Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Exploring the Dhamma, as understood from the perspective of the ancient Pali commentaries.
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Ṭhānuttamo
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Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by Ṭhānuttamo »

Greetings in Dhamma!
I am currently engaging with a member of the Waharaka movement in Sri Lanka, which have some quite unorthodox philological takes of certain Pāḷi words with which I do not agree. Among their peculiar interpretations is that aniccaṃ ultimately refers to “non-liking” or “not according to one’s wishes” (i.e., what would be proper Pāḷi: anicchaṃ).

After a quick search, I found one instance in the canon that gives enough context to suggest that aniccaṃ means actually impermanence. This passage is spoken by Brahma: “This is permanent, this is everlasting, this is eternal, this is total, this is not subject to pass away” (idañhi, mārisa, niccaṃ, idaṃ dhuvaṃ, idaṃ sassataṃ, idaṃ kevalaṃ, idaṃ acavanadhammaṃ). You can see the synonyms for niccaṃ (permanent) are all about time, except one (kevalaṃ = total). So, “impermanent” for aniccaṃ makes more sense given the above explanation.

The aṭṭhakathā tradition is specific in its explanation of aniccaṃ: “[Sees] as impermanent [means]: as non-existence after having been, as possessing arising and passing away, as temporary, as opposed to permanence” (aniccatoti hutvā abhāvato udayabbayavantato tāvakālikato niccapaṭipakkhato).

My question would be: Could you share any passages (preferably canonical in this case since it most easily accepted) that show that aniccaṃ means “impermanent” or otherwise?

Thanks a lot!
Ṭhānuttamo
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

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Impermanent, inconstant


You are not the same person you were in high school
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by anagaarika »

cappuccino wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 4:09 pm

You are not the same person you were in high school
Random generator of pseudo-Buddhist clichés :rofl: :focus:
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by Sam Vara »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm Greetings in Dhamma!
I am currently engaging with a member of the Waharaka movement in Sri Lanka, which have some quite unorthodox philological takes of certain Pāḷi words with which I do not agree. Among their peculiar interpretations is that aniccaṃ ultimately refers to “non-liking” or “not according to one’s wishes” (i.e., what would be proper Pāḷi: anicchaṃ).

After a quick search, I found one instance in the canon that gives enough context to suggest that aniccaṃ means actually impermanence. This passage is spoken by Brahma: “This is permanent, this is everlasting, this is eternal, this is total, this is not subject to pass away” (idañhi, mārisa, niccaṃ, idaṃ dhuvaṃ, idaṃ sassataṃ, idaṃ kevalaṃ, idaṃ acavanadhammaṃ). You can see the synonyms for niccaṃ (permanent) are all about time, except one (kevalaṃ = total). So, “impermanent” for aniccaṃ makes more sense given the above explanation.

The aṭṭhakathā tradition is specific in its explanation of aniccaṃ: “[Sees] as impermanent [means]: as non-existence after having been, as possessing arising and passing away, as temporary, as opposed to permanence” (aniccatoti hutvā abhāvato udayabbayavantato tāvakālikato niccapaṭipakkhato).

My question would be: Could you share any passages (preferably canonical in this case since it most easily accepted) that show that aniccaṃ means “impermanent” or otherwise?

Thanks a lot!
Ṭhānuttamo
A similar one would be:
“Mendicants, these three feelings are impermanent, conditioned, dependently originated, liable to end, vanish, fade away, and cease.
“Tisso imā, bhikkhave, vedanā aniccā saṅkhatā paṭiccasamuppannā khayadhammā vayadhammā virāgadhammā nirodhadhammā.
https://suttacentral.net/sn36.9/en/suja ... ript=latin

Good luck with this! I fear that the Pure Dhamma crowd are so invested in their leader Waharaka's interpretations that they will simply dismiss any evidence you present to them. They will probably argue that a list of synonyms or near-synonyms is not proof that it means "impermanent", but that the object being referred to is all those synonymous things AND, in addition, is not to one's liking (aniccham)

We used to have a couple of their enthusiasts here on DW, and have debated with them several times. See here:

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749
viewtopic.php?p=421520#p421520
viewtopic.php?t=39810

:anjali:
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by Coëmgenu »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm Greetings in Dhamma!
I am currently engaging with a member of the Waharaka movement in Sri Lanka, which have some quite unorthodox philological takes of certain Pāḷi words with which I do not agree. Among their peculiar interpretations is that aniccaṃ ultimately refers to “non-liking” or “not according to one’s wishes” (i.e., what would be proper Pāḷi: anicchaṃ).

