Uncertainty and Impermanence

Talk by Sue Anawalt

The Four Ends
The end of accumulation is dispersion
The end of building is ruin
The end of meeting is parting
The end of birth is death

Due to the spread of Covid 19 most of us have lived the last year and a half in a great
deal of uncertainty. How we lived our lives was thrown upside down. What was the most
normal of things to do became threatening. A visit to the grocery store created some form
of anxiety. Our behavior changed in major ways. The pandemic was death whispering to
us. To escape we turned toward greater isolation.


Buddhism constantly points a finger at impermanence. Often change comes so gradually
we don’t notice. It’s as subtle as one season slipping into a new one. What the pandemic
did was to highlight dramatically that life is constantly changing. Through such a world
catastrophe we have understood the truth of impermanence and that it is not escapable.
We will all change, we will all grow older. We all will die.


Knowing this on a visceral level can have a profound effect. There may be positive
outcomes from living through the pandemic. In knowing impermanence is part of life, we
may seek a path in which to live more meaningfully. Being present and aware of our
actions could be something we now want to develop in our lives. Alert to intentions may
circumvent regrets. In what way may you be going through this process?


Some other deep questions may have arisen for you during this time period. You may
have realized how inter-dependent we are as human beings and then asked how might
that change your way of being with friends, family, or even strangers. Or you may be
asking how can I be more present in my day to day living. My husband put a post-note on
our vacuum cleaner: A monk knows when he is vacuuming.