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TheThreeBasicFactsofExistence:I.Impermanence(Anicca)

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TheThreeBasicFactsofExistence
I.Impermanence(Anicca)
withaprefaceby

NyanaponikaThera
2006
SeealsoTheThreeBasicFactsofExistenceIII:Egolessness(Anattaa),TheWheelPublicationNo.202/203/204

Contents
Preface
Motto
WordsoftheBuddha
TheFactofImpermanence(PiyadassiThera)
Aniccam:TheBuddhistTheoryofImpermanence(Bhikkhuanajivako)
AWalkintheWoods(PhraKhantipalo)
TheBuddhistDoctrineofAnicca(Impermanence)(Y.Karunadasa)
Anicca(Impermanence)AccordingtoTheravada(Bhikkhuanamoli)

Preface
Ifwecontemplateevenaminutesectorofthevastrangeoflife,wearefacedwithsuch
atremendousvarietyoflife'smanifestationsthatitdefeatsdescription.Andyetthree
basicstatementscanbemadethatarevalidforallanimateexistence,fromthemicrobe
uptothecreativemindofahumangenius.Thesefeaturescommontoalllifewerefirst
foundandformulatedover2500yearsagobytheBuddha,whowasrightlycalled
"KnoweroftheWorlds"(lokavidu).TheyaretheThreeCharacteristics(tilakkha.na)of
allthatisconditioned,i.e.,dependentlyarisen.InEnglishrenderings,theyarealso
sometimescalledSigns,Signata,orMarks.
Thesethreebasicfactsofallexistenceare:
1.ImpermanenceorChange(anicca)
2.SufferingorUnsatisfactoriness(dukkha)
3.NotselforInsubstantiality(anattaa).
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Thefirstandthethirdapplytoinanimateexistenceaswell,whilethesecond(suffering)
is,ofcourse,onlyanexperienceoftheanimate.Theinanimate,however,canbe,and
veryoftenis,acauseofsufferingforlivingbeings:forinstance,afallingstonemay
causeinjuryorlossofpropertymaycausementalpain.Inthatsense,thethreeare
commontoallthatisconditioned,eventowhatisbeloworbeyondthenormalrangeof
humanperception.
Existencecanbeunderstoodonlyifthesethreebasicfactsarecomprehended,andthis
notonlylogically,butinconfrontationwithone'sownexperience.Insightwisdom
(vipassanaapa~n~naa)whichistheultimateliberatingfactorinBuddhism,consists
justofthisexperienceofthethreecharacteristicsappliedtoone'sownbodilyand
mentalprocesses,anddeepenedandmaturedinmeditation.
To"seethingsastheyreallyare"meansseeingthemconsistentlyinthelightofthe
threecharacteristics.Ignoranceofthesethree,orselfdeceptionaboutthem,isbyitself
apotentcauseforsufferingbyknitting,asitwere,thenetoffalsehopes,of
unrealisticandharmfuldesires,offalseideologies,falsevaluesandaimsoflife,inwhich
maniscaught.Ignoringordistortingthesethreebasicfactscanonlyleadtofrustration,
disappointment,anddespair.
Hence,fromapositiveaswellasanegativeangle,thisteachingontheThreeBasic
FactsofExistenceisofsuchvitalimportancethatitwasthoughtdesirabletoaddhere
morematerialtothosebriefexpositionsthathadalreadyappearedinthisseries.
BeginningwiththepresentvolumeonImpermanence,eachoftheThreeCharacteristics
willreceiveseparatetreatmentbydifferentauthorsandfromdifferentangles,witha
greatvarietyofapproach.
EachofthesethreepublicationswillbeconcludedbyanessayofthelateVenerable
anamoliThera,inwhichallimportantcanonicalsourcematerialontherespective
Characteristiciscollected,systematized,anddiscussed.Theseterselywrittenarticles
meritclosestudyandwillbefoundveryhelpfulintheanalyticalaswellasmeditative
approachtothesubject.Regrettably,theprematuredeathofthevenerableauthor
preventedhimfromwritingafourtharticleplannedbyhim,whichwastodealwiththe
interrelationoftheThreeCharacteristics.
ThesethreearticlesoftheVenerableanamoliwereoriginallywrittenforthe
EncyclopaediaofBuddhism,andthefirstone,onAnicca,appearedinVolumeI,p.657ff.,
ofthatwork.Forkindpermissiontoreproducethesearticles,theBuddhistPublication
SocietyismuchobligedtotheEditorinChiefoftheEncyclopaedia,Dr.G.P.
Malalasekera,andtothepublishers,theDepartmentofCulturalAffairs,Colombo.
Nyanaponika.

Motto
WhateverISwillbeWAS.
Bhikkhuanamoli
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Bhikkhuanamoli

Thedecisivelycharacteristicthingaboutthisworldisitstransience.Inthis
sense,centurieshavenoadvantageoverthepresentmoment.Thusthe
continuityoftransiencecannotgiveanyconsolationthefactthatlifeblossoms
amongruinsprovesnotsomuchthetenacityoflifeasthatofdeath.
FranzKafka

WordsoftheBuddha
Theperceivingofimpermanence,bhikkhus,developedandfrequentlypracticed,
removesallsensualpassion,removesallpassionformaterialexistence,
removesallpassionforbecoming,removesallignorance,removesandabolishes
allconceitof"Iam."
Justasintheautumnafarmer,plowingwithalargeplow,cutsthroughallthe
spreadingrootletsasheplowsinthesameway,bhikkhus,theperceivingof
impermanence,developedandfrequentlypracticed,removesallsensual
passion...removesandabolishesallconceitof"Iam."
SN22.102

Itwouldbebetter,bhikkhus,ifanuninstructedordinarypersonregardedthis
body,madeofthefourgreatelements,ashimselfratherthanthemind.Forwhat
reason?Thisbodyisseentocontinueforayear,fortwoyears,fiveyears,ten
years,twentyyears,fiftyyears,ahundredyears,andevenmore.Butofthat
whichiscalledmind,iscalledthought,iscalledconsciousness,onemoment
arisesandceasesasanothercontinuallybothdayandnight.
SN12.61

TheFactofImpermanence
byPiyadassiThera
"Impermanent,subjecttochange,arecomponentthings.Striveonwithheedfulness!"
ThiswasthefinaladmonitionoftheBuddhaGotamatohisdisciples.
AndwhentheBuddhahadpassedaway,Sakka,thechiefofthedeities,utteredthe
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following:

Impermanentareallcomponentthings,
Theyariseandcease,thatistheirnature:
Theycomeintobeingandpassaway,
Releasefromthemisblisssupreme.
Aniccaavatasa"nkhaaraauppaadavayadhammino
Uppajjitvaanirujjhantitesa.mvuupasamosukho.
MahaaParinibbaanaSutta(DN16)[1]

Evenuptopresenttimes,ateveryBuddhistfuneralinTheravadacountries,thisvery
PaliverseisrecitedbytheBuddhistmonkswhoperformtheobsequies,thusreminding
thecongregationoftheevanescentnatureoflife.
ItisacommonsightinBuddhistlandstoseethedevoteesofferflowersandlightoil
lampsbeforeaBuddhaimage.TheyarenotprayingtotheBuddhaortoany
"supernaturalbeing."Theflowersthatfadeandtheflamesthatdiedown,speaktothem
oftheimpermanencyofallconditionedthings.
ItisthissingleandsimplewordImpermanence(anicca)whichistheverycoreofthe
Buddha'steaching,beingalsothebasisfortheothertwocharacteristicsofexistence,
SufferingandNoself.ThefactofImpermanencemeansthatrealityisneverstaticbutis
dynamicthroughout,andthisthemodernscientistsarerealizingtobethebasicnature
oftheworldwithoutanyexception.Inhisteachingofdynamicreality,theBuddhagave
usthemasterkeytoopenanydoorwewish.Themodernworldisusingthesame
masterkey,butonlyformaterialachievements,andisopeningdoorafterdoorwith
amazingsuccess.
Changeorimpermanenceistheessentialcharacteristicofallphenomenalexistence.We
cannotsayofanything,animateorinanimate,organicorinorganic,"thisislasting"for
evenwhilewearesayingthis,itwouldbeundergoingchange.Allisfleetingthebeauty
offlowers,thebird'smelody,thebee'shum,andasunset'sglory.
Supposeyourselfgazingonagorgeoussunset.Thewholewesternheavensare
glowingwithroseatehuesbutyouareawarethatwithinhalfanhourallthese
glorioustintswillhavefadedawayintoadullashengray.Youseethemeven
nowmeltingawaybeforeyoureyes,althoughyoureyescannotplacebeforeyou
theconclusionwhichyourreasondraws.Andwhatconclusionisthat?That
conclusionisthatyounever,evenfortheshortesttimethatcanbenamedor
conceived,seeanyabidingcolor,anycolorwhichtrulyis.Withinthemillionth
partofasecondthewholegloryofthepaintedheavenshasundergonean
incalculableseriesofmutations.Oneshadeissupplantedbyanotherwitha
rapiditywhichsetsallmeasurementsatdefiance,butbecausetheprocessis
onetowhichnomeasurementsapply,...reasonrefusestolayanarrestmenton
anyperiodofthepassingscene,ortodeclarethatitis,becauseintheveryact
ofbeingitisnotithasgivenplacetosomethingelse.Itisaseriesoffleeting
colors,nooneofwhichis,becauseeachofthemcontinuallyvanishesinanother.
Ferrier'sLecturesandRemainsVol.I,p.119,quotedinSarvadorsana
Sangraha,London,p.15
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Sangraha,London,p.15

Allcomponentthingsthatis,allthingswhichariseastheeffectofcauses,andwhich
inturngiverisetoeffectscanbecrystallizedinthesinglewordanicca,
impermanence.Alltones,therefore,arejustvariationsstruckonthechordwhichis
madeupofimpermanence,suffering(unsatisfactoriness),andnoselfnorsoulanicca,
dukkha,andanattaa.
Camouflaged,thesethreecharacteristicsoflifeprevailinthisworlduntilasupremely
EnlightenedOnerevealstheirtruenature.Itistoproclaimthesethreecharacteristics
andhowthroughcompleterealizationofthem,oneattainstodeliveranceofmindthat
aBuddhaappears.Thisisthequintessence,thesumtotaloftheBuddha'steaching.
Althoughtheconceptofaniccaappliestoallcompoundedandconditionedthings,the
Buddhaismoreconcernedwiththesocalledbeingfortheproblemiswithmanandnot
withdeadthings.Likeananatomistwhoresolvesalimbintotissuesandtissuesinto
cells,theBuddha,theAnalyzer(Vibhajjavaadi),analyzedthesocalledbeing,the
sankhaarapu~nja,theheapofprocesses,intofiveeverchangingaggregates,andmade
itclearthatthereisnothingabiding,nothingeternallyconserved,inthisconfluxof
aggregates(khandhaasantati).Theyare:materialformorbodyfeelingor
sensationperceptionmentalformationsconsciousness.
TheEnlightenedOneexplains:
Thefiveaggregates,monks,areanicca,impermanentwhateveris
impermanent,thatisdukkha,unsatisfactorywhateverisdukkha,thatiswithout
attaa,self.Whatiswithoutself,thatisnotmine,thatIamnot,thatisnotmy
self.Thusshoulditbeseenbyperfectwisdom(sammappa~n~naaya)asit
reallyis.Whoseesbyperfectwisdom,asitreallyis,hismind,notgrasping,is
detachedfromtaintsheisliberated.
SN22.45

NaagarjunaonlyechoesthewordsoftheBuddhawhenhesays:Whenthenotionofan
Aatman,SelforSoulcease,thenotionof'mine'alsoceasesandonebecomesfreefrom
theideaofIandmine(MaadhyamikaKaarikaa,xviii.2)
TheBuddhagivesfiveverystrikingsimilestoillustratetheephemeralnatureofthefive
aggregates.Hecomparesmaterialformtoalumpoffoam,feelingtoabubble,
perceptiontoamirage,mentalformationstoaplantaintrunk(whichispithless,without
heartwood),andconsciousnesstoanillusion,andasks:"Whatessence,monks,could
therebeinalumpoffoam,inabubble,inamirage,inaplantaintrunk,inanillusion?"
Continuing,theBuddhasays:
Whatevermaterialformtherebe:whetherpast,future,orpresentinternalor
externalgrossorsubtleloworloftyfarornearthatmaterialformthemonk
sees,meditatesupon,examineswithsystematicattention,hethusseeing,
meditatingupon,andexaminingwithsystematicattention,wouldfinditempty,
hewouldfinditinsubstantialandwithoutessence.Whatessence,monks,could
therebeinmaterialform?
TheBuddhaspeaksinthesamemanneroftheremainingaggregatesandasks:
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Whatessence,monks,couldtherebeinfeeling,inperception,inmental
formationsandinconsciousness?
SN22.95

Thusweseethatamoreadvancedrangeofthoughtcomeswiththeanalysisofthefive
aggregates.Itisatthisstagethatrightunderstandingknownasinsight(vipassanaa)
beginstowork.Itisthroughthisinsightthatthetruenatureoftheaggregatesis
graspedandseeninthelightofthethreecharacteristics(tilakkhana),namely:
impermanence,unsatisfactoriness,andnoself.
Itisnotonlythefiveaggregatesthatareimpermanent,unsatisfactory,andwithoutself,
butthecausesandconditionsthatproducetheaggregatesarealsoimpermanent,
unsatisfactory,andwithoutself.ThispointtheBuddhamakesveryclear:
Materialform,feeling,perception,mentalformationsandconsciousness,monks,
areimpermanent(anicca).Whatevercausesandconditionsthereareforthe
arisingoftheseaggregates,they,too,areimpermanent.Howmonks,could
aggregatesarisenfromwhatisimpermanent,bepermanent?
Materialform...andconsciousness,monks,areunsatisfactory(dukkha)
whatevercausesandconditionsthereareforthearisingoftheseaggregates,
theytooareunsatisfactory.How,monks,couldaggregatesarisefromwhatis
unsatisfactorybepleasantorpleasurable?
Materialform...andconsciousness,monks,arewithoutaself(anattaa)
whatevercausesandconditionsthereareforthearisingoftheseaggregates,
they,tooarewithoutself.How,monks,couldaggregatesarisefromwhatis
withoutselfbeself(attaa)?
Theinstructednobledisciple(sutavaaariyasaavako),monks,seeingthus
becomesdispassionatetowardsmaterialform,feeling,perception,mental
formationsandconsciousness:Throughdispassionheisdetachedthrough
detachmentheisliberatedinliberationtheknowledgecomestobethatheis
liberated,andheunderstands:Destroyedisbirth,livedisthelifeofpurity,done
iswhatwastobedone,thereisnomoreofthistocome[meaningthatthereis
nomorecontinuityoftheaggregates,thatis,nomorebecomingorrebirth].
SN22.79,abridged

