It is said that Nirvana is not changing. But I found a text here which states that dharma of conditioned arising is unchanging.

The Buddha said to the monk: “Conditioned arising was neither made by me, nor made by others. Whether a Tathāgata arises in the world or not, this element of dharma remains unchanging.

If sabbe dhamma anatta then how is it possible that Dhamma of conditioned arising is not changing ? And is it possible that Nirvana and Dhamma of conditioned arising are the same?

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    "sabbe dhamma anatta" means "all dhammas are non-self" -- it does not mean "all dhammas are impermanent".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 10:49
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    Earth is impermanent , water is impermanent, Air is impermanent...Which Dhamma is not impermanent except Niravana? That is my question. Why Dhammas are non self? because (except for Nirvana) they are impermanent and changeable. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 10:57
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    See also Two unconditioned dhammas?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:01

5 Answers 5


I think that most things are considered "conditioned" -- especially, anything that you perceive: any perception (including the perception of a sight, for example, but also the perception of some idea).

And anything that's conditioned is impermanent (disappears when its condition no longer exists).

I'm not sure, however, that "unconditioned" and "not impermanent" means the same thing.

In particular I don't know whether "Dhamma" (i.e. the kinds of "laws" which the Buddha taught) is considered "conditioned" -- I'd guess that the perception of Dhamma is conditioned.

I think that the Dhamma itself is described as "timeless", i.e. "akaliko", rather than unconditioned.

See also verse 183 of the Dhammapada -- the commentary says that the Dhamma taught by the Buddha is the Dhamma taught by all the Buddhas.

  • Buddha says whether Buddha arises or not the Dhamma remains unchanging i.e. it remains functional as always independent of condition. Whether you or me or we exist or not the Dhamma remains the same. If we exist then we can discover it. If we do not exist then we can not discover it. However it is always present as it is unconditioned. There is no condition upon which the Dhamma arises or ceases. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:25
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    I suspect some schools teach that Dharmas are empty -- see for example Is mathematics empty?. But anyway, you seem to be using your logic to argue about whether Dhamma is unconditioned. What I was trying to say in this answer was that, so far as I know, in the suttas, the Dhamma is described as "timeless" rather than as "unconditioned".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:34
  • Anything eternal is unconditioned. For example if rock is eternal then it we say rock is unconditioned because rock has always been there in the past independent of circumstances. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 15:03
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    I don't understand why you're commenting? I think that the reason why things are described as "conditioned", in the suttas, is to explain that all forms of dukkha are subject to cessation. It doesn't make sense to me to describe Dhamma as "unconditioned" (I don't see the purpose of that description). It is purposeful to describe Dhamma as timeless (ever-present). I guess too that Dhamma may be empty (of self-existence), e.g. to the extent that it depends on your definition of dukkha, etc. (but even if that's so I guess that's not one of the messages in the Pali suttas).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 16:54
  • Nibbana is something perceived. This answer focusing on "perception" is unrelated to Buddhism but appears to be another doctrine (similar to heretical doctrines of monks such as Katukurunde Nyanananda ). Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 5:39

The Buddha said to the monk: “Conditioned arising was neither made by me, nor made by others. Whether a Tathāgata arises in the world or not, this element of dharma remains unchanging.

The above teaching is about the Law of Nature (Dhamma-Niyama) pertaining to suffering. It explains whenever suffering arises; it will always arise via the process of Dependent Origination.

This Law of Nature is permanent; just as Nirvana is permanent. However, just because both the Law of Nature and Nirvana are permanent does not mean they are the same thing; just as an impermanent rock and an impermanent cloud are not the same things.

Is it possible that Nirvana and Dhamma of conditioned arising are the same?

No, as was explained above. The logical fallacy of the question is similar to the logical fallacy of Nargajuna, who wrongly taught Dependent Origination and Emptiness are the same thing.

Dependent Origination is marked by Emptiness but Emptiness is not necessarily marked by Dependent Origination because Nirvana is marked by Emptiness but Nirvana is not marked by Dependent Origination.

  • the low of Nature is permanent?????????Where did you read this?
    – user13064
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 7:47
  • in the quote in the question. Are you claiming that the Law of Nature that conditioned things are impermanent is also impermanent? If impermanence was also impermanent that would mean conditioned things can be permanent. Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 2:28
  • I can give you plenty of examples where the law of nature changes,you may have misinterpreted the quote above!
    – user13064
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 4:26

This answer is in the context of the Tibetan Gelug School and is taught in modern Buddhist Monasteries of this tradition.

