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Trains and the Buddhist principle of impermanence

July 17, 2021  ·  2 min read

Imagine you are traveling on a train through the rural parts of India. Apart from the fields and beautiful views for the most part, the following two common sights are that of shacks and railway crossings. As we pass an intersection, I either mindlessly stare outside or look at everything around me, including the faces we are passing by. Ones that we may never see again. Even as a person standing outside this marvelous mode of transport, thinking about trains and how they come and go so quickly is just as fascinating.

The two points of view - that of a passenger and a spectator - remind me of the Buddhist principle of impermanence, where everything in life is constantly changing, and nothing is permanent. Even something as grand and impressive as a train is also subject to this. Despite this, trains are crucial in connecting people and places, providing transportation essential to our society.

Whenever I’ve encountered people that are difficult to deal with, I always remind myself of this. I’m on my train, on this beautiful journey, with no idea what stops I will make. And this person is like one of those I see on certain intersections or fields I cross. The moment my train crosses this place, they are in the past, and I’m taking in other sights. But this isn’t just about reassurance when encountering people who probably have underlying, fixable issues.

I’ve always thought that it is essential to cherish each moment and make the most of our time, knowing that everything is temporary and subject to change. That means the best thing to do when we are around good people is to make the best of those beats. As the saying goes,

“This too shall pass.”

We often forget that the memories, relationships, and immaterial things we have taken time to build; stay with us longer and sometimes for our entire lifetime. So whatever good is in front of us, we should relish those moments and cherish the people in them.