Untitled Essay Research Paper Impermanence Selflessness and

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Untitled Essay, Research Paper 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 entirely- 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 pleasant. There is happiness, but very momentary, it vanishes like a flake of snow, and brings about unsatisfactoriness (DeSilva, 1991:p 29). Both pleasant and unpleasant conditions come and go, it is then the responsibility of the individual to deal with each situation in the ‘right’ way. Understanding that there is no universal truth, that

thoughts and ideas evolve- leaves one open to improve and grow- a goal of Buddhism. The concept of impermanence is significant from a psychological standpoint, as it encourages individuals to deal with situations with more flexibility, as well as understanding. Impermanence allows one to possess a firm grip upon reality, knowing that there is an ever-changing landscape, encouraging one not to take things for granted. Related to impermanence, is the concept of selflessness. Selflessness involves the knowledge that there is no immortal soul or eternal Self that exists in each individual (Fadiman & Frager, 1994:p 545). The so-called individual is a collection of attributes, all of which are impermanent and constantly changing. According to the Buddha, the person is made up of

five basic factors- body, perception, sensation, consciousness, and mental activities. (Fadiman & Frager, 1994:p 545) Selflessness enables the individual to focus upon the external with the understanding that ‘I’ is not of significant priority. In taking the importance away from the individual, it permits one to become concerned with issues not related directly to the self. The fact that the world is constantly changing, and that one does not possess an immortal soul; allows the stage to be set for dissatisfaction, as it encompasses a number of principles. Dissatisfaction exists, it is not a foreign notion. To this single problem we give different names: economic, social, political, psychological, and even religious problems. Do they not all emanate from that one single