Ripening the Mind-stream with the Practice of Realizing Impermanence

A traditional offering of butter lamps for the deceased. Photo credit: Unknown

In the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the practice of realizing impermanence is used as a method to ripen the mind-stream of an individual in order to prepare a solid foundation for further spiritual development. By reflecting upon the truth of the impermanent nature of all worldly phenomena, the wild mind that craves entertainment and distraction, and constantly seeks things to acquire or posses, is tamed. When the truth of impermanence is deeply realized rather than merely understood intellectually, the mind has a more open and relaxed relationship with worldly phenomena. Positive experiences such as love and joy are more appreciated since they are understood to be fleeting. Patience with discomfort and suffering is easier knowing that it too will not last. For the spiritual practitioner, the realization of the truth of impermanence turns the mind away from meaningless distraction and towards the spiritual path.

Traditionally, in order to deeply realize impermanence, the practitioner would reflect upon worldly phenomena. For example, thinking about how each season has come and gone since childhood, or the constant changing of the weather. Often the practitioner would go to the cremation ground or cemetery and reflect upon the fact that no matter how powerful, rich, famous, or adored a human being has ever been, no one has been able to live forever. In modern times, the truth of impermanence can be seen throughout the world.

As a support for the practice of realizing impermanence, the English translation of The Chanted Verse of Impermanence from the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung is being made publicly available for personal use. While undergoing the practice of realizing impermanence as a foundational practice, this prayer is chanted before and/or after a fervent period of reflection. Once impermanence has been realized and the mind has been tamed, this prayer can be chanted daily as a reminder and motivation to remain focused upon meaningful activities of body, speech and mind. The translation can be downloaded from this link:

“Even though all phenomena change, I alone expect to be permanent.

How sad!

Bless me that the realization of impermanence will arise in my mind-stream!

When thinking of death, I am instantly without distraction, but then I become lazy and procrastinate.

How sad!

Bless me that the realization of impermanence will arise in my mind-stream!”

—From The Chanted Verse of Impermanence

All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

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Posted on September 19, 2020, in Prayer and Ritual, Translation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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