Impermanence (quotes)


Impermanence: not lasting or durable


Everything comes and goes


Everything in life is in a constant state of change and flux

  • All is flux, nothing stays still. Plato
  • There is nothing permanent except change. Heraclitus
  • Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed. Heraclitus
  • If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold onto. Lao Tzu
  • If you watched a rock your entire life it would never look different. But if you were God and could observe the rock over fifteen billion years as though only a second had passed, the rock would be frantic with activity. It would be shrinking and growing and trading matter with its environment. Its molecules would travel the universe and become a partner to amazing things that we could never imagine. Scott Adams, God’s Debris
  • That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment. Pema Chodron
  • Life is one of those precious fleeting gifts, and everything can change in a heartbeat.
  • Change

Nothing in this world of form is permanent

  • Be aware of the ephemeral nature of material things. Lose your attachment to them. Shui-ch’ing Tzu
  • Time is a river, the resistless flow of all created things. One thing no sooner comes in sight than it is hurried past and another is borne along, only to be swept away in its turn. Marcus Aurelius
  • Reflect often upon the rapidity with which all existing things, or things coming into existence, sweep past us and are carried away. Marcus Aurelius
  • Even while a thing is in the act of coming into existence, some part of it has already ceased to be. Marcus Aurelius
  • In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds. Robert Green Ingersoll
  • All things human are short-lived and perishable. Seneca
  • Nothing in this world of form matters absolutely. Every form is destined to dissolve eventually.    Eckhart Tolle
  • All things that have form eventually decay. Masashi Kishimoto
  • All things change. Whatever is born is subject to decay. Gautama Buddha
  • Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay. Matthew Flickstein

All things come and go…

  • Everything passes, everything. Anthony de Mello
  • This too shall pass. Sufi Saying
  • Eventually, everything goes away. Elizabeth Gilbert
  • It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! Abraham Lincoln
  • Everything flows and nothing stays. Heraclitus
  • Everything that arises passes. You. Me. This emotion. That emotion. Everything that we experience passes. So why crave? Why avoid? Brian Johnson
  • Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well. Buddha
  • The only certainty life contains is death. Patricia Briggs

… including our lives

  • An Italian poet said, ‘We live in a flash of light; evening comes and it is night forever.’ It’s only a flash and we waste it. We waste it with our anxiety, our worries, our concerns, our burdens. Anthony de Mello
  • Life is brief—a flash of lightning, a snap of eternity’s fingers. Dan Millman
  • Our lives are mere flashes of light in an infinitely empty universe. Dominic Owen Mallary
  • We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. Carl Sagan
  • After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. B. White
  • Life is fleeting

The problem is we resist and attach


Loss is a natural part of life – but something we tend to resist

  • That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life isn’t always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. And we don’t like that. Pema Chodron
  • Loss

When we become attached to things we misapprehend as permanent, we suffer when we lose them

  • Attachment only causes anguish in the long run because nothing is permanent in this world. Don’t mourn over the loss of something. Be happy that it happened instead. Celestine Chua
  • Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities. The Dalai Lama
  • The more you cling to things, the more you love them, the more the pain you suffer, when they’re taken from you… Stephen Joshua Sondheim
  • The wise are so totally detached, pain is for those who are attached. K.Misra
  • All of our miseries are nothing but attachment. Our whole ignorance and darkness is a strange combination of a thousand and one attachments. And we are attached to things which will be taken away by the time of death, or even perhaps before. You may be very much attached to money but you can go bankrupt tomorrow. You may be very much attached to your power and position… but they are like soap bubbles. Today they are here, tomorrow not even a trace will be left.  Osho
  • You do not suffer because things are impermanent. You suffer because things are impermanent, and you think they are permanent. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Buddha established the fact that life will always involve a certain amount of suffering. We will all get old, get sick and die. Our possessions will break and so will some of our relationships. According to Buddha, that’s just how it is. The fact that these things happen does not account for why we are unhappy, however. We are unhappy because we fight against it. We cling to our sense of how things should be, or how we want them to be. It is this attachment to expectations that presents the problem. Only by dealing with the fact that life is unpredictable—and will often bring pain and undesirable events—can we become “non- attached” and avoid the suffering that plagues most people. Brian Johnson
  • You only lose what you cling to. Buddha
  • Suffering

Making peace with impermanence


Anything that can be lost is not truly yours to start with so consider it a temporary loan from the universe

  • In spiritual life there is no room for compromise. Awakening is not negotiable; we cannot bargain to hold on to things that please us while relinquishing things that do not matter to us. A lukewarm yearning for awakening is not enough to sustain us through the difficulties involved in letting go. It is important to understand that anything that can be lost was never truly ours, anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us. Jack Kornfield
  • To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance. Gautama Buddha
  • Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them. Paulo Coelho
  • Even when we get what we wish, it is not ours. Publilius Syrus

Our happiness and peace lie in our allowing things to come and go

  • As the great Confucius said, ‘The one who would be in constant happiness must frequently change.’ But we keep looking back, don’t we? We cling to things in the past and cling to things in the present… Do you want to enjoy a symphony? Don’t hold on to a few bars of the music. Don’t hold on to a couple of notes. Let them pass, let them flow. The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow the notes to pass.  Anthony de Mello
  • When you remember that all things come and go, it allows you to keep your perspective, an open heart, and even a sense of humor during all the phases of your life. Richard Carlson
  • Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well. Buddha
  • HappinessInner peace

When we realise that things are impermanent and can be lost at any time, we value and cherish them more

