All is impermanence. Thus says the Buddha. All things change, all is movement. We sort of get it. We pick and chose what we believe is impermanent and what isn’t. But we live such a short amount of time that we witness the life cycle of only the most fragile things: tomato plants, kale, butterflies, crayons, chocolate cake, ourselves.
While our bodies and souls love the rhythms of nature’s constant changes, such as the ocean waves, our minds have a more difficult time with the concept. After all, its job is to snatch those random bits of sensory input and organize them to make some sort of sense. How is it supposed to do that with all the data changing constantly? Simple. By pretending that things don’t change. Or at least that they stay still long enough to put them in some kind of order before they get scrambled up again. Once my mind catches hold of a really good thought, it hangs onto it for dear life. It takes a lot of effort to make it loosen up and let go. No wonder I’m exhausted.
I asked my meditation students to imagine that we lived for two-thousand years. Instead of taking a week’s vacation to sit by the ocean and watch the beauty of its changes, we could take a three hundred year vacation to sit by Route 91 and watch it crumble. We could enjoy the impermanence of concrete. How relaxing that would be!
But what about poor God? Is God the only unchanging person/place/thing in the entire universe? Some of us believe so… rock of ages and so on. But happily, God cannot be stopped, halted, tripped up or frozen in time.
However, until we get with the impermanence program, we’ll keep trying to freeze-dry God. We waste a lot of energy trying to ignore the infinite mysteries of our friends and enemies, even more so with the Infinite. In general, pretending our spouses and siblings are permanent, unchanging beings screws up our relationships. And relating to God is like standing knee-deep in the ocean, feeling the sensation of the ground moving under us, unable to take in the whole thing, unable to predict the next motion. Oh happy impermanence!
I came to these thoughts while digging rocks that Earth keeps burping up into the garden. What is the purpose of these damned rocks? What the hell can the purpose of one billion of them be in our little garden. I held a heavy rock in my hand, tired of being cranky, and watched it. And watched it. Until I recognized it. That rock is a clod of slowly composting soil. And I do mean slowly. In a few thousand years that rock will compost completely into dirt. It will release the minerals we need to eat and send them up into carrots and beets. If I can wait for peanut shells to decompose, surely I can wait for a rock to disintegrate. What’s the rush?
So I threw it onto one of our many rock piles. They are now officially ”rock compost.” In a few thousand years someone will dig into a tiny mound of dirt to plant carrots and wonder at how smooth and fine the dirt in in that mound is. That gardener will be so happy to find a mound of rock-less soil.
I can hear God laughing.