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Buddhism's Three Characteristics

According to Buddhism, there are three characteristics or signs that are associated with the facts of existence.  They hold true to the doctrine of dhamma, and are considered common to all things in life:

Anicca:  Means impermanence or change.  Everything around you is impermanent.  Your body will age, grow old, then cease to exist.  Similarly, feelings are also impermanent.  Remember the first new car you purchased?  You were ecstatic and you felt very happy to have this new toy.  But guess what? Impermanent.  Your car, like you, and your feelings will cease to exist, or become not new.  Putting 100,000 miles on your car will make it age.  Rust will form, tires will wear out, headlights burn out, so too will your original happy feelings towards this car change.  You will become upset with its performance and seek to find a new car that brings your happiness again.  The true nature is to realize Anicca, and not attach yourself or feelings to something that will not last forever, whether it be a car, a happy or sad feeling, or your body.

Dukkha:  Means suffering or unsatisfactoriness.  As above, clinging to that happy feeling from having a new car causes suffering.  Why?  Because the car will not last, the happiness from having that new car will not last.  Remember your first love?  The feeling you had in the pit of your stomach?  Grasping for that feeling over and over will only cause suffering.  People change, feelings change, things cease to exist, and trying to hold onto that feeling will inevitably end up causing grief and suffering.

Anatta:  Means non-self or ego-lessness.  This is a harder concept to grasp and fully understand.  Anatta is the belief that there is nothing permanent in all things, specifically a soul.  Unlike other religions, Buddhism believes that there is no supreme being that granted a soul to us and not to other things like cats, dogs, or the computer your are reading this from.  The “you” inside of your body is not more unique or different than the “you” your pet deems themselves to be.  You, like all living beings are on a path to eliminate suffering and are currently traveling through life in the vessel that is this body at this time.

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