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Reading the book Afterzen, I was reminded of some insights I'd once had but since forgotten, those of impermanence. Specifically concerning the amount of energy we invest in life, in ourselves and our personalities, in our likes and dislikes and all the things that differentiate us from others.
Underlying this process of becoming, of arising and ceasing, is a void. Everything is empty. Empty of permanence. Empty of stability. Empty of selfness. Little births. Little deaths. We cling to the ephemeral and it causes us suffering because the very nature of phenomena is itself change, inconstancy. That doesn't mean we shouldn't put forth effort towards what brings ourselves and others happiness. But in the end, even these things are but globs of foam floating down the Ganges. To hold onto them is like trying to hold onto a mirage, empty, void, and without substance.
Life is substanceless. Happiness is ultimately found in letting go, not in holding on. But for some reason, even though I know this, I still can't loosen my grip. Or rather, the more I let go with one hand, the tighter I seem to grasp with the other. It all seems so counterintuitive, so against the flow; and the truth is, I don't think I want to let go just yet. But I guess that's the dilemma most of us face, isn't it?