In the heart of the silent forest, there stands an ancient tree. If you were to ask it about time, it would remain still, its branches swaying to the tune of the wind, its leaves rustling softly. It speaks of time not with words but with its very existence. The tree has seen seasons change, watched as creatures of the forest came and went, and yet, it too will one day become part of the earth from which it grew.
The illusion of permanence is deeply rooted in the human mind. Like the morning mist that seems solid from afar, but disperses as one draws near, so too is the nature of everything around us. We construct stories and monuments, thinking they will withstand the test of time, but both stories and stone will eventually fade.
Look at the mountains, which seem unyielding and permanent. Yet, each moment, they are eroding, changing shape, becoming rivers, then oceans, then clouds. Everything is in a state of constant flux, every atom moving, every cell dividing, every star burning. There is nothing that remains unchanged. The sun that rises today is not the same as the one that rose yesterday, though it may appear to be so.
Why then, do humans clutch so tightly to the idea of permanence? It is because the mind seeks security. In the ever-changing world, it desires something stable, something that promises continuity. It is the nature of the ego to resist the impermanence of life, to build walls around itself, to create distinctions and boundaries. But these boundaries are imagined, mere shadows on the wall of existence.
Let’s ponder a drop of water on a lotus leaf. It glimmers under the sun, a perfect sphere reflecting the vastness of the sky. For a moment, it seems as though it will stay forever. But as the day heats, the droplet evaporates, leaving no trace behind. Was it ever truly there? Was it separate from the vast waters from which it came or the sky it reflected?
So too are we. Our essence is not separate from the universe. The belief in our individual permanence is but an illusion. The body we inhabit, the thoughts we hold, the emotions we feel — all are fleeting. Yet there is something that remains unchanged, ungraspable, and ever-present. Some call it the Tao, others the Universal Consciousness, and yet others, the Eternal Now.
To truly understand the illusion of permanence, one must sit silently, letting go of all attachments, all concepts, all desires. In this silence, the vastness of existence reveals itself. One realizes that life and death, creation and destruction, are but two sides of the same coin. There is no beginning or end, only an eternal dance of energies, merging and parting, in a cosmic rhythm.
In the face of such vastness, what is one to do? Simply be. Embrace the transient nature of existence, celebrate the beauty of the moment, and let go of the need to hold onto anything. For in the end, all that remains is the pure, unchanging essence, the eternal witness to the play of the universe.
Remember the ancient tree in the heart of the forest. Its wisdom is not in its age, but in its ability to be fully present in each moment, to sway with the wind, to let go of its leaves when the time comes, and to stand tall and rooted in the face of impermanence. For in embracing impermanence, we touch the eternal.
Stefan Hyttfors Keynote ILLUSION OF PERMANENCE will guide you to tackle the unknown and embrace uncertainty.