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Is there is anything existing in the past,present or future which is not a phenomena ?

Is it correct to say that all phenomena must be impermanent? If yes then how we know this?

4

I think the dharma says,

sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā — "all saṅkhāras (conditioned things) are impermanent"

So not "all phenomena", but specifically "all saṅkhārās" -- see Can anyone explain Sanskara / Sankara indepth?

This might be paraphrased like, "Everything that has a cause (or, 'has a beginning' or 'arises') has an end".

It's especially relevant for sensual phenomena -- i.e. sights, sounds, thoughts, and so on -- because these are conditioned by contact.

There may be some "phenomena" which are not saṅkhārās and not impermanent -- nibbana for example is said to be not-impermanent. I suppose reasons for that include its being unconditioned (it doesn't depend on something for its existence, in fact it's explicitly independent), and timeless.

I think that some schools of Buddhism identify other not-impermanent (unconditioned) phenomena too: for example, "space" and others (see Two unconditioned dhammas?); and possibly Buddha-nature or Dharmakaya (see Ignorant mind and Buddha nature).

  • I saw the link.Space is not unconditioned. Truth seems to be the fact that all things are transitory except Nirvana.Also, I was wondering, whether there is a proof of the statement which states that "Everything which has a beginning or cause must have an end". – Dheeraj Verma Sep 5 '17 at 9:07
  • Space is conditioned. For example, if you fill an empty room, the space disappears. Space is discussed here: accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.062.than.html Nirvana is unconditioned. The law of nature (dhamma-niyama) is also permanent. See link: suttacentral.net/en/an3.136 – Dhammadhatu Sep 5 '17 at 9:19
  • @Dhammadhatu For example, if you fill an empty room, the space disappears I might argue that a cubic metre is always a cubic metre, whether it's filled or not; or that 'infinite space' itself always exists even though what's within it changes; conversely one could argue that "a cubic metre" is a concept (an idea) and so impermanent too; or that it depends on distances, i.e. depends on locations within space being identified; I doubt it's worth arguing about. – ChrisW Sep 5 '17 at 9:28
  • @DheerajVerma I was wondering, whether there is a proof of the statement I don't know what "proof" means, and I don't entirely trust mere logic. I think the "truth" of the statement is meant to be obversable: i.e. evident in the here-and-now. "Is it proven?" might be a theoretical question, whereas a more practical question might be "Is it helpful, is it useful?" I think the observation, that sankharas are impermanent, is meant to have helpful, practical consequences (e.g. "don't assume they're permanent, avoid attachment, suffering too is conditioned/impermanent and ceases, etc."). – ChrisW Sep 5 '17 at 10:08
  • @ChrisW - In any case, science has proven that space is expanding and according to General Relativity, space-time can be warped by mass and can influence the movement of objects. The recent LIGO results are great proof of the possible squeeze and expansion of space even if it's very tiny (gravitational waves). So, both space and time can be conditioned by mass. – ruben2020 Sep 5 '17 at 15:42
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All things, whether conditioned or unconditioned, are dhammas ('phenomena') & elements (dhatu).

All things mentioned in Buddhism, whether conditioned or conditioned, are sense objects experienceable by the mind, i.e., 'ayatana' (refer to Sabba Sutta. Note: the translation should be 'mind objects' rather than 'ideas', so to include Nibbana).

Conditioned things are sankhara; conditioned elements are sankhata dhatu.

The unconditoned element/Nibbana is asankhata dhatu or visankhara.

Only conditioned things (sankhara) are impermanent.

Nibbana, the unconditioned, is permanent.

277. "All conditioned things (sankhara) are impermanent”— when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.

278. "All conditioned things (sankhara) are unsatisfactory”—when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.

279. "All things (dhammā) are not-self” — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification

154. O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build (visaṅkhitaṃ) this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned (Visaṅkhāra); I have attained the destruction of craving.

Dhammapada


Dve imā, ānanda, dhātuyo—saṅkhatādhātu, asaṅkhatādhātu.

There are these two elements: the conditioned element and the unconditioned element.