Itisalwayswhenwefailtoseethetruenatureofthingsthatourviewsbecome
cloudedbecauseofourpreconceivednotions,ourgreedandaversion,ourlikesand
dislikes,wefailtoseethesenseorgansandsenseobjectsintheirrespectiveand
objectivenatures,(aayatanaana.maayatana.t.ta.m)andgoaftermiragesand
deceptions.Thesenseorgansdeludeandmisleadusandthenwefailtoseethingsin
theirtruelight,sothatourwayofseeingthingsbecomesperverted(vipariitadassana).
TheBuddhaspeaksofthreekindsofillusionorperversions(vipallaasa,Skt.viparyaasa)
thatgripman'smind,namely:theillusionsofperception,thought,andview(sa~n~naa
vipallaasacittavipallaasadi.t.thivipallaasa).[2]Nowwhenamaniscaughtupinthese
illusionsheperceives,thinks,andviewsincorrectly.
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Heperceivespermanenceintheimpermanentsatisfactorinessintheunsatisfactory
(easeandhappinessinsuffering)selfinwhatisnotself(asoulinthesoulless)beauty
intherepulsive.
Hethinksandviewsinthesameerroneousmanner.Thuseachillusionworksinfour
ways(AN4.49),andleadsmanastray,cloudshisvision,andconfuseshim.Thisisdue
tounwisereflections,tounsystematicattention(ayonisomanasikaara).Right
understanding(orinsightmeditationvipassanaa)aloneremovestheseillusionsand
helpsmantocognizetherealnaturethatunderliesallappearance.Itisonlywhenman
comesoutofthiscloudofillusionsandperversionsthatheshineswithtruewisdomlike
thefullmoonthatemergesbrilliantfrombehindablackcloud.
Theaggregatesofmindandbody,beingeversubjecttocauseandeffect,aswesaw
above,passthroughtheinconceivablyrapidmomentsofarising,presentlyexisting,and
ceasing(uppaada,.thiti,bha"nga),justastheunendingwavesoftheseaorasariverin
floodsweepstoaclimaxandsubsides.Indeed,humanlifeiscomparedtoamountain
streamthatflowsandrusheson,changingincessantly(AN7.70)"nadisotoviya,"likea
flowingstream.
Heraclitus,thatrenownedGreekphilosopher,wasthefirstWesternwritertospeakabout
thefluidnatureofthings.HetaughtthePantaRheidoctrine,thefluxtheory,atAthens,
andonewondersifthatteachingwastransmittedtohimfromIndia.
"Thereisnostaticbeing,"saysHeraclitus,"nounchangingsubstratum.Change,
movement,isLordoftheUniverse.Everythingisinastateofbecoming,ofcontinualflux
(PantaRhei)."
Hecontinues:"Youcannotsteptwiceintothesameriverforfreshwatersareever
flowinginuponyou."NeverthelessonewhounderstandstherootoftheDhammawould
goastepfurtherandsay:Thesamemancannotsteptwiceintothesameriverforthe
socalledmanwhoisonlyaconfluxofmindandbody,neverremainsthesamefortwo
consecutivemoments."[3]
Itshouldnowbeclearthatthebeingwhomforallpracticalpurposeswecallaman,
woman,orindividual,isnotsomethingstatic,butkinetic,beinginastateofconstant
andcontinuouschange.Nowwhenapersonviewslifeandallthatpertainstolifeinthis
light,andunderstandsanalyticallythissocalledbeingasameresuccessionofmental
andthebodilyaggregates,heseesthingsastheyreallyare(yathaabhuutam).Hedoes
notholdthewrongviewof"personalitybelief,"beliefinasoulorself(sakkaayadi.t.thi),
becauseheknowsthroughrightunderstandingthatallphenomenalexistenceiscausally
dependent(pa.ticcasamuppanna),thateachisconditionedbysomethingelse,andthat
itsexistenceisrelativetothatcondition.Heknowsthatasaresultthereisno"I,"no
persistingpsychicentity,noegoprinciple,noselforanythingpertainingtoaselfinthis
lifeprocess.Heis,therefore,freefromthenotionofamicrocosmicsoul(jiivaatma)ora
macrocosmicsoul(paramaatma).
Itissaidthatthroughinsightmeditation(vipassanaa)oneseesthingsastheyreallyare
(yathaabhuutam)andnotastheyappeartobe.Viewingthingsastheyreallyare
implies,aswediscussedabove,seeingtheimpermanent,unsatisfactory,andnoself
natureofallconditionedandcomponentthings.Tosuchameditativediscipleofthe
Buddhathe"world"isnottheexternalortheempiricalworld,butthehumanbodywith
itsconsciousness.Itistheworldofthefiveaggregatesofclinging(pa~nca
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upaadaanakkhandaa).Itisthisthathetriestounderstandasimpermanent,
unsatisfactory,andwithoutselforsoul.Itistothisworldofbodyandmindthatthe
BuddhareferredtowhenhesaidtoMogharaaja,"Evermindful,Mogharaaja,seethe
worldasvoid(su~n~na)havinggivenupthenotionofaself[underlyingit]somay
oneovercomedeath(Maara)TheKingofDeathseesnotonewhothusknowsthe
world"(SuttaNipaata).
ThesumtotalofthephilosophyofchangetaughtinBuddhismisthatallcomponent
thingsthathaveconditionedexistenceareaprocessandnotagroupofabidingentities,
butthechangesoccurinsuchrapidsuccessionthatpeopleregardmindandbodyas
staticentities.Theydonotseetheirarisingandtheirbreakingup(udayavaya),but
regardthemunitarily,seethemasalumporwhole(ghanasa~n~naa).
Itisveryhard,indeed,forpeoplewhoareaccustomedtocontinuallythinkoftheirown
mindandbodyandtheexternalwordwithmentalprojectionsaswholes,asinseparable
units,togetridofthefalseappearanceof"wholeness."Solongasmanfailstosee
thingsasprocesses,asmovements,hewillneverunderstandtheanatta(nosoul)
doctrineoftheBuddha.Thatiswhypeopleimpertinentlyandimpatientlyputthe
question:
"Ifthereisnopersistingentity,nounchangingprinciple,likeselforsoulwhatis
itthatexperiencestheresultsofdeedshereandhereafter?"
Twodifferentdiscourses(MN109SN22.82)dealwiththisburningquestion.The
Buddhawasexplainingindetailtohisdisciplestheimpermanentnatureofthefive
aggregates,howtheyaredevoidofself,andhowthelatentconceits"Iam"and"mine"
ceasetoexist.Thentherearoseathoughtinthemindofacertainmonkthus:"Material
bodyisnotself,feelingisnotself,perceptionisnotself,mentalformationsarenotself,
consciousnessisnotself.Thenwhatselfdoselflessdeedsaffect?"
TheBuddha,readingthethoughtofthemonk'smind,said,"Thequestionwasbesidethe
point"andmadethemonkunderstandtheimpermanent,unsatisfactory,andnonself
natureoftheaggregates.
"Itiswrongtosaythatthedoerofthedeedisthesameastheonewhoexperiencesits
results.Itisequallywrongtosaythatthedoerofthedeedandtheonewho
experiencesitsresultsaretwodifferentpersons,"[4]forthesimplereasonthatwhatwe
calllifeisaflowofpsychicandphysicalprocessesorenergies,arisingandceasing
constantlyitisnotpossibletosaythatthedoerhimselfexperiencesresultsbecausehe
ischangingnow,everymomentofhislifebutatthesametimeyoumustnotforgetthe
factthatthecontinuityoflifethatisthecontinuanceofexperience,theprocessionof
eventsisnotlostitcontinueswithoutagap.Thechildisnotthesameasan
adolescent,theadolescentisnotthesameastheadult,theyareneitherthesamenor
totallydifferentpersons(nacasonacaa~n~no,MilindaPa~nho).Thereisonlya
flowofbodilyandmentalprocesses.
Therearethreetypesofteachers,thefirstoneteachesthattheegoortheselfisreal
nowaswellasinthefuture(hereandhereafter)thesecondoneteachesthattheego
isrealonlyinthislife,notinthefuturethethirdoneteachesthattheconceptofanego
isanillusion:itisnotrealeitherinthislifeorinthehereafter.

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Thefirstoneistheeternalist(sassatavaadi)thesecondoneistheannihilationist
(ucchedavaadi)thethirdoneistheBuddhawhoteachesthemiddlewayofavoidingthe
extremesofeternalismandannihilationism.(Herethemiddlewayisthedoctrineof
dependentarising,orcausalconditioningPaticcaSamuppaada).
Alltheisticreligionsteachthattheegosurvivesafterdeathinsomewayorother,andis
notannihilated.Thematerialist'sconceptisthattheegoisannihilatedatdeath.The
Buddhistviewisthatthereisnoego,oranythingsubstantial,orlasting,butallthings
conditionedaresubjecttochange,andtheychangenotremainingthesamefortwo
consecutivemoments,andthatthereisacontinuitybutnoidentity.
Solongasmancherishestheideaofthelastingselforegoitwillnotbepossibleforhim
toconceivetheideathatallthingsareimpermanent,thatthereis,inreality,anarising
andaceasingofthings(samudayadhamma,vayadhamma,Satipa.t.thaanasutta).
Theunderstandingoftheanattadoctrine,whichisexclusivelyBuddhist,isindispensable
intheunderstandingofthefournobletruthsandtheotherprincipaltenetsofBuddhism.
Thepeopleoftheworldtodaymarkthechangingnatureoflife.Althoughtheyseeit,
theydonotkeepitinmindandactwithdispassionatediscernment.Thoughchange
againandagainspeakstothemandmakesthemunhappy,theypursuetheirmadcareer
ofwhirlingroundthewheelofexistenceandaretwistedandtornbetweenthespokesof
agony.Theycherishthebeliefthatitispossibletodiscoverawayofhappinessinthis
verychange,tofindacenterofsecurityinthiscircleofimpermanence.Theyimagine
thatalthoughtheworldisuncertaintheycanmakeitcertainandgiveitasolidbasis,
andsotheunrelentingstruggleforworldlyimprovementgoesonwithperseveringeffort
andfutileenthusiasm.
Historyhasprovedagainandagainandwillcontinuetoprovethatnothinginthisworld
islasting.Allthingswhenclungtofail.Nationsandcivilizationsrise,flourish,anddie
awayaswavesupontheocean,yieldingplacetonew,andthusthescrollsoftime
recordthepassingpageant,thebaselessvision,andthefadingflowthatishuman
history.

Notes
1. IntheMahaaSudassanaSuttanta(DiighaNikaaya),thisverseisascribedto
theBuddhahimselfintheMahaaSudassanaJaataka(No.95),itisascribedto
theBodhisatta,inhisrebirthasKingMahaaSudassana.IntheTheragaathaa
(v.1159),MahaaMoggallaanaArahantrecitesit,aftermentioning(inv.1158)
thepassingawayofSaariputtaArahantthatprecededhisownonlybytwo
weeks.
2. AN4.49seeAnguttaraNikaaya:AnAnthology,PartI(TheWheelNo.155
158),p.86.
3. A.K.Rogers,AStudent'sHistoryofPhilosophy,London,1920,p.15.
4. Inthems.thisquoteisfollowedbytheparentheticalcitation"(Anguttara,ii.
70)."Perhapsthisisatypo?PTSpageAii70(AN4.6263)doesnotcontain
thispassage.AbetterreferencemaybeSN12.46.ATIed.

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Aniccam:TheBuddhistTheoryof
Impermanence
AnApproachfromtheStandpointofModern
Philosophy [1 ]
byBhikkhuanajivako
"Istheeye...theshape...visualconsciousness,permanentorimpermanent?"
"Impermanent,reverendsir."
"Butiswhatisimpermanent,anguishorhappiness?"
"Anguish,reverendsir."
"Isitrighttoregardthatwhichisimpermanentanguish,andliabletoalteration
as'Thisismine,thisamI,thisismyself'?"
"No,reverendsir."[2]
Insightsanddiscoveriesrevealedtohumanminds2500yearsago,atthetimeofthe
Buddha(orevenseveralcenturiesbeforethattime),mayhavecauseddeepand
revolutionaryeffectsintheevolutionofexistingworldviews,nolessimportantthanthe
discoveriesofGalileoandCopernicushavebeenfortheeventualcollapseoftheworld
viewofmedievalChristiancivilization.Theselatterdiscoveries,whichmarktheoutsetof
moderncivilization,havebecomesomuchapartofcommonplaceorgeneralinformation
thattheycanbeimpartedtochildreninthelowestgradesofelementaryeducation,and
arenormallyabsorbedbythemwithoutdifficulty.
Theideaofimpermanenceandofceaselesschange,duetotheneverending"chain"of
causesandeffects(thesubjectwhichweareattemptingtoapproachinitsBuddhist
versionofaniccam)has,initsbroadmeaning,becomeoneofourstereotypedand
oversimplifiedtruisms,reduced,bothinitsformalandsubstantialsignificance,toamere
rudimentofconventionalwordmeaning.Assuch,itmaystillhaveimpressedusonthe
levelofnurseryrhymesandevenofsomegrammarschoolclassicsinthehistoryof
literature.(IfIhadtochooseadeeperadequation[3]3foundedonamodernpoet'smore
complexphilosophicalintuition,IwouldnothesitatetoselectthelinesfromT.S.Eliot's
Quartets

Ashonanoldman'ssleeve
Isalltheashtheburntrosesleave
...
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Waterandfiresucceed
Thetown,thepastureandtheweed.)
Wemighthopetorediscovertheoriginalsignificanceandhistoricalpurportofsuch
truismsonlyifweweretolookforthempurposively,guidedbysomesubjective
impressionsofindividualorparticularcases,andbytheconsequencesoftheirconcrete
applicationinactualscientificorphilosophicaltheories.ThisiswhatIamabouttohintat
inafewexamples.
One:Asayoungteacher,whenforthefirsttimeItriedtoexplaintochildrenofabout
twelveyearsofagethebiologicalprocessofgrowingcabbagesandpotatoes,my
emphasisontheimportanceofdung(Ididnotusethetechnicalterm"fertilizer")
happenedtobesoimpressivethatthenextdayamothercametocomplainagainstmy
"directmethod"and"drasticnaturalism"invisualteaching.Herchildhadbeenso
affectedbymydiscourseastodevelopanacuteloathingagainstfood.ThusIwas
impressedhoweasilyourmostcommonplacetruismsaboutthelawsofnaturewhose
discovery,onceuponatime,mayhavebeentreatedandevenpunishedasrevolutionary
byrespectableandauthoritativesocialinstitutionscanstillrevealthemselves
unexpectedlyintheirfulloverpoweringforcetothefreshandinnocentmindsofnew
generations.
Two:Inmyowngenerationofteenagers,betweenthetwowarsinEurope,thedeadlock
betweenscienceandreligionwassocompletethatsecondaryschoolcurriculawere
boundtoprovokeinourmindsanunavoidablecrisisofconscience.Teachersonthe
wholeweretotallyinvolvedinthisstruggleofconvictions,keentowinusovertoone
sideortheother.Thesideofscienceagainstreligionwasnormallythestronger.Since
thattimereligion,defeatedinEurope,hasbecomemoreandmoreaprohibitedfruit,and
hasthereforeacquiredanewattractiveforceforjuvenileminds.Thisistruenotonlyin
theeasternpartsofEurope,sincescienceisfarfrombeingaprivilegeofCommunism.
AnantiscientifictendencyinEurope("continental")philosophyhasevenbecome
predominant,onaccountofthemoralcatastrophewhichstillpreoccupiesthemindsof
ourgenerationbeyondanyotherproblemof"man'spositionintheuniverse."
Thecentralissueinthisconflictbetweenscienceandreligion,atleastfromouryouthful
biasatthattime,wasofcoursetheproblemofanattaa("nosoul"),toexpressitbythe
correspondingBuddhistterm.Lawsgoverningprocessesofcausesandeffectswere,
however,scientificallyexplainedoratleastsounderstoodbyourunripeminds,under
theimpressionoftheopendisputebetweenscienceand(Christian)religion.The
explanationswerenotyetintermsofthescientificequivalenttoapureaniccavaado
(theoryofimpermanence),whichwouldimplyadenialoftheunderlyingmaterial
substantialityoftheworld.Insteadofthat,explanationsgiventousatthattimestill
followedtheclassicalGreekpatternofmechanisticmaterialismorstaticatomism,which
wastheclosesttotheBuddhistunderstandingoftheucchedavaado(theoryof
destruction),whosebelieversaredescribedinPalitextsinthefollowingterms:
...HethenhearsthePerfectOneexpoundingtheteachingfortheremovalofall
groundsfor"views,"ofallprejudices,obsessions,dogmas,andbiases,forthe
stillingofallprocesses,fortherelinquishmentofallsubstrataofexistence,for
theextirpationofcraving,fordispassion,cessation,extinction.Hethenthinks,
"Ishallbeannihilated,Ishallbedestroyed!NolongershallIexist!"Hencehe
grieves,isdepressedandlamentsbeatinghisbreast,heweeps,anddejection
befallshim.Thus,bhikkhus,isthereanxietyaboutrealities.
MN22
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MN22

Tothis,theonlyauthenticansweris:
Sinceinthisverylifeatathaagata(inthiscasegenerallyunderstoodasa
humanbeinginthewidestsense)isnottoberegardedasexistingintruth,in
reality,isitproperforyoutoassert:"asIunderstandthedoctrinetaughtbythe
ExaltedOne,insofarasabhikkhuhasdestroyedtheaasavas[life's"intoxicants"
orpassions]heisbrokenupandperisheswhenbodyisbrokenup,heexistsnot
afterdeath."?
SN22.85