After a quick search, I found one instance in the canon that gives enough context to suggest that aniccaṃ means actually impermanence. This passage is spoken by Brahma: “This is permanent, this is everlasting, this is eternal, this is total, this is not subject to pass away” (idañhi, mārisa, niccaṃ, idaṃ dhuvaṃ, idaṃ sassataṃ, idaṃ kevalaṃ, idaṃ acavanadhammaṃ). You can see the synonyms for niccaṃ (permanent) are all about time, except one (kevalaṃ = total). So, “impermanent” for aniccaṃ makes more sense given the above explanation.

The aṭṭhakathā tradition is specific in its explanation of aniccaṃ: “[Sees] as impermanent [means]: as non-existence after having been, as possessing arising and passing away, as temporary, as opposed to permanence” (aniccatoti hutvā abhāvato udayabbayavantato tāvakālikato niccapaṭipakkhato).

My question would be: Could you share any passages (preferably canonical in this case since it most easily accepted) that show that aniccaṃ means “impermanent” or otherwise?

Thanks a lot!
Ṭhānuttamo
I'm not sure the root problem will be solved in such a way. There were Waharakists here making a racket for a while, and the problem with trying to illustrate the truth by way of elucidating and informative authentic pedagogy is that they are of only three varieties, these Waharakists: either 1) conspiracy theorists who believe in an absurd pseudo-globalist religious conspiracy of liars who basically just exist to destroy the Dhamma with fake cooked-up lies about what words mean, 2) liars themselves, or 3) utterly lack the discernment to be able to know that you are giving them solid and helpful pedagogy, rendering them sadly unteachable by more than just you.

That's rather dire an appraisal of the Waharakist problem on Buddhist internet fora. I'm sure some of them are fine, intellectually honest people, who have the capacity to realize they've been lied to and/or misled. The internet tends to bring out the worst of these contrarian and culty insular groups who feel embattled by "the establishment." I wish you luck, but if they were gonna listen to truth and true facts, all you would've had to do was link them to a dictionary.

May you sail smoothly on the rough Waharakist-stirred seas.
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by mjaviem »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm ... You can see the synonyms for niccaṃ (permanent) are all about time, except one (kevalaṃ = total)...
I think conceiving anicca as referring to time isn't as good as understanding it as about instability, unsafety, uncertainty.
Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm ... My question would be: Could you share any passages (preferably canonical in this case since it most easily accepted) that show that aniccaṃ means “impermanent” or otherwise?...
The usual formula shows anicca means unstable/unsafe/uncertain.
Is this stable/safe/certain or unstable/unsafe/uncertain? "Unstable/unsafe/uncertain, venerable sir." — "Is what is unstable/unsafe/uncertain suffering or happiness?" — "Suffering, venerable sir." — "Is what is unstable/unsafe/uncertain, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?" — "No, venerable sir."
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambuddhassa
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by mikenz66 »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm Greetings in Dhamma!
I am currently engaging with a member of the Waharaka movement in Sri Lanka, which have some quite unorthodox philological takes of certain Pāḷi words with which I do not agree. Among their peculiar interpretations is that aniccaṃ ultimately refers to “non-liking” or “not according to one’s wishes” (i.e., what would be proper Pāḷi: anicchaṃ).
Here is an analysis of various Waharaka-isms, including this one:
viewtopic.php?p=421520#p421520
Dhammanando wrote: Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:18 pm ....
Pure Dhamma wrote:7. [...]

Each Pali word is packed with lot of information, and thus commentaries were written to expound the meaning of important Pali words.

A good example is the key Pali word “anicca“. In Sanskrit it is “anitya“, and this is what normally translated to English as “impermanence”. But the actual meaning of anicca is very clear in Sinhala: The Pali word “icca” (pronounced “ichcha”) is the same in Sinhala, with the idea of “this is what I like”. Thus anicca has the meaning “cannot keep it the way I like”.
The nicca in anicca has nothing to do with the adjective iccha (wishing) or the noun icchā (a wish) or the verb icchati (to wish).

The colloquial Sinhala pronunciation of it is actually a mispronunciation when judged by the phonetic descriptions in the ancient Pali grammars. When Sri Lankans pronounce Pali words their commonest mistake is to make aspirated consonants into non-aspirates and non-aspirated consonants into aspirates. This can be seen in the unorthodox romanization system used at the Pure Dhamma site:

gathi instead of gati
hethu-pala instead of hetu-phala.
micca-ditthi instead of micchā-diṭṭhi
satipattana instead of satipaṭṭhāna
Etc., etc.

