In the vast Indian tradition of yoga, there are many, many gods, goddesses, seers, saints, gurus and holy men who have taught on the subject of spirituality and divine consciousness. The messages they’ve given us are deeply profound and endless in number. Here we’ll touch upon one of the primary teachings - that of impermanence - which lies at the heart of the gurus’ messages to humanity. (Read more on How to Find Your Guru.)
The Message: Impermanence is Reality
First and foremost, there is a cosmic energy that pervades all life. It’s responsible for creation, the sustaining of creation and the dissolution of creation. Then it starts over, creating the universe once again. This process of sacred creation can be anything – a relationship, a thought, a material object, whatever. First it is created, then it is sustained for a time, and finally it is destroyed. This is the nature of reality because at the heart of it all everything is impermanent.
gurus teach us that impermanence is the reality of the spiritual path.
There’s nothing permanent in this world except our pure awareness,
our pure consciousness and, of course, change. Everything else is
constantly arising and falling away. The teachings advise us to
get comfortable with this reality of impermanence. If we don't, we’re
going to suffer. One of the main aims of yoga is to cut the cord of
suffering. (Learn more about the Roots of Suffering.)
Trust the Gurus' Perspective Over Your Own
From a Tantric perspective, this entire process is hidden from the human eye. We don’t realize this process is happening over and over again. Luckily, the gurus have described this to us in their teachings. This hidden sacred reality can be unveiled through our spiritual practice. If this all sounds terribly esoteric, that’s because it is. It’s also the beauty of the message of the gurus. They were able to tap into a higher level of consciousness and, through their teachings, this consciousness has been made accessible to us all.
The Tantric gurus have also shown us what we have forgotten is that life is a continuous play of ever-changing sacred energy. It is Brahman (Absolute Reality). In our daily lives, instead of recognizing this, we get attached to things, people and situations. We cling to them, unable to let it all go and see it as the divine play it really is. We forget that everything is ultimately part of a greater living, breathing sacred energy that is pure consciousness itself. When we realize and accept this, our lives become more fluid and effective. When we are able to see this play of life as it really is, and accept its innate impermanence, life becomes more lighthearted.
Applying the Message of Impermanence
The gurus have taught us that through the inner exploratory practices of yoga, asana, contemplation, meditation, and living in such a way that is aligned with particular teachings (like those of Patanjali, for instance), we can be yogis living the yoga experience, not getting tossed and turned upside down by the impermanent flow of life. In doing so, we uplift all those with whom we come into contact.
We can apply this process to our own lives. We want to be in the creative flow rather than in a state of reactivity when things don't go "our way." Meditation and journaling are two effective tools that can help us do this. Setting an intention on how we want to create our lives any given day is also helpful.
When it comes to sustenance, we can connect to what is truly nourishing to us. Things like good sleep, organic food, sunshine, fresh air, moderate pleasure, yoga practice, meditation, work and income, healthy friendships and romantic partnerships. All these things help to sustain and support us.
To further support each phase of impermanence (creation, sustenance and destruction), we can invoke the various gods and goddesses. For instance, Saraswati and Brahma are the creation deities. Vishnu and Lakshmi are the deities of sustenance, while the more fierce deities such as Kali and Durga help in the process of destruction. (Read how in Invoking Durga Within You.)
Turning the Message into Lasting Happiness
The gurus teach us that if we can learn how to cultivate the art of non-attachment, we will experience less pain, less anxiety and less depression. If we can learn how to enjoy the little deaths that happen each moment, we can cultivate loving non-attachment. When we see things for what they really are, we become awakened beings – and that’s something to look forward to! (Read on about The Wisdom of Non-Attachment.)