I understand the state of changing (impermanence) mentioned in Buddhism, but I have also heard that another more complex version (of the doctrine of impermanence) exists in the Abhidhamma.

I would also like to know about how impermanence work when it comes to the physical body?

I would be thankful if someone could point to a few sources to learn about it, and maybe summarize it in an answer.

Please mention if I can use this knowledge to my personal practice, and if it is possible then how to do that.

  • 2
    I tried to clarify what you're asking: so please say if the question is still unclear, or if that's not what you're trying to ask. I think that what you called "temporariness" and "change" are usually referred to as "impermanence" in English, i.e. anicca. Also, you're welcome to use Pali words (technical vocabulary) within English-language sentences; people often use words like dukkha and so on.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 9:13
  • @ChrisW i meant the change that happens in milliseconds,How your own body is appearing and disappearing (I have heard something like this a long time ago in Theravada but i don't remember now, But ia am sure it is in the "Abhidhamma") please answer if you are aware of this teaching. Thank you.
    – Theravada
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


i meant the change that happens in milliseconds

I guess the following is what you heard?

Theravada abiddhamma formalizes "an experience" (thought process) in 17 discrete moments ("thought moments", cittakkhanas), or 17 cittas. An example from Abhidhammatha Sangaha ( Chap. IV - Compendium of the cognitive process):

enter image description here

While this is not a presentation on impermanence per se (nor it's about physical body) it's is an abbhidhamma topic that attempts to discriminate something in its detail.

It's not clear how long such a process or any of it's steps last; some say it's much much less than a millisecond.


This is expanded upon in SN 22.102 Aniccasaññā Sutta:

And how, monks, is the recognition of impermanence developed and cultivated so that it exhausts all passion for sensual pleasure, exhausts all passion for existence, exhausts all ignorance, exhausts and uproots all conceit of ‘I am’? ‘Such is form, such its origin, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origin, such its passing away. Such is recognition, such its origin, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origin, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its passing away.’

  • 1
    This is from the Samyutta Nikaya, not the Abhidhamma.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 20:32

The Sattiptana Sutta says to look at Arising and Passing away of Phenomena pertaining to the 5 aggregates and 6 sense faculties. You have to experience this through what is felt, hence sensation arising and passing away pertaining to the the 4 Foundation of Mindfulness.

In the Sankhata Sutta it is mentioned that Fabrication Arise and Passes away and there appears change what exists. The change is what arises after passing away has slightly decayed from the previous cycle. Through Insight Knowledges you can get a idea of Arising and Passing away and even perhaps the decay, but generally in meditation related Suttas only mention Arising and Passing Away of Phenomena (Uppadavayadhammino) hence perhaps this level of understanding is sufficient for meditation.

Theravada Abhidhamma subdivides this atomic moment to 3 parts: uppada, thiti, vaya or uppada, thiti, banga. Other schools of Buddhism hold different version of the subdivisions that are possible for an atomic moment.

Notes From Buddhist and Pāli University for the 2nd year page 44 onwards contains more information about this as well as the interpretation in different Schools of Buddhism.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .