Impermanence & the Truth of Selflessness

the following is an excerpt from Finding God in the Body

“No same man could walk through the same river twice because the man and the river have since changed.” ~ Heraclitus

We have all heard about impermanence. It has become a threadbare spiritual catchword, along with its sterile cousin, “the present moment.” Intellectually we understand the concept of impermanence but we do not feel it. This detached knowledge fails to effect change. The intent here is not to explain the concept of impermanence, but to point it out—to wake you up to the truth of impermanence within yourself.
Impermanence is a fact. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “No same man could walk through the same river twice because the man and the river have since changed.” Impermanence is the nature of life and all that lives. In fact, change is just another word for living—“to live” means “to grow” and growth is change. But few of us are conscious of this fact, which means we go through life without living fully.
The natural world is not in a constant state of fluctuation. It is fluctuation. The natural world is forever growing, evolving, disintegrating, dying, and giving birth to new life. Furthermore, we are not born into this world. We are born out of it. Mankind is a product of nature. We grow out of the earth just like a dandelion, apple, or a pine tree. Since we come from nature, our nature is change—or better yet, our True Nature is the space or plasticity that facilitates birth, growth, adaptation, disintegration, and death. In short, the apple does not fall far from the tree.  
Our True Self is a process of unfolding, not a solid entity. We are not a noun, but a verb. When we think of ourselves as a solid, permanent entity we separate ourselves from nature, which lives within us as our True Nature. This is the inner meaning of “exile” in the Jewish tradition. The concept of spiritual exile comes from the Hebrew word galut, which, according to Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, means “everything is moving except me.”   
Alan Watts, the popular philosopher of Eastern religion, used to compare life to music. “The point of music is music,” he would say. People enjoy listening to music for the rhythm, the stream of melody. No one listens to music to hear it end. If they did, as Watts pointed out, their favorite songs would be the ones that began and ended with a single uproar of noise. Life is the same way. The point of life is to live, to participate in the melody. Melodies are streams; they are flowing. You cannot freeze them. When you do, there is no flow. That is spiritual death.
The only way to participate in the melody is through basic awareness. Basic awareness is open. It is fluid. An open mind loses its sense of self in the music, whereas a self-centered mind tries to pause the song. It is not enough to enjoy the music. The self-centered mind wants to know the words. It wants to identify with the song. So the false-self rewinds it, trying to commit the lyrics to memory and claim the song as its own.
Life is change. Change is life. They are the same thing. Trying to organize impermanent phenomena into permanent categories of thought is a frustrating and impossible waste of energy. It is like trying to herd cats. Furthermore, we are not other than this change—we are life. We are change. The river of life flows through our core, emptying out into the truth of selflessness. We are not a noun standing on the bank watching life flow by; we are a verb or a wave emerging out of the stream of impermanence.
"Finding God in the Body draws from the wisdom of the world's traditions--Buddhism, contemplative Christianity, Judaism, and Twelve-Step spirituality--to present a modern view of embodied spirituality. It turns inward to examine the human condition, meeting personal suffering with heartfelt insight and transformative practice.

Ben Riggs leaves no stone un-turned, addressing each stage of the journey as he explores the space between fundamentalism and atheism to uncover a spirituality that resonates with the modern, Western mind. Then he binds that view to an actionable path of self-analysis, prayer, and meditation, which introduce the reader to the God of the body."

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