Story for "Mujo -Impermanence" (YouTube Video)

The Impermanence

By Haruko DeArth

Hello everyone, today I’m going to talk about my new art called “Impermanence”. It’s one of my favorite Japanese words and has significant meanings on life philosophy and view of our lives.  

Impermanence, “Mujo” in Japanese, is unique characteristic of the traditional Japanese mentality and one of the essential doctrines of Buddhism. The doctrine asserts the idea of impermanence of all things that exist.  All things, whether tangible or intangible, whether relationships or feelings or one’s prosperity, are in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction.   

This idea of impermanence is famously presented in  the opening of Diary from a Cabin by Kamo no Tchomay, which is one of the most famous prose pieces in Japanese literature.   (Quote) “Rivers never cease to flow and never stay the same. Even where the water looks stagnant, the bubbles rise, form and disappear with no exception. Nothing stays the same even in human society – man and his home… One is to die in the morning. Another is to be born in the evening. Everything is in an ever-changing flow of birth and death.” (Unquote)   

This expresses how the natural occurrences of life events are inconsistent, varying, and shifting, just as is mortality.    

This thought is observed in the Japanese love and passion for blooming cherry blossoms when they bloom and flourish into vibrant flowers only to fall from their trees two weeks later.    Likewise, things in our life can be strong in one moment but then fragile the next. Nothing will be constant and permanent. The short-lived life span of a blooming flower is a melancholic yet beautiful metaphor for the transience of our human existence in which people feel a strong sentiment with.   It is a stark difference from the Western sentiment where people tend to seek for and worship something more “permanent”. 

Yet, the Japanese attraction to what is “impermanent” and the passion to capture awed “moments of beauty”, isn’t necessarily pessimistic.   Rather, there is an optimism and peace that can be gained when you accept the impermanent nature of life.  

Calamities often happen for no reason. You may question why but may never get a good answer.  We suffer as your wish is dispelled and your hope crushed. But the fact is that we can put ourselves in any frame of mind and resign ourselves to a bigger fabric of life. When accepting the impermanent nature of our lives and not struggling against it, there is harmony with reality.    

Tich Nhat Hanh said (Quote) “It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.” (Unquote)   I believe that life's impermanence is what makes each moment so precious. It's what makes us realize that it is important to stay in the present moment and fully appreciate it as this very moment is the only one you know you have for certain.   

And good news is that, as Nhat Hanh continues, we have the ability, “to make each moment an occasion to live deeply, happily and in peace. If you are capable of living deeply in one moment of your life, you can learn to live the same way in all the other moments of your life.”



Spencer Lane