Meditation on Perception (pp. 47-54)
“And what, Ananda, is the perception of impermanence? Here, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘Form is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, volitional activities are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent.’ Thus he dwells contemplating impermanence in these five aggregates subject to clinging. This is call the perception of impermanence.” –The Buddha
The Healing Process with Perception of Impermanence
First of all, you must practice to know that the five aggregates are impermanent and always changing.
Healing can take place because of our purified perception of impermanence. Impermanence, like gravity does not exist in a vacuum. There must be something (an external object) that is impermanent just as there must be an object to be affected by gravity. We come into contact with this object through the Five Aggregates. Consciousness draws our attention to the contact with one of our six internal sense objects to the external sense object (form) and the other aggregate of feeling, perception, mental formations come into play as factors of the mind. All of this mental function is impermanent (constantly changing) just as the object is impermanent (constantly changing).
Instead of complaining or encouraging mental proliferation about an unpleasant experience that can lead to more fear and depression, reflect on the following:
- Know that all is changing by meditation on the perception of impermanence.
- Know that the fear and depression that arise are impermanent.
- Use the seven factors of enlightenment (mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, equanimity) to deal with this unpleasant experience:
- Mindfulness/Investigation/energy: Be mindful and investigate the experience knowing that this requires energy (effort). By investigating the experience and the fear, you can see that the perception is impermanent and constantly changing. The negative (unpleasant) feelings from the initial fear then can change to neutral feelings and then to positive feelings as you realize that all is changing and you are not permanently attached to the unpleasant feeling of fear from this experience.
- Joy and tranquility arise as your perception of impermanence is purified.
- Your concentration will increase to keep mindfulness focused on what you are experiencing..
- Equanimity may then arise.
So rather than suffer from the certainty of the outcome that we fear may happen, we use mindfulness to pay attention to what is. We employ mindfulness from moment to moment because everything is changing. We cannot make one observation and know that that is the truth. The truth is the changing nature of all objects.
- Reflect on this talk daily.
- Practice the steps of the seven factors of enlightenment when fear or depression from a painful experience arise knowing that the perception of impermanence can overcome them.
- Continue to meditate on the perception of impermanence.