All sentient beings seek happiness, but no one attains meaningful, lasting happiness. This is why the Buddha Shakyamuni renounced his royal life style to seek solutions. Upon his Enlightenment, he realized that the main reason sentient beings suffer is due to change, which is the impermanent nature of all things.
Therefore if one wishes to attain true happiness, you must first learn to recognize impermanence, accept impermanence, and transform impermanence into a joyful path.
Impermanence is not only a Buddhist concept; it is a universal reality. According to Buddhist understanding, everything in our material and conscious worlds that come into being are purely the result of causes and conditions, and are ultimately of an impermanent nature. Nothing is stable and everlasting. But, for our ordinary human minds, all things that are around us appear to be stable and everlasting. We directly assume and cling to this view, when in fact, these things are not stable, and not in a state of everlastingness. Inevitably, things change. Due to our false assumptions of stability and clinging to everlastingness, it brings psychological and emotional pain: Frustration, disappointment, confusion, mental confliction, and we are totally confused in that darkness.
When we talk about impermanence there are two types: gross and subtle. One could say, visible and invisible. Gross impermanence refers to things and events that come into being due to causes and conditions; stay for a while; and then disappear, or cease. For example, if you go to a party, and you’re with all your good friends, enjoying great food and music, remember! It is an event that is impermanent in nature. It ends when the party is over. Anything that is constructed, with the condition of time and space, will eventually deteriorated.
Another example is those unexpected nature disasters, which change people’s lives suddenly. All beings endure different kinds of suffering. That is gross/visible impermanence.
Subtle impermanence refers to things that are invisible, for example: our minds are fragmentary, moment to moment, the thoughts moves very rapidly from one thing to another, all things in our life are in constant change, our sorrows and joys come and go, like a roller coaster. It is important to recognize this law of nature and we can prepare for it and know how to transform any negative situation to a positive one.
Everything that exists in the world can be destroyed in four ways:
- Birth will end by death.
- Our loved ones be they friends or relatives will end in separation.
- The wealth and material possessions, which we worked so hard to accumulation, and those powerful positions one holds, will end when we die.
- Everything that is constructed, with time and space will collapse. If we look at our world from these four destructive ways, we can see the impermanent nature of the reality.
According to Buddhism, the understanding and realization of impermanence is very useful, helpful, and optimistic. It allows us to see our whole world as a very temporary state. The fact that we come to this world without anything, and we leave without anything is like a quest, visiting this world for a few decades, and then leaving. Buddhism teaches us how to train our mind to see that true reality of phenomena, how not to cling to things and people due to the impermanent nature of reality. As a result, we are able to protect our minds from many of the unhealthy emotions that cause us endless suffering. And, ultimately, achieve true lasting happiness.