Anicca: Impermanence or "not-one's-owness"?

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Yeah, maybe - but that is your bloody Chinese confusions; not mine.

Just don’t put clinging when there is none - and that will do.


If you want to believe the theory, the above is what you are subscribing to. I’m just informing you of that. No need to kill the messenger.

And I will likely continue to render the character after Venerable Anālayo.

Don’t let that get you too angry, though, I’m not a translator, so you never have to worry about me publishing Dhamma books with “clinging” in them.


It is your bloody Chinese confusions; not mine.

Upādāna means “appropriating to oneself” -
not clinging.


You know, I miss the days back when I was the only pseudo-intellectual here.

Dhamma means “firmament”, not “law”. Kamma means ritual performance, not any deeds.

There, I can say things to.


?!?!? :upside_down_face:


A while ago, there was a user here, who would not speak to anyone unless they asked a question about the “five clinging aggregates”. Clinging was always in italics.

He refused to translate “five aggregates” as anything other than “five clinging aggregates”, even when there was no word whatsoever to imply “clinging”.

You are the opposite with upādāna. You are in love with this one particular definition, which is not exhaustive of all of its senses.


Then learn how to read devanagari; it might help.
I’m off with you.


To illustrate what I mean, this other user, who would insist on “five clinging aggregates” would also insist that attā does not mean “self”. He would insist that ahaṃ was self, instead, and only ahaṃ.

This focussing on particular definitions that are not exhaustive, that is the parallelism I am pointing out.

It wasn’t super difficult. Its just an alphabet. How would that help, and how is that point relevant to anything discussed thus far?

You say this to people, then end up talking to them again.

You’ve said it to me at least 3 times, in various phrasings.

I look forward to when we next chat.

What does "perception" exactly mean in this context?
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One more thing (at the end of this post) .
So far so good.

I have come up to show that anicca has two meanings, and that they correspond to what is delineated in Sn 22.47.

  1. The “I am”, that corresponds to the false idea that the impermanent atta (as the personal pronoun), could have anything to do with the permanent atta (as the spiritual self) - Hence anicca as “impermanent” - as the cause.

  2. The “I am this”, that correponds to “appropriating°” the khandhas as oneself, as a result - Hence anicca as “not-one’s-own” - as the effect.


Upādā [upā-ādā] comes from ādā (taking up,taking to oneself) - the gerund of ādāti (appropriate,grasp) .
So grasping is to be understood as appropriating; not clinging (by taking pleasure in).

Upādā literally means “appropriating altogether”.

It does not take a Phd to see what is more appropriate:

  • “I am this” meaning: I am “clinging” to this.
  • “I am this” meaning: I am “appropriating” this.
    Again, "it’s not yours ! " says the Buddha, talking about the khandhas, and the internal ayatanas.

Then I came up to show two things:

  1. That the riddance of the “I am this”, must be the first elimination.
    A process clearly shown in SN 22.89.

  2. That the Buddha often speaks first, about the effect (viz. khandhas are appropriated as myself [“I am this”] ) - then secondly, about the cause (through the usual question: "are the khandhas permanent or impermanent ?). As in SN 22.150, SN 22.80, SN 22.85, SN 22.59, SN 24.1&18, MN 35, MN 109, SN 12.70, etc.

As if to point out that the riddance process must start by the effect, viz. the elimination of the “I am this”, (viz. the elimination of the appropriation of the Khandhas as myself).
Then, and only then, to proceed with the elimination of the cause, viz. of the “I am”, (viz. The elimination, through the insightful knowledge of the impermanence of the khandhas - that is to say, their formations into dhammas and desired dhatus) .

SN 22.45/46 shows the cause to effect process.

And I would even go as far as saying that getting rid of the “I am this” part, (aka the effect,) is to be liberated by discernment as in SN 12.70.

See SN 24.19 for that matter.
See the “stability” in both suttas.
See what that exactly means.

See what the knowledge of the stability of the dhamma is, in Buddha’s remark:
“First, Susīma, comes knowledge of the stability of the Dhamma, afterwards knowledge of Nibbāna.”

Get it ?


Piya Tan:

To say that ANICCA “actually” means “something not liked” is wrong view and bad grammar. It should make informed Buddhists wonder if the speaker, his teacher and other Sinhala monks with such a view are actually familiar with the basic teachings of early Buddhism, not to say the “core” teachings.

(2) ACADEMIC QUALIFICATION is emphasized by most Sinhala monks for status, employment and wealth, outshadowing even basic sutta understanding and meditation. Question: Do any of such monks actually carefully study the suttas, or are they simply perpetuating received wisdom, the micchā,diṭṭhi of their teachers?

(3) THE “SINHALA PLOSIVE ABERRATION” (SPA) is the habitual confusion and misuse or misreading of -c- and -ch-. I have already responded to this problem with “passati” (to see) and “phassati” (to touch).

(4) Here, the confusion is between ANICCA (a, “not” + nicca [Sanskrit nitya], “permanent”) and ANICCHĀ (a, “not” + icchā, “wish, desire” [from √iṣ]). It needs to be urgently corrected or we will be the laughing stock of informed Buddhists and philologists. There is no way, no sutta support at all, that anicca can ever be translated as “not liked” or “not wished for” (anicchā).

(5) “NOT LIKED” better describes the nature of dukkha. It may also describe anicca, but only partly. For example, when a PLEASANT feeling goes away, we do NOT like it. But when a PAINFUL feeling goes away, we clearly LIKE it. Hence, it is wrong to say that anicca means “not liked.”

