Buddhism Basics

What is Impermanence in Buddhism?

Learn about impermanence in Buddhism.

One of the teachings in Buddhism is about ‘impermanence’, which is one of the ‘Three Dharma Seals’.

Impermanence in Buddhism means that “conditioned phenomena” come into this world through the combination of “causes and conditions” (and cease this way as well).


  • You are born, then die
  • Mountains rise and fall
  • Rivers are full then empty
  • Your thoughts come and go

These are conditioned things which are not permanent (impermanent) and will eventually end. Even one day billions of years from now our planet will end. Your physical body will get sick and die (and end). The desire to see a new movie will arise, then cease (end).

Learn more about impermanence in Buddhism by clicking here.

The other Dharma Seals (in the Mahayana tradition) are:

“All phenomena are without an independent self” (“non-self”) meaning conditioned and unconditioned phenomena lack any independent or unchanging substance. Nothing is independent of one another (you were born due to conditions, the planet was born due to conditions, your thoughts were born due to conditions, your high paying job in the stock market gave you wealth was born due to conditions, etc.). All things depend on other things for existence. But they will eventually abandon us (thus all phenomena are without an independent self).

Finally realizing that nothing is permanent and that all phenomena are without an independent self, we realize that:

“Nirvana is perfect tranquility”. Nirvana is not a spiritual world you go to, but what becomes of you (and your mind) when you transcend these conditions. The Nirvana Sutra says “The cessation of all afflictions is called nirvana.”. But what is Nirvana?

Nirvana is:

  • Cessation of greed
  • Cessation of Anger
  • Cessation of Ignorance
  • Cessation of pride
  • Cessation of doubt
  • Cessation of suffering
  • Cessation of delusion

…among other things. Essentially you are liberated which will bring you endless happiness and comfort and joy.

This is why we practice! Metta 🙂

Note: Depending on the school in Buddhism, such as Theravada, the Three Dharma Seals may have Dukkha (suffering/dissatisfaction) in lieu of Nirvana: Impermanence, Non-Self, and Dukkha. Some may add a fourth to this to include Nirvana.

Featured Image: CC0 photo via Pixabay
Copyright © Alan Peto. All Rights Reserved.

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