Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Three Characteristics, Part 1

According the the Dharma - the teachings of the Buddha - all things that exist share three common characteristics: impermanence (in Pali, the language of the Buddha, "anicca"), unsatisfactoriness ("dukkha"), and the absence of self ("anatta").

As we must surely be aware by now, nothing that takes form is permanent. If something has a beginning, it must also have and ending. Therefore, all things share the characteristic of impermanence.

Since nothing is lasting, then nothing is capable of permanently satisfying us. We may be satisfied for a period of time with what we have, but eventually this will not be the case. Therefore, everything that exists has the characteristic of being unsatisfactory.

Finally, all things that come into being have no permanent or separate self. The phenomenal world comes into being based on interdependently co-arising causes and conditions. Conversely, all things cease to be because of causes and conditions. There is no self in any of this.

As you go through your day, contemplate these three characteristics in all things you see. I will continue this discussion in tomorrow's posting.


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