Busy dying

Again, on impermanence:

Look at everything that exists, and observe that it is already in dissolution and in change, and as it were putrefaction or dispersion; or that everything is so constituted by nature as to die.

Meditation 10.18. This reminded me, perhaps inappropriately, of the Bob Bylan line: “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Seeing transience – a “spiritual exercise”

Mediatation 10.11 contains a possible example of a “spiritual exercise”:

Acquire the contemplative way of seeing how all things change into one another, and constantly attend to it, and exercise yourself about this part of philosophy. For nothing is so much adapted to produce magnanimity. Such a man has put off the body, and as he sees that he must, no one knows how soon, go away from among men and leave everything here; he gives himself up entirely to just doing in all his actions, and in everything else that happens he resigns himself to the universal nature.

Several inches of snow fell overnight in Essex, the firstĀ  (and possibly only) heavy snowfall of the winter. The tree branches were laden with snow this morning, the river was covered with thin ice (broken only by the tracks of swimming ducks), and the usual sounds were deadened by the blanket of snow. Contemplating impermance today has been an easy thing to do…

True perspective

As a follow up to Marcus’ words on transience, here is the next Meditation, 5.24

Think of the universal substance, of which you have only a tiny portion; and of universal time, of which a short and indivisible interval has been assigned to you; and of that which is fixed by destiny, and how small a part of it you are.

Realising how small we are may seem terrifying, but it is actually strangely comforting, possibly because it shows us we are part of something much bigger (all senses of the word).

All is transient

Here is Meditation 5.23 in full:

Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and disappear, both the things which are and the things which are produced. For substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities of things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still. And consider what is near to you, this boundless abyss of the past and of the future in which all things disappear. How then is he not a fool who is puffed up with such things or plagued about them and makes himself miserable? For they vex him only for a time, and a short time.

I am no expert but this view of the transient nature of all things seems very close to Buddhist ideas that everything is in a state of flux and that constantly shifting conditions lead to an endless arising and falling away of things.