Nothing Is Permanent Except Change…

Vivek Sakpal

Published in Issue IV, October 2013

This has been undoubtedly my favourite teaching of Buddha. It speaks volumes of life. It’s applicable across spectrum of living and non living. It lays foundation for thinking on a wavelength we ignore to think off. We run away from this, but we have to face it. It’s the eternal truth.

In school days, when in physics class, when taught about the sub atomic particles, the neutrons, protons, electrons, we tend to remember and forget in later part of life. Today after so many years, when I look back and recall, I realize that what Buddha meant is applicable to them too. The sub atomic particles are composed mostly of wavelength and are in continuous motion. They do not rest at one position. They keep changing their positions constantly; it is this, which forms the foundation of the truth.

Everything on these planet compromises of these subatomic particles. They are the basis of reactions. And it these particles, present in everything, in constant change that the entire object or living being is also undergoing a continuous change. So what I see this moment shall be undergoing change the next moment.

On a different wavelength, the atoms and molecules I was born with are no more within me. They have changed over a period of time, undergone multiple reactions within my body. But, I carry the same name, same identity, but I don’t recognize this truth that I have since then changed multiple times. The physical characteristics have change and people acknowledge that, but am I the same person I was born. It also applies to my thinking process. My brain also composed of similar atomic particles undergoes change, the neurons there undergo changes, my memory of childhood has diminished, I recall only a few important moments, and even my memory bank it seems has undergone changes. I have changed.

Everything around us changes, but we tend to ignore. Nature, climate, people, one may name it and it has changed. But we are seeking a comfort zone, of not adapting to change. We resist change, its human nature. Things change, people die, we know but still seek eternity. We get attached to a changing phenomenon till the end (change) of it.

When everything is bound to change, all we can seek is that the change happens for good. We can try and make the change happen for a better life, a happy life. We should drive the change, and not allow the changes to drive us. But if the change drives us, we should not resist it either.

Not all change is under our control. Nature the biggest teacher shall never be under control. People around us also have their will and freedom towards change. This shall affect us, so let us accept it in good spirits.

We all seek everything to last forever, at least till we are alive. But things do end (change). We should keep our eyes and will open to accept the end (change), anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Death, doesn’t mean end. It is just change of form. Some reactions (life) in the body stops and other (decay) reactions take charge. This change is again changed when the corpse undergoes its final rites. The composition to either ashes (if burned) or being one with nature (if buried) is also a change.

We all are forms of energy, and Einstein has rightly said, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another”. We see this happening around, at every instant. Einstein proves this with his famous formula E = mc2. He has to be saluted for this proof and his research.

But, isn’t it the same thing what Siddharth Gautama said without proof in other words?  When Buddha says, nothing is permanent except change, he has given the universal law for everything and not just thermodynamics.

I am no one to compare these two great scientists, I am a student of both, but a curious student does wonder. Both these scientist have been role models to millions of students like me.

What makes me wonder even further is that, how did Buddha come to this philosophy of change. What made or which teaching enabled him to arrive at this philosophy. Was it just observation of nature, his thought process, or some other teachings, which are unknown to us?

Have teachings of Buddha also undergone change?  If so, what were his original teachings? I think may be the life span of his teachings is very high and they have so far been well preserved that they have not undergone much of change in their fundamental form. But the religion/way of life, promoted by Buddha has surely undergone a lot of changes. Change is good. Buddhism has been adaptive to its regional flavor, and has changed over period of time and distance.

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had applied this Buddha’s teaching in his life. He never stood still and would seek a constant change towards improvement. His political journey shall be a good example. He first founded the “Independent Labour Party”, when he felt it was time for change towards improvement, he moved on to “Schedule Caste Federation”, SCF later evolved into the Republican Party of India.

Learning from great men is difficult. Application of the same in personal life is even tougher. Today many of us seek a lot of improvement, i.e. change. But at the same time there are many changes we resist, due to our comfort zone. Stagnation is not a healthy sign. It is rightly said, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”.

Accepting change has been very difficult to me in my personal life. Over period of time I have learned it to a good extent I would say. But practicing the teachings of Buddha is no child’s play.

As the day dawns I should get ready for new changes to come, accept them, as they are, an also seek changes (improvements).

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