If you place a large block of ice out in the open sun, you can see it deteriorate — in the same way the body ages — bit by bit, bit by bit. After only a few minutes, only a few hours, it will all melt into water. This is called khaya-vaya: ending, deterioration.
The deterioration of fabricated things has been going on for a long time, ever since the world came into being. When we’re born, we take on these things as well. We don’t discard them anywhere. When we’re born, we take on illness, aging, and death. We gather them up at the same time.
Look at the ways it deteriorates, this body of ours. Every part deteriorates. Hair of the head deteriorates; hair of the body deteriorates; fingernails and toenails deteriorate; skin deteriorates. Everything, no matter what, deteriorates in line with its nature.
“In Simple Terms: 108 Dhamma Similes”, by Ajahn Chah
translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 2 November 2013