Thelogicalpossibilityofsuchananswerisexcludedbythepremise.Thesamepremise,
however,excludesalsotheopposite,affirmative,possibility.(Weshallreturntothis
problem,asunderstoodbycontemporaryphilosophy,insectionFive.)
Isimportanttounderlineherethat,onthesamepremise,ucchedavaado,orsimplythe
materialisticbeliefinasubstantial"destruction"ofanyformofbeing,istheextreme
oppositeofanyauthenticnihilisminontologyandepistemology(theoryofbeingand
theoryofknowledge).Onlyanexplicitlyidealisticphilosophy,"lookingupontheworldas
abubble,asamirage"(Dhp170)canbenihilisticinsomerespect,whileucchedavaado
asa"theoryofdestruction"necessarilypresupposesanexistentiallyrootedbeliefin
materialsubstance.
Itwasjustinthissense,inthemidstofthebattlegroundbetweenscienceandreligion,
andontheeveofaworldwar,thatthechildrenofthefirsthalfofthe20thcenturyhad
tofacethefatalityofaphysicalandmoraldestruction,scientificallyandinfallibly
precalculated,asexperiencewasabouttoprove.Yetjustovertheedgeofour
intellectualhorizonwasdawningatime,forscienceatleast,ofacquiringacompletely
differentpositionvisavistheproblemofimpermanenceandrelativityasaffectingthe
deepestsubatomicstructureoftheworldapositionconsiderablyclosertothe
Buddhistideaofaniccam.
Three:Since1927,BertrandRussell'sbook,AnOutlineofPhilosophy,hasbeenwidely
quotedasoneofthebestpopularpresentationsoftheradicalchangeinthescientific
worldviewstemmingfromEinstein'stheoryofrelativityandoftheresulting
developmentofnuclearphysics.IshalltrytoelicitfromRussell'sstatements,asfaras
thepresentdraftofpointerstoouressentialproblemmaypermit,therejectionofthe
substanceviewbymodernscience,becauseitistherejectionofthesubstanceview
thatconstitutesthecoreoftheBuddhistaniccavaadoasafoundation(atleastintheti
lakkha.namscheme)ofbothdukkhamandanattaa.
Tostartwith,letusdefinetheideaofphysical"substance"bymeansofitsbasic
descriptionandphilosophicalimplicationhasstatedintheSuttapi.takamsources.The
problemofsubstance,asdefinedbyscientific(lokaayatam)theoriesatthetimeofthe
Buddha,findsitsclassicalformulation,categorialdelimitationandsolutioninconcise
termsinhisconcludinganswertoKevaddho:
Wheredoearth,water,fire,andwindlongandshortfineandcoarsepureand
impure,nofootingfind?
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Whereisitthatbothnameandformdieout,leavingnotracebehind?
Whenintellection(vi~n~naanam)ceasestheyallcease,too.
DN11

Forthecategoricalrelationofmindandmatter(or"nameandform,"naamaaruupam,
asimpliedintheforegoingformulation),thefollowingstatementoftheBuddhaisthe
mostadequateandalsothebestknowninconnectionwithoursubject:
Itwouldbebetter,bhikkhus,fortheunlearnedworldlingtoregardthisbody,built
upofthefourelements,ashisselfratherthanthemind.Foritisevidentthat
thisbodymaylastforayear,fortwoyears,forthree,four,fiveortenyears...or
evenforahundredyearsandmore.Butthatwhichiscalledthought,ormind,or
consciousness,continuously,duringdayandnight,arisesasonething,and
passesawayasanotherthing.
SN12.61

Now,letusgetafewquotationsfromBertrandRussell.[4]First,asregardssubstance
matter,hesays:
Informerdays,youcouldbelieveitonaphilosophicalgroundthatthesoulisa
substanceandallsubstancesareindestructible...Butthenotionofsubstance,in
thesenseofapermanententitywithchangingstates,isnolongerapplicableto
theworld.
Awaveintheseapersistsforalongerorshortertime:thewavesthatIsee
dashingthemselvestopiecesontheCornishcoastmayhavecomealltheway
fromBrazil,butthatdoesnotmeanthata"thing"hastraveledacrossthe
Atlanticitmeansonlythatacertainprocessofchangehastraveled.
[Einstein'stheoryofrelativity]hasphilosophicalconsequenceswhichare,if
possible,evenmoreimportant.Thesubstitutionofspacetimeforspaceand
timehasmadethecategoryofsubstancelessapplicablethanformerly,sincethe
essenceofsubstancewaspersistentthroughtime,andthereisnownoone
cosmictime.
Wefoundthatmatter,inmodernscience,haslostitssolidityandsubstantiality
ithasbecomeamereghosthauntingthescenesofitsformersplendor...The
notionofmatter,inmodernphysics,hasbecomeabsorbedintothenotionof
energy.
Wecannotsaythat"matteristhecauseofoursensations."...Inaword,
"matter"hasbecomenomorethanaconventionalshorthandforstatingcausal
lawsconcerningevents.
Thuswearecommittedtocausationasanaprioribeliefwithoutwhichwe
shouldhavenoreasonforsupposingthatthereisa"real"chair(oranything)at
all.
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Next,asregardsthetheoryofevents,wenotethattheideaoffixedandstaticelements
of"matter"hasbeenreplacedbythatofundeterminable"events"correspondingtothe
quantumelectrodynamicfieldtheoryinnuclearphysics,whichcomesveryclosetothe
conceptionofanonphysicalbutpurelyphenomenologicalideaofdhammaa,impliedin
itsprimitivesignificancebykha.nikavaado,ortheoryofmomentariness,ofthe
Abhidhammapi.takam.(Thislatteraspect,explicitlyphilosophical,willbesketchedin
Five,below.)OfthisRussellwrites:
Everythingintheworldiscomposedof"events."...An"event"issomething
occupyingasmallfiniteamountofspacetime...Eventsarenotimpenetrable,as
matterissupposedtobeonthecontrary,everyeventinspacetimeis
overlappedbyotherevents.
Iassumethateveryeventiscontemporaneouswitheventsthatarenot
contemporaneouswitheachotherthisiswhatismeantbysayingthatevery
eventlastsforafinitetime...Timeiswhollyrelational.
Spacetimeorder,aswellasspacetimepoints,resultsfromtherelations
betweenevents.
Comparewiththislaststatement,andwiththosethatfollow,theassertionof
BuddhaghosainAtthasaalini:"Bytimethesagedescribedthemind,andbymind
describedthetime."
Lastly,Russellsaysofmentalevents:
Animportantgroupofevents,namelypercepts,maybecalled"mental."
Mentalityisanaffairofcausallaws,notofthequalityofsingleevents,andalso,
mentalityisamatterofdegree.
Whatismind?...Mindmustbeagroupofmentalevents,sincewehaverejected
theviewthatitisasinglesimpleentitysuchastheegowasformerlysupposed
tobe...Itsconstitutioncorrespondshoweverto"theunityofone'experience.'"
Asaresultoftheseconsiderations,Russellconcludesthat"firstofall,youmustcutout
theword'I':thepersonwhobelievesisaninference,notapartofwhatyouknow
immediately."
Finally,thelogicalpossibilityofanucchedavaado(theoryofdestruction)"heresy"is
explicitlyeliminatedevenonthislevelofmerelyscientificconsiderations:"Isaminda
structureofmaterialunits?Ithinkitisclearthattheanswertothisquestionisinthe
negative."
WecanconcludethissurveybyacceptingwithoutanyfurtherreserveRussell's
statement:"Theproblemswehavebeenraisingarenoneofthemnew,buttheysuffice
toshowthatoureverydayviewsoftheworldandofourrelationstoitare
unsatisfactory."
Four:Recently,fieldtheory,asareplacementfortheabandonedsubstancetheoryin
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physics,hasfoundincreasingapplicationatleastasahypotheticalanalogyinother
spheresofscientificthought,andevenmoreinphilosophicalspeculationslimitedto
possible(andsometimestoimpossible)extensionsof"specialsciences."Itsapplication
toparapsychologyisofparticularinterest,fortheextensionofthesubjectinwhichwe
areinterestedisbeyondthestrictlyphysicalsphereofbeing.
ItisGardnerMurphywhohasgivenusthemostconsequentandexclusiveelaborationof
aparapsychologicalanalogyoffieldtheory,asfarasIknow.Asummarized
recapitulationofhisthesisisasfollows:
Theactionoflivingmatteronlivingmatterisneveracaseofsinglecellactingonlyon
singlecell.Thestructuralwholeorfieldisalwaysinvolved.Thefieldprinciplemayholdin
psychicsaswellasinphysics,andapsychicfieldmayextendbackwardsandforwards
intimeaswellasonwardsinspace.Thequestion,"Doespersonalitysurvivedeath?"is
thereforeinMurphy'sviewnotareasonablequestiontoask.Ifanypsychicalactivity
survives,itwillbecomeanaspectofdifferentfieldsandwillthustakeonnewqualities
andnewstructuralrelationships.Itisevidentthatforhim"allpersonalactivitiesare
constantlychangingcontextandinteractingwiththoseofothers,anditmaybethat
eachonebecomespartofthecosmicprocess."[5]
Anotherworkerinthefieldofparapsychology,C.G.Broad,investigatingTheMindand
ItsPlaceinNaturefromthestandpointofapossible"survival"ofthe"PSIcomponent,"
drawstheconclusion,fromthesamebasicanalogywithphysics,that"weneedno
longersupposethat,althoughasurvivingPSIcomponentmaybebodiless,itis
necessarilyunextendedandunlocalized,forwearenowadayswellaccustomedtosuch
phenomenaaselectromagneticfieldswhichcannotbecalledbodiesintheordinary
sensebutwhichstillhavestructureanddefinitepropertiesanddispositions.Wemust
notthinkofit(i.e.,ofthesurvivingPSIcomponent)assomethingonwhichan
experiencemakesanimpressionasasealdoesonaballofwax.Onthecontrary,sucha
substancelesstheoryimpliesagreaterdegreeofsurvivalthanthemerepersistenceof
aninactivePSIcomponent."[6]
Exponentsofthesameparapsychologicaltheoryalsomaintainthattheirhypothesis
mightofferamoreadequatebasisforexplanationofsubconsciousphenomena
investigatedbypsychoanalysis,particularlyJung'sarchetypes,thantheinitialFreudian
attempts,whichhavebeencharacterizedsincethefirstasascientificallyuntenable
Platonicanalogywith"pigeonholes"asthebasicstructureofthesoul.
Allthesemoreorlessadhocanalogieswiththefieldtheoryinphysicscanbebrought
downaswelltoanearliermetaphysicalhypothesis,formulatedonabroader
philosophicalbasisalreadybyWilliamJames,inhisPluralisticUniverse(1909).[7]
Speakingofthestructureof"ourinnerlife,"Jamessays:
Everybitofusateverymomentispartandparcelofawiderself...Maynotyou
andIbeconfluentinahigherconsciousness,andconfluentlyactivethere,
thoughwenowknowitnot?...Theanalogieswith...factsofpsychicalresearch,
socalled,andwiththoseofreligiousexperience,establish...adecidedly
formidableprobabilityinfavor[ofthefollowingpluralistichypothesis:]
Whyshouldweenvelopourmanywiththe"one"thatbringssomanypoisonsin
itstrain?...[insteadofaccepting]alongwiththesuperhumanconsciousnessthe
notionthatitisnotallembracingthenotion,inotherwords,thatthereisa
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God,butthatheisfinite,eitherinpowerorinknowledge,orinbothatonce.
ThisisexactlythebasicdistinctionbetweentheVedaanticandtheBuddhistconception
ofGod,orgods,implyingalsothereasonwhyJames,insomerespects,wasinfavorofa
polytheisticconception,asa"resultofourcriticismoftheabsolute,"inthesame
context.
Five:Suchadaptationofhypothesesborrowedadhocfromheterogenousfieldsof
sciencecouldandshouldbeultimatelyverifiedandexplainedonlybyproper
philosophicalinvestigation,usingautonomousmethodsandestablishedonitsown,
purelyanthropologicalground.Sincethebeginningofthe20thcenturythishasindeed
beendone,alwaysmoreclearlyandexplicitly.Theresultshavebeenconsiderable,at
leastasfarastheproblemofourprimordialconcernisinvolved:thehumanvalue
aspectofaniccam,itsfundamentalsignificanceinconnectionwithbothdukkhamand
anattaa.
Theproperphilosophicalattitudewasdefined,notaspertainingtothephysicalbut
rathertothehistoricalworldview,asearlyastheendofthe19thcentury,byWilhelm
Dilthey,founderofthemodernphilosophyofculture:
Thefinalpronouncementofthehistoricalworldviewisthathuman
accomplishmentofeverysortisrelative,thateverythingismovinginprocess
andnothingisstable.
Andyetthishistoricalorientationhasnotmaintainedapositionofpredominant
importancein20thcenturyEuropeanphilosophy.Themostprominentphilosopherof
cultureinthemiddleofthiscentury,KarlJaspers,indiscussingthepriorityofthe
question"Whatisman?"(AsformulatedbyKant)pointsoutthatthispriority"doesnot
meanthattheknowledgeofbeingistobereplacedbytheknowledgeofman.Beingstill
remainstheessential,butmancanapproachitonlythroughhisexistenceasaman,"
i.e.,throughhishistoricity.[8]
FollowingEdmundHusserl,whoestablishedthemostwidelyadoptedlogicaland
epistemologicalplatformforEuropeanorcontinentalphilosophyinthiscentury,the
problemofbeinghasacquiredandsustainedaroleofcentralimportance.Inorderto
avoiditsgrossmisunderstandingitisnecessary,especiallyfromourBuddhist
standpoint,tonotethatHusserl'sbasicpostulate,"Backtothethingsthemselves,"does
notinanywayimplyasubstantialistmeaningof"things"intheclassical,physically
orientedontologyortheoryofbeing,whichhasbeenrejectedbymodernphysics.The
significanceof"being"hasbeenradicallychangedwiththeachievementofadeeper
insightintobothitsphysicalandhistoricalstructure.Thisisrevealedveryclearlyinthe
analysisofbeingbyNicolaiHartmannwho,morethanHusserlandhiscloserfollowers,
concentratedonimplicationsoftheontologicalprobleminthenaturalsciences.
InthisrespectthestandpointofA.N.WhiteheadinAngloAmericanphilosophycomes
closesttothatofN.Hartmann.Russell'stheoryofinfinitesimal"spacetimeevents"was
notmuchmorethananattempttoreducetoapalerationalizedschemeWhitehead's
metaphysicalconceptionof"actualoccasions"and"throbbingactualities,"understoodas
"pulsationofexperience"whose"drops"or"puffsofexistence"guidedbyaninternal
teleologyintheir"concrescence"(analogoustotheBuddhistsa"nkaaraainkarmic
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formations)jointhe"streamofexistence"(bhava"ngasoto).
Thecoreoftheabhidhammoconceptionofthe"streamofexistence"consistsinits
"theoryofmomentariness"kha.nikavaado.Itsmodernanalogyhasfounditsfirstand
bestformulationinplaintermsinthephilosophyofWilliamJames,especiallyinhis
essay"Does'Consciousness'Exist?,"wherethe"streamofconsciousness"or"streamof
thinking"(which,"whenscrutinized,revealsitselftoconsistchieflyofthestreamofmy
breathing")iselicitedfromhisbasictheoryof"pureexperience,"definedas"theinstant
fieldofthepresent...thissuccessionofanemptinessandfullnessthathavereferenceto
eachotherandareofoneflesh"succession"insmallenoughpulses,"which"isthe
essenceofthephenomenon."Inthesameconnection,as"theresultofourcriticismof
theabsolute,"themetaphysicalandmetapsychicalideaofa"centralself"isreducedby
Jamesto"theconsciousselfofthemoment."[9]
ThewellknownBuddhistthesisof"noself"(anattaa),orofasoullesspsychology,is
basedonthesamebackgroundofthe"theoryofmomentariness."
Thisisalsooneofthepointsandthemostsignificantoneonwhichthe
philosophicalconceptionofJamescoincideswithBergson.Terminologicallyatleast,
Bergson'sdesignationofthesame"stream"as"fluxduvecu,"theword"vecu"("lived")
seemstocomeclosesttothemeaningofthePalibhava"ngo,suggestingthe
"articulated"(a"ngo)textureoflifeexperience.
InHusserl'sinterpretation,"things"aresimplytakentomean"whateverisgiven,"that
whichwe"see"inconsciousness,andthis"given"iscalledphenomenalinthesensethat
it"appears"toourconsciousness.TheGreekword"phenomenon"doesnotnecessarily
indicatethatthereisanunknownthingbehindphenomena(asinKant'sphilosophyorin
theVedaanta),ora"backstage"being,asNietzscheironicallyexposedit.Fromour
standpoint,itisimportanttoemphasizethatHusserl'sphenomenologicalmethod"is
neitherdeductivenorempirical,butconsistsinpointingtowhatisgivenandelucidating
it."[10]Itclaims,inotherwords,tobeyathaabhuutam,or"adequateto[actual]being."
TheanalysisoftheoriginalmeaningoftheGreekterm"phenomenon"hasbeen
performedinmasterlyfashionbyMartinHeidegger.[11]Theword"phenomenon"(from
theverbphainesthai,"letsee,"whichissimilartothePaliehipassiko)hastwo
meaningsrelevantforphilosophy.Thefirstis"toshowitself,"thesecond,"toseemas."
Contemporaryphenomenologicalphilosophyusesitinthefirstsense,as"merelyletting
somethingbeseen,lettingentitiesbeperceived."Thesecondarymeaning,indicating
somethingwhichseemsto"remainhidden,orwhichrelapsesorgetscoveredagain,or
showsitselfonly'indisguise,'"pointstothehistoricalprocessofconstructingtheories
and"views"(Greekdoxa,Sanskritdristi,Palidi.t.thi)bywhichtheprimordially
"uncovered"phenomenaareratherconcealedagain,orkeptindisguise.
ThesamebasicideaisadoptedbyNicolaiHartmann:"Thatabeingis'initself'means
tosaythatitexistsactuallyandnotonlyforus...Beinginitselfdoesnotneedtobe
proved,itisgivenastheworlditselfisgiven."[12]Hartmann'smostvaluable
contribution,however,ishisentranceintotheprofoundanalysisofwhatwasabove
calledthesecondarymeaningofthephilosophicalterm"phenomenon."Hisanalysis
distinguishes"spheres"and"levels"ofbeing:Broadly,therearetwoprimaryspheres,
designatedasrealandidealbeing.Inthesphereofthereal,fourstructurallevelsare
distinguished:matter,life,consciousness,andmind.
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Incontextselicitingsuchstatements,itappearsmoreandmoreobvious,froma
Buddhiststandpoint,howcloselythemeaningofthetermphenomenon,asusedin
contemporaryphilosophy,approximatesthebasicmeaningofdhammainthe
abhidhammatheory.(ThelastinstancequotedfromHartmannmayreminduseven
morespecificallyofthekhandhaastructures.)
However,beyondthepossibilityofextendingthisanalogyofphenomenonasdisclosure
of"beinginitself"understoodasaprocess,itisfeltmoreandmorebyseveral
contemporaryEuropeanphilosophers(justaswasthecaseintheoriginalBuddhist
counterpart)thattheontologicalpurportofbeing,thusunderstoodasphenomenonor
dhammo,muststillbelimitedbyacriticalprincipleofessentiallydeepersignificance.
Thisprinciplehasfounditsfirstanduntilnowitsclearestlogicalformulationinthe
caatuko.tikam(tetralemma)rulebytheBuddha,asheregularlyappliesittothe
avyaakataanior"notdesignated"problems,or"dialecticalantinomies"[13]of
speculativethought:"Neitherbeing,nornonbeing,norbothbeingandnonbeing,nor
neitherbeingnornonbeing"canexpresstheexistentialpurportandcontentofhuman
reality.Theword"being,"oranyotherderivatefromtheverb"tobe,"cannotadequately
expresstheimmediateintuition(vipassanaa)ofexistence,ortheessenceofactuality
(asparamattho).
Thisdeficiencyofthebasicontologicalterm"being"hasbeensubtlyanalyzedby
HeideggerinhisIntroductiontoMetaphysics.Yetwithhimthephilosophyofexistence
(orhumanactuality)hastakenaprevalentlyontologicaldirection(asa
phenomenologicalanalysisofbeing).Ithasbecomeaphilosophyofourhumanbeingin
theworld,andconsequentlyaphilosophyof"anguish"ordukkham,eventhoughitwas
soonfeltthatthisontologicalturningdoesnot,andcannot,adequatelyreflecteitherthe
primordialmotivesortheultimatescopeofexistentialthinking.Withoutenteringinto
thehistoricalbackgroundofsuchinnerdivergencesincontemporaryphilosophy,Ishould
liketopointoutafewsymptomaticobjectionswhichcanbecomparedintheirradically
antiontologicalattitudewiththeprincipleoftheBuddhaasformulatedabove.
AccordingtotheBuddha,thepersonreapingthefruitsofgoodandbadactions(ina
futurelife)isneitherthesameonewhohascommittedtheseactionsnoradifferentone.
Thesameprincipleappliestothestructuralidentificationofapersoninanyother
respectandcircumstance,inthestreamofonesinglephysicallife.
TheFrenchphilosopherGabrielMarcel,discussingtheproblemofthestructuralunityof
humanpersonality,comes(atleastonthebasiclevel)totheconclusionthat"the
relationbetweenmybodyandmyselfcannotbedescribedaseither'being'or'having':I
ammybodyandyetIcannotidentifymyselfwithit."[14]"Existing"doesnotmeanbeing
anobject.Onthissupposition,Marceldevelopshiscriticalanalysisofthetwo
inadequateextremetermsofexistenceinhismainwork,BeingandHaving.
AnotherrepresentativeofthesametrendinFrenchphilosophy,JeanWahl,seemsto
approximatemorenearlytheactualmeaningoftheBuddha'savyaakataani(specified
above),notfromformallogicalorevenlinguisticconsiderations,butratheroutofan
essentiallycongenialunderstandingofthedeeperproblem:"Weareconcernedwith
questionswhich,strictlyspeaking,belongtosolitarymeditationandcannotbesubjects
ofdiscourse."[15]
NicolasBerdyaev,anexplicitlyreligiousphilosopherclosetothesamegroup,hasgiven
oneoftheclearestformulationsofthepointunderdiscussion:
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"Theproblemwhichfacesusis:Isbeingaproductofobjectification?Isnotthe
conceptofbeingconcernedwithbeingquaconcept,doesbeingpossess
existenceatall?...Whyisontologyimpossible?Becauseitisalwaysa
knowledgeofobjectifyingexistence.Inanontologytheideaofbeingis
objectifiedandanobjectificationisalreadyanexistencewhichisalienatedinthe
objectification.Sothatinontologyineveryontologyexistencevanishes...
Itisonlyinsubjectivitythatonemayknowexistence,notinobjectivity.Inmy
opinion,thecentralideahasvanishedintheontologyofHeideggerandSartre."
[16]

