“The only constant is change” is not only a good example of an oxymoron but is also a very succinct expression of impermanence.
I was wondering what the source of my reluctance to change was and why I felt so compelled to halt change in its tracks. Why I so grasped at maintaining the “here and now” and why I’m consistently unable in practical terms to consciously embrace the Buddhist notion of impermanence. In abstract terms impermanence seems an eminently sensible notion given that life can be observed to roll from moment to moment and is therefore the natural order of things.
Turning the view around a bit we all exhibit, to varying degrees, a subconscious reluctance in committing to change. This subconscious resistance to change is in direct conflict to our stated commitment to change. So, I may say for example that I’m going to stop drinking Red Wine, my subconscious mind may have other ideas on the matter. It thinks “But I like Red Wine, theirs no way I’m giving that up!”. So we have a Jekyll and Hyde scenario. The conscious and subconscious mind hold diametrically opposing ideas. This is further known as “The knowing doing gap”.
I bet we can all think of times when we have wanted to give up an addiction such as smoking, alcohol or have tried to lose a bit of weight and it just wouldn’t happen. We often express this failure in terms like “The time just was not right”. To find accommodation for impermanence we need to bridge the divide between our intentions and what we are actually able to do in real terms.
We all formulate our approach to life consistent with our cultural, religious and national affiliations. All these influences have a tremendous impact on our ability in submitting to change.
In real terms our subconscious inner map influences our picture of reality in that it acts to mould our thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours. Our internal map of reality in turn is formed from sensory stimuli that creates an internal sound, internal noise, internal picture and so on. This is then sent through an internal filter which discards most of the information and creates specifics and generalisations. What’s left is an internal representation of reality that is then subject to strategies and sequences. All that we do is an expression of this resulting internal representation of reality. This end game culminates in our externally expressed behaviour or state of mind given a particular set of external conditions.
The problem is that this internal representation of reality is the product of our discontinuous mind (we are compelled to categorise) and is a poor picture of actual reality.
This is where Buddhist Insight or Mindfulness Meditation comes in to its element as it aims to study this internal representation of reality in order to positively influence the way behaviour and states of mind are formed. Thoughts are observed as they arise and the meditator encourages the mind to return to the present.
So the next time you feel uneasy about change remember that impermanence is the natural order of things and your mind is hard-wired to resist. In the process of Meditation you are striving to know the true nature of the mind, to note true reality and accept impermanence.
So what are your thoughts (excuse the pun)? Please feel free to comment. Kind Regards