In the Prajna Paramita Sutra, Buddha gave us The Eight Similes of Illusion:
Regard this fleeting world like this: Like stars fading and vanishing at dawn, like bubbles on a fast moving stream, like morning dewdrops evaporating on blades of grass, like a candle flickering in a strong wind, echoes, mirages, and phantoms, hallucinations, and like a dream.
Photo by Nathan Nicholson Upsplash
The second of the Four Reminders is impermanence. The Buddha said a lot about impermanence. Here’s another verse:
“The universe and its inhabitants are as ephemeral as the clouds in the sky; Beings being born and dying are like a spectacular dance or drama show.
The duration of our lives is like a flash of lightning or a firefly’s brief twinkle; Everything passes like the flowing waters of a steep waterfall.”
Life is fleeting. Everything changes constantly, transforms itself ceaselessly. We are impermanent; our life breath, especially, is just “like a bubble on a fast-moving stream.” The time of our death is uncertain and unpredictable. Death comes for us all. This life might end at any second. So, impermanence is very real. It’s good to realize that we’ll die, that death is right here just around the corner all the time. Thinking about it in these terms, I feel like I want to use it as well as I can. Realizing that we have an unknown amount of time and that we can’t count on anything can help us realize how precious this life is and fill us with gratitude.