  • The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost. GK Chesteron
  • When I was first learning about Buddhism, I travelled to Thailand with several of my friends and teachers and went to the forest monastery of a renowned meditation master named Achaan Chah. Gathering round him after our arrival, we asked him to explain the Buddha’s teachings. He motioned to a glass sitting to one side of him. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course’. But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.   Mark Epstein
  • Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things. Arthur Schopenhauer
  • We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea. Pema Chodron
  • Everything is passing… enjoy its momentariness. Mooji
  • You will lose what you value most, so treasure it while you can. Richelle Mead
  • Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting. Richard Paul Evans
  • Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely, we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. Somerset Maugham
  • Appreciation

By accepting loss, we can heal and awaken spiritually

  • Healing and positive life change comes from having the courage and spiritual conviction to look squarely at life’s impermanence. Meredith Young Sowers
  • When we accept the loss of a form we identified with as part of who we were, then ego dies and essence shines through. Eckhart Tolle
  • Nothing in this world of form matters absolutely. Every form is destined to dissolve.  All forms eventually collapse.  By all means grieve when they do, but let there be spaciousness beneath your weeping.  Losing forms makes the eternal, deathless, formless, timeless dimension of who we are shine all the more, bringing great peace.  Eckhart Tolle
  • The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one. Dean Koontz
  • AwakeningSpirituality

All good and bad situations come to an end too

  • Moments of splendor and moments of gloom – they help maintain life’s balance. One thought is key: they all pass…  Joan Marques
  • Nothing is permanent. However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.  Marc and Angel Chernoff
  • If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change. John A. Simone, Sr.
  • …nothing wonderful lasted forever. Joy was as fleeting as a shooting star that crossed the evening sky, ready to blink out at any moment. Nicholas Sparks
  • All conditions are temporary. Nothing stays the same, nothing remains static. Which way a thing changes depends on you. Neale Donald Walsch
  • All good things must come to an end. Thornton Wilder
  • Adversity

Knowing that all things pass helps us to keep our perspective in difficult times

  • As we look back on our lives, it’s easy to see that all things come and go: winter, spring, summer, and fall; joy, sorrow, praise, and blame; hardship, ease, rest, and exhaustion; accomplishments, mess-ups, and all the rest. Genuine freedom and happiness come when we can see this dynamic, not only in retrospect but while we’re going through something difficult. This way, we can keep our perspective right in the midst of the chaos. Richard Carlson
  • “This too shall pass.” Remind yourself of this bit of wisdom whenever you feel annoyed, stressed, or bothered, as well as when you are going through something terribly difficult. Life is very short. Our children are little; they grow up. We are young; we grow old. We will get through it all. Richard Carlson
  • The crisis of yesterday is the joke of tomorrow. H.G. Wells
  • If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again. Sarah Ban Breathnach
  • No matter how dark the night, somehow the sun rises once again and all shadows are chased away. David Matthew
  • The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.   Joseph Campbell
  • We should never forget that after every night, there is a dawn. We should never lose our optimistic faith. Amrithanada Mayi Devi
  • This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a bad day, a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won’t feel this way forever. Kelly Cutrone
  • Wise are they who have learned these truths: Trouble is temporary. Time is tonic. Tribulation is a test tube. William Arthur Ward
  • Even the coldest winters eventually turn into springtime. Seasons always change.  Marc and Angel Chernoff
  • In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on. Robert Frost
  • Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles. Charlie Chaplin
  • Remember sadness is always temporary. This, too, shall pass. Chuck T. Falcon
  • Perspective

The only thing that is permanent and indestructible is your spirit

  • Knowing all objects to be impermanent, let not their contact blind you, resolve again and again to be aware of the Self that is permanent. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
  • The choiceless truth of who you are is revealed to be permanently here permeating everything. Not a thing and not separate from anything. Gangaji
  • The search for self-worth begins by finding what is indestructible inside, then letting it be. Prudence Kohl
  • The value of impermanence is to call attention to the permanent. Stuart Davis

Final thoughts

  • I always think everything is going to last forever, but nothing ever does. In fact, nothing exists longer than an instant except the thing that we hold in memory. Sam Savage
  • That which is impermanent attracts compassion. That which is not provides wisdom.  Stephen Levine
  • Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror, no feeling is final. Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Most people fail to see this reality, for they are attached to what they cling to, to pleasures and delights. Since all the world is so attached to material things, it’s very difficult for people to grasp how everything originates in conditions and causes. It’s a hard job for them to see the meaning of the fact that everything, including ourselves, depends on everything else and has no permanent self- existence. Majjhima Nakaya
  • The value of impermanence is to call attention to the permanent. Stuart Davis
  • Many have died; you also will die. The drum of death is being beaten. The world has fallen in love with a dream. Only sayings of the wise will remain. Kabir
  • One of the primary insights is the nature of impermanence. In the deepest forms of this insight, we see that things change so quickly that we can’t hold onto anything, and eventually the mind lets go of clinging. Letting go brings equanimity; the greater the letting go, the deeper the equanimity. Gil Fronsdal
  • Destroying is a necessary function in life. Everything has its season, and all things eventually lose their effectiveness and die. Margaret J. Wheatley
  • Whenever ego suffers from fear of death & your practice turns to seeing impermanence, ego settles down.  Tsoknyi Rinpoche
  • A universe that came from nothing in the big bang will disappear into nothing at the big crunch. Its glorious few zillion years of existence not even a memory. Paul Davies