What do you count on as “certain” in your life? If you’d have asked me on May 21st, 2001, the day before I got sick with an illness that continues to this day, “Do you believe that impermanence and change are universal laws?” I would have said, “Of course!” I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for ten years. Impermanence is what the Buddha called one of “the three marks of existence.” We see it everywhere—in changing relationships, in changing political regimes, in the arising and passing of thoughts and moods.
If everything is subject to change, how can we be certain of anything? We can’t. And yet, despite years of immersion in the Buddha’s teaching, on that day in May of 2001, I felt certain of many things, including:
1. I’d be teaching for another 10-20 years and my husband and I would continue to take our treasured trips to Moloka’i where we’d rent the same secret hideaway I’d discovered in 1995.
2. The large Hackberry tree that kept the blistering afternoon sun from hitting our house during summers in California’s Central Valley would be standing long after I no longer lived there.
3. Our friends, Marla and Dick, would finish building their dream house on property they’d bought in the Sierra Mountains.
4. The World Trade Center towers would continue to dominate the New York City skyline, their image instantaneously identifying a movie or a television show as being set in The Big Apple.