InagreementwithDilthey'sprinciple,quotedabove,establishingthehistoricalworld
viewoftheculturalsciencesindependentlyfromthescientificinvestigationofessentially
objectivephysicalnature,Heideggerhaslimitedhisinquiryon"timeasthehorizonfor
allunderstandingofbeing."Againstthatbackground,hehascriticizedandabandoned
theoldsubstantialistontology.Forhim,"temporalityistheverybeingofhumanreality."
Therelationtimemind,asquotedabovefromBuddhaghosa'sAtthasaalini,isfor
Heideggeralsoexhaustiveforbothterms.AndyetBerdyaev,liketheotheranti
ontologistphilosophersmentionedhere,criticizeseventhisessentialturningin
contemporary"anthropologicalontology,"asatleastapartialfailuretounderstand
authenticexistentialexperience:"AsamanHeideggerisdeeplytroubledbythisworld
ofcare,fear,death,anddailydullness."Despitethis,andbeyondthatsincerity,his
philosophy"isnotexistentialphilosophy,andthedepthofexistencedoesnotmake
itselffeltinit."[17]
ThereasonforthiswasstatedclearlyandexplicitlybyKarlJaspers,whowasthefirstto
criticizeandabandontheontologicalpositionincontemporaryEuropeanphilosophy,at
thesametimethatHeideggerundertookhisessentialreformofitsfundamental
conception.IntheviewofJaspers,"theidealfollowedbyontologiesistheperfectioning
oftherationalstructureoftheobjectifiedworld.Technicalscienceshavetohelpusbring
aboutengineeredexistences."Jasperswas,fromtheverybeginningofhisphilosophical
critique(about1930),extremelyawareofthedangerofsuchscientifictechnicalization
ofhumanexistence:"Asanattempttobindustoobjectifiedbeing,ontologysublates
freedom."Inhisview,itisonly"aspotentialexistencethatIamabletoliftmyselfup
frombondage.Mychainswillthusbecomethematerialofbeing..."Theoppositewayof
an"engineered"civilizationwilltransformmeintoaslaveofthat"material"andthis
actuallyisthetypicalformofsuffering,ofdukkham,bywhich"maninthemodernage"
isoppressed.[18]
Inhisadvancedyears,JaspershasdiscoveredtheBuddhistphilosopherNaagaarjunaas
oneofthemostcongenialminds,[19]whileHeidegger,whenreadingD.T.Suzuki'sEssays
onZenBuddhism,confessedthatthiswasexactlywhathehadtriedtoexpressallhis
lifelong.
Six:Itwasdoubtofthematerialsubstanceoftheworldwhich,toaconsiderableextent,
provokedtheproblemofverifyingtheveryideaofbeing,ofthe"selfhood"oftheworld,
bothinitsexterioraspectandinthatwhichisinteriortothehumanbeingintheworld.
What"doubt"wasattheoutsetofcriticalphilosophyintheperiodofitssubstantialist
andobjectifyingorientation(followingDescartes),disappointment,the
"unsatisfactoriness"oftheworld,hasbecomefortheactual,subjectivelyorientedor
introverted,humanisticphilosophyofexistence.

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Oneofthebestexpressionsofthisturningcanbefoundinsomeofthestatementsof
GabrielMarcel,who,bytheway,defineshisreligiousphilosophyasa"doctrineofhope."
Itsbasicpostulateisthatphilosophymustbe"transobjective,personal,dramatic,
indeedtragic.'Iamnotwitnessingaspectacle'weshouldremindourselvesofthis
everyday."[20]TheBuddhistimplicationofthisbasicattitudemaybepursuedstill
furtherintheearlierformulationbyKierkegaard:"Lifeisamasquerade...Your
occupationconsistsinpreservingyourhidingplace...Infactyouarenothingyouare
merelyarelationtoothers,andwhatyouare,youarebyvirtueofthisrelation...When
theenchantmentofillusionisbroken,whenexistencebeginstototter,thentoodoes
despairmanifestitselfasthatwhichwasatthebottom.Despairitselfisanegativity,
unconsciousnessofitisanewnegativity...Thisisthesicknessuntodeath."[21]
Itisonlybyabandoningtheattitudeoffascinationforthe"spectacle"ofthestatically
staged"Being"oftheworldthatmanbecomessufficientlymovablethatheisfitto
plungeintothestreamofexistence,nolongerattachedtosomestagepropor
"remainder."Isonlythenthathecanreallystartswimmingalongthatstreamof
sa.msaaro,realizingthatitispureandsimpleaniccamorimpermanentflux,andthathe
caneventuallybecomeawareoftheadvantageof"crossing"it.
ThisisthepointwhichcontemporaryEuropeanphilosophyseemstobeabouttorealize.
Itisessentialforthisrealizationthattheprinciplesofaniccamanddukkhambe
inseparablyreconnectedthroughtheintuitionoftheirimmediateinteraction.Inthe
actualsituation,itwillnolongerevenbenecessarytodeduceexplicitlytheideaof
anattaaasthedynamicresultantoftheconfrontationofthefirsttwoprinciples.Justlike
aniccam,anattaahasalreadybecomeatruismformostEuropeans,whoma
standardizedmentaltraining,bothscientificandphilosophicalhascarriedbeyondthe
GodandSouldogma.[22]ThephantomoftheWesternversionofamaterialistic
ucchedavaadoislikewiseabouttobedispelled.Thecriticalmissinglinkhasonlybeen
betweenimpermanence(aniccam)andsuffering(dukkham).Duetotheobjectifying
natureofscientificthinking,thislinkcouldneverberevealedbyaphilosophyofnature
subservienttoscience,notevenofthetypeofRussell'spopularliterarycriticismquoted
above.Itisobviousthatonlyanexistentialexperienceofdukkham,sufferingor
"anguish,"couldbringaboutthisrealization.
Todaywehavetothank,forthisrealization,thecatastrophicresultsandfurther
consequences,stillbeingsuffered,oftwoworldwarsinthe20thcentury.Thatiswhya
newphilosophy,alreadynascentontheeveoftheSecondWorldWar,hasemergedin
Europeexplicitlyasaphilosophyofconscienceratherthanofmereconsciousness.It
shouldappearequallyobviousthatinsuchaphilosophythereisnolongeranyplacefor
thestubbornfalsedilemma:philosophyorreligion.Thislastproblem,whichconcerns
"philosophicalfaith,"ismoreimportantforBuddhismthanforanyotherreligion.Ithas
founditsbestdiagnosticalexpressioninseveralessaysofKarlJaspers,fromwhichwe
extractafewhints:
Itisquestionablewhetherfaithispossiblewithoutreligion.Philosophyoriginates
inthisquestion...Mandeprivedofhisfaithbythelossofhisreligionisdevoting
moredecisivethoughttothenatureofhisownbeing...Nolongerdoesthe
revealedDeityuponwhomallisdependentcomefirst,andnolongertheworld
thatexistsarounduswhatcomesfirstisman,who,however,cannotmake
termswithhimselfasbeing,butstrivestotranscendhimself...Theunsheltered
individualgivesourepochitsphysiognomy...[Formerly]theauthorityofthe
churchshelteredhimandsustainedhim,gavehimpeaceandhappiness...Today
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philosophyistheonlyrefugeforthosewho,infullawareness,arenotsheltered
byreligion.[23]
Obviously,"faith"isherenolongerunderstoodasabeliefinanyrevelation,butas
reasonabletrustinaqualifiedspiritualguidewhosemoralandintellectualcapacities
havetobecarefullytestedineachsinglecasebyasoundandmaturecriterion
(apa.n.nakodhammo)suchaswasestablishedbytheBuddhainhiscriticaldiscourses
onreligion,Apa.n.nakasuttamandCa.nkisuttam(MN60and95),inordertoexclude
emptyandblindtransmissionofreligioustraditions"asabaskethandedoverfromone
totheother,"orin"astringofblindmen.""Oneoneselfistheguardianofoneselfwhat
otherguardiancouldtherebe?"(Dhp160)
JeanPaulSartreisanotherphilosopherwho,thoughhimselfnotreligious,realizesthe
tremendousimportanceofthereligiousproblemfromthebiasofourcriticalage,and
stillmorespecificallyfromthebiasofthedeepestmetaphysicalimplicationsoftheidea
ofaniccam,asnonsubstantiality,underminingthescientificfoundationof19thcentury
materialism:Thetragicsituationofhumanrealityintheworldconsistsinthefactthat
duetohiskarmic"freedom"man"isnotwhatheis,maniswhatheisnot."This
statement,whoseimplicationshavescandalizedmanyconservativeChristianminds,
neverthelesscorrespondstothegistofSt.Augustine'sthoughtasrenderedbyJaspers
outofadifferentdeeplyreligiousconcernwiththeundeniablefacticityofthesame
existentialsituation:"Iammyself,butIcanfailmyself.Imustputmytrustinmyself,
butIcannotrelyonmyself."[24]
AsforSartre,hisfirstdeductionfromthisbasicrealizationofaniccaanattaaisthatas
such"manisauselesspassion.""HumanrealityisthepureefforttobecomeGod
withouttherebeinganygivensubstratumforthateffort...Desireexpressesthis
endeavor...Fundamentallymanisthedesiretobe."Assuch,heisalwaysonlya
"project"ceaselessly"catapulted"fromthepasttothefuture(asOrtegayGassethas
formulatedit),withoutanaturalpossibilityoffindingpoiseinhisownpresent.Thisisthe
tragedyofhis"temporalization,"whoseultimatemeaningisaniccam.Thisishow"the
existenceofdesireasahumanfactissufficienttoprovethathumanrealityisalack."
How,then,isapossibilityofultimateescapeor"liberation"conceivable?Itisbecause
humanreality"isabeingsuchthatinitsbeing,itsbeingisinquestionintheformofa
projectofbeing."Onthisbasisonly,"Wecanascertainmoreexactlywhatisthebeingof
theself:itisvalue."[25]
Hewhowantstodelvedeeperintosuchpossibilities,itwouldseem,shouldfollowthe
adviceofGabrielMarcelorofBerdyaev,andtrytocrossbeyondthepossibilities
expressedinanyphilosophyofbeing.TheBuddhistfitting,or"raft,"thoughconsiderably
largerinitsbasicframe,isreadilyadaptabletotheirexplicitrequirements:"Neither
being,nornonbeing,norbothbeingandnonbeing,norneitherbeingnornonbeing."

