Burning Candles Impermanence

 

It was a heavy nighttime rain. Thunder and lightning provided a sound and light show that was free of charge. The storm was a severe summertime rain. After the rain stopped, I went outside my back porch and the plants were soaking wet and the air was much cooler than before the rain came.  It was very peaceful with the crickets chirping and the toads croaking. I looked up and see a tree frog on a banana leaf,  lounging away like it did not have a care in the world. A small green iguana was climbing about the tall fig tree, while occasionally taking a look over at me. I see two burrowing owls that are standing on a tree branch. They look like the perfect couple cuddling up and growing old together. Their eyes are half closed and they look extremely content and happy. The owls seem totally inseparable and in love. Meanwhile, a lizard is crouching on a rock, eagerly catching mosquitoes out and about in abundance.

I go inside the house and grab a cushion and lay it on the outside stone back patio. I then proceed to light up a couple of candles that I place on the patio. The candles begin to flicker in a very peaceful manner. The environment is perfect for meditation. Instead of closing my eyes to begin deep meditation, I look intently at the candles and start to contemplate the significance of all things being impermanent. Nothing lasts forever.   Everything in life will one day be gone.  I will not live forever and will one day die. The clock is ticking from the moment we are born and every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every year and every decade brings us closer to death. Whether it is an unfortunate accidental demise, sickness, old age, the drumbeat is marching on closer and closer to death. Good fortune, health, wealth and even relationships do not last forever.  Some very lucky folks find their soul mate that they love and will be married and together for their entire lifetimes, but in today’s world, marriage and then divorce is becoming ever more common.

After thinking about the idea of impermanence for a while, I look up and notice that the candles have been burning at a steady pace and they are about half way finished.  The candles are a perfect example of the idea of impermanence.  Minute after minute, the candles continue burning to the end. Even evil people, in positions of great power, can only politically and militarily control the people and the country for a limited amount of time.  Examples would include Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Kaddafi and Baghdadi.  Although tyrants and dictators have a god complex and firmly believe that they can rule forever, they too succumb eventually to the inevitable loss of power and are totally exposed for their evil ways. Countries such as North Korea, that is now into the third Kim ruling the nation, will also eventually collapse. Miniature Kim and his cronies are frantically fighting the clock to stay in power. Mini Kim will only be able to abuse the populace for so long and then one day mini Kim will be gone. The same holds true for Syria’s bloodthirsty dictator Bashar Al- Assad. This second generation chip off the block son of the previous dictator Hafez Al-Assad will also in due course lose his grip on power.

Moving along on a more personal level, individuals are also dealing with the idea of impermanence. A person buys a car and overtime that car ages and breaks down and no longer operates correctly. Goodbye car! An employee works at the same job for years and either that employee is fired, they quit, or the company closes. The job may be lifetime and the employee may even work for decades, but in due course, the employee will leave the job.  If a person truly understands that everything in their life is impermanent, then when something goes wrong, or something or someone is lost forever than that person will have an easier time accepting the loss and moving on with their life. Even if a person has a tremendous amount power and money and can buy anything they want, they eventually will succumb to illness and death.

I have found that the more accepting I have been with the concept of impermanence, the easier it has been for me to handle loss through the various times in my life. This state of mind is not always possible to continually achieve. We are all just humans and not robots and depending on the difficulty, or the loss involved, I have had my share of ups and downs dealing with the situations that come about during my life.  Like this night, I need to remind myself of the concept of impermanence, as sort of a refresher course.

The candles burning on my back porch are now coming to the end of their life. I sit leisurely atop my cushion on this summer’s night.  I watch as the candles start to violently flicker, holding on to the last moment, before all the wax has been melted down. The flames flash one last time.  There is fire no more. The patio is now completely dark.  I close my eyes and begin my meditation. No thinking! I’m just counting my breaths and settling into a relaxed state of being. I’m in the moment. One breath at a time, I fall deeper and deeper into an inner calmness, totally consumed with my natural surroundings. After finishing my meditation, I open my eyes and get up and walk around my backyard. I’m so lucky to have this relaxing garden as a part of my life.  Who knows when these priceless peaceful moments will end and be gone forever. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy as much as I can contemplating and meditating in my little sub-tropical sanctuary.

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