THE THREE CHARACTERISTIC MARKS



Before beginning Vipassana really one should grasp at a level more profound than shallow intellect the three fundamental characteristics of phenomenal existence. 

They are ANICCA, Impermanence, ANATTA, Non-self, and ADUKKHA, no-Suffering

In Chan we say that they are characteristics which mark all animate organisms.

In the stained human mind we find a Craving for Permanence, a Clinging to Self and the experiencing of Suffering.


             ANICCA

When the human creature views phenomena they arise from his mind (uppada), appear to exist with constant change (annathatta) and then fall away (vaya) from mind. The problem is that this stained mind resists this Impermanence and seeks Permanence.

He does not accept that there is actually no "being" or "intrisic existence" of any phenomenon. We can say that there is a BECOMING but no BEING.

This BECOMING is a compound of two principles, Mind and Matter.

The Matter in an unknowable form perhaps can be said to exist, but Mind generates a knowable Form (rupa) and adds a identiication, a name or concept (nama).

The mind then believes in the existence of this phenomenon as BEING and craves its PERMANENCE.


ANATTA

Thus, the stained mind, constructs a SELF (atta) that is really just a heap of compounds in continual change, arising as BIRTH and falling away as DEATH. Yet the stained mind still seeks the PERMANENCE and generates the idea of an ETERNAL SELF.

But during the period of life, which is experienced as aging and illness, the human creature continues to Cling to the concepts of his individual existence as a self, together with the thoughts of "I," "me,"  and "mine."

This term atta actually has several meanings. It means "body," conceived by mind; "mind," conceiving itself; "nature," which we can consider in Chan as the "nature of Becoming" and "Supreme Self," which in Chan we consider the "Non-Identity Self," which Buddha later disclosed as opposed to the illusory Cognitive Self.

When we speak of ANATTA then we refer to the fact that there is no real BODY or MIND. Nor is there BEING or an ETERNAL SELF, such as a SOUL.

Furthermore, then we can say that:

SENSATION (CONTACT) is not SELF
DISCRIMINATION is not SELF
PERCEPTION is not SELF
COGNITION is not SELF 
CONSCIOUSNESS is not SELF.

This is an essential understanding for VIPASSANA DISCERNMENTS.

In Buddha's Fire Sermon he declared:

"Seeing thus, the instructed noble disciple grows disenchanted with the eye, disenchanted with form (perception), disenchanted with consciousness at the eye, disenchanted with contact at the eye. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain (discrimination): With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

"He grows disenchanted with the ear, disenchanted with sounds, disenchanted with consciousness at the ear, disenchanted with contact at the ear. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the ear, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

"He grows disenchanted with the nose, disenchanted with aromas, disenchanted with consciousness at the nose, disenchanted with contact at the nose. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the nose, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

"He grows disenchanted with the tongue, disenchanted with flavors, disenchanted with consciousness at the tongue, disenchanted with contact at the tongue. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the tongue, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

"He grows disenchanted with the body, disenchanted with tactile sensations, disenchanted with consciousness at the body, disenchanted with contact at the body. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the body, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

"He grows disenchanted with the intellect , disenchanted with ideas (cognition), disenchanted with consciousness at the intellect, disenchanted with contact at the intellect. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: He grows disenchanted with that too.

"Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is depleted, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' "


                                         
ADUKKHA


Most texts, when speaking of these Characteritics speak of DUKKHA as accompanying ANICCA and ANATTA, but it seems more appropriate, when we are speaking of the two underlying truths:

That there is really IMPERMANENCE and the stained mind seeks PERMANENCE.

That there really is No Self and the human creature craves a SELF.

Then we should speak of the underlying truth that there is really NO SUFFERING, but as a consequence of the stained mind the human creature experiences SUFFERING.

I believe that there will be no contradiction to the truth that all human creatures experience mental suffering. The problem is that the human creature is so addicted to HAPPINESS that he fails to actually detect that SUFFERING until it is extreme.

As a result he balances his HAPPINESS with his SUFFERING and accepts that balance.

He does not see that his EXPECTATIONS with regard to HAPPINESS are the building blocks for later extreme SUFFERING.

Furthemore he fails to detect the subtle suffering of emotional irritations and a thousand and one other socially acceptable imbalances in the natural system, which should never experience mental suffering and only WELL-BEING.


You will, no doubt, be able to assimilate these ideas easily, but of greater value for Vipassana is the fuller internalization of these three concepts at a level deeper than mere cognition, for they are a part of the Vipassana Meditations.





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