The Constancy of Change: Heraclitus

Written by Daniel Seeker

Feb 8, 2023

You have probably heard the statement, “Everything flows” or perhaps “You can’t step into the same river twice”.

Both are statements attributed to the great philosopher and mystic Heraclitus of Ephesus. If one ploughs through the surviving fragments that we have from Heraclitus, one sees clearly after a short while that Heraclitus’ philosophy is very much centred around change.

Those two fragments mentioned above are definite pointers to what Heraclitus considered to be an important aspect of nature and the universe. Everything is constantly changing from one form into another, and this is a fundamental truth underlying the material world.

Time and change become so to say the “masters of the known” universe.

If change is the only constant, everything else is subject to it. Time and change become so to say the “masters of the known” universe. The only permanence is that things are ever changing, morphing into another form.

Heraclitus is also known for proposing an Arche just like his contemporary natural philosophers; the arche of choice for Heraclitus was fire. According to Heraclitus, “everything was exchangeable for fire and fire for everything.” The nature of fire is also such that it is a ever changing process, it is always in flux, just like a river would be.

Though it isn’t really sure if Heraclitus really believed actual fire to be the Arche, the actual primal matter of nature, one can be quite sure that at least what fire symbolized for Heraclitus, namely change and transformation could be seen as his vision of the Arche. Perhaps it was more of a principle than something material, tangible and objective.

The principle that governed the universe.

Relevant Quotations

Nothing endures but change.
Heraclitus (Quoted by Diogenes Laertius in Lives of the Philosophers)

No man ever steps in the same river twice.
Heraclitus (On the Universe – Fragment 41)

Everything flows, nothing stands still.
Heraclitus (Quoted by Plato in Craytulus)

The sun is new every day.
Heraclitus (On the Universe – Fragment 6)

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was and will be: an ever-living fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.
Heraclitus (On the Universe – Fragment 20)

Contemplations

My own humble thoughts on change and the constancy of it, from a seeker/mystic perspective, is that the idea of change being the only unchanging is indeed a powerful and intuitively true statement.

A statement which made me think of a little meditative experiment to share with you, namely:

Try to tell me, show me, demonstrate to me anything that isn’t touched by time and change in the phenomenal world or in your experience of it.

In other words can you find anything in your entire life experience that hasn’t been touched by time?

Let us begin with looking outward, I can’t be sure of exactly how your own unique experience of reality is, but for me I myself can’t find any one single thing that isn’t touched by change, transformation and time, everything seems to constantly be moving, changing, morphing, in flux.

There seems no inherent stability with the phenomenal world, the only stable is that it is unstable, to paraphrase Heraclitus.

That being said, when looking inwardly, initially one is presented with the same situation, namely that all seems to be changing. All thoughts, feelings, ideas, dreams, hopes, fears, pains, pleasures, joys and sadness’ seem to be coming and going.

As I said, this is only the initial impression of ones meditative and contemplative endeavour to look within. When one becomes sufficiently aware and open to ones own essential existential nature, one for the first time in ones life, comes upon THAT. That which is the womb of existence itself, that which time is born from, that which is the unchanging prior to the changing.

The eternal.
The Supreme.

I sense that it is precisely here where the lanes are switched, from mere philosophy to profound understanding of spirit.


How to Merge the Mind with the Body

There’s something peculiar going on with us human beings. Some would call it an evolutionary misstep, others would call it a necessary springboard to higher states of consciousness. What am I talking about? Self-awareness of course. We’re self-aware in ways...

3 Ingenious Ways to Quiet an Overthinking Mind

Can you silence your overthinking and noisy mind? That voice in your head that's always rambling on and on. You're aware of that voice I'm guessing. A voice that claims to be you but is it really? When it comes to silencing this mental noise, some would say yes that...

How to Live Life With Childlike Wonder as an Adult

Something happens when we grow up. The vast majority of us lose touch with the wonder and mystery that permeates life when we are children. Childhood is a time when the brain and mind is new to this realm of physical reality. Where just about each turn you make is...

How to Enter the Flow State (7 Meditative Tips)

Meditation and flow, some would argue two sides of the same coin. Whether that is true or not is up for grabs but what I've personally experienced is that by being meditatively aware of yourself and your surroundings you prime yourself to become more in tune with the...

Epicurus: 35 Powerful Quotes by the Greek Philosopher

Epicurus (341-270 BCE) was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded the influential Epicurean school of philosophy. A philosophy whose main goal was the attainment of happiness and tranquility of mind, mainly through the absence of pain and fear, through the...

<a href="https://nirvanic.co/author/seeker/" target="_self">Daniel Seeker</a>

Daniel Seeker

Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish, creator of Nirvanic and a lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings and his online course are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel has studied history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *