UNDERSTANDING IMPERMANENCE, that things are here
today and gone tomorrow, really helps. No matter how
bad something is, you can remind yourself, “Damn, this
won’t last long.” Then when it doesn’t last, you can laugh
and say, “I knew it!” What goes around, comes around,
and what comes around doesn’t last. Everybody gets their
turn: the police jump on you, the light goes out, there’s a
roach in your soup.
My only real hope is to stay in my center, not wishing
for something good or fearing something bad. It’s very free
- ing, because if good things happen and you get attached to
them, you’ll suffer when the bad inevitably comes. You
have to learn to accept both.
I know what it feels like to lose a mother. Rinpoche tells
a story of a woman whose son dies. She goes to a lama, and
he tells her to try to find someone who hasn’t lost someone.
She goes from house to house, village to village, until she re-
alizes that everyone has lost something or someone. Then
she starts to feel more pain for them than for herself. She
ends up spending half her time helping others. But that’s
what heals her.
- from Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row
by Jarvis Jay Masters
“Fear wants us to act too soon. But patience, hard as it is, helps us outlast our preconceptions. This is how tired soldiers, all out of ammo, can discover through their inescapable waiting that they have no reason to hurt each other.
It is the same with tired lovers and with hurtful and tiresome friends. Given enough time, most of our enemies cease to be enemies, because waiting allows us to see ourselves in them. Patience devastates us with the truth that, in essence, when we fear another, we fear ourselves; when we distrust another, we distrust ourselves; when we hurt another, we hurt ourselves; when we kill another, we kill ourselves.
So when hurt or afraid or confused, when feeling urgent to find your place on this Earth, hard as it is, wait … and things as you fear them will, more often than not, shrink into the hard irreplaceable beauty of things as they are … of which you have no choice but to be a part.
- excerpted from ‘the book of awakening’ by mark nepo