Uncompounded space (as opposed to the usual idea of space) is a permanent phenomenon. This is the standard example of an existing thing that is permanent. Like emptiness, uncompounded space is taught to be a non-affirming negation. So what is uncompounded space? First, we have to understand what compounded space is...

Compounded space is the vacuum between material things. Take two material objects (made of matter) that are spacelike separated. This means not only do they not occupy the same space, but that they have a vacuity between them. Imagine they are placed in the void of deep space with a meter of distance between them. In this meter of distance between them, there is no air, there are no molecules, no matter. This is what is meant by compounded space.

Uncompounded space is the complete absence of obstructive contact. Those two things we imagined above are spacelike separated and sitting in a void. They have no contact with anything. They have a complete absence of obstructive contact. They are sitting, if you like, in uncompounded space.

This is thought of as a permanent phenomenon and not dependent on causes and conditions. How can it be said to be independent of causes and conditions? Unlike compounded space, it does not rely upon matter. Whether there is something sitting in uncompounded space or not, the mere absence of obstructive contact remains. It is unproduced.

Objection! Doesn't this mean that uncompounded space contains a self? Doesn't it mean that it is inherently existent?

Answer... No, because it is a mere non-affirming negation. It is the mere lack of obstruction. No matter how hard you look "inside" of uncompounded space you will find nothing. There is no inherently existent self in uncompounded space that can be found. This is what is meant by a non-affirming negation. There is nothing left whatsoever to be reified.

Objection! But isn't uncompounded space an independent phenomena?

Answer... No, it is dependent upon name and designation. It is empty of inherent existence just like all phenomena.

  • If space had been permanent the Buddha would have said so. Please support the answer with a quote. Logically it would mean that space can be the self. I can say I am the space. But we know space is also impermanent as the existence arises. Existence of matter proves that space is not permanent. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:44
  • I'm sorry, I do not have a quote for you. However, I think this can be arrived at through reasoning. The Buddha did not teach all that can be learned.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:48
  • @DheerajVerma Perhaps it's a topic, about which schools disagree: the first answer here says, The standard Theravada position is that only Nibbana is unconditioned. In this they were unusual, as most of the early schools had more extensive lists of unconditioned phenomena. (The EBTs, too, treat space as conditioned, so in this respect the Theravadin position appears to have been correct.) A common candidate was space, which was regarded as unconditioned by the Sarvastivadins among others.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 13:59
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    The element of space is not permanent. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 5:44
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    Uncompounded space is not the element of space. It also can't be seen. It is an existent thing that is a non-affirming negation. At least that is how it is taught in my tradition.
    – user13375
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 13:52

Element of Dhamma remains unchanging

This simply means that the teachings of the Buddha are true for all times whether a Buddha is there to reveal it to the world or not. It doesn't mean that all phenomena are permanent.

  • What is true at all times is the laws of nature (which the Buddha taught about). For example, the teachings can disappear or be altered; like the doctrines of dependent origination & rebirth have been altered from what the Buddha taught by heretics such as Buddhaghosa. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 5:51
  • @Dhammadhatu This question is not about your lack of faith in mainstream Theravada Buddhism. I'm not interested in discussing your personal prejudices under this question. Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 5:58
  • There is not such thing as mainstream Buddhism because the mainstream the Buddha called puthujjana. Regards Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 2:30

All compounded and/ or conditioned things are impermanent or changing. This applies to the five aggregates, physical objects, matter, energy, physical space, time, most mental concepts and ideas etc.

All matter can be broken down to energy. Energy can be converted to matter. That we know from Einstein's E=mc2. Matter can convert into different forms and so can energy.

Physical space and time can be warped by matter. This we know from Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.

Nibbana is not impermanent. The Buddha's Dhamma (teachings) is also not impermanent. These things are not conditioned or compounded. They do not depend on anything else.

However, all things including Nibbana, Buddha's teachings, matter, physical space, time, thoughts, concepts are not self. There is no permanent, standalone, independent thing called self, just as you cannot find a thing called music when you breakdown a musical instrument into its constituent parts. Please also see this answer.


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