All Conditioned Things Are Impermanent

All conditioned things are impermanent. This is a fundamental truth that we often forget or ignore in our daily lives. We tend to cling to things that we like and avoid things that we don’t like, as if they will last forever. But nothing lasts forever.

Buddhism says that all existence is ‘conditioned’ — it is all conditional on other conditions. 

All conditioned things are impermanent.

Lord Buddha

Everything is interconnected. Everything affects everything else. Everything that is, is because other things are. The fact that everything is nothing more than a set of relations is consistent with the modern scientific view of the material world. What is happening now is part of what happened before and is part of what will happen next. It’s hard not to notice similarities with Einstein’s theory of relativity. Isn’t it?

When there is this, that comes to be;
with the arising of this, that arises.
When there is not this, that does not come to be;
with the cessation of this, that ceases.

Lord Buddha

Why is it important to understand and accept this truth? Because it can help us to live more wisely and peacefully. It can help us to appreciate the preciousness of every moment and every being, knowing that they will not be here forever. It can help us to let go of our attachments and aversions, knowing that they are the source of our suffering. It can help us to face change and loss with equanimity and compassion, knowing that they are inevitable and natural.

It is a very important concept of Hinduism and Vedanta and is one of the essential doctrines or three marks of existence in Buddhism. In Sanskrit, it is called Anitya (अनित्य). The term Anitya appears in the Katha Upanishad, one of the Principal Upanishads. The Impermanence doctrine of Buddhism asserts that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is “transient, evanescent, inconstant”.  All that arises, ceases.

How can we practice this understanding and acceptance? One way is to observe the impermanence of everything around us and within us. We can notice how the seasons change, how the flowers bloom and fade, how the sun rises and sets. We can notice how our bodies change, how we grow old and sick, how we breathe in and out. We can notice how our thoughts and emotions change, how they come and go like clouds in the sky. We can notice how our relationships change, how people come and go in our lives, how we love and lose.

This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.

Swami Vivekananda, A letter written to the Maharaja of Mysore, June 23, 1894

We can contemplate the fact that everything is impermanent, including ourselves. We can imagine what it would be like to lose everything that we cherish, including our own life. We can feel the sadness and fear that may arise, but also the freedom and joy that may follow.

By meditating on impermanence, we can gradually develop a deeper insight into the nature of reality. We can realize that all conditioned things are impermanent, but also that there is something beyond impermanence. There is something unconditioned, unborn, undying, uncreated, and indestructible. There is something that is always present, always aware, always peaceful, and always blissful. There is something that is our true nature, our true self.

What is this unconditioned thing? It is not a thing at all. It is not an object that we can perceive or conceive. It is not a concept that we can define or describe. It is not a word that we can name or label. It is beyond all words and concepts, beyond all perception and conception.

It is the essence of our being, the source of our awareness, the ground of our existence. It is what we truly are, before we identify with any form or phenomenon. It is what remains when we let go of everything else. It is what we discover when we look within ourselves with wisdom and compassion.

That is the ultimate truth that we can discover through the practice of impermanence.

12 thoughts on “All Conditioned Things Are Impermanent

  1. This is the beauty of Hinduism or Hindu Philosophy. It allows you to introspect and alter based on the dynamics of the situation. It does not depend on one scripture but allows interpretation keeping in mind the time dynamics and pragmatic views.


  2. True! Nothing but this earth and the sky, which also keep exhibiting in their own ways how change is an inevitable part of this universe…yet we struggle each and every day to resist it…a slice of life drifts away from us slowly and we don’t even notice it! 🙂
    I like your philosophical examples to elucidate your point. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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