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Struggling with Impermanence

 
 
Reply Mon 22 Apr, 2019 05:50 pm
Hello Everyone.

I am 16 years old and just beginning to grapple with the impermanence of everything in life. I used to think I would live a long life, but things such as climate change and my chronic illness are stressing me out.

It feels like a healthy idea to begin facing the impermanence of everything in this life: possessions, relationships, etc. I've begun to truly face my own mortality for the first time since I was diagnosed with my illness in elementary school, when I still couldn't fully understand it. Anyway, if things go terribly climate catastrophe could kill me in 10 years... or I could get hit by a car tomorrow! I want to come to peace with this impermanence and its unpredictability.

However, although I want to process the impermanence of my own life, I still have strong spiritual beliefs in an eternal soul and some sort of consciousness after death (these are my personal beliefs, I am not a part of any religion).

My question is if it is possible to truly grapple with and come to peace with impermanence and mortality while still holding onto my belief of a Permanent soul? Or would this spiritual belief hold me back from truly growing and facing what I believe about this life, aka does it seem to be a coping mechanism i have constructed in order to not have to face the impermanence of existence?

Sorry for saying impermanence so many times, lol. And thank you to anyone who gives insight!

-C
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Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Apr, 2019 06:25 pm
@16spirit,
Quote:
..climate catastrophe could kill me in 10 years... or I could get hit by a car tomorrow!


Any number of things could happen. Then again, maybe you'll live another 70 or 85 years (even with your existing illness). Point is, nobody knows when the earthly life chapter will conclude. Live the best you can from this moment on.
Sure, be aware that at some time, your existence here shall end.

That said, don't focus on the "then", focus on the road in front of you, the "now". You believe in an after life on earth experience, go with that and make your time here an interesting time. Then, when you arrive in the next phase, you'll have a lot of things - fun and perhaps not so much run - experiences to share with whatever is at the next level.

For me personally, I take each second and minute, knowing my trip here is a leg of a continuing journey and I am (for the most part) at peace knowing I've been given an opportunity by being here in my earth-shell (body). I want to have something to share with others when my soul arrives at the next destination.

Use your belief in a permanent soul to help form an understanding and appreciation and acceptance of what is and the realization that, yes, it's a temporary, lacking physical permanence, and isn't it nice to have it, even for a short while?

16spirit
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Apr, 2019 06:55 pm
@Sturgis,
Thank you for the thoughtful reply!

I think what I was struggling to communicate is my thought process of "its ok that this life is impermanent because I will still exist forever" doesnt quite feel like acceptance, but some type of avoidance. Unsure if I should be deeply analyzing my beliefs.

Additionally, I agree with basically everything you are saying. My hope for this new awareness is that once I am at peace with the uncertainty of my future and death, I'll be able to turn my attention to the present and have an attitude of "whatever happens happens, worrying wont change anything!"
Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Apr, 2019 07:02 pm
@16spirit,
You're still young. Often the paths to spiritual resolution take time. For myself, there was a hard struggle on and off for a number of years. Then it solidified.

Go easy on both the analysis factor and on yourself.
16spirit
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Apr, 2019 07:08 pm
@Sturgis,
Thanks. I think I take myself a little too seriously sometimes Razz

Have a nice day/night.
Sturgis
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Apr, 2019 07:13 pm
@16spirit,
Take care and always, first and foremost, be good to yourself.
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Apr, 2019 03:27 pm
@16spirit,
16spirit wrote:

I think what I was struggling to communicate is my thought process of "its ok that this life is impermanent because I will still exist forever" doesnt quite feel like acceptance, but some type of avoidance. Unsure if I should be deeply analyzing my beliefs.

Materiality/form is what is impermanent. Energy is permanent, as per the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; only changing from one state/form to another.

Reincarnation is the belief that best combines the awareness of eternal soul/energy with the impermanence of form and the material body. If you are able to realistically contemplate the possibility of soul/energy transmigrating from one birth/body/form to the next, you will have reconciled the otherwise conflicting concepts of the eternal and the impermanent.

According to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, there are monks who have maintained conscious awareness throughout the process of dying and becoming reborn into a new body.

The benefit of having this awareness of impermanence combined with the eternal is that you can live in the present with a sense of being part of an eternal future that your soul will continue on within. In other words, all bodies die at some point but souls are experiencing the effects that they helped cause in past lives, so that should motivate you to live for the future beyond your own death.

Another realization you can get from contemplating reincarnation is that there is no sense in hastening progress toward death by self-destruction in whatever form. The law of karma requires us to undergo whatever suffering there is for us to go through, whether we do it in this life or the next. So as unpleasant as life may sometimes get, we should realize that suffering is also always temporary and that enjoyment, which is also temporary, occurs as the flip-side of suffering.

Ultimately, then, happiness comes with the awareness that we have to continue moving between relative/temporary suffering and relative/temporary enjoyment; both up until death and beyond it.

Hope that helps. Expanding awareness of the greater nature of things can be both stressful and awe-inspiring, so be sure to take it slow and don't drive yourself mad with contemplation in any way.
16spirit
 
  2  
Reply Thu 25 Apr, 2019 09:12 am
@livinglava,
Your thoughts about reincarnation have been what I generally believe for about a year now! Very Happy Also what you said about there being no point in being self destructive is very helpful, thank you.
livinglava
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Apr, 2019 02:41 pm
@16spirit,
16spirit wrote:

Your thoughts about reincarnation have been what I generally believe for about a year now! Very Happy Also what you said about there being no point in being self destructive is very helpful, thank you.

Yes, and if you follow the logic of eternal perseverance in resisting (self)destruction/violence, then you may also see a connection to the story of Christ's crucifixion and the importance attributed to suffering in traditional Christianity. In that religion/philosophy, perseverance in suffering is observed as a direct path to deliverance and thus spiritual transcendence.

So, with the Buddhist philosophy of detachment, you learn to suffer sustainably; and by bearing the cross of sustainable suffering, you receive deliverance and spiritual blessings. Welcome to Nirvana! Just try not to spoil it by dying or reacting to suffering with destructive violence.
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