As you sit here reading this article, the world around you is changing, minute to minute. The leaves on the trees may be just coming into bud or turning colour before they fall, the light is changing, as are your thoughts. Since the minute we came into this world, we have been getting older by the second. Just like anyone, I do not want to get old, but we have no choice, everything is impermanent. Nothing stays exactly the same and so neither do we. Even our attributes change.
We may grow up labelled as a ‘shy’ person, for example, but there’s no reason for that to always be the case. You are not the same person you were yesterday or as you were as a baby, but likewise you are not different either. You are just you, someone who is continuously developing and growing and changing, moment by moment, especially if you allow yourself to grow and change.
It is freeing to release yourself from the constraints and worries of time. And I know this is a big issue with people rushing around all over the place, feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day. We spend so much time worrying about what we have or haven’t got done in our lives that we forget to enjoy the actual experience; we are caught up, anxious to achieve, constantly pushing ourselves to the next destination without taking in where we are right now.
Letting go of worries about time might sound lazy. Surely we all need to look to the future in order to be prepared. The message here is to begin to give up on all the nonsense with which we often fill up our time. When you don’t have time to eat breakfast or lunch, are you really spending your time wisely? Are you relaxed and focused, completely in the flow of your task, or busy worrying about what happened yesterday or might happen tomorrow?
To free yourself from the constraints of time will put you back into the action, the real genuine action. It’s not a case of being ‘laid back’ and doing nothing. You are not giving up on life, rather you are giving up all the nonsense. You have the freedom to find what inspires you, what you really want to do with your life. You will be motivated to work harder and make things very creative. Past experience is just an experience, but the present is very important because it is the source of the future, so to make the future fruitful, we need to look after the present.
Today should be the source of a better tomorrow. There is a powerful Tibetan proverb: ‘If I know I will die tomorrow, I can still learn something tonight.’ In many ways, impermanence makes you more aware of the possibilities of life. Those who really value life would not allow it to be spent unwisely. It is then like a fruit of which you want all the juice. Life can be resplendent in the knowledge that it is a glimmer, and you are always free to shine it how you want it.
If you look at this impermanence from a positive angle, it means that nothing is impossible in this world. Everything changes from moment to moment, nothing and no one has a fixed identity and nothing stays the same. Impermanence makes life much more interesting and challenging. It also means it is entirely up to us to decide what we want to do with our life, to have a new life, to have a beneficial life; we are our own boss and fully in charge of our destiny. Anything is possible. Then the richness of life comes. You can clear away all the clutter and create a fresh new chapter, one where real creativity starts.
The biggest advantage of being in this state of readiness is that you are prepared to be unprepared. In other words, you start seeing life with the innocence of a child’s eyes. Everything becomes wonderful and amazing. Even ordinary things create patterns of beauty in your life. Even what we ordinarily call failures look like possibilities or new openings. The door never shuts on people who develop this sensibility; it only revolves leading to newer, and brighter opportunities.
The mind that can unhinge itself from the past and open itself to every possible present is a mind that can discover God more easily than otherwise. It is this state of believing, being and becoming that the greatest transformations are possible. Before there is the idea of God, there is the idea of the possibility of God. Thus when you are open to life, life opens itself to you. And that leads to wonderful discoveries, ever beautiful or blissful.
The author is the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas