lol, well so long as we're talking Buddhism, I guess we can talk shop... When the Buddha was asked what he taught, he answered "suffering and the end of suffering." There's a reason for this. The teaching of anicca/impermanence is simply meant to help you gain balance in the face of a world in which everything is constantly coming together and falling apart. When people from a Judeo-Christian background approach these teachings, they often regard them as things they have to believe. Instead, all of Buddhist teaching should be seen as a heuristic. In the oft-misquoted Kalama Sutta, the Buddha gives the criteria by which philosophical teaching should be judged: does it improve the quality of your life or sense of well-being, or not? People often wonder why in this teaching the Buddha said even logic shouldn't be a criteria. It wasn't because he didn't believe in critical thought. It was simply because it was irrelevant -- these weren't ideas that you were meant to adopt. They were prescriptions were meant to experiment with. They're strategies you're meant to play with in your life. That's all. There's no belief or truth that you need to defend.
Originally Posted by lungs
The very first thing that the Buddha ever taught after reaching enlightenment wasn't the Four Noble Truths or the Three Marks of Existence. It was the Middle Way. It's definitely possible to take any of these teaching to an extreme. As modern-day secular humanists, it's best to come to your own definition of what the extremes of self-mortification and self-indulgence are. Although the Buddha left the yogis who put themselves through physical torture in favor of something less... masochistic, he was still working within the sramanic culture of ancient India; basically, an entire phenomenon of homeless mendicants who had given up worldly life to devote themselves to achieving liberation. This obviously isn't very appealing to us today. It would probably feel quite radical for anyone in a Western nation to drop out of society and devote themselves to spiritual freedom. But the baby in the bathwater about this impermanence stuff is not about self-annihilation or cauterizing yourself (as dolphin beautifully described her impression of Buddhist practice to me a while back). It can certainly be interpreted that way, and a lot of Buddhists do in fact get into this OCD cycle of trying to eradicate all attachment to the world. But really impermanence is simply about acknowledging the real extent of our control. I like the way Pema Chodron describes this:
Impermanence is the goodness of reality. Just as the four seasons are in continual flux, winter changing to spring to summer to autumn; just as day becomes night, light becoming dark becoming light again—in the same way, everything is constantly evolving. Impermanence is the essence of everything. It is babies becoming children, then teenagers, then adults, then old people, and somewhere along the way dropping dead. Impermanence is meeting and parting. It’s falling in love and falling out of love. Impermanence is bittersweet, like buying a new shirt and years later finding it as part of a patchwork quilt.
People have no respect for impermanence. We take no de*light in it; in fact, we despair of it. We regard it as pain. We try to resist it by making things that will last—forever, we say—things that we don’t have to wash, things that we don’t have to iron. Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.
Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. Many cultures celebrate this connectedness. There are ceremonies marking all the transitions of life from birth to death, as well as meetings and partings, going into battle, losing the battle, and winning the battle. We too could acknowledge, respect, and celebrate impermanence.
So if this teaching helps you -- if it helps you become freer, more aware, more compassionate, more happy in your life -- then use it. If it causes you anxiety, or if you find yourself trying to shoehorn it into your life, let it go.