Impermanence – further perspectives

Sam guided our reflections this past Sunday, as we focused on the ways in which impermanence and our responses to it shape our experience. Excerpts from a dharma talk by Marcia Rose, as well as some selected readings, further developed this investigation.

The talk, by Marcia Rose, was titled “The Liberating Embrace of Annicca- Impermanence” and is available here:

Some quotes:

“Having seen form’s flaw, its chronic trembling, the wise one takes no delight in form.” — in the Samyutta Nikaya 6:6


Guy Armstorng (Emptiness, p. 183) : “All form trembles with impermanence, with momentary change, with emptiness. We might think this is an unfortunate situation — no stability in the whole physical world. But the universe we are in, with its lack of solidity, has one immense benefit: it allows us to be liberated.”


A bhikkhu once asked the Buddha if there is material form anywhere that is permanent and stable. The Buddha scooped up a little bit of soil in his fingernail and replied:

“There is not even this much form what is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change. If there were, then this living of the holy life for the complete destruction of suffering could not be discerned.”


When emptiness is possible, everything is possible. Were emptiness impossible, nothing would be possible. — Nagarjuna


Tao is empty
yet if fills every vessel
Tao is hidden
yet shines everywhere

With it, the sharp becomes smooth
the twisted straight
the sun softened by a cloud
dust settles into place

So deep, so pure, so still
It has been this way forever
You may ask, “Whose child is it?”—
but I cannot say
This child was here before the great ancestor.
– Tao te Ching, Verse 4


Reality is neither subjective nor objective, neither mind nor matter, neither time nor space. These divisions need somebody to whom to happen, a conscious separate center. But reality is all and nothing, the totality and the exclusion, the fullness and the emptiness, fully consistent, absolutely paradoxical. You cannot speak about it, you can only lose yourself in it. When you deny reality to anything [everything], you come to a residue which cannot be denied.

All talk of jnana is a sign of ignorance. It is the mind that imagines that it does not know and then comes to know. Reality knows nothing of these contortions. Even the idea of God as the Creator is false. Do I owe my being to any other being? Because I AM, all IS.
— Nisargadatta Maharaj [I am That 163 of 396].