Definition - What does Anicca mean?

Anicca is a Pali word that means “unstable,” “impermanent” and “inconstant.” It refers to the Buddhist concept of impermanence that all existence is temporary. Anicca is one of the three fundamental and essential doctrines in Buddhism. The other two are anatta (no permanent soul or self exists) and dukka (suffering). These doctrines are collectively referred to as “right understanding.”

Anicca is also known by the Sanskrit term anitya. In Hinduism and yogic traditions, the concept of anicca/anitya does not refer to all existence. Instead, it is believed that humans have both permanent and impermanent aspects.

Yogapedia explains Anicca

In Buddhism, anicca is the concept that all physical and mental existence is not metaphysically real. It is not, therefore, permanent. According to the Buddha, humans are an aggregation of five ever-changing attributes known as the khandhas (aggregates) in Pali. The khandhas do not comprise the soul, and unhappiness and suffering is the result of attachment to khandhas.

These five states of anicca are:

  • Rupa (the physical body)
  • Vedana (the senses and sensations)
  • Samjna (perceptions)
  • Samskara (experiences and voluntary actions)
  • Vijnana (consciousness)

By accepting the impermanence of existence – with the help of mindful meditation – the Buddhist ends suffering.

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