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Anityawada: Theory of Impermanence

BuddhismRatnesh Katulkar examines the nature of impermanence.

The Buddha brings us a fact that nothing is fixed, nothing is unchangeable, nothing is permanent but every thing is changeable. Yet, for most of us, Buddha's theory of impermanence has no meaning as the prevailing religions, believes, customs and more than this, our own understanding enforces us to believe in permanent entity. Some of the most common accepted permanent entities in human societies are the god and soul.  While in our day-today life, we often believe in permanency of our beauty, power, relations etc. as fixed and unchangeable.

The reason behind our belief in fixity of every thing is our deep adoration with our self and our relations. This strong feeling of attachment makes our mind to think of our position, power and relations to be unchanging thus with this wrong notion we develop a thinking for ourselves as some one special. However in reality leave apart the visible and sizeable things of this world, even an atom is not fixed, it is also disintegrates into small fragments and it is continuously changing. It is the nature of every being to produce and disintegrate; this is the law of nature. If we look to geography, we find the same, large mountain range of Himalayas where the longest peak Everest is located was once a deep sea called Tethis. The Aravali ranges which are now smallest mountains were once the highest mountains of India. Even in our lifetime, we see such changes for instance many villages, which were once populated are now abundant, and undeveloped areas near cities are developed into multiplex complexes.  The clean cities of past are now crowded and filled up with pollution. To notice the change more clearly, if we look at our own writings of childhood or adolescence, we find it so different that often it is impossible to attests those views as our own. We may find some of the innocent children of our time are now turned into criminal or vice-versa. Thus, we have to accept that with the passage of time, change occurs in mind to such an extent that a person from his childhood until adulthood or old age becomes a very new person. Thus, whether we believe in the Buddha's theory of impermanence or not it is so universal that every thing is bound to change. The belief in the permanency of our power, position, beauty, health etc make us proud that results in developing superiority complex  which make us egoist but in reality as mentioned above, none of position is fixed and permanent and these could be lost at any time of our life. For instance, old age and diseases could take away our health and beauty while loss of job and position may lead us to helpless condition. Proud in material things also brings sorrow, as they are not permanent. Yet ignorance or avoidance of this truth and our belief in fixity of things and views, led to the development of much false arrogance such as casteism, racism, gender superiority etc that directly results in to injustice and inequality.   

Further, by fixity of opinion we usually bonded in our own attachment with the romantic ideas of god and soul as a permanent entity and developed a feeling of craving for our material assets such as proud in our position, power, health, beauty etc. Belief in god leads to superstition and dependency that make us puppet in the hands of so-called supreme power. Moreover, this concept creates an idea of giving credits to all our achievements to gods and on the other side; our failures are treated as God's wish. Thus in both cases our own efforts become secondary therefore ultimately we loose our confidence and ability. Moreover, this belief is harming our society very much as rightly pointed out by Dr Ambedkar that 'belief in god gives rise to the priest class, which is responsible for the origin of all kinds of superstitions and divided society into sacred and profane' thus it prepared a way to social norms such as caste and untouchability. While belief in soul creates much more superstition as it give not only life long surrender to priesthood but it even went ahead to surrender oneself for so-called coming lives. Therefore, in order to achieve better life in our next life one is bound to follow all the rituals to satisfy the priests.

On the other side the Buddha's theory of impermanence, gives courage and confidence to those who are unfree, needy, weak, poor, dull and unsuccessful to learn and struggle hard as with this efforts one day they may raise their status and achieve success in their life. Thus, the Anityawada is not only universal, scientific and rational theory but it is also a key to establish egalitarian and progressive society.



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ruleIf you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything.” -- Ecclesiastes 11:4

Keywords: buddhism, what is buddhism, guide to buddhism, introduction to buddhism, basic buddhism, four noble truths, dhamma, buddha, samsara, karma, buddhism, tibetan buddhism, buddhism religion, theravada buddhism, buddhism belief, basic buddhism, buddhism meditation

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