14. The Impermanence of Holy Beings
Longchen Nyingtik Meditation 14
Take refuge and arouse bodhichitta.
Reflect intensely that the past buddhas, Buddha Vipassi, Buddha Sikhi, Buddha Shakyamuni, and so on and their retinues, the ensuing sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and their retinues, all had come to this world and then left this world, one after the one. Their teachings also waxed and waned according to the tide of history for many rounds.
If even all of these buddhas, bodhisattvas, and sages could not escape impermanence, how can people like us, as well as our friends and relatives, exist forever? Thus, resolve: From now on, I must engage in practices that will benefit my many lives yet to come.
Dedicate all the merit of your practice to all sentient beings.
This often occurs to me: During His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche’s days, the major Dharma gatherings held at Larung Gar always drew humongous crowds amounting to several hundred thousand people. But now, all have vanished without a trace like last night’s dream; what remains are only our fond memories. In the political arena, generation after generation there were luminaries who came to the fore with incredible glamour, power, and retinues, yet in no time they fell on evil days and became penniless. A few days ago I read a biography about a prominent Chinese leader. The book contains pictures showing how he changed from the prime of his youth to old age, and then to his deathbed, which is a glaring portrait of impermanence. Looking closer to home, in twenty years many of us in this room will have departed from this world or, even if we are still alive, may no longer be here.
Today, many monks of the past twenty years have by and large disappeared; some have died or some have left. The majority of the people I talk to now are newcomers who are utter strangers to me. At times during lunch, I simply cannot find any familiar faces to eat with.
Those of you who are “oldies” may notice the same thing, that you can barely find any of your acquaintances from seven or eight years ago. The “Oral Debate Class” that I have been overseeing also has been experiencing a constant flux of members: some died, while others left. Certainly, it would be nice to maintain a stable class with a minimal turnover rate as someone suggested to me. But it can’t be helped, since that’s impermanence at work, that everyone’s body and mind never stay the same even for an instant. Thus, meditating on impermanence should be a breeze!