Everything is Temporary

A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. -Ecclesiastes 1:4

“To slow time down, practice enjoying the moment. It is where we spend our entire lives.” -Wu Wei, I Ching Wisdom: More Guidance from the Book of Answers, Volume Two

Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,

It may not apply to everything in the universe, but is definitely true to humanity: everything is temporary. This is the truth that gave Buddha enlightenment and Lao-tzu the unification with the Dao. All educated people might acknowledge and agree with this truth upon hearing it because it is logically, rationally, and scientifically true. Yet, if we were to actually investigate how many people are capable of embodying this simple truth in their daily lives, we may be deeply disappointed. Not surprisingly, many people desire and work hard to keep their lives steady and unchanging. In other words, no one seems to willingly and voluntarily accept inevitable change.

Since everything is temporary, it means that any happy experience we might cherish can only last for that very moment. This is why if we were to be always happy, we might have to always work very hard to achieve the happiness. In other words, happiness is not a permanent state of being that can be obtained by one particular event or achievement. For example, a parent may enjoy many special moments with a child, but as the child grows and changes, the experiences will have to change as well in order to remain enjoyable. As we change, so will the things and experiences which bring us joy.

The wisdom of the sages is to embrace the truth that everything is temporary and be aware of it as we engage in our daily lives. The most challenging situation in which you might feel forever trapped is still just a temporary thing. Similarly, the most joyful experience is also fleeting. What is permanent is the simple truth of change: everything is temporary and thus change is inevitable to all beings and things. As we acknowledge and accept changes as they happen in our lives, we might be able to see and embrace the present with a deeper appreciation and even enjoyment as it is. Then, we might be able to truly understand this teaching of Lao-tzu: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee