July 11, 2012

Take heart, all of it is temporary. All of it.

There was a Thai monk named Ajahn Chah

His students noticed that despite his own teachings about impermanence and non-attachment, he had a drinking glass he was particularly fond of.

“Someone asked Ajahn Chah something like, ‘You’ve been teaching us about impermanence and how everything is constantly changing. You’ve told us that being attached to anything in this transient world will always cause us to suffer. Yet it appears that even you, who has renounced all worldly possessions, have become attached to that special drinking glass.’

Ajahn Chah replied with something like, ‘It is true, I do enjoy this drinking glass. I like the way it holds my tea. I admire the way the sun shines off it, at times creating tiny rainbows. This is my favorite glass, but I do not cling to it, because to me this glass is already broken. I know that my time with it is temporary and precious. So I enjoy this glass while it lasts, but I am fully aware that eventually it will fall from the shelf or be knocked over and shatter. And when that happens I will say ‘of course.’” (Noah Levine for Shambhala Sun)


I remember reading this story a few years ago, after my daughter was born. When we’re in the midst of those amazing golden moments we can’t think about impermanence. We don’t want to. We want all of the good to last forever.

I remember reading it again, later, discouraged, frustrated with something. Sometimes impermanence lasts too long for us. I hate this moment. Take it away. I’m done with it.

And the good news all around is that nothing lasts.

Our most cherished glass is already broken. It’s inevitable.

This isn’t some nihilistic, “don’t care” “don’t love” mindset, but instead the opposite.

Whether right now is exquisitely beautiful, excruciatingly painful or somewhere in the wonderful cool boredom in between, it’s precious because it’s now. It’s precious because one deep breath…and it’s gone.

Don’t worry. It’s been a long day. It’s been a good, hard day. Tomorrow is a new one.

{Thanks to Molly for reminding me of this story today.}


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