To preface my question, I will add that I am very unfamiliar with Buddhism. My knowledge consists of some historical anecdotes, and I also know some of the basic tenets.

That being said, is there a difference between "Becoming" and Anicca/Impermanence? The former is a philosophy that originated in the West, and is nearly as old as Buddhism itself. Are they essentially the same thing, but stated differently? Or am I overlooking a huge fundamental difference which delineates the two?

  • I think, How to become anything is relate to "Becoming"(patichcha) and Anicca/Impermanence is everything's "Behave".
    – Shrawaka
    Sep 28, 2015 at 2:37
  • To answer this question, must someone know what western philosophers have written about "becoming"; and might you therefore get a more-informed answer on Philosophy.SE instead? Are you able to rephrase this question, either to supply in your question a stand-alone definition of "becoming", or to ask a question that's specifically/directly about anicca without asking for it to be compared with "becoming"? I assume that to some extent you're asking how it compares with your (personal) preexisting understanding of "becoming", but few people here can guess what your understanding of becoming is.
    – ChrisW
    Sep 28, 2015 at 9:29
  • 2
    In Buddhism, anicca might be a axiom or observation from which logical consequences, e.g. anatta and some types of dukkha, and consequently recommendations like non-attachment and/or equanimity, are derived. I don't know what the consequences/conclusions are of "the 'becoming' philosophy".
    – ChrisW
    Sep 28, 2015 at 9:35
  • I suppose I could migrate this question to Philosophy.SE, although I am specifically interested in the Buddhist perspective (granted, there is no such thing as a universal "Buddhist perspective," but I doubt that this issue is a hotly debated topic without some sort of consensus).
    – Ryan
    Sep 28, 2015 at 16:30
  • Yes, however your Wikipedia reference quoted Nietzsche, and that's why I suggested Philosophy.SE as an alternative (because IMO relatively few people here know what Nietzsche wrote about Becoming, and the specific subject of this question is "a comparison with Becoming").
    – ChrisW
    Sep 28, 2015 at 17:01

2 Answers 2


My answer assumes you are specifically referring to the ideas of Heraclitus (the originator of Western ideas of Becoming). There are some interesting correlates between the origins of the Western idea of flux or becoming which was first articulated by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus and the Buddha's idea of Impermanence (Anicca). For Heraclitus ...

Everything flows and nothing stays.
Everything flows and nothing abides.
Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.
Everything flows; nothing remains.
All is flux, nothing is stationary.
All is flux, nothing stays still.
All flows, nothing stays.

No man ever steps in the same river twice.

There is subtle distinction between the Buddha and Heraclitus on the mechanism of change. For Buddha the process of change is driven by dependent origination - the idea that every phenomena exists entirely dependent on the causes that proceed it. Heraclitus had more of a transformative concept of change - that phenomena are the result of the tension and flux of the opposites. The end result is the same however - constant change.

So essentially there is very little difference between the Buddha's concept of Annica and Heraclitus's ideas of Becoming.

Other interesting similarities between Heraclitus and Buddha:

  1. Both were born into aristocratic families and were first in line to inherit.
  2. Both rejected their inheritance and chose rather to pursue a life of contemplation instead.
  3. Both their philosophies rejected the prevailing eternalism of their respective cultures and chose rather to rely on reason and personal experience to arrive at the truth.
  4. They were fairly contemporaneous with each other - Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) & Buddha (6th century BCE)

There are many articles and books dedicated to investigating the similarities between the views of Heraclitus and Buddha on the internet. Nice summary here - Heraclitus and the Buddha on Impermanence


According to Buddhism the "Becoming" is define as create "Nama-Rupa". The Alternatives for nāmarūpa is saṅkhāra.
All the sankaras are impermanence. That is called Anicca.


Definition for the pāli word Santati (line)
continuity of states rūpa˚ of form;
causal connection of material things

“Empty is this, bhikkhus—the saṅkhāras—either of soul or of what belongs to soul”

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