Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The Buddhist principle of impermanence teaches that individuals are like flowers that bloom for a brief time and then fade away.  If I understand this principle correctly, all things are said to be in a constant state of change but also of interconnection and unity – a process of flux and flow from one form to another.  For example, moisture in the form of clouds becomes dew, mist, fog, rain, snow, or ice and falls to the earth. There, it becomes ground water and flows along in streams and rivers, sustaining and cleansing all of life. The water becomes a part of all that is nourished by it – every plant, animal, or human.  Finally, the moisture evaporates – becoming cleansed and renewed in the process – and is transformed into clouds to begin the process again. And so it is with all of life.  While the duration of living things seems brief to us, nothing is ever really lost – all things are merely transformed. 

This is in accordance with The First Law of Thermodynamics, which says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, simply transformed from one type to another. Digging deep into Christian teachings, agreement can be found there as well: men wither like the grass of the field and fade in the manner of a flower.  Life is portrayed as a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes from our field of perception (James 4:14).   But we also likewise find the good news that all things are restored, for “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be…and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9).  And again, “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been…” (Ecc. 3:15).  Man goes back to dust, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it (Ecc. 12:7). Nothing is ever lost, and what was, will be again.

We, too, like all things, are being transformed, and it does not yet appear what we shall be (1 John 3:2).  We cannot see deeply enough into the nature of reality to discover the transformation that takes place as our present forms fade away.  But we can know that when Christ appears to us – when we come into a level of awareness that enables us to perceive the Christ within us, then we shall be like him.  AND, when that happens, we’ll also be able to see God as he really is: as Love.  With the understanding that God is truly Love, there is no longer any reason to be afraid of death.  Death can be seen for what it is: not a punishment, but as part of the natural process of the renewal of all things.   With this understanding, Rev. 21:4-5 becomes a current reality rather than a dim promise for the distant future: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  Behold, I make ALL THINGS NEW…!”  Once the veil that keeps people from seeing the nature of reality is removed, death will be swallowed up in victory, and the Lord will wipe all tears off ALL faces (Isa 25:7-8).  It is only our limited perception that makes us cry…

All must indeed face death, for death is part of the natural process of renewal and happens to all.  But death does lose its sting and brings us sorrow no longer.  Instead, we can rejoice, for the reality is NOTHING IS EVER TRULY LOST - merely changed from one form to another.  That's really good news!

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