The Illusion of Forever

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The warrior finds his young apprentice wallowing by a stream, upset after stumbling during a new technique. “I’ll never get it right,” he insists… “Never?” The master chuckles. “Then you better just give up.” Angrily, the boy rises, and in a swift movement, performs the technique without falter. “Ha! That was easier than I thought!” says the apprentice. Again the wise warrior chuckles. “Precisely… You thoughts were the most difficult part.”

Often we let the small things bother us, not because they’re so very terrible in themselves, but rather because we’ve become attached to the idea of permanent states. We use the notion of permanence to both soothe and protect us as well as to feed the emotional baggage with which we identify. In fact, the situation really wouldn’t be so bad if you knew for sure that it would pass in an hour or a day or even a week, right? …But forever? “I can’t deal with this forever!” And indeed, you won’t have to. For is this really a permanent state? May this not pass in a day or a week or a month? Is this “problem” truly unsolvable or unchanging? Even physical situations which are in fact permanent are not necessarily all-encompassing of permanence: Your current emotional state or perspective with regards to the particular condition will also eventually transform. In fact, the fear or thought or attachment toward some state of mind or being lasting forever is so far from the truth, that you, yourself, might actually laugh at the notion once the state has passed.

Similarly, not only do we often fear something lasting “forever” or “so long it’s unbearable,” we also become anxious at the thought of some “positive” situation NOT ever lasting. However, the latter anxiety is actually based on sound reasoning, as it’s the only idea of the two that’s actually true. Nothing lasts forever! And the acceptance of this impermanence drives us toward a higher state of living in the here and now, enjoying that which we have in this moment and trusting all will be okay when it passes in the next.

The only way a state lasts beyond its reasonable and healthy timeline is by way of the dwelling human mind, identifying with and holding onto the state, which feeds some deeper emotional and spiritual misalignment. So, what stifling emotions have you become attached to, unwilling to let go of? What are you afraid of losing? What’s keeping you stuck in the dark past or in perceived futures? Where and why are you not living fully here and now?

Think of your answers carefully. The next time you find your mind spinning with shame or anxiety, with worry or regret, ponder your illusions of forever and the truth of impermanence. Move from worry and problem into trust and solution. Take resolving action and keep moving forward! Most importantly, let yourself reside lightly in life, in the beauty and truth of constant change, in the freedom of possibility, in the warm comfort of faith. Remember, nothing is forever. Not even you. So let the past go; don’t fear this state will be everlasting; and enjoy what is right here and now to enjoy.

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