The axiom that forms the core dhamma is impermanence.
A few people argue that no-self is unique to Buddhism, but no-self is the result, not the catalyst.
The catalyst is Proper Attention (yoniso manasikara). We can prove this by looking at this simple line that caused both Sariputta and Moggallana to become Ariya, when initially told by Assaji to Sariputta.
Whatever phenomena arise from cause:
& their cessation.
Such is the teaching of the Tathagata,
the Great Contemplative.
Whatever phenomena arise from cause: their cause & their cessation
The cause of the effect, and the removal of that cause, is Proper Attention, it is looking at things in an analytical cause-effect way, and confirming that when the cause is removed the effect is also removed.
Now this is the positive side of impermanence, Proper Attention is impermanence with control. It is the opposite of the “you have no control” wrong view of no-self.
The right view of no-self is that you have no control over suffering that has already arisen out of impermanence. It’s dukkha in anicca, and anatta in dukkha.
Why do you have no control? Because you’re already too late. Whatever is born must die. The cause already happened, you’re too late, and therefore cessation is inevitable.
Would you play a game if it was 100% guaranteed that you will lose? Would you gamble money if you knew that you would lose 100% of the time? Because that’s what you’re doing right now, by existing.
In short, anything that you love and care about, will be taken from you.
Anything that you care about (i.e. crave), will be taken from you (anicca), sooner or later.
Understanding this, how can you not become dispassionate? This dispassion, is the true meaning of no-self. Aka, nothing is worth having or holding onto
The only way to stop dukkha is to become dispassionate and that is the opposite of craving, and that prevents future births, future originations, and that prevention is not too late.
Therefore one who contemplates impermanence will naturally arrive at no-self and will naturally give up craving and will naturally become dispassionate.
Therefore Sati, which means to remember, not mindfulness, and the awakening factor of Sati-sambojanngha, means to Remember the dhamma. More specifically, to remember Impermanence.
If you remember Impermanence, why do anything at all? Why play a game you will lose?
When you do nothing, how can you break a precept? how can you be unwholesome? how can you indulge in sensuality?
When you do nothing you’re forced to deal with the problem head on: discontent, aka boredom, aka misery.
And that is where you should use yoniso manasikara to contemplate and analyze anicca, and attain samma samadhi by naturally becoming dispassionate and letting go.
And there is a reason the Buddha always talks about rebirth and karma before talking about Impermanence. Because if someone knows they’ll lose everything in life, then why not just end it and commit suicide. But if rebirh is true, then suicide is not logical and not sufficient to stopping dukkha and anicca.
So the Buddha always starts with a talk on rebirth and karma to prevent people from jumping from one extreme (eternalism) to another (annihilationism), and instead to the middle way, towards Nibbana.
The Blessed One then gave me a progressive discourse, that is, a talk on giving, virtuous behavior, and heaven; he revealed the danger, degradation, and defilement of sensual pleasures and the benefit of renunciation. When the Blessed One knew that my mind was pliant, softened, rid of hindrances, uplifted, and confident, he revealed that Dhamma teaching special to the Buddhas: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path. Then, just as a clean cloth rid of dark spots would readily absorb dye, so too, while I sat in that same seat, the dust-free, stainless Dhamma-eye arose in me: ‘Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.’ I saw the Dhamma, attained the Dhamma, understood the Dhamma, fathomed the Dhamma, crossed over doubt, got rid of bewilderment, attained self-confidence, and became independent of others in the teaching of the Teacher. Right there I went for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and undertook the training rules with celibacy as the fifth.
- Ugga the householder
And the response Citta gave to the dieties while he was on his death bed
“Oh, well, that’s because the deities of the parks, forests, trees, and those who haunt the herbs, grass, and big trees said to me: ‘Householder, make a wish to become a wheel-turning monarch in the future!’ So I said to them: ‘That too is impermanent! That too will pass! That too will be left behind!’”