Reflecting on Impermanence

impermanence spread


I am reading Vajragupta’s book “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life“. Whilst maybe not ground breaking stuff, the book clearly explains Buddhist ideas with practical exercises for you to undertake. One of the exercises is a set of reflections from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, known as the “four thoughts that turn the mind towards the Buddhist teaching” or simply the “four reminders”. The first reminder is that “life is a precious opportunity”. This reminder is something I already try to reflect on daily – by keeping a daily journal of “good things” and with art journalling such as my “Joy” page (blogged about here).

The second reminder is the truth of impermanence, and this is something I have been trying to reflect on this last week or two. My first thoughts of impermanence immediately turned to the biggies – old age, sickness, death. This is reflected in the left hand side of my “Reflections on Impermanence” journal page. The picture is of a Great Auk, which was the last bird to become extinct here in the UK.

impermanence lhs

I was mentally approaching impermanence as being something that was always, by default, a problem – a negative. But then I came across a piece of writing by Lin Jensen in “Together Under One Roof” and this really struck a chord with me. Jensen points out that change can lead to “all sorts of consequences including those of sheer delight”. He talks of life being a collective term for the movement of the universe:

“Even solid rock, in its apparent impenetrable fixity, gradually disperses towards delight. If it did not, there’d be no soil, no flower, no pollinating insect, no grazing or browsing animal or bird or human. Whatever delight you and I have ever experienced is the gift of broken rock.

We do well to remember that and pay homage to the forces of impermanence.”

These words inspired the second page of my journal page:

impermanence rhs

My reflections on impermanence are now taking on a lot more joyfulness. To take delight in the gift of the broken rock. How wonderful!

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14 thoughts on “Reflecting on Impermanence

  1. Motherfunker says:

    This is beautiful Viv, just like you x

  2. Andria says:

    Wow, I love that: to take delight in the gift of the broken rock. Profound and beautiful!

  3. Laura says:

    Hi there, I came across your blog via Paula. This is a beautiful post. I am currently really drawn to buddhism so it’s really interesting and helpful to read your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your journal. The gift of the broken rock, what a beautiful way of looking at the world. 🙂

    • vivjm says:

      Hi Laura – thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I loved the gift of the broken rock idea too. I do feel a bit shy about sharing my journal, but then I have so many positive comments from others that have found some resonance with it, that it makes it so worthwhile.

  4. rossmountney says:

    Lovely post. And isn’t that exactly why life is so sweet! x

  5. Janet says:

    Isn’t it interesting how we can change our lives by just changing how we think about things. To some the broken rock might be a negative but in fact it’s a positive.

    • vivjm says:

      Absolutely, Janet. I loved the passage in Lin Jensen’s books. Sometimes a turn of phrase really resonates and the delight in the broken rock was one of those “wow” moments for me.

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