Change: The Only Thing That Never Changes
It was the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who said, “You cannot step intothe same river twice.” By this, Heraclitus meant that permanence is an illusion— nothing is, ultimately, permanent and the entire universe is in a constant state of flux or motion rolling ceaselessly into eternity.
The Buddha also taught a doctrine of impermanence (
) which is a centraltenet of Buddhism to this day. This flux, as elaborated on by the Buddha,however, had a moral component. On the Buddhist view, as with Heraclitus, all isin a state of flux, ever changing, ever moving, permanence being naught morethan a mere illusion. This illusion, according the Buddha, causes all sorts of problems for us humans.
Particularly, problems arise when we cling to something as if it were in fact permanent. By embracing the illusion of permanence, we set ourselves up for suffering when, in fact, that which we once viewed as permanent changes. For example, relationships…Not all relationships last a lifetime. People marry and people divorce, a sad but true reality. And when such relationships do dissolve,there is pain and suffering. According to the wise and venerable Buddha, this pain and suffering is not caused by the actual separation itself per se but rather bythe attachment to permanence—attachment, ultimately, to that which is illusoryand in fact impermanent.