305 A BURMESE ENCHANTMENT.
Irrawaddy passes on towards the sea. The great silent pagodas decay slowly throughout the land. Burma is changing. So are its people. It is all inevitable. It is the Law. We know that men die and fall to dust, that solid continents like Atlanta leave only a misty legend behind them. We know that civilisations climb up out of barbarism very slowly, only to plunge back into barbarism again, leaving nothing behind but a litter of pottery. Perhaps even now we may be watching a like catastrophe. Gods and men, mountains and monuments are all subject to the law of Impermanence.
This is a fact that Buddhists never forget. They do not remember it only in rare, reflective moments. It is a fact always before them. They repeat it over and over again every daya" all things are subject to Sorrow and Impermanence." Buddhism itself is subject to the same law, and the period of its existence is said to be only five thousand years. Only the Law itself, which existed before Buddha revealed it, is immortal. It does not matter now whether the " first cause " was good or evil. The Buddha himself taught that search into the past is futile. It is only the future that matters now. We pass into it free, except for the fetters of our own deeds.
The whole atmosphere of Burma is steeped in this idea Af Impermanence. Even the pagodas are eloquent of it ui their decay. How tarnished and ruined they are, and the men who built them are dead and forgotten. How