Paul Maloney, roshi explores our desire to have stability and security in the face of the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence, and the reality of a dynamic ever changing world.
In the words of the poet,
The times are a changing.
But when were they not changing?
The first of the three marks of existence that the Buddha taught was Anicca, Impermanence. And it was not only Shakyamuni who realized this. Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Ionian Greek philosopher, said that “everything flows,” and “there is nothing permanent except change.” This is not a message that our present age seems to be comfortable with. We have strived so hard to be secure, and we don’t want to lose that sense of security. Despite our most fervent wishes and prayers, the Covid-19 virus has turned our world upside down in the space of a few months. Strange things are happening. We now have a Liberal government behaving in an unprecedented socialist manner, desperately trying to hold everything (or almost everything) together.
The hope is that we will, in their words, “get to the other side.” It is as though we had been travelling along a familiar road when, crossing a river, suddenly the bridge gave way, throwing us into the torrent. Now we are floundering around, trying to get to the other side. The inference is, our present circumstances are an anomaly that, hopefully, will soon pass, so long as we can get back to the way we were. But will they? What if there is no “other side,” instead, a radically new landscape, with new novel challenges?