Secrets of Holistic Living: Impermanence

Oct 28, 2018
There has been a widespread pessimism developed in hindu society citing Anitya as the principle philosophy of life thereby meaning that everything is impermanent - and there is no permanent basis for relationship. All that we see is subject to destruction and death. People are not encouraged to put up any creative effort - or hard work - because all material wealth is considered impermanent and accompanied with misery.

It seems this is a wrong interpretation of impermanence. Truly it means that any difficulty we are in - emotional, physical or in business situations - is of temporary nature and is subject to change.

As many of natural processes are cyclic in nature, subject to law of growth and decay, concept of impermanence has to be mathematically treated by determining limits, direction of change and treat this change itself as a function of time.

Viewed in this light, all changes are subject to a limiting value and involve change in levels of energy. During meditation, energy levels change their direction and go upwards, whereas in normal life, they go downwards.

When we consciously train our mind not to become victim of hatred or prejudice, resist tendency towards jealousy and greed, mental energy level representing memory and concentration increases and under condition of free flow it decreases.

A system in which energy levels are under the control of nature i.e. life principle or soul is in dormant state, changes in energy level or corresponding states of purity follow a wave like motion going above and below the reference line with a finite amplitude, unique for each system. This is a development path. Under conditions of awakened state of life principle, over and above the normal wave motion, there is a steady rise in energy level. In the development path energy goes up and down, whereas in the awakened state, it only goes up in a wave like motion.

Another interpretation of Anitya is that entry and exit of impurities or changes in energy levels have discontinuous continuity. They do not increase or decrease in one step. There are quantum jumps followed by periods of rest and after a time continuation of this activity. Alternatively, between periods of two un-happiness, there is a period of happiness. Thus, gradual nature of changes in natural cycle and system of alternative pleasure and pain make the development path more bearable. This is the greatest blessings of nature.

Another meaning of impermanence is that either happiness or misery, pleasure or pain, favourable and un-favourable situations are not static but dynamic in nature. Pleasant experience changes into an unpleasant one at the end of its time-cycle and unpleasant changes into pleasant in a similar way. This gives a theoretical basis for meditation not to generate craving or aversion towards people or situations because it is impossible for any pleasant event to remain for a long time and vice versa. Even if we do not crave, pleasant situation will come at the end of the unpleasant one and unpleasant cannot be avoided however strongly we wish. By remaining neutral during an unpleasant event, or trying to do so, nature produces strong life currents to bear a painful situation with progressive ease and this strength becomes useful in good times to resist craving.

Development of this strength is the aim and end of spiritual process of a natural cycle. Meditation only accelerates this evolutionary process. Understanding the concept of Impermanence leads us to freedom from craving & aversion and establishes human beings into a spiritual centre line, which is the essence of existence alternatively known as love.

One more interpretation of ‘Anitya’ is that everything in nature outside and inside is in a constant state of flux - supported by vibratory motion throughout eternity. This state of flux generates infinite number of patterns of behaviour, moods, sensations, relationships, experiences etc. each one distinctly different from its predecessor. Anitya means non-repeating wave like nature of pleasant & unpleasant experiences. Entire concept is meant to come out of attachment - one of the principal causes of misery and suffering.

The most important interpretation of 'Anitya' is that all pleasant and unpleasant experiences are caused by nature and have a creative purpose. Only through illusion one finds either situations or people responsible for our difficulty. By remaining neutral and observing sensations during meditation and mixed pattern of experiences in actual life, it is possible to understand the purpose of nature, i.e. to take us out of our cravings and aversions bringing us to a centreline of our existence where infinite energy, joy, peace and happiness are experienced.

Book excerpt from "Secrets of Holistic Living" by Shri Jayantilal Shah

Published by:
Vasant U. Patel, President
Vitrag Vignan Charitable Research Foundation