Note: the blue italics indicates the teacher, in black other participants.

Permanence versus Impermanence

(To N.) Do you manage to stay centered?

Not always.

And what happens when you’re not centered?

There are tensions and fears that arise.

What is the essential fear?

The essential fear is to be unloved, it seems to me.

What could I do to make you feel unloved?

For example, you could tell me not to come back, or that I do not belong here.

And what would allow you to welcome this without feeling unloved?

I would like to remain in body consciousness. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it switches, I do not know why.

And how do you know that it works, when it works?

There is an opening, a relaxation, as if I fell on my knees and said, “Okay.”

Relaxation, surrender, capitulation?

Capitulation, yes!

And how long can this capitulation last?

Few minutes.

And after that, something happens that “decapitulates” you?

Yes! It is the desire for it to be “once and for all.” I know this is a recurring issue. I would like to make the capitulation last in time, instead of its rising from moment to moment.

It is a desire?

Yes, it is the desire that is lasts forever, and that there is only a one-time effort to be made! (Laughs)

Are you ready to sacrifice that? To decapitate that?


Is there anyone else here for whom it was a topic at some point?

(Several) Yes!

(adressing C.) And for you?

Oh yes! (Laughs) How many times I said, “Ah, that’s it, I have it, it’s good” and then two days later, it was over. For years I was convinced that it would last forever. But now this desire is no longer there. One day I realized that the desire for permanence is not true, is not real. It was weariness and fatigue that made me realize that. I simply do not have the energy to maintain that desire for permanence.

I feel that it changed when I realized that the necessary suffering was to be welcomed also in the smallest things, and not only in the big pieces. It has created a welcoming relay from small welcoming to small welcoming, and finally it dissolved. I have long believed that the welcoming of necessary suffering had to do with great disturbances. But as those did not occur anymore, then I realized that the little things remained, to be taken one after the other.

Mishaps, constraints.

Yes. Necessary suffering is also fuel for transformation. The vision changes: the obstacle becomes an opportunity, instead of being an impediment. It helps us to grow up and we no longer seek to get rid of it.

And it creates a relaxation, there is no longer this invading desire.

It’s a huge relief, yes.

The realization is outside of time, while permanence is in time. So, permanence is necessarily at the level of identity.

This desire for permanence is an extraordinarily fine trap.

Can you imagine not having this desire anymore?


And what does it confront you to when you no longer have this desire?

To fluidity. I realize that my desire for permanence exists even in small things: I think, for example, to the housework which must be done again and again. Desiring permanence is resisting the flow, it goes against life.

Yes, because life is a continuum, it is change, always new and unpredictable. The desire for permanence is clearly against life.

It is one of the foundations of identity.

It is more than a foundation, it is almost the definition of identity. Identity means: that which does not change, that is permanent. Identity is what I can perpetuate by saying: it is me, it is always there, it has always been there, and it will always be there.

That is why impermanence is so important in traditions.

For me, the image that you used at the beginning of the week illustrates this: that of a wheel that spins, where the important thing is to check from time to time that it is spinning, and if necessary to give a small impetus to keep it spinning. It is not a matter of going from point A to point B, the goal is not to arrive somewhere!

That is what is very subtle, because in order for the wheel to continue to spin permanently, we must remain in impermanence. It requires a lot of strength and a certain degree of maturity. Obviously, it is the welcoming of the necessary suffering that gives this strength, this energy.