Balloonland

stuff gets examined.

impermanence

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Apparently, I’m some sort of expert on Buddhist concepts. People interested in the subject ask me a lot about two central ones – Personal Impermanence, and Karma

(OK, in reality, i compulsively comment on people’s mis-use of the word “karma,” resulting in them asking me in a wounded way to explain it so nasty people like myself won’t jump on them in the future).

Impermanence – My most effective description of it, based on the responses of those I’ve used it on:

You are a handful of sand. Some process (life, for instance) continuously adds more sand to the hand, but  It can’t contain it all, and eventually some flows out over the top or sieves through the fingers.  A sense of  individuality can be had by identifying the handful of sand as “me,” but it’s really just a snapshot of an ever-changing situation. Similarly, an experience or memory (represented in this example by a certain colour of sand) may persist within the hand, but eventually it gets diluted as new sand flows in and old sand escapes, and becomes a shadow of the actual experience it is supposed to commemorate.

Any concept of “you” is a snapshot of a moment.  Statements about what “you” think or feel are likewise just static samples out of a flowing stream of chemical and situation-based reaction and adaptation. Any reference to yourself as a permanent individual or a state of mind, opinion, or emotion is like a fossil, the actual bone and tissue of the original creature gone  and replaced with sedimentary rock or something.

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Written by balloonhed

September 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

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