Tag Archives: sutras

impermanence

twice in the last few months i spoke about human nature. in the first post, i alluded to the question of whether there is such a thing as human nature. in the second i showed you an essay i once wrote about human nature. if wonder how this hold up against buddhist ideas of impermanence?

here is a piece from the nirvana sutra

material form is non-eternal. by doing away with this form, one arrives at the eternal form of emancipation. so does it obtain with feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness, too. by doing away with consciousness, one arrives at the eternal form of emancipation and peace. this also pertains to feeling, perception, volition …

let me translate that into what i think it means:

  • material form is impermanent.
  • when we remove this empty form, we become forever free.
  • the same is the case with feeling, perception, will, and consciousness. they are just empty forms.
  • when we remove consciousness, we are forever free and in peace.
  • the same is true for feeling, perception and will.

one way of interpreting this is to say that nothing is fixed, and truly recognizing this constant flux, and living accordingly, is what sets us free.

we do not have to live in the “form” (straightjacket?) of our feelings. we do not have to live in the “form” (straightjacket?) of our perceptions, or our will (desires?).

and now it gets difficult: we do not have to live in the form (or structure, or box) of our consciousness.

what that means, i think, is that we can’t assume that even our most closely held beliefs and values are either fixed or unchanging.  which means that even my view of human nature is up for grabs … ?

pretty heady and radical stuff, this buddhism.