There are these two spirits in the world
The perishable and the imperishable.
All beings are the perishable
The unchanging is called Imperishable.
– B.G Verse XV.16
This sloka from the Bhagavad Gita reminds me of how similar the process of our lives is to the process of rotting and decaying of foods. Krishna tells Arjuna (the warrior) that there are basically two aspects of the self: that which is subject to change, and that which never changes. All beings are perishable (we come to this world, we age and we die), but the essence of each being is imperishable (the soul never dies).
Think about a banana as it stays on your kitchen counter for 3 days; it gets brown spots on the outside, and the inside becomes mushy and starts to smell. Eventually if you leave the banana out for too many days, it will rot. Basically any food you leave out of the fridge eventually starts to deteriorate and decay. Just like food, most things in life are perishable too, meaning that they exist in a specific shape and form in one moment, and then the next moment they change. Matter is always subject to change and transformation: relationships end, relatives pass away, we switch jobs, and what we thought we liked one moment, we no longer do the next.
However, we strive to turn the perishable into imperishable. We want to marry things and put rings on imaginary fingers in hope that things will stay the same forever.
Food scientists are constantly finding ways to make food LAST LONGER; they add chemicals and preservatives to foods in order to extend their shelf life, but as we all know these additives actually harm our health and at the end of the day do more harm than good. It’s our obsession with converting the perishable into everlasting/immortal which ultimately leads us astray and into disease.
We spend way to much time, energy, and money trying to make our life an undying everlasting one, something that in essence is impossible to do
We have gotten used to going through the motions of our day, half spacing out, half being here, and for the most part we are just trying to keep it together and the SAME. We want an eternal nice delicious ride, which truly doesn’t ever really teach us anything about ourselves. We miss the details, the nudges, and reminders that pop up in our life; we miss the taps on the back that evolution kindly gives us all the time, basically pushing us to GROW UP.
We are stubborn and want to extend pleasant experiences as much as we can so that in a way we can freeze them– if we could find a way to inject moments with genes that would genetically modify them to last longer, I bet we would.
Ultimately, imperishability cannot be found in external life: in people (even if we love them with all our hearts), in foods, in jobs, in money, or in places; all of these come and go and transform.
Imperishability can only come from within. That is, imperishability only lives deep inside the core of our being.
Take a moment in your day to practice a 5 minute meditation, following these steps:
Take a comfortable seat and locate yourself in your body.
Sitting up tall, close your eyes.
The body will try to take you here and there, and thoughts will try to take you everywhere, but see if from that seat of the self, you can watch over the body and the mind, rather than follow their lead. See if you can step back and simply watch over the fluctuations without getting carried away by the movements of the body and the mind. Stay with the resolve to just watch.
If you get hooked or pulled into the dialogue of the mind, take a deep breath in through the nostrils, and exhale out any agitations, tensions, fears, heaviness, dullness..
Find an inner stillness; an inner steadiness in the face of all that moves and changes.
Notice your awareness spreading.
Silently repeat to yourself LET on the inhale, GO on the exhale.
Inhale LET, exhale GO
Continue to do this until you can maybe even let go of letting go.
DRAWINGS: Jenny Chiehying Lo