Impermanence, Selflessness, and Dissatisfaction

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Impermanence, Selflessness, and Dissatisfaction

Buddhism is neither a religion nor a philosophy, but rather a way of life. This does not imply that Buddhism is nothing more than an ethical code: it is a way of moral, spiritual and intellectual training leading to complete freedom of the mind. (DeSilva, 1991:p 5). Of the many Buddhist sects, Zen Buddhism places particular emphasis on living ‘the right' life, and does not revolve around rite and ritual. Buddhism outlines the three characteristics of existence, which aids one in achieving enlightenment. Impermanence, selflessness, and dissatisfaction are concepts that are easily understood on an intellectual level, but to apply these concepts in one's life is challenging. Impermanence is concerned with the thought that nothing remains static, and change is to be expected. Selflessness holds that there is no immortal soul or external Self that exists in each individual; (Fadiman & Frager,1994:p 545) selflessness is closely connected with impermanence. Dissatisfaction is a larger concept entir ely- it involves the acknowledgment that suffering exists. The world is founded on suffering, (DeSilva, 1991:p 21) and once anything becomes a problem there is bound to be suffering, unsatisfactoriness, or conflict- conflict between our desires and the state of reality. Dissatisfaction is the most difficult characteristic of existence to apply to one's life, as it involves not only the acceptance of this state, but also outlines one on how to treat and cure this state.

The notion that the world is an ever-changing environment on all levels of existence is not a radical idea. In fact, those that have not yet accepted change as a natural state of nature is denying the reality of life. A being and the empirical world are both constantly changing. They come into being and pass away. All is in a whirl, nothing escapes this inexorable unceasing change, and because of this transient nature nothing is really...
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