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Impermanence (Pāli: अनिच्चा anicca; Sanskrit: अनित्य anitya; Tibetan: མི་རྟག་པ་ mi rtag pa; Chinese: 無常 wúcháng; Japanese: 無常 mujō; Thai: อนิจจัง anitchang, from Pali "aniccaŋ") is one of the essential doctrines or Three marks of existence in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux.
According to the impermanence doctrine, human life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara), and in any experience of loss. This is applicable to all beings and their environs including devas (mortal gods). The Buddha taught that because conditioned phenomena are impermanent, attachment to them becomes the cause for future suffering (dukkha).
Conditioned phenomena can also be referred to as compounded, constructed, or fabricated. This is in contrast to the unconditioned, uncompounded and unfabricated nirvana, the reality that knows no change, decay or death.
Impermanence is intimately associated with the doctrine of anatta, according to which things have no fixed nature, essence, or self.
The five aggregates, monks, are anicca, impermanent.
All is impermanent. And what is the all that is impermanent? The eye is impermanent, visual objects [ruupaa]... eye-consciousness... eye contact [cakku-samphassa]... whatever is felt [vedayita] as pleasant or unpleasant or neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant, born of eye-contact is impermanent. [Likewise with the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind] (SN 35.43/vol. iv, 28)
All formations are impermanent
Whatever is subject to origination [samudaya] is subject to cessation [nirodha] (MN 56)
In arts and culture
- Akio Jissoji's Buddhist auteur film Mujo (also known as This Transient Life) owes its title to the doctrine of Impermanence.
- Hodge, David and Hodge, Hi-Jin. Impermanence: Embracing Change Snow Lion Publications.
- Three Marks of Existence
- Mono no aware
- The Tale of the Heike
- Reality in Buddhism