Notes
1. Thisessayisareprintfrom"MainCurrentsinModernThought,"Vol.27,No.5,
1971,revisedandenlargedbytheauthor.
2. MN146andseveralothertexts.QuotationsfromPalisuttasareadapted
mainlyfromthePaliTextSociety'seditionsoftheTranslationSeries.
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ReferencesinthetextaretotheMajjhimanikaayo(MN),Diighanikaayo(DN),
Sa.myuttanikaayo(SN),Dhammapadam(Dhp).
3. Adequation:(obsolete)Theactofequalizingormakingequalor
commensurate[OED,2nded.]ATIed.
4. QuotationsfromAnOutlineofPhilosophy,3rdimpression.London,Allenand
Unwin,1941,pp.309,290,304,294,290,5,287,288,289,291,292,296,297,
11,300,14.
5. QuotedaccordingtoR.Heywood,TheSixthSense,anInquiryintoExtra
SensoryPerception,London,Panbooks,1959,pp.205210.
6. Seealsohisbook,Religion,Philosophy,andPsychicalResearch,London,
RoutledgeandKeganPaul,1953,andR.Heywood,op.cit.,pp.219222.
7. ThefollowingquotationsarefromClassicAmericanPhilosophers,General
EditorM.H.Fisch,NewYork,ApplentonCenturyCrofts,1951,pp.163,164.
8. K.Jaspers,TheGreatPhilosophers,ed.ByR.HartDavis,London,1962,p.
320.
9. QuotationsfromClassicAmericanPhilosophers,op.cit.,pp.160,155,161,163
n.
10. Cf.I.M.Bochenski,ContemporaryEuropeanPhilosophy,Univ.ofCalifornia
Press,1961,p.136(alsoforbibliography).
11. TheEnglishtranslationofhismainwork,BeingandTime,waspublishedby
Harper,NewYork,1962.Myreferencesarefromthe7thGermaned.,Tbingen,
M.NiemeyerVerlag,1953,pp.28ff.
12. Cf.Bochenski,op.cit.,p.215.
13. Anastonishinglycloseanalogybetweentheformulationofthefour
antinomiesofthedialecticalreasonbyKantandthesamebasicstructureof
thefourgroupsof"views"(di.t.thi)intheBrahmajaalasuttam(DN1)has
beensingledoutinmypapers,"Dependenceofpunarbhavaonkarmain
Buddhistphilosophy,"and"MyApproachtoIndianPhilosophy,"inIndian
PhilosophicalAnnuals,vols.IandII,1965,1966,undermylaynameChedomil
Velyachich.
14. Cf.Bochenski,op.cit.,p.183.
15. JeanWahl,AShortHistoryofExistentialism,N.Y.,ThePhilosophicalLibrary,
1949,p.2.
16. N.Berdyaev,TheBeginningandtheEnd,HarperTorchbooks,1957,p.92.See
alsodiscussioncontainedinJ.Wahl'sbook(note15,above).
17. Op.cit.,pp.116f.
18. K.Jaspers,Philosophie,2nded.Berlin,Springer,1948,pp.814,813.Manin
theModernAgeisthetitleofoneofJaspers'booksinEnglishtranslation
(London,1959).
19. InhishistoryofTheGreatPhilosophers,thechapteronNaagaarjunaisnot
includedintheselectionquotedabove(note8)inEnglishtranslation.
20. Cf.Bochenski,op.cit.,p.183.
21. Cf.AKierkegaardAnthology,editedbyR.Bretall,PrincetonUniv.Press,1951,
p.99(fromEitherOr)andp.346(fromTheSicknessUntoDeath).
22. Cf.JulianHuxley,ReligionwithoutRevelation,London,Watts,1967,an
analysischaracteristicforthenecessaryeliminationofelementswhichanup
todatedefinitionofreligionshouldnotanylongerpostulateasessential.
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23. ManintheModernAge,p.142ff.,andTheGreatPhilosophers,p.221.
24. Cf.TheGreatPhilosophers,p.200.
25. J.P.Sartre.BeingandNothingness,London,Methuen,1966,pp.615,576,
565,87,92.

AWalkintheWoods
byPhraKhantipalo
Comewithmeforawalkinthewoods.Itishot,silent,andnearlymiddaybutthereare
patchesofshadehereandtherewherewemaysit.Aroundustreesoffortyyearsare
onlytwentyfeethigh,sogreatisthestruggletosurvive.Manydieyoungandnever
mature.Youcanseetheiryoungskeletonsbeingrelentlesslydevouredbythetermites.
Tallertreesarescatteredhereandthere,batteredsurvivorsofacontinuousfightforlife.
Manyoftheirlimbshavebeentornoffinsuddenmonsoonsqualls,orelsetheyhave
rottedawaybyfungusanddiseaseandfinallyfallenoff.Youseethat"sawdust"about
thistree?Itstopwillsoonfallassomegrubiseatingawayitsheartwood.Lookover
thereatthatyoungtreeallaskewitsrootshavebeenattackedbysomepredatorand
soithasbeenblownover.Andthere,doyouseethatlargetree,itsbarkcoveredwith
mudplaster?Thetermitesareunderthatgnawingawayitsgreenwoodandwhenthey
succeedinringingitallroundthen,inasingleday,allitsleaveswillturnyellowand
sixtyyearsofgrowthcomestoanend.
Aboveus,youngleavesoftranslucentgreenmatchtheirbrillianceagainstthestartling
bluesky.Eventheseyoungtenderleavesarefullofholes,delicaciesforthegreat
beetlesthatbumbleaboutintheeveningair.Lowerdownthesetrees,themoremature
leavesareraggedandlendtotheforestathreadbarelook.Thoughtheymustbetough
stillitseemstheyarethefoodofsomeinsect.Hereandthereyoucanseeatthebase
ofbranchesandroundthelowerpartsofthetreesyellowleaveshanging,stiffly
awaiting,asitwere,theexecutionerwhowillcomeasabreathofwindandbringthem
down.Parted,theyaredisjoinedforeveronechangingprocessfromanotherchanging
process.Theyfallwithacrashamongtheundergrowth.Theretheyjoinhundredsof
thousandswhichfellbeforethemandlitterallthegroundwithacracklylayerofdecay.
Buttheydonotjustdecayslowlyattheirownspeed.Theirdecayisquickenedbya
myriadofants,termites,worms,andfunguses,allreadyforfoodandfightingtogetit,a
fearsomeundergroundjungleinminiature.
Abirdcallsandisstill.Farawaythebellsonthenecksofthewaterbuffaloatworkin
thericefieldsjingle.Insectsdroneby.Yousee,insectsarealwayseitherlookingfor
foodoravoidingbecomingthefoodofothers.Abreezeswaysthetreesandahuge
roundwasps'nestatthetopofaslendersaplinglooksmostinsecure.Danger!Flieshum
andbuzz,perchingonabambooswinginginconstantmotion.Cicadastick,click,and
whirfarandnearasthoughtheywerecountingthesecondsoftheirownand
everyoneelse'slives.Secondsandminutesflyintodaysandmonthstowardsdeath.
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Agroundlizarddartsforitsprey,catchesitandchewsthelivinginsectwithgreatrelish.
Anotherdeathinthisroundwheredeathgoesunremarkedbecauseitiseverywhere.
Antsswarmeverywhereinlines,partiesorarmies,inallshapesandsizes,accordingto
theirspecies.Theyplayagreatpartinthechangeofthisforestfortheyarethe
scavengers.Theyhaveonlytoscentdeathandtheywillbetherereadytoundertake
thedismembermentofthecorpse.Sometimesitisstillalive.Nodecayisuninteresting
tothem,itistheirlivelihoodandtheyarealwaysbusyforbeingsneverceasedecaying
anddying.
Spiderstooarefoundingreatvariety,allofthemreadytopounceonandbitetodeath
unwarysmallcreaturesthatbecomeentangledintheirshimmeringwebs.Theyhang
them,iridescentinthesunlighteverywhereanditisawonderthatanythingcanflyand
yetescapethem.Butevenspidersdonotescapedeath,usuallyfromthestingsoftheir
enemies,thehuntingwasps.Thoughtheswayingboughofbambooismostgracefulit
hasbeenmarkedaspartofthismenacingworldbyaspider'swebhungamongits
leaves.Andbamboosarecutdownbymenfortheirusefulness.Everything,thebeautiful
andtheuglyissubjecttoimpermanence.
Cloudspassacrosstheskybringingcoolnesstousherebelow.Theirshapeschange
fromminutetominute.Notevenonesecondthesame.Theylookverysolidyetwe
knowhowinsubstantialtheyare.Theyarejustlikethispresenttime...changing...
changing...
Lookoverhereintheforest,apileofashesandafewburntoutlogsrottingaway,and
look:hereisanotherolderheapnearlydispersed.Andotherpilesareroundaboutwith
occasionalcarvedwoodenpostssetintheground,allsmoldering.Whatarethey?These
marktheendsofmenandwomen.ThisforestatthebackoftheWat[1]isusedfor
cremation.Somedays,ifyougointhelateafternoonyouwillfindagroupofvillagers,
andaverysimpleopentoppedcoffin.Everyonecanseethebodythereclothedasheor
shediedandlooking,ascorpsesdounlessinterferedwith,quiterepulsive.Thedayof
cremationisthedayonwhichthepersondied,ortheverynextdayatthelatest.
Changesetsinfastandhideouslyinabodykeptinthehotcountries.Abigpileoflogs
hasbeenmadeandwithoutceremonyandwithnopretentioussolemnitythecoffinis
hoistedontop.Bhikkhushavingviewedthecorpsearethenaskedtochantandsome
giftsaregivenanddedicatedforthegoodofthedeadman.Thenwithoutmoreado
paraffinissplashedoverthepileanditissetalight.Somestaytoseeitburn.Youcan
soonseethebodyroastingthroughtheflameswhenthethinwalledcoffinhasburnt
out...untilamidsttheembersthereareonlysomecharredpiecesofbone..."Aniccaa
vatasankaaraa..."
Nowthesun,"theeyeoftheday,"haschangedhisposition,orwehavechangedours
andourshortwalkinthewoodsisnearlyover.Whathaveweseenthatdoesnotpass
away?EventhoughImaysaythatIlookoutofthewindowsofmyhuteverydayand
seethesametrees,howneartotruthisthis?Howcanthetreesbethesame?Theyare
steadilychangingtheyareunstableandcertaintocometoanendinonewayor
another.Theyhavehadabeginningandtheymusthaveanend.
Andwhataboutthis"I"whoseesthesetrees,theforest,theburninggroundandsoon?
Permanentorimpermanent?Everyonecananswerthisquestion,forwehaveseenthe
answerintheforest.When"I"feeldepressedandlookatthetreestheyseemstark,
uglymotheatenspecimens.Butwhen"I"amgladandlookuponthem,see,how
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beautifultheyare!If,whileonourwalk,welookedonlyattheimpermanence"out
there,"nowisthetimetobringthelessonhometotheheart.EverythingthatIamis
impermanent,unstable,suretochangeanddeteriorate.
Ifimpermanencemeantchangeallthetimetowardsbetterandhappierstateshow
excellentourworldwouldbe!Butimpermanenceisalliedwithdeterioration.All
compoundsbreakdown,allmadethingsfalltopieces,allconditionedthingspassaway
withthepassingofthoseconditions.Everythingandeverybodythatincludesyouand
medeteriorates,ages,decays,breaksup,andpassesaway.Andwe,livinginthe
forestofdesires,areentirelycomposedoftheimpermanent.Yetourdesireimpelsus
nottoseethis,thoughimpermanencestaresusinthefacefromeverysinglething
around.Anditconfrontsuswhenwelookwithinmindandbody,arisingandpassing
away.
Sodon'tturnontheTV,gotothepictures,readabook,seizesomefood,orahundred
otherdistractionsjusttoavoidseeingthis.Thisistheonethingreallyworthseeing,for
onewhofullyseesitinhimselfisFree.
TheJewelForestMonastery
SakhonNakorn,Siam

Notes
1. WatistheThaiwordforaBuddhistmonastery.

TheBuddhistDoctrineofAnicca
(Impermanence)
byY.Karunadasa,Ph.D.(London)
TheBuddhistdoctrineofanicca,thetransitorinessofallphenomena,findsclassical
expressionintheoftrecurrentformula:Sabbesankhaaraaaniccaa,andinthemore
popularstatement:Aniccaavatasankhaaraa.Boththeseformulasamounttosaying
thatallconditionedthingsorphenomenalprocesses,mentalaswellasmaterial,thatgo
tomakeupthesa.msaaricplaneofexistencearetransientorimpermanent.Thislawof
impermanenceisnottheresultofanykindofmetaphysicalinquiryorofanymystical
intuition.Itisastraightforwardjudgmentarrivedatbyinvestigationandanalysis,and
assuchitsbasisisentirelyempirical.
Itisinfactforthepurposeofshowingtheinsubstantialityandimpermanenceofthe
worldofexperiencethatBuddhismanalyzesitintoamultiplicityofbasicfactors.The
earliestattemptsatexplainingthissituationarerepresentedintheanalysisintofive
khandas,twelveaayatanas,andeighteendhaatus.IntheAbhidhammawegetthemost
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detailedanalysisintoeightyonebasicelements,whichareintroducedbythetechnical
term,dhammaa.Thesearethebasicfactorsintowhichtheempiricindividualityin
relationtotheexternalworldisultimatelyanalyzed.Theypurporttoshowthatthere
doesnotexista"unity,""substance,""atta,"or"jiiva."Intheultimateanalysistheso
calledunityisacomplexoffactors,"one"isreally"many."Thisappliestobothmindand
matterequally.Inthecaseoflivingbeingsthereisnosoulorselfwhichisimmortal,
whileinthecaseofthingsingeneralthereisnoessencewhichiseverperduring.
Thesebasicfactors,accordingtoBuddhism,donotimplyanabsoluteunity(ekatta).
Theyarenotfractionsofawhole,butanumberofcoordinateultimates.Althoughreal
theyarenotpermanent.Noraretheymutuallyunconnected.Assuchtheydonotimply
atheoryofabsoluteseparateness(puthutta)either.Agoodexampleofthiskindof
worldviewisthatofPakudhaKaccaayana,whoseekstoexplainthecompositionofthe
worldwithreferencetoseveneternallyexistingandmutuallyunconnectedsubstances.
Thisreducestheworldtoaconcatenationofseparateanddiscreteentities,withno
interconnection,withnointerdependence.TheBuddhistviewofexistencedoesnot
amounttosuchanextreme,foraccordingtoBuddhismthebasicfactorsareinter
connectedwithlawsofcausationandconditionality.ThustheBuddhistdoctrineof
impermanenceisbasedbothonanalysisandsynthesis.Itisthroughanalysisthatthe
empiricalworldisreducedtoamultiplicityofbasicfactors,anditisthroughcausality
thattheyareagainsynthesized.
Thatexistencedoesnotconsistofaneternalsubstance,mentalormaterial,butis
composedofavarietyofconstantlychangingfactorsistheconclusionthatcanbedrawn
fromtheanalysisintokhandhas,aayatanas,dhaatus,anddhammas.Onthe
impermanenceofthefivekhandhasthatmakeuptheempiricindividuality,wefindthis
statementintheSa.myuttanikaaya:"Thereisnomaterialitywhatever,Omonks,no
feeling,noperception,noformations,noconsciousnesswhateverthatispermanent,
everlasting,eternal,changeless,identicallyabidingforever."ThentheBlessedOne
tookabitofcowdunginhishandandhespoketothemonks:"Monks,ifeventhatmuch
ofpermanent,everlasting,eternal,changelessindividualselfhood[attabhaava],
identicallyabidingforever,couldbefound,thenthislivingofalifeofpurity
[brahmacariya]forthecompleteeradicationofIll[dukkhakkhaya]wouldnotbefeasible"
(SN22.96).
WhatisrevolutionaryabouttheBuddhistdoctrineofimpermanenceisthatitisextended
toincludeeverything,includingconsciousness,whichisusuallytakentobepermanent,
asthesoulorasoneofitsqualities.TheMajjhimaNikaayarecordshowBhikkhuSaati
misunderstoodBuddha'steachingtomeanthatconsciousnessisapermanententity,
whichpassesfromoneexistencetoanother,liketheniraasrayavi~n~naanaofthe
Upanisads.ThisledtheBuddhatoformulatethewellknownprinciple:A~n~natra
paccayaanatthivi~n~naanassasambhavoThereisnoarisingofconsciousness
withoutreferencetoacondition.Thisisfurtherexplainedtomeanthatconsciousness
comesintobeing(sambhoti)independenceonaduality.
Whatisthatduality?Itiseye,whichisimpermanent,changing,becomingother,
andvisibleobjects,whichareimpermanent,changing,andbecomingother:
suchisthetransient,fugitiveduality[ofeyecumvisibleobjects],whichis
impermanent,changing,andbecomingother.Eyeconsciousnesstoois
impermanent.Forhowcouldeyeconsciousnessarisenbydependingonan
impermanentconditionbepermanent?Thecoincidence,concurrence,and
confluenceofthesethreefactorswhichiscalledcontactandthoseothermental
phenomenaarisingasaresultarealsoimpermanent.(Thesameformulais
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phenomenaarisingasaresultarealsoimpermanent.(Thesameformulais
appliedtotheothersenseorgansandtheconsciousnessesnamedafterthem.)
SN35.93

