buddhism teaches that our sense of self is actually a constantly changing combination of five aggregates or skandhas: form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. These aggregates are not permanent or independent but are constantly changing and influenced by various causes and conditions.
In other words, Buddhism views the self as a process rather than a thing. It is a constantly changing and evolving phenomenon that arises due to various causes and conditions. Understanding this idea of no self can help us let go of attachment and craving, leading to a more peaceful and contented state of mind.

The Variety of Transcendent States During Meditation

The Variety of Transcendent States During Meditation


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“Ancient masters described intense transcendent states that result from meditation. A true awakening, transformation of consciousness, oneness with the ALL. Many esoterics have glimpsed these levels of consciousness, and for a few it became a persistent state – enlightenment.” – Future Thinkers


Millions of people worldwide seek out transcendent experiences by engaging in practices, such as meditation, yoga, and prayer. Others use drugs such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, ayahuasca and psilocybin to induce these experiences. Transcendent experiences have many characteristics which are unique to the experiencer, their religious context, and their present situation. But, the common, central feature of transcendence is a sense of oneness, that all things are contained in a single thing, a sense of union with the universe and/or God and everything in existence. This includes a loss of the personal self. What they used to refer to as the self is experienced as just a part of an integrated whole. People who have had these experiences report feeling interconnected with everything else in a sense of oneness with all things. Although transcendent experiences can vary widely, they all contain this experience of oneness.


I published a summary and review of these characteristics in a paper entitles “A Model of Enlightened/Mystical/Awakened Experience. It can be found on Research Gate at


Because of their relatively rare, ineffable, and completely subjective characteristics, transcendent experiences have received only a small amount of scientific attention. This, however, flies in the face of their importance to humans of spirituality. They are central to the human search for the nature and meaning of existence. Hence, there is a need for greater scientific attention to transcendent experiences.


In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review of Transcendent States Across Meditation and Contemplative Traditions.” Wahbeh and colleagues summarize the published peer-reviewed scientific literature on transcendent experiences occurring during meditation. They identified 25 studies involving a total of 672 participants that measured a variety of physiological, psychological, and experiential variables during or after the experience of transcendence during meditation.


They found that “as meditation progresses, a person’s sense of agency, location and boundaries in time and space become weaker and the sense of self dissolves”. This was associated with relaxed wakefulness which included decreased respiration, skin conductivity, and muscle relaxation, increase in the brain’s alpha rhythm power, alpha blocking, and changes in brain area interconnectedness and activity. The meditators report experiencing “a sense of timelessness, spacelessness, unconditional love, peace, profound joy, and loss of boundaries of the self. In Christian contemplative traditions, there is a “transformative presence of God” and religious ecstasy.” The meditators report changes in perception that are reflected in changes in brain activity in the sensory cortices. Phenomenologically these changes are reported to not alter the present sensory environment but transcends it producing a sense on oneness of all things.


The studies reported were very heterogenous with different methodologies, measurements, and focus and with great differences in scientific quality and bias. This is unfortunate, as this is such an important area of study. There is a need for more work under similar conditions with standardized measurements and tighter experimental controls. Rather than considering the published research as definitive, it should be viewed as a first step in the investigation of transcendent experiences during meditation. But, the published studies to date produce a tantalizing glimpse into these states, reflecting an altered interpretation of reality and perhaps insight into the nature of being.


“during transcendent states, we slip into an altered state of consciousness different from our ordinary waking or rational consciousness. “No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.” – William James


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Wahbeh H, Sagher A, Back W, Pundhir P, Travis F. A Systematic Review of Transcendent States Across Meditation and Contemplative Traditions. Explore (NY). 2018 Jan – Feb;14(1):19-35. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2017.07.007. Epub 2017 Oct 23.



Across cultures and throughout history, transcendent states achieved through meditative practices have been reported. The practices to attain transcendent states vary from transcendental meditation to yoga to contemplative prayer, to other various forms of sitting meditation. While these transcendent states are ascribed many different terms, those who experience them describe a similar unitive, ineffable state of consciousness. Despite the common description, few studies have systematically examined transcendent states during meditation.


The objectives of this systematic review were to: 1) characterize studies evaluating transcendent states associated with meditation in any tradition; 2) qualitatively describe physiological and phenomenological outcomes collected during transcendent states and; 3) evaluate the quality of these studies using the Quality Assessment Tool.


Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, AltHealthWatch, AMED, and the Institute of Noetic Science Meditation Library were searched for relevant papers in any language. Included studies required adult participants and the collection of outcomes before, during, or after a reported transcendent state associated with meditation.


Twenty-five studies with a total of 672 combined participants were included in the final review. Participants were mostly male (61%; average age 39 ± 11 years) with 12.7 ± 6.6 (median 12.6; range 2–40) average years of meditation practice. A variety of meditation traditions were represented: (Buddhist; Christian; Mixed (practitioners from multiple traditions); Vedic: Transcendental Meditation and Yoga). The mean quality score was 67 ± 13 (100 highest score possible). Subjective phenomenology and the objective outcomes of electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiographyelectromyographyelectrooculogramevent-related potentialsfunctional magnetic resonance imagingmagnetoencephalography, respiration, and skin conductance and response were measured. Transcendent states were most consistently associated with slowed breathing, respiratory suspension, reduced muscle activity and EEG alpha blocking with external stimuli, and increased EEG alpha power, EEG coherence, and functional neural connectivity. The transcendent state is described as being in a state of relaxed wakefulness in a phenomenologically different space-time. Heterogeneity between studies precluded any formal meta-analysis and thus, conclusions about outcomes are qualitative and preliminary.


Future research is warranted into transcendent states during meditation using more refined phenomenological tools and consistent methods and outcome evaluation.

Let the Dharma Do You!

Let the Dharma Do You!


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“To truly be in the moment, to not be defined by expectation, requires mindful clarity; a heart conditioned by love, compassion, and empathetic joy for others; and equanimity that allows you to receive life however it unfolds. This can inspire and orient you in how to live in the moment. You simply lay aside your expectations as best as you are able. You may be surprised when you discover how much choice you have in letting go of expectations. When you do this, you are showing up for what you value and discovering a sense of joy and ease that is independent of the conditions in your life.” – Phillip Moffitt


In mindfulness meditation, we are instructed to let go of trying to control our experience and instead let things be as they are. This seems like a simple instruction until it begins to dawn on us that the act of letting go is itself an attempt to control experience. We, in essence, try to control not controlling! But, if we let go of this control, then experience is taken over by our naturally controlling mind. It would appear that there is no solution, we are caught in a trap. This seemingly makes it impossible to comply with the instruction to let go of trying to control our experience. How can we possibly follow the teaching (Dharma)?


When we enter into meditation our first task is to focus our attention. The focus can be on the breath, a mantra, the body, etc., regardless we attempt to hold this single thing in our attention. This is obviously not letting go as we’re consciously exerting control on our attention. But it’s a step in the right direction, as we’re attempting to occupy our minds so that thoughts, memories, and plans are less likely than usual to enter consciousness. It will be readily recognized by all who have attempted meditation that this is devilishly difficult to do. Inevitably and frequently the mind wanders away and thoughts, memories, and plans flood into consciousness. What we discover is that the harder we try to control this and prevent our minds from wandering, the more and more they tend to. As Adyashanti likes to say, “if you go to war with your mind, you’ll be at war forever.”


So, what are we to do? The answer is ridiculously simple. We need to patiently let the Dharma do us. The key is not to try to control the mind, but to simply relax and let the mind settle. As we practice meditation, we can notice that over time, our concentration gets better and better and mind wandering occurs less and less. This is a slow process and may take months or years to be at the level that’s noticeable. But, if we simply relax and try to focus our attention, it will occur. One of the keys is to not get upset when we fail and the mind wanders. We need to just patiently relax and recognize that the mind is simply doing what it was designed to do. Be OK with that. Rather we should congratulate ourselves when we return to the focus of the meditation. Recognize what a miracle it is that we’ve let go of the mind wandering. Take note that letting go occurred spontaneously. We actually didn’t have to do anything. If we just relax, letting go will spontaneously happen. This is allowing the teachings (Dharma) do us.


Now, in the course of meditation, every once in a while, our mind settles, and we become simply an observer of the sensations occurring in the present moment. This may only occur for a very short time, perhaps seconds, but occasionally it will spontaneously occur. Once again, we should congratulate ourselves that we truly let go. Don’t let judgement and recriminations creep in that it couldn’t be maintained. Simply revel in the fact that letting go spontaneously occurred. Simply, meditate without attempting to produce it, control it, or hold onto it. Just simply note when it spontaneously happens, recognize it, and enjoy it. There’s nothing more to it. We’re just letting the process do us.


The peace and serenity we feel during the periods of letting go, even brief ones, will reinforce the process and make it more likely to occur again in the future. It simply feels good to experience such silence and peace. Our natural hedonic instincts to seek pleasure will take over. Slowly, perhaps taking months or years, the periods of letting go will become longer and more frequent. As long as we don’t try to control them but simply let them happen and then don’t try to hold onto them, the normal natural process will happen. As we let this occur, peace, silence, and serenity become stronger and stronger and the minds attempts to control it becomes weaker and weaker. We begin to spend more and more time in our meditation in just being, in a state of relaxed joyful awareness.


This is not a linear process. We can do this well one week and terribly the next. Don’t get discouraged, the process will unfold and the good weeks will become more and more frequent and have more and longer periods of serenity and the bad weeks will have less and less and shorter periods of mind wandering. Think of the process as being like a roller coaster that is positioned on a gradual upward slope. Understanding this will help to prevent discouragement. Just know that you are moving up the slope.


It has to be reiterated, that you don’t have to do anything for this to occur. In fact, the more you try to do, the less success you will have. Simply set up the conditions for success, regular meditation, and it will happen on its own as the Dharma does us.


“Letting go isn’t an immediate phenomenon. It is a process. Craving to let go and attaching to the idea that we will be happy once we let go of this one thing is harmful. We have to let it happen. Bring your awareness to the experience of aversion and impermanence. Bring your awareness to the craving to be rid of it. Letting go is a practice in allowing space for our experience.” – Elizabeth Key-Comis


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

Where Can Permanence be Found?

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Where Can Permanence be Found?


By John M. de Castro


“We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. It is almost banal to say so, yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, all is metamorphosis.” – Alan Watts


There is a prevalent delusion that there is permanence and stability in our existence. In fact, we so expect it that we are upset when things change. In truth, permanence is hard to find when one looks. Our immediate experience is constantly changing. As the Buddha taught, it’s impermanent. This is clear as sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and touches come and go constantly. They never stick around for long.


It’s a little harder to notice that our bodies are also constantly changing. It happens at a slower rate than immediate experience, but is constantly happening nonetheless. Over time every cell in our body degenerates and is replaced. We take in new molecules in the forms of air, water, and nutrients, using them to fuel the body and grow and replace tissues and excrete old and toxic molecules in the breath, sweat, and elimination processes. These ongoing processes mean that we are physically different than we were just a few minutes ago. This is most evident in the maturation process, growing, developing, maturing, and aging. Hence, not only our experience but also our physiology is impermanent and constantly changing.


The mind seems reasonably constant. But, with a little study and reflection, it can be seen that it too is constantly changing. We learn and change as we grow, acquiring language and mathematics, fundamentally changing the mind, from purely experiential to conceptual, from present moment to future planning, and as we acquire memories, from present to past. Increasingly the mind moves away from raw present moment experience to memories of the past and images of the future. From moment to moment our thoughts and images are changing. Hence, not only our experience and physiology but also our mind is impermanent and constantly changing.


But, surely there is permanence in our world. The ground we stand on is solid and unmoving. It is apparently unchanging and permanent. But, this is an illusion produced by the limited time spans that we directly experience. Every aspect of the earth itself is also changing and impermanent. We recently spent a week exploring the National Parks in Utah. The rock formations and canyons teach lessons that are written in a time frame that extends, not days or years or decades, or even millennia, but in billions of years. It’s recorded in geological time. To see the impermanence, it is necessary to view the parks from the perspective of this time frame. When one does, it becomes clear that everything about the earth is in motion, including the very ground under our feet.


We learned that the sand under our feet in Utah was formed from eroding sandstone that itself was formed from the erosion of the Appalachian Mountains, being washed westward by erosion into the rivers, forming a shoreline that millions of years ago was located in what is now Utah. As the Colorado Plateau raised up these sands formed into sandstone. This sandstone has been in turn eroding and washing toward the west coast. In fact, it has already formed sandstone in California. Hence, it has moved and reformed only to have it eroded moved and reformed again. It has, is, and will be in constant motion. But, not in human time rather in geologic time.