By contrast, this is the international standard used by indologists for over a century:
  • ක ඛ ග ඝ ඞ
    ka, kha, ga, gha, ṅa

    ච ඡ ජ ඣ ඤ
    ca, cha, ja, jha, ña

    ට ඨ ඩ ඪ ණ
    ṭa, ṭha, ḍa, ḍha, ṇa

    ත ථ ද ධ න
    ta, tha, da, dha, na

    ප ඵ බ භ ම
    pa, pha, ba, bha, ma

    ය ර ල ව ස හ ළ ං
    ya, ra, la, va, sa, ha, ḷa, ṃ
...
:heart:
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by Neo »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm .. Among their peculiar interpretations is that aniccaṃ ultimately refers to “non-liking” or “not according to one’s wishes” (i.e., what would be proper Pāḷi: anicchaṃ).
..
🤣 Clearly a direct attack of Hindi (not to have wish for or against wish) on pali (impermanence) :redherring:

https://suttacentral.net/dn16
Parinibbute bhagavati saha parinibbānā sakko devānamindo imaṁ gāthaṁ abhāsi:

“Aniccā vata saṅkhārā,
uppādavayadhammino;
Uppajjitvā nirujjhanti,
tesaṁ vūpasamo sukho”ti.
When the Buddha became fully extinguished, Sakka, lord of gods, recited this verse:

“Oh! Conditions are impermanent,
their nature is to rise and fall;
having arisen, they cease;
their stilling is true bliss.”
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by Ṭhānuttamo »

Sam Vara wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 5:45 pm “Mendicants, these three feelings are impermanent, conditioned, dependently originated, liable to end, vanish, fade away, and cease.
“Tisso imā, bhikkhave, vedanā aniccā saṅkhatā paṭiccasamuppannā khayadhammā vayadhammā virāgadhammā nirodhadhammā.
This one contains some ambiguity since we also find saṅkhata, which could relate also to something else that is impermanence. There is a high chance that they would jump on this ...
Sam Vara wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 5:45 pm Good luck with this! I fear that the Pure Dhamma crowd are so invested in their leader Waharaka's interpretations that they will simply dismiss any evidence you present to them. They will probably argue that a list of synonyms or near-synonyms is not proof that it means "impermanent", but that the object being referred to is all those synonymous things AND, in addition, is not to one's liking (aniccham)
Hmm, it could well be. Fortunately, the one member of that movement I mentioned is fairly open-minded and able to follow the reasoning of another without shutting down, interrupting, etc.
Coëmgenu wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 9:12 pm I'm sure some of them are fine, intellectually honest people, who have the capacity to realize they've been lied to and/or misled. The internet tends to bring out the worst of these contrarian and culty insular groups who feel embattled by "the establishment." [...] May you sail smoothly on the rough Waharakist-stirred seas.
Thank you. Let's see if all parties involved can avoid shipwreck. :)
mjaviem wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 10:34 pm I think conceiving anicca as referring to time isn't as good as understanding it as about instability, unsafety, uncertainty.
I would agree that the concept of instability is covered by the term aniccaṃ, but the two last-mentioned items I would say are rather a results of aniccaṃ. The relationship to time is pretty much standard. Here are some passages that I collected in the meantime that highlight some more aspects, incl. that of time:

The Abhidhamma-piṭaka explains aniccaṃ in this way: “What is that state of impermanence of that materiality? That which is the destruction, disappearance, breaking up, breaking apart, state of impermanence, vanishing of materiality; this is the state of impermanence of that materiality” (Dhammasaṅgaṇī) (katamaṃ taṃ rūpaṃ rūpassa aniccatā? yo rūpassa khayo vayo bhedo paribhedo aniccatā antaradhānaṃ — idaṃ taṃ rūpaṃ rūpassa aniccatā).

From Ven. Sāriputta’s Niddesa, this is a list of synonyms (all relating to time) in which nicca occurs, showing that it itself relates to time as well: “always, every time, at all times, constantly (niccakālaṃ), permanently” (sadā sabbadā sabbakālaṃ niccakālaṃ dhuvakālaṃ).

In the Vinaya-piṭaka, we also find an instance of Mahānāma inviting the Saṅgha to medicines for life (saṅghaṃ yāvajīvaṃ bhesajjena pavāretuṃ). This is followed by a refusal of scrupulous monks, which led the Buddha to fromally allow the acceptance of permanent invitations (niccapavāraṇā). The context clearly shows that the matter is about time and that nicca must be understood in the sense of “permanence”. Hence, we get “impermanence” for aniccaṃ.
mikenz66 wrote: Wed Apr 17, 2024 5:13 am Here is an analysis of various Waharaka-isms, including this one [...]
Nice. Thanks, Mike. :namaste:
Last edited by Ṭhānuttamo on Thu Apr 18, 2024 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by Ṭhānuttamo »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Tue Apr 16, 2024 3:35 pm Greetings in Dhamma!
I am currently engaging with a member of the Waharaka movement in Sri Lanka, which have some quite unorthodox philological takes of certain Pāḷi words with which I do not agree. Among their peculiar interpretations is that aniccaṃ ultimately refers to “non-liking” or “not according to one’s wishes” (i.e., what would be proper Pāḷi: anicchaṃ).

