The Burden of Impermanence

There is a story that is told about a woman who, in the time of the Buddha, was devastated by the death of her child. She found it hard to accept that her child died, and pleaded with the Buddha to help find a miraculous medicine to bring him back to life. He told her to go to the village and collect one mustard seed from every house where the people have not suffered the loss of a loved one. She eventually returned empty-handed, realising that everyone has experienced the pain of loss and that nothing on earth is permanent.

Accepting the impermanence of things is very hard for the mind. All yoga traditions teach that life and all it holds is temporary. We may follow healthy organic diets, do asana practice every day, and meditate regularly, yet, we can never escape the fact that we too will one day die. And with us, all our achievements will eventually fade away. It is when we realise that we all suffer, that everything is temporary, even our circumstances that may feel endless, that the present moment can be experienced in a different light. As such, we can transform the burden of impermanence into an acceptance and gratitude for what we have right now, while realising that all difficult times will pass.

We allow our minds to trap us through the stories we make up about ourselves, life, and others. We allow our thoughts to define us, and by doing so, we add to our suffering and diminish our potential. We reduce the miracle of life by our constant urge to judge and label, and as a result, we distance ourselves from others. When we cannot see things as they really are by confusing the impermanent with the permanent, we perpetuate our suffering.

Yoga in many ways boil down to a very simple practice: observing and fully experiencing what is happening in the present moment. Sounds so easy, yet, it is such a slippery thing to nail.



  1. lijiun said,

    August 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Live at now! Treasure every moment in life! May you be Happy and Well! with metta

    • August 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      I agree. Every moment is precious and should be treasured. We only have the moment, after all.

      • Jennifer Pare said,

        August 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

        So true, are you at the Haum on Thursday? Jennifer

      • August 22, 2012 at 7:49 am

        Hi Jennifer! I’m unfortunately not in SA at the moment. I gather you are taking up your yoga practice again? Fantastic! Sending you lots of love and light.

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