I spent reflective time looking over the Sulphur Creek Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park. It was carved 800 feet into the Colorado Plateau by erosion from the movement of water in Sulphur Creek. It took over 6 million years to carve the canyon. Here were 280 million years of geological changes right in front of my eyes. The lowest layers near the current creek bed were formed over 280 million years ago when this was the edge of the Pacific Ocean and the layer is composed of ancient sand dunes which as stated above originated in the sandstone of the Appalachian Mountains. Looking carefully and contemplatively at the canyon walls, I could see the aliveness of the earth, its impermanence. To put this in perspective, what I was looking at was actually only a small part of the 4.5 billion years of geological changes that we call the Earth. Hence, not only our experience, physiology, and mind but also the earth itself is impermanent and constantly changing.


Again, not apparent in the human life timeframe, but the entire universe itself is impermanent. Throughout its 13.8 billion-year history it has been constantly changing. Starting with the “Big Bang” itself to the present moment, stars have been created, matured, aged, and died, sometimes spectacularly in supernova, sometimes forming nebula, and sometimes collapsing into black holes. During their lives they’ve been moving further apart from each other as the universe continues expanding. Around the stars, planets, comets, etc. have formed each of which constantly changes and their fates determined by their constantly changing stars. Eventually, they all will cease existence in their current forms and their matter and energy will be redistributed into other forms.


This is disconcerting. There doesn’t appear to be any permanence whatsoever, anywhere. Everything is in constant motion. In fact, one might think that the only thing that appears to be permanent is impermanence itself. But, wait a second, what a revelation! This is actually a helpful mindset. If impermanence is embraced, then the effort to keep everything the same ceases. Instead, impermanence is accepted. Once it is embraced, the beauty and grandeur of the constantly changing internal and external landscape becomes evident. Change is beautiful and wonderful when one ceases to fight it. Knowing that we are constantly changing means that there are always opportunities to reinvent ourselves, to move in new and exciting directions, to grow and develop, and to be happy with life. Knowing that others are constantly changing means that we can discard our stereotypes and expectations about them. They will be different tomorrow than they are today. They can reinvent themselves, grow, develop and learn to enjoy the ever changing life they’ve been given. Seeing the impermanence can make our mortality more evident, focusing us more on the present moment and what is most important in our lives. In other words, accepting, indeed relishing, impermanence can transform our lives, making them happier, richer, fuller, and with deeper meaning than ever before.


Adopting this, we are now positioned to observe the one thing that does appear to be permanent in our existence; our awareness. Not what we are aware of, as that’s constantly changing, but, that which is aware of that content. It never seems to change. The content changes but the awareness itself does not. It’s been the same from our earliest memories of being aware, to the present moment, unchanging and ever present. Because it doesn’t change, we have a hard time becoming aware of it. Our minds have evolved to detect change as changes are the most significant events in the environment. They can contribute to or threaten our very survival. So, they stand out. But, in the background, mostly unnoticed, is this mysterious, magical, spiritual thing, awareness.


Grasp it, enjoy it, observe the wonder of it. It was seeing this that led the Buddha to his enlightenment. This has also been true for countless sages, mystics, saints, and yogis. Clearing away the delusion of permanence of everything else opens the eyes to the primacy of awareness in all of existence. This revelation is itself a spiritual revelation, opening a path to ultimate understanding of existence.


So, find permanence by seeing impermanence.


“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

― Robert Frost


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts arealso available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch



Happy New Year with Mindfulness

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By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.”  ~G.K. Chesterton


At the stroke of midnight on December 31st all over the world revelers ring in the new calendar year with a hearty celebration. It’s a celebration of a relatively arbitrary day that has been designated as the first day of a new calendar year. The celebration of the solstice, 10 days before, at least has astrological meaning as the shortest day of the year. But, January 1 has no such physical meaning. January 1 was designated as the start of the year by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. That date was chosen to honor the Roman God Janus, the god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. That symbolism has stuck as the new year’s celebration involves a reflection about the year past and hope for the year to come.


Don’t Look Back


To some extent this looking back into the past and forward into the future is the antithesis of mindfulness which emphasizes the present moment. Our recollection of the past is, in fact, an illusion. When we look at the past we view it with the distorted lens of memory and the delusions that we have about the self. The memories of what happened during the last year bare only a fleeting resemblance to what actually happened. Recollections tend to be dominated by hazy and distorted memories of emotionally charged events and neglects everyday times of calm and contentment. When we look back we primarily remember the highs and the lows and believe that if we could simply keep repeating the highs and eliminate the lows then we’d be truly happy. This is the trap sometimes known as the hedonic treadmill. We keep seeking the highs and are unhappy when we can’t reproduce them or if we are successful are unhappy to find that we can’t maintain them. Unfortunately, our New Year’s celebration and our resolutions reinforce and amplify these ideas propelling us to even greater unhappiness in the new year.


