Hour after hour, day
After day we try
To grasp the Ungraspable, pinpoint
The Unpredictable. Flowers
Wither when touched, ice
Suddenly cracks beneath our feet. Vainly
We try to track birdflight through the sky trace
Dumb fish through deep water, try
To anticipate the earned smile the soft
Try to grasp our own lives. But Life
Slips through our fingers
Like snow. Life
Cannot belong to us. We
Belong to Life. Life
Sangharakshita, “Life is King”, from Complete Poems 1941-1994, published by Windhorse Publications.
The Buddha taught us always to remember impermanence: the ever-changing, coming and going, never-quite-certain nature of things.
He knew that if we really took the teaching of impermanence to heart, then almost everything else he taught would become obvious. We’d realise that although things of the world can give pleasure, they don’t last and don’t lead to deeper fulfilment. We might start questioning how much they are worth the hurry and hassle we put into getting them. We’d understand that we cannot grasp at life; it slips though our fingers like snow. We’d see that life cannot belong to us. We belong to life. Life is King.
And if we can live with life as King, we become more alive, more real, and more opened-out to the world, aware of its beauty and of other people in it. We see that nothing – in the end – belongs to us. We just borrow things for a while, and then we have to return them. We borrow from the earth, the seas, and the sun. Each breath we take is a borrowing and giving back.
This short booklet is about one way of remembering impermanence, and of being aware of how we’ve borrowed and will one day give back. It is about making a will; reflecting on the things that we own and what we’d like to do with them after we’re gone.
We may have loved ones we’ll want to care for. We may have good causes in the world we’d like to support. We may belong to communities that we want to help grow and prosper. Making a will is important. It can also be an inspiring and liberating spiritual practice in its own right. It is another way of thinking about what most matters to you, and reflecting on letting-go, giving-up, passing-on. The next few pages give you the information you need to make a will, and ask you to consider leaving a gift in your will to the Triratna Buddhist Community.