The Idea of Impermanence

By Justin Stone Spring 1988, ©The Vital Force

On my recent visit to Albuquerque I gave a talk to over 200 people on the subject “The Spiritual Life” (in a busy world). Many points were similar to the “merging Sense with Essence” talk I made to teachers at the Minneapolis Conference. This subject seems to hit people hard, as they feel they must get away from family and work routine in order to practice Spirituality (accordance with the Real).

That is far from the truth. I related how a Zen priest in Japan had said to me: “Stone-san, be the Big hermit; anybody can be the small hermit.” I told them how I suddenly remembered this phrase while meditating with the Yogis in the cold Himalayan foothills, eating once a day, etc. I then thought: “I should be able to do this at 42nd and Broadway!” and left the mountain seclusion the next day. Though I didn’t yet know the meaning of “Seijaku”–stillness in the midst of activity–the idea had already begun acting in my consciousness.

In my book, “Abandon Hope!”, I have a chapter about the “Growth of Certainty,” and once that has been experienced, it is not difficult to sense the Essence at all times, whatever the situation. This usually leads to a feeling of profound gratitude. As Paul Reps says: “How grateful I am with no thing to be grateful for.” Note he didn’t say “Nothing to be grateful for.”

Once we accept the idea of Impermanence, it’s not too difficult to experience who and what we are. This is so well expressed by the Lotus Sutra, which says: “From the State of Emptiness, Man’s body is a body filling the Universe, Man’s voice is a voice pervading the Universe, and Man’s life is a Life without Limit.”

Justin Stone
Reprinted with permission from The Vital Force, December, 1991