See Cūḷa Vedalla Sutta (M 44,24/1:303), SD 40a.9.

The monk speaker seems to know a lot of Buddhist “facts,” even beautifully puts them together to sound like good Dhamma, but an informed Buddhist or scholar can only listen with disbelief. He does not seem to be familiar enough with the suttas. Note the following:

(1) His sequence of the sense-bases (āyatana) could be better. He listed them as “eye, nose, tongue, ear …” when it should be “eye, ear, nose …” This suggests he has not be “reciting” them Dhamma, an important training for a Buddhist monk. It’s like reciting: “A B E C D … “

(2) DHAMMA-S,SAVANA, means “listening to the Dhamma,” NO “discussing Dhamma,” which is Dhamma,sākacchā. A minor point, yes, but it is magnified when the error is made by someone who should know better or should have corrected himself.

If we follow this wrong view, what are we teaching the masses then? A new sequence of āyatana?

(3) To say that ANATTĀ is “meaninglessness” is philosophically interesting, but this is only one aspect of this basic characteristics that underlies all “principles” (sabbe dhammā anattā). Also that there is abiding essence in any existence: it is always dynamic and impermanent.

See the Dhamma Niyāma Sutta (A 3.134), SD 26.8.

(1) The Uddesa Vibhaṅga Sutta (M 138,20), SD 33.14, says: “Whatever is impermanent must change, become other” (vipariṇāmati aññathā hoti). Based on this teaching, is there any way we can translate ANICCA as “not liked”? It would mean we are rejecting the suttas.

(2) The most serious blunder in stating that ANICCA means “not liking” is to confuse a “CHARACTERISTIC” (lakkhaṇa) with a human reaction on account of “defilement” (kilesa). This should give us some serious thought.

I’m seriously thinking more LAY SINHALA should dedicate their lives to studying and teaching the Dhamma in the spirit of Anagarika Dhammapala. Without a proper in-depth mastery of the suttas, we will be held hostage by teachers who place more value on worldliness and worldly views than what the Buddha has taught.

Let us be the TRUE RENUNCIANTS whether monastic or lay. Awakening is not defined by the way we dress or hairstyle.

fb180825 piya

with metta,


Could you give the link to the article?


Unfortunately only on facebook I think:


The best way to get the correct meaning of Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta is to evaluate each meaning in conjunction with other two.
If Aniica means impermanence will that be fitting to Dukkha and Anatta etc
Another point is Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta are related to the mental states not for the physical objects.
For instance eye impermanance ear impermanance etc.
Your comments appreciated.


It’s tricky because we actually experience derived form, ie phenomena, and these are dependent upon the four great elements ( earth, water, air and fire ). But the four great elements are also transient and empty.


Agree. But you don’t need Buddha to discover it.
What Buddha discovered was more profound.


In Buddhism, we’re probably know well about the concept of the three marks of existence which are three characteristics ( Pali : Tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit : Trilakṣaṇa ) of all existence and beings, namely ’ Impermanence ( Anicca )’, Dissatisfaction or Suffering ( Dukkha ), and Non-self ( Anattā ). These three characteristics are mentioned in verses 277, 278 and 279 of the Dhammapada.

Sabbe Saṅkhārā Anicca - " All saṅkhāras ( the conditioned things ) are impermanent "

Sabbe Saṅkhārā Dukkhā - " All saṅkhāras are unsatisfactory "

Sabbe Dhamma Anatta - " All dharmas ( conditioned or unconditioned things ) are not self "

If we look at this concept, the meaning for ’ not-one’s-owness ’ is actually tends to be closer to the understanding of the concept of ’ anattā ’ rather than ’ anicca ', in the sense that, ’ there is no self ', which could also means ’ nothing is owned ', but the connection with the concept of ’ anicca ’ is that, in a condition where everything is ’ not permanent ’ and tends to ’ constantly changing ', then there is absolutely nothing that can be maintained as an ’ absolutely mine '.

Thank you :slight_smile:


Thanks for giving Piya’s response to this. The only point I’d raise here is with this:

It seems Piya doesn’t realize that the reason for this “interpretation” (actually “flight of fancy”) is that, just as they naively misspell anicca as anicchā, they misspell anattā as anattha, “meaningless”. Thus there is nothing philosophically interesting going on: it is just a failure to learn basic Pali lessons.


A sutta which, I believe can point to the meaning of anicca

Sabbe sankhara anicca - all Determinations are impermanent, and how will that appear exactly? What can be expected when one has annicasanna ?

"It is suitable, in having made present aniccasanna , in regards to the sankharas/Determinations which are without boundaries, to consider these 6 benefits.

All Determinations will appear as having no ground below on which too stand;
My thoughts will not converge in delighting in the world;
My thoughts will emerge from/rise above the world;
My mind as such , will incline towards Nibbana ;
My obstructions will be removed;
I will be endowed with the best state of an ascetic. "

_ Chabhikkhave, ānisaṃse sampassamānenaalameva bhikkhunā sabbasaṅkhāresu anodhiṃkaritvā aniccasaññaṃ upaṭṭhāpetuṃ. Katame cha?‘Sabbasaṅkhārā ca me anavatthitā khāyissanti,sabbaloke ca me mano nābhiramissati, sabbalokā came mano vuṭṭhahissati, nibbānapoṇañca memānasaṃ bhavissati, saṃyojanā ca me pahānaṃgacchissanti, paramena ca sāmaññena samannāgatobhavissāmī’ti._