Title- The Signs of Life

The signs of life are the three characteristics of existence (ti-lakkhana). These three characteristics are :

(1) ANICCA : impermanence (uncertainty) , owing to constant decay

(2) DUKKHA : constant suffering

(3) ANATTAA : soullessness, all things are without a self

All living beings are subject to these three characteristics. They constitute the natural laws of the physical world.

*sabbe sankhara anicca,

*sabbe sankhara dukkha,

*sabbe sankhara anatta.

The word “sankhara” (formation) comprises here all things (sabbe) that are conditioned or formed, i. e all possible physical and mental constituents of existence.

These three characteristics of existence must be known before doing vipassana meditation.

Firstly, known by saddha (faith) and then these are obvious in practice when mature vipassana wisdom! So,secondly, known by own wisdom as Buddha’s dhamma always welcome to challenge with practical tests! Truth should be religion and as Buddha was all-knowing one, His dhamma are all about truth! Vipassana is seeing things as they really are and all the conditioned things (mind & matter) are nothing but the victims of these three characteristics! That’s why they are must-need-to-know before doing vipassana meditation!

The Brief Explanation Of 3 Signs Of Life

  • (3 Signs Of Life) : (1) Anicca, (impermanence) goes beyond the scope of living beings and applies to everything in the universe. Nothing which takes form can endure for eternity. Sooner or later it will be worn away, broken, destroyed or disintegrated, providing the material form which new forms come into being. This law operated without limit, from the tiniest dust to the largest star in the universe. Everything is in a constant state of flux, coming into being and passing away. Nothing is still for a moment and therefore nothing can be enduring or permanent. Only in the mind’s eye do we conceive things as still or stationary. All phenomena and all natural laws are the result of this flux or movement.
  • (3 Signs Of Life) : (2) Dukkha, (suffering) has already been included under the Four Noble Truths. It will, however, be of value to consider why suffering is not always so obvious to all human beings. People whom we know have been through “living-hell” in the manifold aspects of life, often astound us when we hear them say that life is not so bad after all. To understand this strange attitude, and also the incongruity that those who suffer most are seldom the ones who are seeking an escape from suffering, we must consider the delusive instrument that the mind can be.

As a vipassana yogi, I understand the fact of why people don’t really want to realize nibbana, the end of all suffering. The answer is clear for me that they don’t want to realize nibbana because they really don’t understand or know what the real suffering is.

There are three kinds of dukkhas (sufferings):

1-dukkha-dukkha (physical pains or mental bad feelings ) (artificial suffering)

2-sinkhara-dukkha ( the changing nature of conditioned things) (real suffering)

3-viparinama-dukkha (physical deterioration such as aging) (artificial suffering)

The two kinds of these are called artificial sufferings that could be possible to get relief. There is only one kind of real suffering that could be seen with only vipassana wisdom and there is no relief from it. They know only two kinds of artificial sufferings; dukkha-dukkha ( the physical pains or mental bad feelings) and viparinama-dukkha (physical deteriorations such as aging). As these two sufferings are artificial, they have chances to escape or get relief from them. They have expectations even though they are being in “living-hell” positions. The real suffering is difficult to understand for most people as it could only possible to be seen by vipassana yogi. The vipassana yogi see equivalent to good, bad & neither-good-nor-bad feelings as sinkhara-dukkha because these all are the same in changing nature and there is no relief or escape. Hope you all understand a little, pardon if my explanations are not good enough.

  • (3 Signs Of Life): (3) Anatta, (soullessness) applies to everything that exists but we are concerned with it mainly in the relation to living beings. All things that lives are without a soul, self, or spirit, without a permanent and enduring ego or personality.Soul, self and spirit are philosophical conceptions of an immaterial part of man which survives and endures death and destruction of the body. Science today does not support this legendary belief but recognises the existence of the human ego or personality, as an aspect of the mind. It is astounding how close Buddhism is running with the scientific thinking of today. This ego or personality is often confused by unenlightened people, with a soul or spirit. This individual character has nothing to do with soul-theory for while we can recognise the versatile and changing character of the personality, a permanent soul or spirit cannot exist in nature!

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