ItisinviewoftheimpermanenceandinsubstantialityofconsciousnessthatBuddhahas
declared:
Betterwereitbhikkhusthattheuneducatedmanyfolkshouldconceivethis
fourelementmadebody,ratherthancitta,tobesoul.Andwhy?Thebodyis
seentopersistforayear,fortwo,three,four,five,tenortwentyyears,fora
generation,evenforahundredyearsorevenforlonger,whilethatwhichis
calledconsciousness,thatismind,thatisintelligence,arisesasonething,
ceasesasanother,bothbydayandnight.
SN12.61

Becauseofitsacceptanceofthislawofuniversalimpermanence,Buddhismstandsin
directoppositiontosassatavaadaoreternalism,whichusuallygoeshandinhandwith
aatmavaada,i.e.,beliefinsomekindofimmortalsoul.TheBrahmajaalaSuttaofthe
Diighanikaayaalonereferstomorethantenvarietiesofeternalism,onlytorefutethem
asmisconceptionsofthetruenatureoftheempiricalworld.Butthisrefutationof
eternalismdoesnotleadtotheacceptance,onthepartofBuddhism,oftheother
extreme,namelyucchedavaadaorannihilationism,whichusuallygoeshandinhandwith
materialism.TheBuddhistrefutationofboththeseextremesfindsclassicalexpressionin
thefollowingwordsoftheBuddha:
Thisworld,OKaccaayana,generallyproceedsonaduality,ofthe"itis"andthe
"itisnot."But,OKaccaayana,whoeverperceivesintruthandwisdomhow
thingsoriginateintheworld,forhimthereisno"itisnot"inthisworld.Whoever,
Kaccaayana,perceivesintruthandwisdomhowthingspassawayintheworld,
forhimthereisno"itis"inthisworld.
SN12.15

ThisstatementoftheBuddhareferstotheduality(dvayataa)ofexistence(atthitaa)
andnonexistence(natthitaa).Thesearethetwotheoriesofeternalismand
annihilationismwhichfindexpressioninmanyformsinvarioustypesofreligionand
philosophy.Theformerimpliesbeliefinapermanentandchangelesssubstanceorentity,
whetheritisconceivedasapluralityofindividualsoulsasinJainism,orasamonistic
worldsoulasinVedaanta,orasadeityofsomekindasinmostofthetheisticreligions.
Thelatter,ontheotherhand,impliesabeliefinthetemporaryexistenceofseparate
soulsorpersonalitieswhichareentirelydestroyedordissolvedafterdeath.Agood
exampleofthiskindofphilosophyistheoneadvocatedbyAjitaKesakambaliwhich
findsmentionintheSaama~n~naphalaSutta.
Incontrast,accordingtoBuddhism,everythingistheproductofantecedentcausesand
thereforeofdependentorigination(pa.ticcasamuppanna).Thesecausesthemselvesare
noteverlastingandstatic,butsimplyantecedentaspectsofthesameceaseless
becoming.Everyeventistheresultofaconcatenationofdynamicprocesses
(sankhaara).NeitherBeingnornonBeingisthetruth.ThereisonlyBecoming,
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happeningbywayofcause,continuitywithoutidentity,persistencewithoutapersistent
substance."HewhodiscernsoriginbywayofcausehediscernstheDhamma,hewho
discernstheDhammahediscernsoriginbywayofcause."
Thusbyacceptingthetheoryofcausationandconditionality,Buddhismavoidsthetwo
extremesofsabba.matthi(everythingis)andsabba.mnatthi(everythingisnot)and
advocatessabba.mbhavati,"everythingbecomes,"i.e.,happensbywayofcauseand
effect.ItisalsobecauseofthistheorythatBuddhismcouldavoidthetwoextremesof
niyativaada(determinism)andahetuappaccayavaada(indeterminism).Accordingto
theformereverythingisabsolutelypredetermined,accordingtothelattereverything
happenswithoutreferencetoanycauseorcondition.Accordingtoboththereisnoroom
forfreewillandassuchmoralresponsibilitygetscompletelyruledout.Byitstheoryof
causationBuddhismavoidsbothextremesandestablishesfreewillandmoral
responsibility.
Thesecondbasiccharacteristicoftheworldofexperience,namelydukkha
(unsatisfactoriness)isbutalogicalcorollaryarisingfromthislawofuniversal
impermanence.Fortheimpermanentnatureofeverythingcanbutleadtoone
inescapableconclusion:Aseverythingisimpermanent,theycannotbemadethebasis
ofpermanenthappiness.Whateveristransientisbythatveryfactunsatisfactoryyad
anicca.mta.mdukkha.m.Sinceeveryformofsa.msaaricexistenceisimpermanent,itis
alsocharacterizedbyunsatisfactoriness.Thusthepremise:"sabbesankhaaraaaniccaa"
leadstotheconclusion:"sabbesankhaaraadukkhaa."
Asindicativeofageneralcharacteristicofphenomena,thetermdukkhashouldnotbe
understoodinanarrowersensetomeanonlypain,suffering,misery,orsorrow.Asa
philosophicaltermithasawiderconnotation,aswideasthatofthetermanicca.Inthis
widersense,itincludesdeeperideassuchasimperfection,unrest,conflict,inshort,
unsatisfactoriness.Thisispreciselywhyeventhestatesofjhaana,resultingfromthe
practiceofhighermeditationandwhichfreefromsufferingasordinarilyunderstood,are
alsoincludedindukkha.Thisisalsowhythecharacterizationdukkhaisextendedeven
tomatter(ruupa).TheVisuddhimaggaofBuddhaghosarecognizesthesewider
implicationsofthetermwhenitexplainsitasthreefold,namelydukkhadukkha
(dukkhaassuffering),vipari.naamadukkha(dukkhaaschange),andsankhaaradukkha
(dukkhaasconditionedstate).
Asadirectandnecessarycorollaryofthisfactofdukkha,wecometothethirdbasic
characteristicofallphenomena,namelyanatta,whichfindsexpressioninthewell
knownstatement:Sabbedhammaaanattaa.Fortheunsatisfactorynatureofeverything
shouldleadtothisimportantconclusion:Ifeverythingischaracterizedby
unsatisfactoriness,nothingcanbeidentifiedastheselforasapermanentsoul(attaa).
Whatisdukkha(bythatveryfact)isalsoanatta.Whatisnottheselfcannotbe
consideredasIam(ahanti),asmine(mamanti),orasIamthat(asmiiti).
AccordingtoBuddhismtheideaofselforsoulisnotonlyafalseandimaginarybelief,
withnocorrespondingobjectivereality,butisalsoharmfulfromanethicalpointofview.
ForitproducessuchharmfulthoughtsofI,me,andmine,selfishdesires,attachments,
andallotherunwholesomestatesofmind(akusalaadhammaa).Itcouldalsobea
miseryindisguisetoonewhoacceptsitastrue:
"Doyousee,Obhikkhus,suchasoultheoryintheacceptanceofwhich,there
wouldnotarisegrief,lamentation,suffering,distress,andtribulation?"
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"Certainlynot,Sir."
"Good,Obhikkhus,Itoo,Obhikkhus,donotseeasoultheory,inthe
acceptanceofwhichtherewouldnotarisegrief,lamentation,suffering,distress,
andtribulation."
MN22

ThisbringsintoreliefthecloseconnectionbetweentheBuddhistdoctrineof
impermanenceandBuddhistethics:Iftheworldofexperienceisimpermanent,bythat
veryfactitcannotbemadethebasisofpermanenthappiness.Whatisnotpermanent
(anicca)andthereforewhatischaracterizedbyunsatisfactoriness(dukkha)cannotbe
consideredastheself(anatta).Andwhatisnottheself(atta)cannotbeconsideredas
one'sown(saka)orasahavenofsecurity(taa.na).Forthethingsthatonegets
attachedtoareconstantlychanging.Henceattachmenttothemwouldonlyleadto
unrestandsorrow.Butwhenoneknowsthingsastheytrulyare(yathaabhuuta.m),i.e.,
asanicca,dukkha,andanatta,oneceasestogetagitatedbythem,oneceasestotake
refugeinthem.Justasattachmenttothingsistogetfetteredbythem,evenso
detachmentfromthemistogetfreedfromthem.ThusinthecontextofBuddhistethics,
theperceptionofimpermanenceisonlyapreliminarysteptotheeradicationofall
cravings,whichinturnhastheattainmentofNibbaanaasitsfinalgoal.
ItwillthusbeseenthattheBuddhistdoctrineofanicca,onwhichisalsobasedthe
doctrineofdukkhaandanatta,canrightlybecalledtheveryfoundationofthewhole
edificeofBuddhistphilosophyandethics.ThisexplainswhytheBuddhahasdeclared
thattheveryperceptionofthisfact,namelythatwhatevercomesintoexistenceisalso
subjecttodissolution(ya.mki~ncisamudayadhamma.msabba.mta.m
nirodhadhamma.m)isindeedtheveryarisingofthestainlessEyeoftheDoctrine
(dhammacakkhu).

TheTheoryofMomentariness
TheBuddhistdoctrineofimpermanence,asexplainedinthecanonicaltexts,doesreally
amounttoatheoryofmomentariness,inthesensethateverythingisinastateof
constantflux.ThisbecomesclearfromapassageintheAnguttaraNikaaya(AN3.47),
wherethethreesankhatalakkha.nas(thecharacteristicsofthatwhichiscompounded)
areexplained.Hereitissaidthatthatwhichissankhata(compounded)hasthree
fundamentalcharacteristics,namelyuppaada(origination),vaya(dissolution),and
.thitassaa~n~nathatta(otherwisenessofthatwhichisexisting).Fromthisitfollows
thattheBuddhistdoctrineofchangeshouldnotbeunderstoodintheordinarysensethat
somethingarises,existsforsometimeinamoreorlessstaticform,anddissolves.On
thecontrary,thethirdcharacteristic,i.e.,.thitassaa~n~nathattashowsthatbetween
itsarisingandcessation,athingisallthetimechanging,withnostaticphasein
between.ThustheBuddhistdoctrineofchangedoesreallyamounttoatheoryof
universalflux.
Asfarastheapplicationofthistheoryofchangeisconcerned,thereisnothingto
suggestthatearlyBuddhismhadmadeanydistinctionbetweenmindandmatter.
However,someschoolsofBuddhism,notablytheMahaasaanghikas,Vaatsiiputriyas,and
Sammitiiyas,whilerecognizingthemomentarydurationofmentalelements,assigneda
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relativepermanencetomatter.Others,suchastheSarvaastivaadins,Mahiisaasakas,
andSautraantikasobjectedtointroducinganysuchdistinctionanddeclaredthatall
elementsofexistence,mentalaswellasmaterial,areofmomentaryduration,of
instantaneousbeing.

TheTheoryofMoment(ksa.navaada)
InthevariousschoolsofBuddhismtheearlyBuddhistdoctrineofchangecametobe
explainedonthebasisofaformulatedtheoryofmoments.Thistheoryisbasedonthe
threesankhatalakkha.naswhichwereferredtoearlier.Itisinfactontheinterpretation
ofthethirdsankhatalakkha.na,namely.thitassaa~n~nathattathatthedifferent
schoolsofBuddhismdifferwidely,asiftojustifytheverymeaningconveyedbythese
twowords.
TheVaibhaasikaSchoolofBuddhisminterpretsthityanyathaatva(=.thitassa
a~n~nathatta)asjarataa,postulateanothercharacteristiccalledsthiti,andthus
increasethenumberofsankhatalakkha.nastofour:(i)jaati(origination),(ii)sthitii
(existence),(iii)jarataa(decay),(iv)anityataa(extinction).Allelements,mentalas
wellasmaterial,characterisedbythemaresa.mskrta(=sankhata).Onlyaakaasa
(space)andNirvaanaescapefromtheirinexorablesway.Ateverymoment(ksa.na)all
mentalandmaterialelementsareaffectedbythem.Amomentisdefinedasthetime
duringwhichthefourcharacteristicsaccomplishtheiroperation.TheVaibhaasikasalso
maintainthatthesecharacteristicsarenotonlydistinctfrom,butalsoasrealasthe
thingswhichtheycharacterizeshowingtherebyastrongpredilectiontonaiverealism.
Andinkeepingwiththistheory,itisalsoclaimedthattheyareinturncharacterizedby
secondarycharacteristics(anulaksa.nas).
TheSautraantikaSchoolofBuddhismdoesnotagreewiththisinterpretationofthe
Vaibhaasikas.Intheirview,thefourcharacteristicsapplynottoonebuttoaseriesof
momentaryelements:"Theseriesitselfiscalledsthiti(subsistence),itsoriginiscalled
jaati,itscessationisvyaya,andthedifferenceinitsprecedingandsucceedingmoments
iscalledsthityanyathaatva"(Abhidharmakosa,III,78).Amomentaryelement,sothey
argue,cannothaveaphasecalledsthitiorjarataa,forwhateverthatoriginateshasno
timetosubsistordecaybuttoperish.Theyalsopointoutthatthesefourcharacteristics
aremeredesignationswithnoobjectivereality.Theycriticizetherecognitionof
secondarycharacteristicsonthegroundthatthiswouldleadtothefallacyofinfinite
regress(anavasthaa).Forifthefourcharacteristicsrequireasetofsecondary
characteristicstoaccountfortheirorigination,etc.,thenthesesecondarycharacteristics
willinturnrequireanothersetofsecondarycharacteristicstoaccountfortheir
origination,etc.,andinthismannertheprocesscouldbestretchedindefinitely.This
problemdoesnotarisesorunstheargumentifthecharacteristicsarenot
recognizedasrealasthethingstheycharacterize.
HowtheTheravaadinsdevelopedthedoctrineofimpermanence,andhowthey
interpretedthesankhatalakkha.nascouldbeunderstoodclearlywhenthesubjectis
unfoldedagainstthisbackground.
ThemoststrikingfeatureoftheTheravadatheoryisthatthefactofmomentarinessis
explainedinquiteadifferentway:Eachdhamma(elementofexistence)hasthree
moments,namelyuppaadakkha.na,themomentoforigination.thitikkha.na,the
momentofsubsistenceandbhangakkha.na,themomentofcessation.Thesethree
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momentsdonotcorrespondtothreedifferentdhammas.Onthecontrary,theyrepresent
threephasesthenascent,thestatic,andcessantofone"momentary"dhamma.
Hencethestatementthatdhammasaremomentarymeansthatagivendhammahas
threemomentaryphasesorstages.Itarisesinthefirstmoment,subsistsinthesecond
moment,andperishesinthethirdmoment.
LiketheSautraantikas,theTheravaadinstooacceptthefactthatamomentarydhamma
hasnophasecalledjarataaordecay.Accordingtotheargumentofbothschools,the
attributionofjarataa,whichimpliessomekindofchangeortransformation,toa
momentarydhammaistoacceptpari.naamavaada,accordingtowhichtheessence,the
substanceremainsthesamewhileitsmodesundergochange.Change,asitcametobe
finallydefinedintheschoolsofBuddhistlogic,isnotthetransformationofoneandthe
samedhammafromonestagetoanother,butthereplacementofonemomentary
dhammabyanother.ThefollowingargumentintheAbhidharmakosa,whichisdirected
againsttheVaibhaasikaswhoadmitjarataaofonemomentarydhamma,clarifiesthis
situation:"Buthowcanyouspeakofjarataaorchangeinrespectofonemomentary
dhamma?Whatiscalledjarataaorchangeisthetransformationordissimilaritybetween
twostages.Isitpossibletosaythatadharmabecomesdifferentfromitself.Ifit
remainsunchangeditcannotbeanother.Ifitistransformeditisnotthesame.
Thereforethetransformationofonedhammaisnotpossible"(Abhidharmakosa,III,56).
HencetheSautraantikasandtheTheravaadinsapplythecharacteristicofjarataaonlyto
aseriesofmomentarydhammas.Intheiropinionwhatiscalledjarataaisthedifference
betweentheprecedingandthesucceedingmomentsofaseries.Thereis,however,this
differencetobenoted:UnliketheSautraantikas,theTheravaadinsdonotdenythe
staticphase(.thiti)ofamomentarydhamma.TheTheravadaargumentinsupportof
theiracceptingthestaticphaseisasfollows:Itistruethatadhammathatoriginates
shouldalsoceasetoexist.Butbeforeitcouldceasetoexist,thereshouldbeatleasta
momentwhenitturnstowardsitsowncessation(nirodhaabhimukhaavatthaa).Itisthis
momentwhenadhammaisfacingitsowncessationthatwecallthestaticphase.The
logicofthisargumentisthatadhammathatarisescannotceasetoexistatthesame
time,forotherwiseexistenceandnonexistencewouldbecomecoexistent!
Onelogicaldevelopmentofthistheoryofmomentsisthedenialofmotion.For,ifallthe
elementsofexistenceareofmomentaryduration,theyhavenotimetomove.Inthe
caseofmomentaryelements,whereverappearancetakesplacethereitselftakesplace
disappearance(yatraivotpattihtatraivavinaasah).Inkeepingwiththistheory,motionis
givenanewdefinition.Accordingtothisdefinition,motionhastobeunderstood,notas
themovementofonematerialelementfromonelocusinspacetoanother(desaantara
sa.mkraant),butastheappearanceofmomentaryelementsinadjacentlocations
(desaantarotpatti),creatingafalsepictureofmovement.Thebestexamplegiveninthis
caseisthelightofthelamp.Thesocalledlightofthelamp,itisargued,isnothingbuta
commondesignationgiventoanuninterruptedproductionofaseriesofflashingpoints.
Whentheproductionchangesplaceonesaysthatthelighthaschanged.Butinreality
otherflameshaveappearedinanotherplace.

