The Cherry Blossom and the Wisdom of Impermanence

Cherry blossom and wisdom of impermanence of life
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The cherry blossom or Sakura is one of the most beautiful trees you will come across. Its ethereal petals hued in shades of pink and white adorn the branches of the trees with elegance. In Japan, Sakura holds deep cultural meaning, symbolizing good luck, love, and the start of spring. People eagerly anticipate the blooming of Sakura, to behold its heavenly beauty, as it lasts only for a brief period. This ephemeral quality is often paralleled to the transient nature of human existence. Within its fleeting beauty lies a profound lesson on life’s impermanence. It imparts a poignant reminder of the beauty found in their own vanishing.

Anitya is a Sanskrit word that means the absence of permanence or the presence of change. It is a universal truth that nothing stays permanent. From the majestic celestial bodies, the sun and moon to the wavy oceans and towering mountains, the entirety of nature undergoes perpetual transformation. Some changes may not be apparent until over long periods of time, yet without doubt, everything changes. What you felt or thought about an hour ago is not what you are thinking right now. Your emotions and feelings are such fleeting experiences. If you look at any living beings, from the moment they are born, every cell and molecule in their body undergoes constant change.

As the Philosopher Heraclitus observed, everything is in the state of constant flux or change on this earth. To paraphrase his famous saying, you cannot step into the same river twice, for both the river and the one who steps within it undergo profound metamorphosis with each passing moment.

Buddhist Mujo also teaches about life’s impermanence. Human beings fail to recognize this ephemeral nature inherent in all things, which results in their suffering. Everything we know, and love will one day cease to exist including ourselves. All things everywhere are perishable.

We do not appreciate or internalize this concept of change or impermanence easily, as it evokes discomfort. Life’s fragility terrifies us. Our inherent nature is to hold on to the concept of stability or permanence of things. People are used to a certain way of living, believing in an apparently monotonous and eternal existence.

At peak of Rome’s power, Roman generals who had won significant victories marched through the middle of the city displaying their spoils. The marching generals were carried through the city on a throne. They were hailed, celebrated, and admired. But there was one more element to the ceremony: throughout the day a slave walked next to the general and to prevent the victorious general from failing into hubris, the slave whispered repeatedly into his ear, Memento Mori, which means remember your mortality. Such a thought was necessary at the heights of glory to prevent them from falling to arrogance as they are easily trapped into believing that glory and power are going to stay with them forever.

Forever remains a myth, for life itself makes no promises of eternity.

Everything is borrowed, the body that houses you, the time you have been given, the experiences you have got through. This awareness encourages one to reevaluate their priorities infusing life with newfound significance.

Instead of mourning life’s brevity, we should embrace it like the cherry blossom, cherishing each moment with gratitude. Celebrate impermanence, for it adds depth and meaning to our journey.

Sayeeda Pearl

Doctor by profession, Trivandrum medical college alumni, a passionate reader first, writing tidbits here and there on this and that. Sharing bits of life’s fascinating teachings that everyone encounters.

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2 Responses

  1. bhavya galipally says:

    Such a great Well-articulated piece ! Anitya is the simple cure all mantra of Buddhist philosophy and also preached in other religions and cultures, so simple but most difficult to practice, you explained it so cleverly touching its significance across different cultures . Thank you for this , you should promote your page on all platforms , everything you write is so fun , fulfilling and igniting . Who would have thought Sakura Heraclitus anitya roman generals all in one article would make so much sense and have a deep philosophical connection….you spewed magic🪄😘👌🏼❤️

    • Dear Bhavya
      Thank you for your appreciation dear Bhavya, and moreover I am so glad to see that you absorbed the message I tried to convey and explained Anitya so well.