Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

June 12, 2016—June 16, 2016

June 12, 2016
What it means when we speak of taking meditation into our daily life is that we are our own object of concentration.

June 16, 2016
We can find a childish comfort in seeing the people and things in our lives as fixed and fairly permanent. Our initial understanding of their impermanence is rather primitive: “Well, of course I know she could die, I know the vase could break.” Of course she will die, of course the vase will break. Our attempts to make the world stable may be comforting, however it’s a false stability.

What’s more, it takes a constant effort for us to try to convert a world that is inarguably mutable into the immutable. A burden that we didn’t know we were carrying lifts from us whenever—without denying their reality in this moment—we can allow the world’s forms to be the transient, unstable manifestations that they surely are.

A practice that is very helpful is to look at any individual manifestation in the world and briefly envision its true nature—whispering to ourselves with tenderness, You are not of a nature to remain. We can watch as a tall solid building quickly crumbles to the ground, a wooden bench splinters, a piece of clothing falls to shreds, a muscular young man turns grey and pale and stooped, even as we take in the knowledge that the processes of impermanence will reduce them even further.

Great peace can come from repeating this practice. Barriers dissolve as we begin to take in more fully that we all share in this encompassing reality—the little girl on the bus, an elephant, ourselves, a limousine, a palm tree, the moon, are all not of a nature to remain.

A great shift takes place when we go beyond the intellectual understanding that sentient beings will someday die or objects will someday break and decay. As we go deeper into reality, we come to see that in their essence they are not of a nature to remain. We can see and appreciate their essential instability and frailty immediately, here and now, at this present moment.

Just before the shooting of fifty-nine people in a gay bar, someone took a snapshot of a young man laughing with his friends. He was one of those killed, and this ordinary photo can now elicit extraordinary tenderness, extraordinary appreciation of this sentient being and his frailty, which is also our frailty.

When we lose our timidity in the face of the dharma of undeniable reality, when we truly take in that everything in our Universe is not of a nature to remain, that we are seeing only a fleeting snapshot or series of snapshots of a never pausing movement towards the same destination of decay and dissolution, we begin to feel that same extraordinary tenderness towards everyone and everything, a deep sense of belonging together, of interbeing.

We cherish more tenderly the beautiful and good when we allow ourselves to know that it is not of a nature to remain, and that knowledge can also lighten up on our fears and aversions since we see that the things or people that we think of as inimical to our Selves are also, like our Selves, even as they annoy or distress us, transient and fleeting, not of a nature to remain.