Anicca is not just impermanence, there are eight more to it

Why anicca is not just impermenance?

Take for example a coffee cup, if it get stained you need to clean it. If the stain on the cup is too bad , you may just replace it. So, you see that the cup is not impermenance but you still discard it, why?

Here anicca means not getting what one’s desire. If the cup breaks, that cup is also not impermenance but subject to change, perishable.

There are many things that you can think of that is not just impermanence (addhuva) but is the nature of anicca:

  1. disintegrating (paloka)
  2. fickle (caḷa)
  3. perishable (pabhaṅgu)
  4. subject to change (vipariṇāmadhamma)
  5. conditioned (saṅkhata)
  6. worthless (asāraka)
  7. subject to death (maraṇadhamma)
  8. non existence (vibhava)

This anicca characteristic is described in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta SN 56.11 in the verse “yampicchaṃ na labhati tampi dukkhaṃ” which means “not getting (na labhati) what one’s desire (yampicchaṃ) that too is (tampi) suffering (dukkhaṃ)”.

Not getting what one’s desire means anicca and that too is suffering.

Another aspect of tilakkhana is anatta which also leads to suffering. Anything that is not within one’s control also leads to suffering. That is anatta means “not in-control”.

There are four other contemplation of anatta:

  1. Lowly (para).
  2. Empty (ritta).
  3. Deserted (tuccha).
  4. Void (suñña).

You may want to read the post “Attā and anattā real meaning reveal in the sutta” to understand what is anatta.

Much metta.


The way I understand Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta is applicable to the mental states not to the physical objects. However Anicca and Anatta is apply to the physical objects too.
Anicca means that all mental states are arising and perishing in a aplit of a second.
You can experience this while your reading this post.

The suttas seem to deal mainly with the phenomena we experience, rather than with the objects themselves. Derived form like sights, sounds, sensations etc.


That’s certainly one aspect of anatta, but doesn’t this lack of control also stem from anicca? Our experience is continually changing, we have very little control over it.

I agree.
There are no objects other than the experince.

The object is the same (for anicca or anatta) as in the example coffee cup stained or breaks, this stained or breaks associating with desire leads to anicca but the control part of stained or breaks leads to anatta is not a part of desire but that of natural law.

If one gets what one’s desire, will this not eventually lead to sufferings?

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If one gets what one’s desire, that will be for the moment of happiness. Due to anatta nature, that happiness will eventually leads to suffering. This is the hidden suffering that not everyone can see it.

if one gets what one’s desire, will that be Nicca?

Yes, that is the nicca perception that everybody is trapped and not seeing the hidden suffering caused by anatta.

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This is how I understood what you said:

  1. “anicca” is not getting what one’s desire.
  2. Because one cannot get what one desires so one suffers.

Therefore, you defined anicca as “not getting what one’s desire”. So, the suffering is from “not getting” as your definition. Moreover, “Not getting” does not always imply “anatta” as I see.


I love that beautiful girl and I want to marry her. Because I cannot marry her so I suffer. However, the reason I cannot marry her is because her parents never agree, not because of her “anatta”.

I wanted to go to that safari trip, but I could not make it. However, because I did not go to that trip, I accidentally met an old friend, and I was so happy.

I wanted to go to that event, but thanks God I did not! Otherwise, I was already in big trouble. I was so happy that I did not do so.

From those examples, I did not get what I wanted. However, they do not always lead to sufferings as I see. Moreover, I also do not see your hidden “anatta” that will lead to sufferings in them.

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You have not got the right anicca which is that it involve desires!

Your desire is marry the beautiful girl but you are not able to marry her due to the parents’s objection and that is the “anatta” which you have no control over it. So you are not geting what you desire (anicca) due to the objection (anatta) by the parents. She is also not geting what she desire (anicca) due to the objection (anatta) by the parents.

If that trip or that event had been planned for a long time, that desires difinitely gives rise to a sad and disappointment moment of the failed trip or event.

I did not say your anicca 's definition does not involve desire (which I think is the problem! Your definition is based on desire, rooted from desire to get. Not from dispassion and relinquishment.)

You are moving your object all over the place. My desire is the girl. The girl is the object. Therefore, your anatta should come from that based on your definition.

Even if it was planned for a long time, it obviously did not eventually lead to sufferings at the end or in the long run as showed above.

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Your desire is the girl that is a fact but that desires carries further to the marry stage which is a new desire that is “to marry her”. If you do not have this new desire to marry her the anatta will not be there for your suffering when the parents objected.

I said for a moment of sad and disappointment feelings which fade away fast due to other happy moment.

So, what is your “anatta” now?

I do not see the “moment” of sufferings in your definition. I see in your definition that
anicca leads to sufferings.

Even if it is “a moment” of suffering, it is still suffering.

Well. let it be that way. Hope that you will not define anicca as not getting what one’s desire will lead to sufferings in the long run or will eventually lead to sufferings…

To me anicca and anatta look like two sides of the same coin, and I find it difficult to separate them out clearly.
I think the coin here is conditionality, ie idappaccayatā, “When this is, that is…” and so on.

There’s a relevant discussion in Bhikkhu Buddhadasa’s commentary on the Anapanasati Sutta.

It’s on page 93 here, the section titled “MORE TO IT THAN JUST IMPERMANENCE”:

Now, observe that in the realization of impermanence there is the realization of many other things simultaneously.
When impermanence is truly seen, this characteristic of impermanence is also the characteristic of dukkham, namely, it is ugly and unbearable. We will see the characteristic of not-self in it, also. Because these things are always changing, impermanent, unsatisfactory, and beyond our control, we realize anatta, also.

It would seem that Ven. Bhikkhu Buddhadasa has understanding of anicca as impermenence only and knowing that things are beyond our control but not related to anatta where he takes anatta as not-self.

The Mahayana not understanding anatta came up with suññata (emptiness) and tathata (thusness).

Anatta is empty or void of control which is why suññata is used by Mahayana.

There are four other contemplation of anatta:

  1. Lowly (para).
  2. Empty (ritta).
  3. Deserted (tuccha).
  4. Void (suñña).