Snowdrops

Seeing the first flowers open up at this time of year makes me recognize the hopeful nature of change, of impermanence.

It’s easy to just look at the negative aspects of change – most of us don’t like it when even small parts of our daily routine are pushed out of their accustomed place. But everything is the nature of change; if things didn’t change, growth would be impossible.

When you see those snowdrops pushing up through the frozen ground, see how that new life comes from the continuous process of change. Try and visualize the life-cycle of that plant in fast-forward: see how the seed transforms into the sprout, the sprout into the flower, the flower into a new seed, which falls to the earth and waits for the cycle to begin again.  This cycle is moved forwards by impermanence, by change. In fact, these changes are happening moment by moment, on the most subtle level; you cannot find the exact moment the bud became a flower, the bud and the flower are both part of the continuum of constant transformation.

We can think of ourselves in the same way. We, too, are a continuum of constant transformation. Everything about us changes moment by moment – our body, our mind, our sense of self. And like the snowdrop that dies each year to grow again the following Spring, we die and are born again. This change is the nature of things; we do not need to fight against it. Accepting impermanence give us real freedom: we stop being held back by ideas of who we are, our limitations. The person who got angry yesterday has ceased, today we are a different person so we do not need to get angry again. The person we got angry with yesterday has also ceased, and the person we meet today is a new person, so there is no basis for any resentment. So you see, embracing impermanence allows us to make sure those moment-by-moment changes in us are positive ones; it will help to ensure that the bigger changes we experience from life to life will be positive ones as well.

Who knew a little snowdrop had so much to say?

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