Change As Seen By Zen


Zen, like Hinayanism, does not deny the doctrine of Transience, but

it has come to a view diametrically opposite to that of the Hindus.

Transience for Zen simply means change. It is a form in which life

manifests itself. Where there is life there is change or Transience.

Where there is more change there is more vital activity. Suppose an

absolutely changeless body: it must be absolutely lifeless. An

eternally chan
eless life is equivalent to an eternally changeless

death. Why do we value the morning glory, which fades in a few

hours, more than an artificial glass flower, which endures hundreds

of years? Why do we prefer an animal life, which passes away in a

few scores of years, to a vegetable life, which can exist thousands

of years? Why do we prize changing organism more than inorganic

matter, unchanging and constant? If there be no change in the bright

hues of a flower, it is as worthless as a stone. If there be no

change in the song of a bird, it is as valueless as a whistling wind.

If there be no change in trees and grass, they are utterly

unsuitable to be planted in a garden. Now, then, what is the use of

our life, if it stand still? As the water of a running stream is

always fresh and wholesome because it does not stop for a moment, so

life is ever fresh and new because it does not stand still, but

rapidly moves on from parents to children, from children to

grandchildren, from grandchildren to great-grandchildren, and flows

on through generation after generation, renewing itself ceaselessly.

We can never deny the existence of old age and death--nay, death is

of capital importance for a continuation of life, because death

carries away all the decaying organism in the way of life. But for

it life would be choked up with organic rubbish. The only way of

life's pushing itself onward or its renewing itself is its producing

of the young and getting rid of the old. If there be no old age nor

death, life is not life, but death.