The Three Universal Characteristics - Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature


Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and The Noble Eightfold Path.

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Friday, October 11, 2019

The Three Universal Characteristics

According to Theravāda Buddhist perspective, there are three universal characteristics of phenomena, namely, impermanence, suffering, and non-self.
1. The Characteristic of Impermanence (Anicca):
“Impermanence of things is the rising, passing and changing of things or the disappearance of thing that have become or arisen. The meaning is these things never persist in the same way, but they are vanishing and dissolving from moment to moment.” (Visuddhimagga, VI, 3).
Impermanence is a basic feature of all conditioned phenomena, be they material or mental, coarse or subtle, one’s own or external “All conditioned things are impermanent” (sabbe sakha anicca). The totality of existence is impermanent is also often stated in terms of the five aggregates (khandha), the twelve personal and external sense bases (āyatana)… Only Nibbāna which is unconditioned and not a formation (asankhatu), is permanent (nicca, dhuva).
2. The Characteristic of Suffering (Dukkha)
   Dukkha contains not only the ordinary meaning of suffering but also includes deeper ideas such as imperfection, pain, impermanence, disharmony, discomfort, irritation, or awareness of incompleteness and in sufficiency. By all means, Dukkha includes physical and mental suffering: birth, decay, disease, death, to be united with the unpleasant, to be separated from the pleasant, not to get what one desires. There are three kinds of Dukkha:

(1)  Dukkha- dukkha: physical and mental pain.
(2) Sakhāra- dukkha: constant pain of physical and mental changes
(3) Viparimāna-dukkha: dissolution and arising of nāma and rupa
3. The Characteristic of Non-self:  
The Buddha taught in the Visuddhimagga:
“Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;
 The deeds are, but not doer of the deeds is there;
             Nirvana is, but not the man that enters it;
The path is, but no traveller on it is seen.”
Really, there is no doer apart from doing, there is no suffer apart from suffering. There is no being called: “I”, “he”, “she”. Being is just a combination of the states of mind (nāma) and material (rūpa) or five aggregates-corporality: feeling (vedanā), perception (saññā), mental formation (saṅkhāra) and consciousness (viññāṇa) which are in a state of constant flux, not remaining for consecutive moment. No solution of corporeal and mental phenomena under control. Nothing permanent or substantial is there in a being, apart from this incessant arising and dissolution of corporeal and mental phenomena (sabbe dhamma anattā).

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