Our view of the past is additionally distorted by the beliefs that we have about ourselves. These self-concepts are mainly incorrect and terribly distorted. Western culture, by its adoration of extraordinary and unrealistic models of perfection, produces and reinforces rampant self-dislike. We can never really attain the societal norm of perfection and this makes us feel horribly deficient. As a result, most westerners don’t like what they are and want to be different. As a consequence, people look back on the events of the year and interpret them through the lens of self-dislike.


We remember primarily those events that conform to our beliefs about what we should be, but cannot achieve. This creates a vicious cycle where the low self-esteem and self-worth causes us to remember events that exemplify this self-concept, creating even greater self-dislike. Those rare events that reveal us to be adequate are quickly forgotten. The events of the past year, then, are perceived as evidence to support our harsh view of ourselves. Rather than accurately remembering what actually happened during the year, our recollections are dominated by this distorted reality. So, don’t look back at the past year, rather look carefully and mindfully at yourself. You need to develop self-acceptance, before you can ever hope to have an honest idea of what the past contained.


Don’t Look to the Future


These distortions also color our thoughts about the upcoming year. We resolve to change ourselves to better conform to our unrealistic beliefs about what we should be. The New year’s resolutions that are such a common part of our new year’s celebration are a direct outgrowth of our self-dislike. The problem with these new year’s resolutions is that they are a declaration that we’re not happy with ourselves or the way things are. We want to be different. That’s not bad unto itself. Striving to better oneself is a good thing. The problem is that what we desire for ourselves is usually totally unrealistic as it’s based on a distorted reality. But, we strongly believe that this is what we need to be happy. It’s all a delusion that’s doomed to failure. In fact, research has suggested that only 8% of these resolutions are ever achieved.


Better New Year’s Resolutions


We need to craft a new set of resolutions, based upon self-acceptance, and a realistic view about what needs to be and can be achieved. The resolutions should be to better see things, including ourselves as they really are. To look at the world and ourselves mindfully without judgment, just as we are. These are the kinds of resolutions that can really work towards, not making us happy, but letting us be happy in the coming year; to simply experience the happiness that has been within us all along.


There are some rules of thumb about these resolutions. Don’t be too grandiose. Don’t set goals of perfection. Small steps with a recognition that you won’t always be successful are recommended. Make a resolution to practice mindfulness. Pick a practice that you not only can do, but that you can comfortably sustain. The only one perfect right practice is the one that you’ll do and keep doing. It may be meditation, yoga, body scan, tai chi or qigong, contemplative prayer, or another of the many available practices or some combination of practices. The only thing that matters is that you’re drawn to it, comfortable doing it, and you’ll stick with it. Once you start, don’t try too hard. Remember the Buddha recommended the middle way, with right effort, not too much and not too little. Practice nonjudgmentally. Don’t judge whether you’re doing it right or wrong, whether the particular practice was good or bad, or whether you’re making progress or not. Just practice. Just relax and let the practice do you. You don’t need to do it.


Focus on Now


All of these various practices promote nonjudgmental attention to what is occurring in the present moment, the now. Slowly you come to realize that the now is the only time available where you can be satisfied and happy. The past are only nows that are gone and the future are only nows that have yet to happen. So, focus on the present moment. It’s where life happens. If you can learn to be happy right now, then you’ll be able to happy in the future when it becomes now. As you look calmly, nonjudgmentally, and deeply at what is happening right now you begin to see the beauty and wonder that is there all of the time. You just need to stop ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. Learn to enjoy the moment.


Focusing on the present moment the impermanence of all things becomes evident. In the present we can observe things rising up and then falling away. Change is constant. If things are bad at the moment, you can be sure that it’ll change. So, be patient. On the other hand, if things are good, know also that this will change too. Don’t try to hang onto what is present. Learn to enjoy the moment as it is. These observations reveal that every moment is new. It has never happened before and it will never happen again. Every moment is a new opportunity. Don’t worry about it passing. The next moment will again provide a new opportunity. Make the most of it. If you can learn to do this, you’ll enjoy life to its fullest, as the dynamically changing perpetual now.