Anicca(Impermanence)
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AccordingtoTheravada
byBhikkhuanamoli
AccordingtotheTheravada,aniccaisthefirstofwhatareoftencalledinBuddhist
literaturethe"ThreeCharacteristics"(tilakkha.na)orthe"GeneralCharacteristics"
(saama~n~nalakkha.na).Aniccaisusuallytreatedasthebasisfortheothertwo,
thoughanattaa,thethird,issometimesfoundedondukkhaalone.
ThenormalEnglishequivalentforaniccais"impermanent."
DERIVATIONS
Theadjectiveanicca(impermanent)isderivedinmodernetymologyfromthenegative
prefixaplusnicca(permanent:cf.VedicSanskritnityafromprefixnimeaning
"onward,downward").TheParamatthama~njuusaa(commentarytotheVisuddhimagga)
andalsothePoraanaTiikaa(oneofthethreecommentariestothe
Abhidhammatthasa"ngaha)agreethat"Becauseitdenieseverlastingness,itisnot
permanent,thusitisimpermanent"(naniccantianicca.m:VisA.125).TheVibhaavinii
TikaaandSankhepava.n.nanaa(theothertwocommentariestotheAbhs.)prefera
derivationfromthenegativeprefixanplusrootitogo:"Cannotbegoneto,isun
approachable,asapermanent,everlastingstate,thusitisimpermanent"(...naiccam,
anupagantabbantianiccam).
DE FI NI T I ONS
PrincipaldefinitionsgivenintheSuttaPi.takaareasfollows."'Impermanent,
impermanent'itissaid,Lord.Whatisimpermanent?""Materiality[ruupa]is
impermanent,Raadha,andsoarefeeling[vedanaa]andperception[sa~n~naa]and
formations[sankhaara]andconsciousness[vi~n~naa.na]"(SN23.1).Thisstatementis
summarizedbyaCanonicalcommentarythus:"Whatisimpermanent?Thefive
categories[khandha]areimpermanent.Inwhatsenseimpermanent?Impermanentin
thesenseofriseandfall[udayavaya]"(Ps.Aanaapaanakathaa/vol.i,230).Again,"All
isimpermanent.Andwhatistheallthatisimpermanent?Theeyeisimpermanent,
visualobjects[ruupaa]...eyeconsciousness...eyecontact[cakkusamphassa]...
whateverisfelt[vedayita]aspleasantorunpleasantorneitherunpleasantnor
pleasant,bornofeyecontactisimpermanent.[Likewisewiththeear,nose,tongue,
body,andmind]"(SN35.43/vol.iv,28)or,quitesuccinctly,"Allformationsare
impermanent"(MN35/vol.i,230)and"Whateverissubjecttoorigination[samudaya]is
subjecttocessation[nirodha]"(MN56/vol.i,380).TheCanonicalcommentaryadds
"Materiality[etc.]isimpermanentinthesenseofexhaustion[khaya]"(Ps.
~Naa.nakathaa/vol.i,37).
Forreasonsgivenbelow,impermanenceinstrictAbhidhammatreatmentappears,along
withcontinuity(santati),etc.,onlyasoneofthesecondary(derivative)constituentsof
thematerialitycategory(seee.g.,Dhs.&645),ofwhichthecommentarysays
"Impermanenceofmaterialityhasthecharacteristicofcompletebreakup.Itsnatureis
tomakeinstancesofmaterialitysubside.Itismanifestedastheirexhaustionandfall.
Itsfootingismaterialitythatiscompletelybreakingup"(Vis.Ch.XIV/p.450).Asection
oftheVibha"nga,however,whichdoesnotfollowthestrictAbhidhammamethod,
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extendsimpermanencetothehighestkindsofheavenlyexistence,beyondthosewith
finemateriality(ruupa)totheimmaterial(aruupa)wherethereisperceptiononlyof
infinityofspace,infinityofconsciousness,nothingness,orreducedperceptionof
nothingness(DhammahadayaVibha"nga).
ThecommentariesofAcariyaBuddhaghosaelaboratetheSuttadefinitionsfurther,
distinguishingbetween"theimpermanentandthecharacteristicofimpermanence.The
fivecategoriesaretheimpermanent.Why?Becausetheiressenceistoriseandfalland
change,andbecause,afterhavingbeen,theyarenot.Butthecharacteristicof
impermanenceistheirstateofriseandfallandalternation,oritistheirmode
transformation[aakaaravikaara]callednonbeingafterhavingbeen"(Vis.Ch.XXI/p.
640)again"Theeye[etc.,]canbeknownasimpermanentinthesenseofitsnonbeing
afterhavingbeenanditisimpermanentforfourreasonsaswellbecauseithasrise
andfall,becauseitchanges,becauseitistemporary,andbecauseitdenies
permanence"(VbhA.41cf.MA.ad,MN22/vol.ii,113),and"Sinceitsdestinyisnon
beingandsinceitabandonsitsnaturalessencebecauseofthetransmission[ofpersonal
continuity]toanewstateofbeing[onrebirth],itis'subjecttochange,'whichissimply
synonymouswithitsimpermanence"(VbhA.49).
T RE AT M E NT I N T HE SU T T AS AND COM M E NT ARI E S
Havingdealtwithderivationsanddefinitions,wecannowturntotheSuttasand
commentariesagaininordertoseehowthissubjectishandledthereforinthisarticle
weshallbemainlyconcernedwithquotations,leavingdiscussiontootherarticles.
Butatthispoint,itisconvenienttoapproachthedoctrineofimpermanencefirstfrom
thepointofviewofitasadescriptionofwhatactuallyis(yathaabhuuta),leavingtill
laterthepointofviewofitasabasisforevaluationandjudgment,whichisthereason
andjustificationforthedescription.
Impermanenceisobservableempiricallyandisobjectivelyandpubliclyevident,always
iflookedfor,andfromtimetotimeforcingitselfuponournotice.Externallyitisfoundin
theinconstancyof"things,"whichextendseventotheperiodicaldescriptionofworld
systems(seee.g.,MN28SN15.20AN7.62)andinoneselfitcanbeobserved,for
instance,inthebody'sinadequacy(aadiinava)becauseitages,ispronetosickness,
dies,andgraduallydecaysafterdeath(seeMN13)lifeisshort(AN7.70).But"itwould
bebetterforanuntaughtordinarymantotreatasself[attaa]thisbody,whichis
constructeduponthefourgreatentities[mahaabhuuta],thencognizance[citta].Why?
Becausethisbodycanlastoneyear,twoyears,...evenahundredyearsbutwhatis
called'cognizance'and'mind'[mano]and'consciousness'[vi~n~naa.na]risesand
ceasesdifferentlythroughnightandday,justasamonkeyrangingthroughaforest
seizesabranch,and,lettingthatgo,seizesanother"(SN12.61/vol.ii,94.5).
Neverthelessobservanceofempiricalimpermanencemightnotalonesufficeforthe
radicalpositionaccordedbytheBuddhatothischaracteristic.Thisisestablished,
however,bydiscovery,throughreasonedattention,ofaregularstructureinthe
subjectiveobjectiveprocessofitsoccurrence:"Thisbody[forexample]is
impermanent,itisformed[sa.nkhata],anditisdependentlyarisen[pa.ticca
samuppanna]"(SN36.7/vol.iv,211cf.SN22.21/vol.iii,24).Here,infact,three
aspectsaredistinguished,threenecessaryandinterlockingconstituentsof
impermanence,namely(1)change,(2)formation(as"this,notthat,"withoutwhichno
changecouldbeperceived),and(3)arecognizablepatterninachangingprocess(also
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called"specificconditionality"(idapaccayataa),whichpatternissetoutintheformulaof
dependentorigination(pa.ticcasamuppaada).Weshalltakethesethreeaspectsin
order.
( 1)
ThereisnosingletreatiseonthecharacteristicofimpermanenceeitherintheTipi.taka
oritscommentaries,andsoweshallhavetobringtogetherpassagesfromanumberof
sources.WemayalsobearinmindthattheBuddhadoesnotconfinedescriptionsofa
generalnaturesuchasthistotheobservedalone,butextendsthemtoincludethe
observer,regardedasactivelycommittedintheworldheobservesandactingonitasit
actsonhim,solongascravingandignoranceremainunabolished."Thatintheworldby
whichoneperceivestheworld[lokasa~n~nii]andconceivesconceptsabouttheworld
[lokamaanii]iscalled'theworld'intheAriyas'sDiscipline.Andwhatisitintheworld
withwhichonedoesthat?Itiswiththeeye,ear,nose,tongue,body,andmind"(SN
35.116/vol.iv,95).Thatsameworld"isbeingwornaway[lujjhati],thatiswhyitis
called'world'[loka]"(SN35.82/vol.iv,52).Thatimpermanenceisnotonlyappropriate
toallofanyarisensituationbutalsotothetotalityofallarisensituations:
"Bhikkhu,thereisnomaterialitywhatever...feeling...perception...formations...
consciousnesswhateverthatispermanent,everlasting,eternal,notsubjectto
change,thatwilllastaslongaseternity."
ThentheBlessedOnetookasmallpieceofcowdunginhishandhetoldthe
bhikkhu:"Bhikkhu,ifeventhatmuchofpermanent,everlasting,eternal
individualselfhood[attabhaava],notsubjecttochangecouldbefound,thenthis
livingofalifeofpurity[brahmacariya]couldnotbedescribedasforthe
completeexhaustionofsuffering[dukkhakkhaya]."
SN22.96/vol.iii,144

Andagain:
"Bhikkhus,Idonotdisputewiththeworld[the'world'inthesenseofother
people],theworlddisputeswithme:noonewhoproclaimstheTrueIdea
[dhamma]disputeswithanyoneintheworld.Whatwisemenintheworldsay
thereisnot[natthi],thatItoosaythereisnotandwhatwisemenintheworld
saythereis[atthi],thatItoosaythereis...Wisemenintheworldsaythereis
nopermanent,everlasting,eternalmaterialitynotsubjecttochange,andItoo
saythereisnone.[Andlikewisewiththeotherfourcategories.]Wisemeninthe
worldsaythatthereisimpermanentmaterialitythatisunpleasantandthe
subjecttochange,andItoosaythereisthat."
SN22.94/vol.iii,1389

Impermanence,itispointedoutinthecommentaries,isnotalwaysevidentunless
lookedfor.
Thecharacteristicofimpermanencedoesnotbecomeapparentbecause,when
riseandfallarenotgivenattention,itisconcealedbycontinuity...However,
whencontinuityisdisruptedbydiscerningriseandfall,thecharacteristicof
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impermanencebecomesapparentinitstruenature."
Vis.Ch.xxi/p.640

"Whencontinuityisdisrupted"meanswhencontinuityisexposedbyobservation
oftheperpetualalterationofdhammasastheygoonoccurringinsuccession.
Foritisnotthroughdhammas'connectednessthatthecharacteristicof
impermanencebecomesapparenttoonewhorightlyobservesriseandfall,but
ratherthecharacteristicbecomesproperlyevidentthroughtheir
disconnectedness,[regarded]asiftheywereirondarts."
VisA.824

( 2)
Thisleadsustothesecondofthethreeaspects,thatoftheformationmentionedabove
fortobeimpermanentistohaveabeginningandanend,tohaveriseandfall.
"Bhikkhus,therearethreeformedcharacteristicsoftheformed:arisingisevidentand
fallisevidentandthealterationofwhatispresent[.thitassaa~n~nathattam]is
evident"(AN3.47/vol.i,152).AndonewhopossessestheFiveFactorsofEndeavor
[padhaaniya"nga]"hasunderstanding,possessesunderstanding[pa~n~naa]extending
toriseanddisappearance"(DN33/vol.iii,237).
AcariyaBuddhaghosamakesuseoftheempiricallyobservableinordertoarriveatthe
radicalconceptofriseandfall.Acupgetsbroken(VbhA.49)theasokatree'sshootcan
beseentochangeinthecourseofafewdaysfrompaletodarkredandthenthrough
browntogreenleaves,whicheventuallyturnyellow,wither,andfalltotheground(Vis.
Ch.xx/p.625).Theillustrationofalightedlampisalsousedwhereitgoestowhenits
oilandwickareusedupnooneknows...Butthatiscrudelyputfortheflameineach
thirdportionofthewickasitgraduallyburnsawayceasestherewithoutreachingthe
otherparts...Thatiscrudelyputtoofortheflameineachinch,ineachhalfinch,in
eachthread,ineachstrand,willceasewithoutreachingtheotherstrandsbutnoflame
canappearwithoutastrand(Vis.Ch.xx/p.622).Byregardingseemingstabilityinever
shorterperiodsandminuterdetail,amomentaryviewisarrivedat.Anythingwhatever,
firstanalyzedintoafivecategorysituation,isthenregardedasarisinganewineach
moment(kha.na)andimmediatelydissolving,"likesesamumseedscracklingwhenput
intoahotpan"(Vis.Ch.xx/pp.622,626).Thisisfurtherdevelopedinthecommentary
totheVisuddhimagga:
Formed[sa"nkhata]dhammas'arisingbymeansofcauseandcondition,their
comingtobeafternotbeing,theiracquisitionofindividuality[attabhaava],is
theirrise.Theirinstantaneouscessationandexhaustionwhenarisenistheirfall.
Theirotherstatethroughagingistheiralteration.Forjustaswhentheoccasion
[avatthaa]ofarisingdissolvesandtheoccasionofdissolution[bha"nga]
succeedsit,thereisnobreakinthebasis[vatthu]ontheoccasionfacing
dissolution,inotherwords,presence[.thiti],whichiswhatthetermofcommon
usage'aging'refersto,sotooitisnecessarythattheagingofasingledhamma
ismeant,whichiswhatiscalled'momentary[instantaneous]aging.'Andthere
must,withoutreservation,benobreakinthebasisbetweentheoccasionsof
arisinganddissolution,otherwiseitfollowsthatone[thing]arisesandanother
dissolves.
VisA.280

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VisA.280

AcariyaBuddhaghosa,thoughnotidentifyingbeingwithbeingperceivedrejectsthe
notionofanyunderlyingsubstanceanyhypostasis,personalorimpersonalthus:
[Onecontemplatingriseandfall]understandsthatthereisnoheaporstoreof
unarisenmentalitymateriality[naamaruupa][existing]priortoitsarising.
Whenitarises,itdoesnotcomefromanyheaporstoreandwhenitceases,it
doesnotgoinanydirection.Thereisnowhereanydepositoryinthewayofa
heaporstore,priortoitsarising,ofthesoundthatariseswhenaluteisplayed,
nordoesitcomefromanystorewhenitarises,nordoesitgoinanydirection
whenithasceased[cf.SN35.205/vol.iv,197],butonthecontrary,nothaving
been,itisbroughtintobeingbydependingonthelute,thelute'ssoundboard,
andaman'sappropriateeffort,andimmaterial[aruupa]dhammascometobe
[withtheaidofspecificconditions],andhavingbeen,theyvanish.
Vis.Ch.xx/p.630