MN 115


There is, bhikkhus, that base (āyatanaṃ) where... Just this is the end of suffering. Ud 8.1


His release, being founded on truth, does not fluctuate, for whatever is deceptive is false; Nibbana — the undeceptive — is true. MN 140

  • How many elements(dhatu) are there? Are these elements immortal? I think not except Nirvana. – Dheeraj Verma Sep 5 '17 at 22:15
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The answers to your question really depend on what "a phenomenon" is, in other words a sankhara.

Please see this essay by Ven. Bodhi entitled "Anicca Vata Sankhara" (I have bolded the relevant parts and also snipped some parts, in the quoted section below).

The TL;DR version:

Sankharas are "co-doings," things that act in concert with other things, or things that are made by a combination of other things. Ven. Bodhi uses "formations" or "volitional formations" as his preferred translation.

There are 3 uses of the term Sankhara in the scriptures:

  1. Second link in dependent origination - when ignorance and craving underlie our stream of consciousness, our volitional actions of body, speech, and mind become forces with the capacity to produce results, including "rebirth".
  2. The fourth of the five aggregates - volition regarding forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile objects, and ideas. Also covers all factors of mind except feeling and perception.
  3. All conditioned and compounded things including mountains, fields, and forests; towns and cities; food and drink; jewelry, cars, and computers.

The only thing which is unconditioned and uncompounded is Nibbana.

Long version:

The word sankhara is derived from the prefix sam, meaning "together," joined to the noun kara, "doing, making." Sankharas are thus "co-doings," things that act in concert with other things, or things that are made by a combination of other things. Translators have rendered the word in many different ways: formations, confections, activities, processes, forces, compounds, compositions, fabrications, determinations, synergies, constructions. All are clumsy attempts to capture the meaning of a philosophical concept for which we have no exact parallel, and thus all English renderings are bound to be imprecise. I myself use "formations" and "volitional formations," aware this choice is as defective as any other.

.... In the suttas the word occurs in three major doctrinal contexts. One is in the twelvefold formula of dependent origination (paticca-samuppada), where the sankharas are the second link in the series. They are said to be conditioned by ignorance and to function as a condition for consciousness. Putting together statements from various suttas, we can see that the sankharas are the kammically active volitions responsible for generating rebirth and thus for sustaining the onward movement of samsara, the round of birth and death. In this context sankhara is virtually synonymous with kamma, a word to which it is etymologically akin.

The suttas distinguish the sankharas active in dependent origination into three types: bodily, verbal, and mental. Again, the sankharas are divided into the meritorious, demeritorious, and "imperturbable," i.e., the volitions present in the four formless meditations. When ignorance and craving underlie our stream of consciousness, our volitional actions of body, speech, and mind become forces with the capacity to produce results, and of the results they produce the most significant is the renewal of the stream of consciousness following death. .......

A second major domain where the word sankharas applies is among the five aggregates. The fourth aggregate is the sankhara-khandha, the aggregate of volitional formations. The texts define the sankhara-khandha as the six classes of volition (cha cetanakaya): volition regarding forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile objects, and ideas. ...... The aggregate of volitional formations comprises all kinds of volition. It includes not merely those that are kammically potent, but also those that are kammic results and those that are kammically inoperative. In the later Pali literature the sankhara-khandha becomes an umbrella category for all the factors of mind except feeling and perception, which are assigned to aggregates of their own. Thus the sankhara-khandha comes to include such ethically variable factors as contact, attention, thought, and energy; such wholesome factors as generosity, kindness, and wisdom; .......

The third major domain in which the word sankhara occurs is as a designation for all conditioned things. In this context the word has a passive derivation, denoting whatever is formed by a combination of conditions; whatever is conditioned, constructed, or compounded. In this sense it might be rendered simply "formations," without the qualifying adjective. As bare formations, sankharas include all five aggregates, not just the fourth. The term also includes external objects and situations such as mountains, fields, and forests; towns and cities; food and drink; jewelry, cars, and computers.

.... By putting an end to the constructing of conditioned reality, we open the door to what is ever-present but not constructed, not conditioned: the asankhata-dhatu, the unconditioned element. This is Nibbana, the Deathless, the stilling of volitional activities, the final liberation from all conditioned formations and thus from impermanence and death. Therefore our verse concludes: "The subsiding of formations is blissful!"

