Impermanence

Definition - What does Impermanence mean?

Impermanence a concept fundamental to Buddhist philosophy that asserts that all existence is temporary. Some schools of Hinduism and Jainism also believe in impermanence, but the concept is slightly different. Buddhists believe that all physical and mental existence is not permanent. In Hinduism and many yogic traditions, however, the belief is that people have both permanent and impermanent aspects.

In Hinduism, impermanence is known by the Sanskrit term anitya. In Buddhism, it is typically referred to by the Pali term anicca.

Yogapedia explains Impermanence

Impermanence is the underlying principle and one of the essential doctrines in Buddhist philosophy, which cites two additional doctrines of existence: suffering (dukka) and the lack of a permanent soul, self or essence (anatta).

The Buddha described five impermanent states that comprise human life:

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

Both attraction and aversion to the impermanent aspects of life lead to suffering. In Buddhism, mindful meditation is practiced to understand, accept and overcome this suffering. Meditation is also a step on the path to enlightenment, or nirvana, which frees the Buddhist from impermanence.

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