Perspectives on Impermanence (2)

I told a woman whose son had died that the reality is that she had a son, and now he is gone. Her memories of him persist, but he is somewhere else. He may now even be someone else’s child. It would make things easier for her if she considered him her ex-son and move on. She said that it would be very difficult to think along that line. I told her she should nevertheless cultivate it as a method of practice.

As sentient beings, anything we encounter can generate feeling and emotion, repulsion or attachment. It is also difficult not to be swayed by relationships. A man told me his wife did not want children for fear of being overly attached to them. When her pet dog died, she grieved for a long time. When her visiting niece returned home after three months, she continued to miss the little girl. She said if she could grow so attached to a pet and a niece, how much more attached would she be to her own children! Indeed, it is difficult for ordinary sentient beings to maintain a mentality of no birth and no death, of accepting what life gives and takes away, without regret or remorse. Studying the Heart Sutra and putting its ideas to practice can help.

One can use this understanding of no birth and no death in different ways. If someone close dies, you can say “There is no ultimate death or destruction, therefore, I accept this person’s death. This person’s memory lives in the hearts and minds of others still living. Famous or not, the person’s interactions with people leave an impact that lives on.” This is one perspective that is realistic and without attachment.

We can also think about birth and death as transformation-one phenomenon changing into another. In the process nothing has been destroyed, nothing has increased or decreased. When water turns to ice, we should not regret that the water has disappeared; maybe the ice will serve us better Looking at the world and relationships in is this way is also a method of practice.

 --There Is No Suffering, P.56-57

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