Thetransienceandperpetualrenewalofdhammasiscomparedinthesamework(Ch.
xx/p.633)todewdropsatsunrise,abubbleonwater,alinedrawnonwater(AN4.37),a
mustardseedonanawl'spoint,andalightningflash(MahaaNiddesap.42),andthey
areascoreless(nissaara)asaconjuringtrick(SN22.95/vol.iii,142),amirage(Dhp
46),adream(Sn4.6/v.807),awhirlingfirebrand'scircle(alaatacakka),agoblincity
(gandhabbanagara),froth(Dhp46),aplantaintrunk(SN22.95/vol.iii,141),andsoon.
Beforeleavingtheaspectofriseandfall,thequestionoftheextent(addhaana)ofthe
moment(kha.na),asconceivedinthecommentaries,mustbeexamined(The
Abhidhammamentionsthekha.nawithoutspecifyinganyduration).ASuttacitedabove
gave"arising,fall,andalterationofwhatispresent"asthreecharacteristicsofanything
formed.Inthecommentariesthisisrestatedas"rise,presence,anddissolution"
(uppaada.thitibha"ngaseee.g.,Vis.Ch.xx/p.615),whichareeachalsocalled"
[sub]moments"(kha.na).ThesesubmomentsarediscussedintheVibha"nga
commentary:
Towhatextentdoesmaterialitylast?Andtowhatextentthe[mental]
immaterial?Materialityisheavytochangeandslowtoceasetheimmaterialis
lighttochangeandquicktocease.Sixteencognizancesariseandceasewhile
[oneinstanceof]materialitylastsbutthatceaseswiththeseventeenth
cognizance.Itislikewhenamanwantingtoknockdownsomefruithitsa
branchwithamallet,andwhenfruitsandleavesareloosedfromtheirstems
simultaneouslyandofthosethefruitsfallfirsttothegroundbecausetheyare
heavier,theleaveslaterbecausetheyarelighter.Sotoo,justastheleavesand
fruitsareloosedsimultaneouslyfromtheirstemswiththeblowofthemallet,
thereissimultaneousmanifestationofmaterialityandimmaterialdhammasat
themomentofrelinking[pa.tisandhi]atrebirth...Andalthoughthereisthis
differencebetweenthem,materialitycannotoccurwithouttheimmaterialnor
cantheimmaterialwithoutmateriality:theyarecommensurate.Hereisa
simile:thereisamanwithshortlegsandamanwithlonglegsastheyjourney
alongtogether,whilelonglegstakesonestepshortlegstakessixteensteps
whenshortlegsismakinghissixteenthstep,longlegsliftshisfoot,drawsit
forwardandmakesasinglestepsoneitheroutdistancestheother,andthey
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arecommensurate.
KhandhaVibha"ngaA/Vbh.256

Elsewhereitisstatedthatthesubmomentsofarisinganddissolutionareequalforboth
materialityandcognizance,onlythepresencesubmomentofmaterialitybeinglonger.
TheMuulaTiikaa,however,putsthementalpresencesubmomentinquestion,
commentingasfollowsonthepassagejustquoted:"Nowitneedsinvestigatingwhether
thereiswhatisherecalled'presencesubmoment'ofacognizanceornot."Itcitesthe
CittaYamakaasfollows"Isit,whenarisen,arising?Atthedissolutionsubmomentitis
arisenbutitisnotnotarising"and"Isit,whennotarising,notarisen?Atthedissolution
submomentitisnotarising,butitisnotunarisen"(Y.ii,13)andtwosimilarpassages
fromthesamesource(Y.ii,14),pointingoutthatonlythedissolutionsubmomentis
mentionedinsteadofboth,thatandthepresencesubmoment,asmightbeexpected,
hadtheYamakaregardedthepresencesubmomentashavingvalidapplicationto
cognizance.Forthatreason,theMuulaTiikaaconcludes:
[The]nonexistenceofapresencesubmomentofcognizanceisindicated.For
althoughitissaidintheSuttas"Thealterationofwhatispresentisevident"[AN
3.47/vol.i,152],thatdoesnotmeaneitherthatacontinuityalterationwhichis
evidentcannotbecalled"presence"[.thiti]becauseofabsenceofanyalteration
ofwhatisoneonly,orthatwhatisexistent[vijjamaana]bypossessingthepair
ofsubmoments[ofarisinganddissolution]cannotbecalled"present"[.thita].
VbhA.212

( 3)
Thethirdaspectofimpermanence,thatofthepatternorstructureofspecific
conditionality,stillremains.Itisbrieflystatedthus"Thatcomestobewhenthereis
thisthatariseswiththearisingofthis,Thatdoesnotcometobewhenthisisnotthat
ceaseswiththecessationofthis"(MN38/vol.i,2624),orinthewordsthatfirst
awakenedthetwoChiefDisciples:"ATathaagatahastoldthecauseofdhammasthat
havecomeintobeingduetoacause,andthatwhichbringstheircessationtoo:suchis
thedoctrinepreachedbytheGreatSama.na"(Mv.Kh.1).Inmoredetailwefind:
"Consciousnessacquiresbeing[sambhoti]bydependenceonaduality.Whatisthat
duality?Itiseye,whichisimpermanent,changing,becomingother,andvisibleobjects,
whichareimpermanent,changing,andbecomingother:suchisthetransient,fugitive
duality[ofeyecumvisibleobjects],whichisimpermanent,changing,andbecoming
other.Eyeconsciousnessisimpermanent,changing,andbecomingotherforthiscause
andcondition[namely,eyecumvisibleobjects]forthearisingofeyeconsciousness
beingimpermanent,changing,andbecomingother,howcouldeyeconsciousness,arisen
bydependingonanimpermanentconditionbepermanent?Thenthecoincidence,
concurrenceandconfluenceofthesethreeimpermanentdhammasiscalledcontact
[phassa]buteyecontacttooisimpermanent,changing,andbecomingotherforhow
couldeyecontact,arisenbydependingonanimpermanentcondition,bepermanent?It
isonetouchedbycontactwhofeels[vedeti],likewisewhochooses[ceteti],likewise
whoperceives[sa~njaanaati]sothesetransient,fugitivedhammastoo[namely,
feeling,choice,andperception]areimpermanent,changing,andbecomingother."(The
sametreatmentisaccordedtoearcumsounds,nosecumodors,tonguecumflavors,
bodycumtangibles,andmindcumideas:SN35.93/vol.iv,678).Byfurther
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developmentwecometotheformulaofdependentorigination(pa.ticcasamuppaada)
butthatisbeyondthescopeofthisarticle.
I mpe rma ne nce a s a s ubj e ct fo r Co nt e mpl a t i o n a nd ba s i s fo r
J udgme nt
TheBuddha'slastwordswere:
Handadaanibhikkhaveaamantayaamivo:vayadhammaasa"nkhaaraa,
appamaadenasampaadethaIndeed,bhikkhus,Ideclaretoyou:Allformations
aresubjecttodissolutionattainperfectionthroughdiligence.
DN16/vol.ii,156

Alittleearlierhehadsaid:
Hasitnotalreadybeenrepeatedlysaidbymethatthereisseparation,division,
andpartingfromallthatisdearandbeloved?Howcoulditbethatwhatisborn,
cometobeing,formedandisliabletofall,shouldnotfall?Thatisnotpossible.
DN16/vol.ii,144

Thereare,besidesthese,countlesspassageswherethisexhortationisvariously
developed,fromwhichonlyafewcanbechosen.
Bhikkhus,whenamanseesasimpermanenttheeye[andtherest],whichis
impermanent,thenhehasrightview.
SN35.155/vol.iv,142

Bhikkhus,formationsareimpermanent,theyarenotlasting,theyprovidenoreal
comfortsomuchsothatthatisenoughforamantobecomedispassionate,for
hislusttofadeout,andforhimtobeliberated.
AN7.62/vol.iv,100

Whatisperceptionofimpermanence?Here,Aananda,abhikkhu,gonetothe
forestortotherootofatreeortoaroomthatisvoid,considersthus:
"Materialityisimpermanent,feeling...perception...formations...consciousness
isimpermanent."Heabidescontemplatinginthiswayimpermanenceinthefive
"categoriesaffectedbyclinging."
AN10.60/vol.v,109

Whatisperceptionofimpermanenceintheworldofall[alltheworld]?Here,
Aananda,abhikkhuishumiliated,ashamed,anddisgustedwithrespecttoall
formations.
AN10.60/volv,111

Perceptionofimpermanenceshouldbemaintainedinbeingfortheeliminationof
theconceit"Iam,"sinceperceptionofnotselfbecomesestablishedinonewho
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perceivesimpermanence,anditisperceptionofnotselfthatarrivesatthe
eliminationoftheconceit"Iam,"whichisextinction[nibbaana]hereandnow.
Ud.Iv,1/p.37

Andhowisperceptionofimpermanencemaintainedinbeinganddevelopedso
thatalllustforsensualdesires[kaama],formateriality[ruupa],andforbeing
[bhava],andalsoallignoranceareendedandsothatallkindsoftheconceit"I
am"areabolished?"Suchismateriality,suchitsorigin,suchitsdisappearance
suchisfeeling,...,perception,...formations,...consciousness,suchitsorigin,
suchitsdisappearance."
SN22.102/vol.iii,1567

Here,bhikkhus,feelings...perceptions...thoughts[vitakka]areknowntohimas
theyarise,knownastheyappearpresent,knownastheydisappear.
Maintenanceofthiskindofconcentrationinbeingconducestomindfulnessand
fullawareness...Hereabhikkhuabidescontemplatingriseandfallinthefive
categoriesaffectedbyclingingthus:"Suchismateriality,suchitsorigin,suchits
disappearance,[andsowiththeotherfour]."Maintenanceofthiskindof
concentrationconducestotheexhaustionoftaints[aasava].
DN33/vol.iii,223

Whenamanabidesthusmindfulandfullyaware,diligent,ardent,andself
controlled,thenifapleasantfeelingarisesinhim,heunderstands"Thispleasant
feelinghasariseninmebutthatisdependentnotindependent.Dependenton
what?Dependentonthisbody.Butthisbodyisimpermanent,formed,and
dependentlyoriginated.Nowhowcouldpleasantfeeling,arisendependentonan
impermanent,formed,dependentlyarisenbody,bepermanent?Inthebodyand
infeelingheabidescontemplatingimpermanenceandfallandfadingand
cessationandrelinquishment.Ashedoesso,hisunderlyingtendencytolustfor
thebodyandforpleasantfeelingisabandoned."Similarly,whenhe
contemplatesunpleasantfeeling,hisunderlyingtendencytoresistance
[pa.tigha]tothebodyandunpleasantfeelingisabandonedandwhenhe
contemplatesneitherunpleasantnorpleasantfeelinghisunderlyingtendencyto
ignoranceofthebodyandofthatfeelingisabandoned.
SN36.7/vol.iv,2112

Whenabhikkhuabidesmuchwithhismindfortifiedbyperceptionof
impermanence,hismindretreats,retracts,andrecoilsfromgain,honor,and
renown,anddoesnotreachouttoit,justasacock'sfeatherorstripofsinew
thrownonafireretreats,retracts,andrecoilsanddoesnotreachouttoit.
AN7.46/vol.iv,51

Whenabhikkhuseessixrewardsitshouldbeenoughforhimtoestablish
unlimitedlyperceptionofimpermanenceinallformations.Whatsix?"All
formationswillseemtomeinsubstantialandmymindwillfindnorelishinthe
worldofall[alltheworld]andmymindwillemergefromtheworldofall[from
alltheworld]andmymindwillinclinetowardsextinctionandmyfetterswill
cometobeabandonedandIshallbeendowedwiththesupremestateofa
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recluse."
AN6.102/vol.iii,443

Whenamanabidescontemplatingimpermanenceinthebasesforcontact[the
eyeandtherest],theoutcomeisthatawarenessofrepulsivenessincontactis
establishedinhimandwhenheabidescontemplatingriseandfallinthefive
categoriesaffectedbyclinging,theoutcomeisthatawarenessofrepulsiveness
inclingingisestablishedinhim.
AN5.30/vol.iii,32

Fruitfulastheactofgivingis...yetitisstillmorefruitfultogowithconfident
heartforrefugetotheBuddha,theDhammaandoftheSa"nghaandundertake
thefivepreceptsofvirtue...Fruitfulasthatis...yetitisstillmorefruitfulto
maintainlovingkindnessinbeingforonlyaslongasthemilkingofacow...
Fruitfulasthatis...yetitisstillmorefruitfultomaintainperceptionof
impermanenceinbeingforonlyaslongasthesnappingofafinger.
AN9.20/vol.3926abbr.

Betterasingledayoflifeperceivinghowthingsriseandfallthantoliveouta
centuryyetnotperceivetheirriseandfall.
Dhp113

Itisimpossiblethatapersonwithrightviewshouldseeanyformationas
permanent.
MN115/vol.iii,64

TheVisuddhimagga(Chs.xxandxxi)reliesprincipallyonthecanonicalcommentary,the
Pa.tisambhidaamagga,initshandlingofthecontemplationofimpermanence.Therethat
contemplationintroducesthefirstofwhatarecalledthe"EightKnowledges"(a
classificationpeculiartotheVisuddhimagga),namely,theknowledgeofcontemplationof
riseandfall(udayabbayaanupassanaa~naa.na).Alsoperceptionofimpermanence
headsthe"18PrincipalInsights"(mahaavipassanaa),whichmaketheirinitial
appearanceisagroupinthePa.tisambhidaamagga(thefirstsevenbeingalsocalledthe
"sevenperceptions"(sattasa~n~naa:seePs.~Naa.nakathaai,20).Inthisconnection
itisstatedasfollows:
Onewhomaintainsinbeingthecontemplationofimpermanenceabandons
perceptionofpermanence...
and
thecontemplationofimpermanenceandcontemplationofthesignless
[animittaanupassanaa]areoneinmeaninganddifferentonlyintheletter.
since

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onewhomaintainsinbeingthecontemplationofthesignlessabandonsthesign
[ofpermanence,etc.].
Vis.Ch.xxp.628

Thecontemplationofwhatisimpermanent,orcontemplationas"impermanent,"is
"contemplationofimpermanence"thisisinsight(vipassanaa)thatoccursin
apprehendingimpermanenceinthethreeplanes(bhuumi)(Vis.A.67).The
Visuddhimaggaadds:
Havingpurifiedknowledgeinthiswaybyabandoningperceptionofpermanence,
etc.,whichopposethecontemplationofimpermanence,etc.,hepasseson...and
begins...contemplationofriseandfall.
Vis.Ch.xx/pp.62930

Thefollowingpassageisthenquoted:
Howisitthatunderstandingofcontemplatingthechangeofpresentlyarisen
dhammasisknowledgeofriseandfall?Presentlyarisenmaterialityisbornthe
characteristicofitsgenerationisrise,thecharacteristicofitschangeisfall,the
contemplationisknowledge.Presentlyarisenfeeling...etc.
Ps.~Naa.nakathaa/i,54

and
Heseestheriseofthematerialitycategoryinthesenseofconditionedarising
thus:(1)Withthearisingofignorance...(2)withthearisingofcraving...(3)...
action...(4)withthearisingofnutriment[aahaara]thereisthearisingof
materiality(5)onewhoseesthecharacteristicofgenerationseestheriseof
thematerialityCategory.Onewhoseestheriseofthematerialitycategory,sees
thesefivecharacteristics.
Ps.i,55

Cessationandfallaretreatedinparallelmanner,andthistreatmentisappliedtothe
fourremainingcategoriesbutsubstitutingcontactfornutrimentinthecasesoffeeling,
perception,andformations,andmentalitymateriality(naamaruupa)fornutrimentin
thecaseofconsciousness.
Lastly,aSuttapassageemphasizesaspecialrelationwithfaith(saddhaa).
Materiality[andtherest]isimpermanent,changing,becomingother.Whoever
decidesabout,placeshisfaithin,thesedhammasinthiswayiscalledmaturein
faith[saddhaanusaari].Hehasalighteduponthecertaintyofrightness...
Whoeverhasalikingtomeditatebytestofexperimentwithunderstandingupon
thesedhammasiscalledmatureinthetrueidea[dhammaanusaari].Hehas
alighteduponthecertaintyofrightness...Whoeverhasalikingtomeditateby
testofexperimentwithunderstandinguponthesedhammasiscalledmaturein
thetrueidea[dhammaanusaari].Hehasalighteduponthecertaintyof
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rightness...
SN25.110/vol.iii,225f.

ThisconnectionbetweenfaithandimpermanenceistakenupbytheVisuddhimagga,
quotingthePa.tisambhidaamagga:
"Whenonegivesattentiontoimpermanence,thefaithfacultyisoutstanding"
andinthecasesofattentiontotheunpleasantandnotselfthefacultiesof
concentrationandunderstandingarerespectivelyoutstanding.Thesethreeare
calledthe"Three[alternative]gatewaystoliberation[vimokkhamukha],which
leadtotheoutletfromtheworld."
Vis.Ch.xxi/pp.657ff.,quotingPs.Vimokkhakathaa/vol.ii,58

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