the Three Universal Characteristics
sustains one’s universal delusion.
How can we attain universal freedom, as in ultimate freedom, from every constraint, including the universe itself? The answer is through the complete realisation of the Three Universal Characteristics, which collectively form the most succinct way of describing the entire universe. While the big wide universe can be defined through many laws of nature in terms of physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and such, all the essential workings of these laws can be summarised by the Three Universal Characteristics. The Buddha, realised, through his enlightenment, that if all physical and mental phenomena (functions of matter, including body, and mind) in the cosmos are deeply looked into, nothing does not exhibit the three characteristics of Anicca (Anitya), Dukkha and Anatta (Anatman). Once one comprehends the universe essentially as the functioning of the trio, one realises the wisdom needed for breaking free from their constraints, just as the Buddha did.
Anicca, or impermanence, describes the universe in terms of time. From one moment to the next, all phenomena is fluxing, in constant change. This discovery was revolutionary in the Buddha’s time, for the electronic microscope was not yet invented. It was through absolute mastery of the mind that the Buddha could peer both far into the outer reaches of the universe into stars and galaxies, and deep within molecules and sub-atomic particles, to realise that nothing stays static. All is but fluctuation of energy. Even the workings of the mind in terms of feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness (mental aggregates) are always dynamic. Anatta, or non-self, describes the universe in terms of space. Precisely due to constant change of mind and matter (Anicca), there is no fixed substance or substantial self at any point in space. Dukkha, or the experience of physical and mental dissatisfaction in the universe arises from not realising Anicca and Anatta, no matter where and when one is.
When one clearly knows and sees the true nature of the universe, one attains their opposite characteristics. One transcends Dukkha and realises True Happiness in Nirvana, which transcends Anicca, and is permanent. Realising Anatta, the ‘true self’ of Buddha-nature is attained instead. The Three Universal Characteristics are also called the Three Marks of Existence, as all phenomena bear their ‘imprints’. In fact, all phenomena bear no other ‘marks’. They are also known as the Three Seals of the Dharma. ‘Dharma’ here refers both to all phenomena (various dharmas) and to the Buddhadharma, the teachings of the Buddha – that lead to the realisation of the Three Seals, which are called so as all authentic teachings of the Buddha are as if officially ‘signed and sealed’ with them, bearing these Three Marks. Few as they might be, no other philosophy or religion contains these Three Seals altogether. Freedom unbound begins by looking into one’s mind, to realise their Three Marks!
is the collective definition
of Anicca (impermenence) and Anatta (non-self).
What is You, Yours or Yourself?