Thursday, July 29, 2010

Here Be Dragons

It is important to live as if things are as permanent as stone. It is built into us genetically or in some other basic way that we rely on things not to change or to change in manageable ways, ways that flow slowly and rather predictably along. We desperately want assurance that our families will thrive among other things and big, abrupt changes are definitely not the ticket even though we all know they happen and are not predictable.

However, we have to admit impermanence into our lives. Impermanence, the fact that absolutely everything changes eventually, is the bedrock that actually does not change. It's important to live with impermanence as a frame of reference so that we can approach each moment or each day with a sense of humility about what we are able to do and what we are not able to do and relinquish control over things we cannot have control over.

In order to admit impermanence into your life you have to also admit interdependence as well. You have to invest yourself in love and concern for people, accept people's love as if that's the only thing that exists. It is only in this way that you can form the courage that can meet impermanence honestly. There are many methods you can use to achieve this spiritual stand.

Thus, the seeker's commitment to living is to live as if everything is always there forever within the acceptance that nothing is going to survive. If you can live so that you embrace this dilemma then you have a chance at living honestly on the planet.

--This is an exerpt edited, modified and expanded by me, taken from Impermanence: Embracing Change by David Hodge and Hi-Jin Kang Hodge, published by Snow Lion Publications

That is really something to ponder. Unfortunately the original quote that I had access to was somehow garbled and basically made no sense the way it was presented. I am quite sure that what I have done has done no violence to the original intent at all.

I am currently reading a book, The Black Swan, The Impact Of The Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It is a presentation of the nature of impermanence from the perspective of Western business and science with attention paid mainly to those big changes we would rather do without. A Black Swan is an event deemed highly improbable yet causes massive consequences. Using this term comes from the disturbance that happened in taxonomy when Australia was discovered because at that time Europeans were quite sure there was no such thing as a black swan. All swans were white. There are members of the swan family in Australia that are black but no one from Europe had yet been there. September 11, 2001 was a Black Swan.

I guess I think that my poem is kind of a black swan poem.

Here Be Dragons

The relief I feel,
the flung knives going this time
into the torso
of some other poor
sap of a man who dared cross
you, telling you there
are no dragons now
if ever, when right before
your bright blue vision
one plainly sits at
the end of your gold laced rope,
patient with your hold.

June 21, 2009 11:30 AM


  1. This is where the last couple years has taken me, although it has been a bit of a mind bend to trust in permanence again. That seems kind of funny to me. Those that I know around me are more afraid of letting go of impermanence, and perhaps I was reluctant at first, too, but I've known it for most of my life. I believe I owe my father's death to this but I'm not sure. There is something around even my younger self that suggests to me that perhaps I knew it even before, but I can't be too sure because retrospect is not so reliable at such a distance. But for me to even begin to trust in a permanence - well, this takes work and determination, and a realization that I have to hold my tongue and close my eyes and accept that I don't really understand the reasoning behind this necessity. Faith. I'll be darned - faith. And so I do. And the balance seems to strike itself, although I do have shaky times.

    Yes, this all makes perfect sense to the tiny imperfect gears that move me.


  2. "Thus, the seeker's commitment to living is to live as if everything is always there forever within the acceptance that nothing is going to survive."

    And this is it isn't it!!!


    What the planet would be.

  3. The point is that being true to myself requires of me that I trust in permanence and it doesn't matter at this level that nothing is permanent. It is this thrust planted in the humus of trust that flowers in love. After that, reality compels me to reside honestly in impermanence. The key to this is that it is my destiny to abide in the inner demand for forever and the outer encounter with change, even the inner change that comes with incarnation (having presence in the outer). That destiny is virtually universal, the condition of nearly all of us, and upon which all other manifestations of destiny are built.

  4. I believe life is a paradox and a circle. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

    I love this homage to Lao Tzu by Timothy Leary from his book, "Psychedelic Prayers":

    I.5 All Things Pass

    All things pass
    A sunrise does not last all morning
    All things pass
    A cloudburst does not last all day
    All things pass
    Nor a sunset all night

    But Earth… sky… thunder…
    wind… fire… lake…
    mountain… water…
    These always change

    And if these do not last
    Do man’s visions last ?
    Do man’s illusions ?

    During the session
    Take things as they come

    All things pass

  5. Marion, I started my spiritual adulthood in the Taoist camp and am still deeply invested in I Ching, the Chinese Classic book, the oldest part contemporary with Taoism as it formed. I Ching contains the heart of Taoist thinking with a major Confucian overlay. "But Earth..." that list is the list of the eight kua from which the 64 archetypes are formed by doubling - that is, eight eights are 64. In I Ching they indeed transform by one or more moving lines, and there is an inversion movement too in which Fire becomes Water, Lake becomes Mountain, Earth becomes Heaven (Sky), and Thunder, Wind - or the other way as well.

    Thank you for sharing Leary's prayer with me. I have not seen that book. I did walk in to a Leary lecture in San Francisco in January, 1967.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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