Anicca and the allowable limits of permanence

(food for thought)

For how long is something allowed to be seen as persisting / being permanent / being present / existing? Is it in line with Dhamma to think that a thing is presently existing but just will change later? What is present [time]? Is it a lifetime? One year? One week? A day? Hour? Second?

Breakfast [time]…:cake:

1 Like

It’s a gift, that’s why it’s called the present, and so enjoy it. :relaxed:


Time is not a reality, you are only thinking of time because memory. Dhamma is expierential and timeless (akaliko).

Where the present you’re talking about and enjoying starts and ends? Is it thinking in confines of one hour? One minute? A second?

The moment you are starting to think about something it already has become the past, you are never really in the present.

Non of the five aggregates can be considered permanent, not even for a moment since change while persisting is evident ( ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyatī)

Reverend, the arising of form is evident, its vanishing is evident, and change while persisting is evident.
rūpassa kho, āvuso, uppādo paññāyati, vayo paññāyati, ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyati.
The arising of feeling …
perception …
choices (not exactly choices, volitional formations / some say mental coefficient )…
consciousness is evident, its vanishing is evident, and change while persisting is evident.
viññāṇassa uppādo paññāyati, vayo paññāyati, ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyati.
These are the things for which arising is evident, vanishing is evident, and change while persisting is evident.’
Imesaṃ kho, āvuso, dhammānaṃ uppādo paññāyati, vayo paññāyati, ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyatī’ti (SN 22.37).

A wise turtle once said: ( Kungfu Panda) :turtle: :rofl:

It chnges while existing (ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ)


Time is one of those topics that buddhism doesn’t explain much about. However, from the information available in the EBTs, we can get an idea on the expression of time.
Biddhism discusses about time but it lacks a direct definition. Blessed One’s teachings teach us samsara is something which has no ends.

Anamataggoyaṃ bhikkhave, saṃsāro. Pubbā koṭi na paññāyati
Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning. No first point is found
Hereby we can assume time has no ends, since saṃsāra ia a spending of time.
As we can find in buddhism, the present is rather discribed as dependantly originated (paccuppanna).
(atītānāgatapaccuppannaṃ ) the present is paccuppanna. A moment of existence is smaller than the conscious moment. Unmindful minds are not capable of seeing this process where the mind recognizes the process as a permanent existance. But the reality is impermanence: the continuous changing. Thus it would take more than the conscious mind to grasp the moment. We are not normally oriented to this type of dimension in the nature of a moment of existence. Therefore, our expectation is permanence where we experience impermanence due to the unique experiential process termed pratityasamutpada/ paticcasamuppada, translated as dependent or relational-origination. There should be some word to explain this difference of the expectation and the reality: time.

Time is not an ideal(paramatta)
Generally, the experience of impermanence can be felt as time. From the Buddhist stand-point, experiential events do not take place or flow in time . Rather, it would be more accurate to say that events flow as time, thus denying any primacy to an absolute status of time.

The concept of time (kala) is a general concept which is used in the ordinary conventional sense, such as, variations of clock time or the psychological nature of time.

The experience of time

The present can only be thought of as the line that separates the past and the future. Even though it is an information/ description(paññatti) the ordinary mind does not have much ability to experience it. The assumption that the present exists is not a self-evident to a normal person.

The past is already gone. It has been experienced as a paññatti. The future is yet to come. We can also experience it as a paññatti. In our ordinary life, the present is not evidant experience because of five hindrances. Only a person who has developed his mindfulness up to its bojjhaṅga level can experience the present (moment): the limb of wisdom that is mindfulness (this post)

On the other hand there are schools who beleived a momentary existance (khanavāda).

The whole of Buddhist thought is permeated with the notion that life is transitory, not only in the fact that life terminates in death, but, more philosophically, that between birth and death we live in momentariness. This is the theory known as khana-vada/ksana-vada. Life is a series of experiential moments, each one unique but each is so infinitesimally small that except by a method of abstraction and by hypostatization the ordinary mind is unable to conceive it. A Buddhist sutta, Anguttara-Nikaya, asserts as follows "Arising (uppada) is revealed, duration (thita) is revealed, and dissolution (bhanga) is revealed. These are the three marks of the compounding nature of things ( Saṃkhata) ( Kenneth K. Inada, 1974)
Read this
The notion of time in early Buddhism

This may be in interest.


Is this why manasikara is essential for cognizance to occur?
What do you think of the translation of ‘manasikara’ as ‘attention’?

Manasikāra - Ideation may be.
It is not the “attention”, sathi can be described as bare attention, or non-judgemental attention as explained by Nyanaponika Thero.

1 Like

I think I should clarify. From my perspective consciousness is not a thing but a name we give to a process. Process of knowing or cognizing. It has a certain processing time. Hence a beginning, duration and an end.

Name and form are the reasons why the aggregate of consciousness is found.”

Nāmarūpaṃ hetu, nāmarūpaṃ paccayo viññāṇakkhandhassa paññāpanāyā”ti

And what are name and form?
Feeling, perception, intention, contact, and attention.
This is called name.

The four primary elements, and form derived from the four primary elements.

