We Are Flows of Matter

All matter flows, just like water. And just like the water in a rain-forest stream, when seen over a long enough period of time, all flows of matter will create a seemingly static form.

We as human beings are also flows. We take in matter from the outside world in food, water and air. At this moment, there are molecules in the world far away that we have not yet eaten, but that someday will flow into our bodies. This matter will temporarily become part of us and take part in the activity of our mind before flowing back out through the death of bodily cells.

Every moment a stream is made of different molecules of water, the molecules of our bodies similarly change but over many years. The only difference is the time scale. Fundamentally everything is a flow of matter.

Matter flows through us continuously, chaotically, constantly churning and changing, just like water flowing through a stream.

Yet when seen over a long period of time, we temporarily create static forms, just like these streams when seen from a long enough period of time.

Look at the growth of a baby. It is born weighing 7 lbs and soon it weighs 14 lbs. Where did those extra pounds of matter come from? Where were those pounds of matter a few months ago? Matter traveled from far away, to be consumed by the mother and passed on to the child, giving him the raw materials to construct himself.

We are not static

The forms we create are not truly static however. From moment to moment we feel stable, but there is change occurring deep inside us nonetheless. It all depends on the time scale we look at.

From day to day there may not be enough change in our form. The flow of matter through us is slow. But from month to month, or year to year, the change is obvious.

This shows the lack of a permanent self. We compromise no permanent physical reality. We are chaos and change, meandering through a landscape of chaos and change, with just enough order to give our lives some continuity, freedom and meaning.

Change creates experience

Without change, we would experience nothing. If we were truly static and permanent, we would not feel the sense of existing. If we didn’t change, there would be nothing for us to sense.

It is our constant change that we sense. Our minds are never still, just like our bodies are never still. It is this change from moment to moment that we experience and that lets us know we are alive.

This is why life is bittersweet. In order to be alive, we must change. Change can create fear as we feel ourselves slipping away. But without this change, we would already be dead.

Even in the afterlife we will die

Change is also why it is silly to wish for an afterlife. In order to experience an afterlife, we would need to change. And if we change, the ‘self’ will die from moment to moment and be continuously reborn as a new ‘self’.

If your soul lives on for 10,000 years, what relationship could it possibly have to ‘you’ right now? In order for you to feel anything, you must feel change. That means that after 10,000 years, you will be much different than you are now. Just look at the change in you over the last 20 years!

So no matter what, whatever you are right now will not live on, even if you do have an eternal soul. You will change, so don’t worry too much about the future. You will not live to see it.

Rodrigo Etcheto