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    Let us say I hold the element Gold. It is a compounded thing according to you. May I ask what is it made up of ? – Dheeraj Verma Sep 5 '17 at 23:01
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    Gold atom is composed of protons, neutrons, elections and a lot of empty space. Protons and neutrons can break down into quarks. Gold can be dissolved using aqua regia, an acid mixture. – ruben2020 Sep 6 '17 at 6:33
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    While the theory is not yet proven, quarks and other fundamental particles may be composed of very tiny strings that vibrate in 11 dimensions. See string theory in Wikipedia. – ruben2020 Sep 6 '17 at 6:37
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    Great ... Now if I ask what quarks are made up of ? You will say strings. If I ask what are strings made up of ? You will have no clue because science ends here. But Strings are still a phenomenon. Ultimately we can go on asking what something is made up of till the infinity. Right? If yes then we see that objects can have infinite number of constituents.. But thats impossible because infinity can not be dissolved.Therefore everything must be made up finite number of constituents, with base as some element or indivisible dhattu which dissolves even though it is not an aggregate. – Dheeraj Verma Sep 6 '17 at 6:46
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    The universe started with a big bang from a singularity and we know about E=mc^2, so it's plausible that all matter can be converted into energy. And energy can be converted into matter. So both energy and matter can be conditioned. – ruben2020 Sep 6 '17 at 6:56
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"Is there is anything existing in the past,present or future which is not a phenomena ?"

No.

Anything existing, no matter if in past, present or future, is phenomena.

Now listen carefully my friend ...

If you find anything existing which is not a phenomena, claiming "this is not real, this does not exist", that find would come from ignorance.

If you find anything existing which is a phenomena claiming "this is real, this exists", that find would come from ignorance.

If you look at phenomena without ignorance, you would see absence of phenomena.

"Is it correct to say that all phenomena must be impermanent? If yes then how we know this?"

I'll answer as I was once told by a Buddha:

When a being is born, that being, no matter where it is born, no matter for how many aeons he would live, a day would come, when he would have to die.

And why is that so?

Suppose a king, due to good kamma, after death, can choose the duration of his life and the universe he is born in. Suppose he decides to be immortal and be born in an universe without any beings. Thus he is born in an universe where no beings can harm him and is immortal. He lives like that for many many aeons. He delights in his immortality. He is the all knowing king, eternal king of the universe. Then, he wakes one day, and sees a being! He asks: "Being! How did you come into my universe?!" The being answers: "Because I made the wish." Then, after many aeons, that being dies. Then, after many aeons, the king wakes one day, and sees a being again! "Being! How did you come into my universe?!" he asks. "Because I made the wish." the being replies. The next day, centillions and centillions of beings appear next to the king! "What! Why did you all come into my universe!?" the king asks. The beings reply: "Because he made the wish." and shred the king into pieces.

It is correct to say that all phenomena must be impermanent. We know it, because the Buddha says so. Those who don't know, will soon know too ... just like that poor king.

  • Did Buddha told you the story ?!!Where are the links to the story you have mentioned? – Dheeraj Verma Sep 5 '17 at 21:51
  • Yes. Unfortunately I have no links for this story. – beginner Sep 5 '17 at 22:57
  • Buddha can not tell you the story. Last Buddha achieved the Nirvana. Have you found a new Buddha ? – Dheeraj Verma Sep 5 '17 at 23:14
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    No. You met many Buddhas too. – beginner Sep 6 '17 at 6:28
  • "A riddle, or a cricket's cry, is to doubt, a fit reply." - William Blake – user2341 Sep 7 '17 at 23:08
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Dhammesu dhammanupassi viharati=practitioner must use daily life to see causes (dhammanupassi) of phenomena (dhammesu=whole lokiya aggregates=suffering).

Loka-uttara such as magga/phala/nibbana, excluded from mahasatipatthana, because the uddesa of mahasatipatthana sutta said "vineyya loke abhijjhadomanassam" .

  • Viraga/norodha/patinissagga-anupassana are vipassana=lokiya. So it is not lokuttara. Nirodha word also use in lokiya, too, not just lokutara. So my translation not conflict with the other sutta, but your translation conflict with loka word – Bonn Sep 5 '17 at 11:17

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