Katamañca, bhikkhave, nāmarūpaṃ?
Vedanā, saññā, cetanā, phasso, manasikāro
idaṃ vuccati nāmaṃ.
Cattāro ca mahābhūtā, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṃ upādāyarūpaṃ.
Idaṃ vuccati rūpaṃ.

Manasikara is also an process. The process that perform the function of coordinating and processing of the other factors for cognizance to occur.

Is this correct? Bhante @Amatabhani

1 Like

As abhidhamma explains it this is a dhamma that can be found in each and every thought. It makes the mind to hold on to its intention (ārammana) again and again.

When we consider EBTs it shows some similarity to sankhāra. It is so much like pondering, fixed thought according to abhidhamma (~intention ) or something lke that.
And yonisomanasikāra is discribed in sabbāsava sutta (MN2). In that sense this is some sort of thinking over and over again.
It is also a part of a process. Not sure itself is a process or not.
Time is something that feel because of avijjānīvaraṇa (hindrance of wrong view). We expect things to be permanent when they are not. This change of impermanence is measured using the concept “time”. Therefore it sure has something to do with manasikāra (only in the abhidhammic sense). According to EBT it has close relation with sankhāra I would say.

1 Like

You misunderstand me, I’m not asking those questions hoping for an answer, its a food for thought…

I personally do not believe that any Abhidhamma represents what was conveyed by the Buddha originally but are only certain ways to interpret the message that arose later.

I do not agree with interpreting the statement in way that ‘it changes while existing’ and such statement makes no logical sense to me - the sutta in question (SuttaCentral) in my humble opinion refers to something else - to appearance of something standing still, not to existence. For something to exist it must actually occupy time.

Getting focused at the question of “allowable” in such a context makes me run away immediately. I never understood anything of the transmission of the dharma in such a way that the Buddha (or any sage) were ever concerned with such. And I don’t feel homely with such…

It is only an expression as means to give some food for thought, its a rhetorical question serving as title…

The idea is that people often just read the suttas and believe whatever, but never really seriously reflect on what is being said on a personal level. They read it, it makes some sense to them with some reflection and they take what they have arrived at as truth. In that way they are unable to talk about and understand the Dhamma on a personal level - they always think of it in terms of the suttas, they can’t talk about it just like any other thing, because they dont understand it on a more personal and expansive level, sometimes even being quite dogmatic - insisting something is true or false just because this or that text says it (in the way they have interpreted it…), or if text does not say it its probably not true and you should not even think about it.
Sometimes i see that people ‘talk’ to each other and ‘discuss’ a certain topic with mostly just quoting something or referring to this or that sutta… Sutta is one thing and how you interpret it and what you personally think about the theme and what your experience is another thing. I hope you understand what i mean.

What i had intended with this is giving some food for reflection and aloof discussion about ones personal experience and thoughts in regards to the reflection done, not a discussion about right and wrong or speaking of the theme only in regards to the texts and how one has understood them, but in regards to personal experience and thoughts on the theme, which is why i explicitly stated it is food for thought and put it in The Watercooler, not in different section.

My bad!!:upside_down_face:

Happy farming then!!! :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

1 Like

Farming? :tulip::tulip::tulip: What i mean by that is that one should question, investigate and verify what is being said not just take it as true on faith. Don’t you agree on that?

Are you of view that things come to existence and instantly cease to exist and then another existing thing comes to be and ceases and so on?

I know that Buddhism tends to make a whole lot of impermanence, but it often seems like everything in the past is done and set in stone. We investigate it and write history books like it really happened. It seems the past cannot be changed. Secondly, the past is made of the present and hence the future. So in the long run the present and future must also be done and set in stone too. I might as well relax and enjoy the view.

But if the past is not set in stone and subject to change then why worry, I can always fix it later. For now, I might as well relax and enjoy the view :wink:


Haha :smile: , very good, i wish that nothing obstructs you to do that.

1 Like

As long as the mind is attending to it, that is how long it has existence.

Yes, but while one is thinking about ‘the thing’, the thing is the thought - and it exists as long as one is having it.

What is present [time]? Now. It’s always that way I think.

Yet when you say that you are already assume the it is existing [even before / after being ‘attended’ to].

Appearance, apparent presence and existence of entity are different things. A thought about a thing is a thought, not an existing entity :smiley:

I call that memory. Let’s say you decide to check if I have responded to your post. You get the device you are going to use (phone, tablet, etc) [which involves remembering that you have one] then you see or grasp the device [at this point it exists - you have direct contact with it]. When done, you put away the device [existence ceases]. You think about what you read [back to memory/thought].
Of course, it depends on how we define the word existence. I don’t think in terms of – does something have fundamental existence in reality – because the term existence in this sense is undefined and reality is a great mystery – so kind of a waste of time IMO.

Again, it depends on what you mean by ‘existence’. I don’t see the teaching on anicca as having anything to do with the existence of phenomena but rather that because things can change, we should not rely on them as a source of happiness. Now I know that some want to take these ideas and extend them to refer to some absolute truth about the nature of reality – I don’t think that was Buddha’s intention.

Looks like we agree.


What im talking about does not rely on how ‘we define’ some words… :smiley: There is no kind of existence whatsoever :joy:

How i see it there is no ‘direct contact’ with anything. What do you actually understand as ‘grasp’? What is it?