In the new year, we need to not think about a “happy new year.” Rather think about a “happy new day.” In fact, it’s best to think about each “happy new moment.” Focus on the present moment and wish yourself and everyone else a “happy new moment.” Every moment is a unique opportunity to experience life as it is, appreciate its wonder, and enjoy it while it’s here, in the present moment. Each moment is an opportunity for renewal. If we’re not happy in the moment, we can be in the next. We have a new opportunity every new moment. If we pay attention to them, we can use the opportunity to create happiness.


So, have a “happy new moment” with mindfulness.


“Empty your glass and feel your way through this New Year. If it feeds your soul, do it. If it makes you want to get out of bed in the morning with a smile, carry on. Be present and let your energy synchronise with the earth and give you the clarity to move forward and be comfortable and contented with who you are. Let your intuition guide you through a wonderful year and attract an abundance of positive opportunity.” – Alfred James


“Many of us are thinking about new year’s resolutions and taking stock at this time, but how many of those typical resolutions are just ‘self’ improvement projects (which means we’re trying to get more, be more or have more) rather than ways to actually embrace the life we already have right here and now?” – Mrs. Mindfulness


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+

Permanent Impermanence



It is a very human tendency when a pleasant state of affairs is attained that we strive to maintain it. But, much to our chagrin and frustration, try as we may, it never lasts. The new car we loved so much loses its’ luster, the fun party must end and everyone go home, the infatuation and excitement of new love fades, good health is interrupted with illness, our happiness at winning at a game of chance is short lived, the new exciting job becomes drudgery, etc.


But, the other side of the coin is also true. We try to get rid of those states that we find unsatisfactory, painful, or intolerable, but in this case impermanence works in our favor and these unpleasant things also fade away. Unfortunately, we don’t give much credit to impermanence here; instead we focus on the frustration produced by the elimination of the pleasant things we want to keep.


The truth is that impermanence is permanent. Nothing can or will ever stay the same. Constant change is the rule of nature. If we try to prevent change we’re effectively trying to prevent the tide from rolling in and out, the fall from turning to winter and then to spring, or the flowers from budding, blooming, and decaying. The human condition is one of continuous unending change. If we strive to stop it we will inevitably be unhappy and frustrated.


Our words and concepts help to trap us in a belief that there is permanence in the world. When we use the word apple we tend to see it as a fixed and permanent entity rather than something that is in a process of continuous dynamic change, from seed, to seedling, to tree, to bud, to green apple, to ripe apple, to decaying apple, to seed. The same goes for a good friend whom we name and see as a permanent entity, whereas this individual like the apple is just at a single point in their continuous changing lives. Everything is impermanent and ever changing. To see anything as otherwise is a delusion.


In fact, the permanence that we think we want is not all that it’s cracked up to be. When everything stays the same we get very bored. In other words we really don’t like permanence. The learning that we relish is itself a form of impermanence altering what we know and believe. Without that form of impermanence we would never be able to improve or adapt. In fact happiness itself is a change in state, without impermanence we could not have either happiness or sadness. We certainly would not like permanent sadness or panic. We certainly wouldn’t enjoy having to watch the same movie over and over and over again, or for that matter hearing the same note continuously.


So, we should be thankful for impermanence. It is responsible for what we label the spice of life. It’s what allows us to adapt and grow. It’s what keeps us interested in life and the environment and people that surround us. It’s what makes a rainbow wondrous. It’s what makes music and art beautiful. It is actually even responsible for keeping us healthy by constantly replacing worn out cells, eliminating dying or diseased tissues, or eliminating an invasive virus. Change is, in fact, a very good thing.


We should actually revel in impermanence. Not only stop trying to counteract it or even just accept it, but rather to be ecstatic about it. We can observe with awe the wonder of the ever present evolution of all experiences and things. We can enjoy the forever changing symphony of feeling and sensations we experience. We can rest peacefully in the knowledge that tomorrow will be a new adventure, completely different from today.


We can truly enjoy the good feelings we experience and focus on them knowing that they won’t last. We can be elated that we’re having this wonderful experience and not ignore how good it is in the futile attempt to maintain it. Better yet, we can know that the things that are not to our liking will also change and look forward to better experiences. Impermanence is permanent and also wonderful when accepted. Don’t fight it, join it.


So, mindfully experience every delicious impermanent moment. It will never be repeated or happen again. So, treat as the one time treasure that it is.


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies