Annica – Impermanent, Ephemeral, Changing

Anicca – Impermanent, Ephemeral, Changing

If any of you have ever been on a Vipassana meditation retreat, this is a word that you have heard S.N. Goenka crooning as early as 4:30 am: “Anicca, anicca, anicca…….” (sounds like a-nate-cha).

For those of you not familiar, anicca is an ancient Pali word that means everything is ever-changing, impermanent, ephemeral, etc. Although in our logical brains we may realize this to be true, something within our body/mind/heart connection does not want to accept this fact. We crave things to be unchanging, but they always change, and so we ‘suffer’.

Anicca is true. This becomes more obvious when we lose someone unexpectedly.

I had an amazing 3-week trip in Burma where internet access was slow and sporadic, hence making it a facebook free holiday. Upon my return to Chiang Mai, I learned that my friend Azriel Cohen had passed away. There is no doubt I will miss him. He has been mentioned on this blog before and is the person responsible for the hilarious Thai Nicknames videos. (Click on the link to watch the video.)

I last ran into him on Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai, days before I went to Burma and a week before he died. We had a funny, friendly, and interesting conversation. He was ill and had a gravelly voice, but was in good spirits. Maybe he was sicker than he thought. Our enjoyable evening walk and discussion about dogs, ceramics, Thai language, and upcoming travels gave me some type of closure.

Maybe it’s from living over a year in this Buddhist country, maybe it’s the result of meditation, maybe it’s just a realization, but somehow I feel like I am coming to understand the principle of annica. Life and death. Ebb and flow. Impermanence. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, but rather is the acceptance that death indeed is part of life…as much as we might not like it.

Shalom to you Azriel. As for the rest of us, anicca, anicca, anicca.


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