After a quick search, I found one instance in the canon that gives enough context to suggest that aniccaṃ means actually impermanence. This passage is spoken by Brahma: “This is permanent, this is everlasting, this is eternal, this is total, this is not subject to pass away” (idañhi, mārisa, niccaṃ, idaṃ dhuvaṃ, idaṃ sassataṃ, idaṃ kevalaṃ, idaṃ acavanadhammaṃ). You can see the synonyms for niccaṃ (permanent) are all about time, except one (kevalaṃ = total). So, “impermanent” for aniccaṃ makes more sense given the above explanation.

The aṭṭhakathā tradition is specific in its explanation of aniccaṃ: “[Sees] as impermanent [means]: as non-existence after having been, as possessing arising and passing away, as temporary, as opposed to permanence” (aniccatoti hutvā abhāvato udayabbayavantato tāvakālikato niccapaṭipakkhato).

My question would be: Could you share any passages (preferably canonical in this case since it most easily accepted) that show that aniccaṃ means “impermanent” or otherwise?

Thanks a lot!
Ṭhānuttamo
Some more evidence that I collected in the meantime, highlighting the fact that aniccaṃ means impermanence:

The Abhidhamma-piṭaka explains aniccaṃ in this way: “What is that state of impermanence of that materiality? That which is the destruction, disappearance, breaking up, breaking apart, state of impermanence, vanishing of materiality; this is the state of impermanence of that materiality” (Dhammasaṅgaṇī) (katamaṃ taṃ rūpaṃ rūpassa aniccatā? yo rūpassa khayo vayo bhedo paribhedo aniccatā antaradhānaṃ — idaṃ taṃ rūpaṃ rūpassa aniccatā).

From Ven. Sāriputta’s Niddesa, this is a list of synonyms (all relating to time) in which nicca occurs, showing that it itself relates to time as well: “always, every time, at all times, constantly (niccakālaṃ), permanently” (sadā sabbadā sabbakālaṃ niccakālaṃ dhuvakālaṃ).

In the Vinaya-piṭaka, we also find an instance of Mahānāma inviting the Saṅgha to medicines for life (saṅghaṃ yāvajīvaṃ bhesajjena pavāretuṃ). This is followed by a refusal of scrupulous monks, which led the Buddha to fromally allow the acceptance of permanent invitations (niccapavāraṇā). The context clearly shows that the matter is about time and that nicca must be understood in the sense of “permanence”. Hence, we get “impermanence” for aniccaṃ.
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by SarathW »

This is a difficult question.
I have spent almost ten years without knowing the exact meaning.
The best is to look at all Anicca, Dukkha and Anattha in one bundle.
There is a Sutta Buddha ask if we can’t control whether it is appropriate to take them as self. (Attha)

I will look at the crux of Buddhas teaching Dependent Origination.
For answers. To me Anicca Dukkha and Anatta means Dependent Origination.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by SarathW »

In regard to Waharaka crowd I have a love and hate mix feelings. I try to get what I can get. They strongly believe that Buddha was born in Sri Lanka.
Paul (Retro) is the first to introduce Waraka to Dhamma Wheel. I spent many hours studding him and finally gave up on him. Sometimes I wonder whether he has done more damage than the contribution to Buddhism.
He got a very large following now in Sri Lanka.
His teaching on Anicca is not totally wrong but only partialy correct in my opinion.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: Aniccaṃ = Impermanent

Post by mjaviem »

Ṭhānuttamo wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 5:15 am ... The relationship to time is pretty much standard. Here are some passages that I collected in the meantime that highlight some more aspects, incl. that of time...
Standard doesn't make it accurate and appropriate or useful. The teachings don't seem to be about foreseeing the future, don't seem to be a matter of making predictions or being sure what's going to happen. Anicca isn't about something that's going to change. It's about something that can change. It's instability. The standard "impermanence" interpretation for some like me, and it seems like you too, leads to think about time and about the future and this is why I don't find it as useful as for example "instability". The great teacher Ajahn Chah used to refer to anicca as "Uncertain! Uncertain!" if I'm correct. Quite much better interpretation of the word in my view.

And as I referred before, what is uncertain is certainly a problem or dukkha (and not-self) while something impermanent doesn't necessarily needs to be a problem, you might agree. Something unstable is quite much worse of a fact than something impermanent, isn't it?
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