What are some signs that one might be seeing the three characteristics with more clarity or depth? What might represent that one is having a new and more profound experience of impermanence, dukkha or not-self during one's practice or during any time?

Here are some examples of what is meant by sign:

  • When we finish sweeping the floor, that might be a sign of impermanence.

  • If an annoying song keeps repeating in the mind that we can't control then that might be a sign of not-self.

  • We strongly misidentify the body as the self. If while meditating we see past the concept of the body then we might strangely feel like we have no body at some point. This no body effect might be a sign of not-self.

  • 1
    Rob Burbea's bool A seeing that frees is very good on this point. He's got several chapters on the lakshanas that are very readable and well explained Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 16:30
  • @Crab Bucket That sounds like a good book for the subtleties of practice. I like that it's endorsed by Joseph Goldstein.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 18:05

3 Answers 3


Sweeping is a process made up of many experiences. An experience is made up of the five aggregates. Each of the five aggregates is Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta in nature. That makes each experience Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. It's not about waiting for something to finish and calling it impermanent. That's obvious even without meditation. That is not strong enough to cut off craving or loosen your grip on conditioned phenomena. You have to develop Sati(awareness) through meditation until you can see these 3 characteristics here and now with each experience(moment to moment).

Yes, not able to stop unpleasant experiences or not able to prolong pleasant experiences is a sign of Anatta. Then again, reasoning it out like that is not what is expected from Vipassana. You have to be able see it then and there. You have to be able to note that each experience is born due to causes, not because there's a self in them or not because they belong to a self.

Feeling that there is a body or feeling that there is no body are both Anatta. Because both are mere feelings born of causes. Nothing more.

  • Yes but what I meant is what are signs that one is seeing impermanence, dukkha or not-self more clearly even though one might not realize it.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 3:29
  • Rising and falling of each experience exhibit all 3 Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 3:50

vedana (feelings) is easiest to spot for me . For example, whatever makes you happy or pleasurable, you wont be able to stay in that state forever. if you observe it carefully you will see the causal of that happiness (pleasure) and when causal ends, the happiness ends. same thing as anger or suffering. it comes and goes and there is no owner, just a causal. and when you apply this knowledge on everything coming your way, it reduces its "value" and hopefully one day, no value to us at all. to me, anger is easiest to spot, since buddha said dosa (anger) is quick to arise and also quick to diminish. Next time when someone cuts you off on a highway, dont feed the anger, just imagine you are a curious scientist trying to observe the development of the anger and you will see. personal story. someone made me angry over some thing. it was pretty bad. i used everything in the book to control it, metta bhavana, meditation, etc.. i was so angry for 7 days. one the last day, i was extremely exhausted and decided to forget it, i just let it be, not involved. at that moment, the anger left, not even just a tiny trace. zero. at that moment i realized that maybe this was what it meant to let it go.


There are 2 types of signs:

  1. Gross
  2. Subtle

Many of the gross realities many intelligent people can deduce. It is the subtle ones they cannot deduce though logic. E.g. If you ask any one "Can I live for ever?", they would respond "No".

At the subtle level is what you need to see through meditation. Everything arises and passes away. (Udayawaya nana) You just have to see this to realise impedance. What arises you cannot control hence non self. What ever feeling that arises passesaway hence all feelings are unsatisfactory.

  • So one tends to deeply understand impermanence, dukkha and not-self better the more one can see clearly subtle phenomena?
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 18:17
  • You have to try to understand impermanence 1st as this is the basis of the Knowledge of Arising and Passing and the Knowledge of Dissolution. Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 3:44

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