The True Nature of Existence —
Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta

2 of 5

Qualities of the Dharma
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The True Nature of Existence
  The Five Aggregates of Clinging
  Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth


The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha



Impermanence — Aniccata

Here is the root of the Buddha's teaching. Impermanence forms the basis for dukkha and anatta.

The marks of impermanence

The mark of impermanence has two aspects, gross and subtle.

The gross mark of impermanence is fully evident as soon as you pay attention to it. When we pay attention it becomes clear that everything that arises must at some time pass away, that whatever comes into being must pass out of being, that whatever is put together at some time comes apart.  This is evident in the cosmic process, in the course of history and in the course of our lives.

The subtle mark of impermanence is more difficult to grasp. The Buddha points out that there are no static entities but only dynamic processes which appear to us to be stable and static only because our perception is not sharp enough to detect the changes. Being itself is really a process of becoming. Things themselves are constantly undergoing changes, just as a waterfall from a distance seems solid when it is, in reality, always changing.

On his deathbed, to those overcome by grief, Buddha repeated the hard truth that impermanence holds sway over all conditioned things.

Three stages of becoming

The Buddha points out that all momentary happenings go through three stages or submoments: a moment of arising, finally a moment of perishing, and between the two "a transformation of that which endures."

The Buddha's teaching of radical impermanence applies to all formations without exception, especially to the five aggregates of clinging, to our own personality. To the eye of insight our entire being dissolves into a compound of conditioned factors.