The Buddha encouraged us to find out for ourselves whether what he was saying was true.

I say the same. Feel free to find what is true for you.

The Buddha invented a rite of passage to adult age.

He said that we need to accept impermanence.

This makes us adult.

As long as we refuse impermanence, we are still children.

Impermanence is a polite word for failure, illness, decay, loss, death and all the **** life throws at us.

During the years 50s and 60s teenagers lived a rite of passage to adult age consisting in racing on the edge of a cliff, possibly to death (see film Rebel Without a Cause).

They thought that it's better to die than to live your entire life as a never-grown child.

Society abolished rites of passage to adult age.

Every time we accept impermanence we make our adult self-image stronger.

Every time we accept discomfort, failure, mistakes, illness, decay, suffering, pain, loss and death we make ourselves invincible.

The base of this rite is that what we accept helps us, what we refuse kills us.

This is a psychological law.

Every time we decide to accept impermanence we are Enlightened.

Impermanence is not the key here, acceptance is.

What do you think? What's the core of Buddha's teachings?

  • I don't understand why you associate impermanence with failure. Also, I feel that acceptance of impermanence is not possible prior to its recognition while recognition demands acceptance, so would say that it is the realisation of impermanence that is important while acceptance follows inevitably from the realisation. I would also question whether acceptance of impermanence constitutes enlightenment. What you say seems in the ball-park but I'd suggest some more reading of the literature. . .
    – user14119
    Oct 12, 2018 at 12:17
  • I don’t recall reading the Buddha ever used the words “adult” and “child” to distinguish between the enlightened and the common folk. Oct 13, 2018 at 1:48
  • Impermanence is everywhere for everyone to see, but we usually spend a lot of energies trying to deny it and pretend that we can find something permanent that will make us happy. I don't think that acceptance of impermanence is automatic once you see it. I think that, in general, refusal of it is more common. Oct 13, 2018 at 16:43
  • When mentioning that impermanence is being available for everyone to see, are you then talking about the "general" impermanence that can be seen without meditation practice or the subtle "hard-to-see" impermanence, that are only available to Insight-meditator or those who have attained Jhana mastery?
    – user2424
    Oct 15, 2018 at 11:45

5 Answers 5


“Rāhula, you should truly see any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’” --MN62


The Buddha maintained the importance of recognizing impermanence right up into his very last words. It doesn't seem to be enough to formulate your own definition of impermanence, but to see how, in your direct experience, it shows its full authentic nature. The three marks of existence are key: impermanence, suffering and not-self. One should not focus entirely one one domain. Buddha had taught one to see all the three domains concurrently. This is the height of the wisdom he brings out in others from his own wisdom.

Yadanicca sutta

Bahirani sutta

  • You are right, impermanence needs no definition, it's just out there for us to see and accept. I was saying that we need to accept impermanence and all the nasty things live throws at us. Acceptance is key. Usually we spend a lot of energies trying to deny impermanence. Oct 13, 2018 at 16:47
  • I accepted the impermanent nature of things a long time ago, but I still suffer. A deep shift in consciousness is needed to bring about the full realisation of the three marks of existence. Therefore, I'm not sure acceptance is enough from a Buddhist perspective.
    – user14148
    Oct 18, 2018 at 12:51

My roshi's roshi walked into the parlor where his roshi's (my great-grand roshi if you will) body was laid out. He began to cry inconsolably at the loss of his teacher. All in attendance were dumbfounded. How could a man so deeply awake be so emotional! After all, isn't death just another example of impermanence? Seeing the minds of the other mourners written blatantly in their faces, the man said - "My teacher, who I loved like a father, has died. If I want to cry, I'm going to cry."

Who had the more intimate understanding of impermanence? The man who wept or those who wondered at his weeping?

  • I see no problem in being emotional. If I am being emotional, I accept that I'm being emotional. I trust my emotions. I don't think that the "goal" is to suppress emotions. It's more about embracing and trusting them. Oct 13, 2018 at 16:28

Your point about becoming an adult is valid. In one sense, Enlightenment is attainment of the Universal Adulthood.

However, accepting impermanence ("and all the **** life throws at us") is not sufficient to get there.

The state of adulthood, unlike that of a child, is characterized by independence -- the strength and wisdom to determine one's life instead of having others (i.e. the adults) determine it for you. Adulthood is a state of self-realization, of being fully and truly oneself.

In Buddhism the obstacles to independence are recognized to be of two kinds: emotional and cognitive. Emotional obstacles are automatic reactions that make us slaves to our emotional neediness, our avoidance of discomfort, and our impulsive irritability and anger. Cognitive obstacles are the ones that make us slaves to our biases, stereotypes, overgeneralizations, jumping to conclusions and other perceptual==>conceptual mistakes.

The complete liberation from both leads to a subjective state that is characterized by a clear understanding of How Things Work, a deep emotional Peace and a sense of Freedom to act according to one's own sound judgement.

It was a dark night, raining lightly, with flashes of lightning. The Buddha said to Ananda: "You can come out with the umbrella over the lamp." Ananda listened, and walked behind the Buddha, with an umbrella over the lamp, [lighting the way for both]. When they reached a place, the Buddha smiled. Ananda said: "The Buddhas don’t smile without a reason. What brings the smile today?" The Buddha said: "That’s right! That’s right! The Buddhas don’t smile without a reason. Now you are following me [while having your own] lamp. I look around, and see everyone doing the same thing." (SA 1150)

...Monks, be your own lamp, be your own refuge, having no other! Let the Dhamma be a lamp and a refuge to you, having no other! (SN 22.43)

The Buddhist path is a gradual training that takes an immature sentient being and sets it on the course of figuring out and getting rid of the emotional and cognitive obstacles to Universal Adulthood, until one attains the state of clarity, peace and freedom.

  • 1
    SN 22.43 - that's beautiful!
    – user14148
    Oct 12, 2018 at 18:23
  • How independent can one be? Perhaps one becomes more independent if they realize how dependent they are, because one's life will always be influenced by others and to some extent determined by others. I don't think it's particularly useful to distinguish adult and child since it depends on the persons understanding, but there is always a child in the adult and an adult in the child. One isn't born immature, he only seems that way because of how we have defined maturity.
    – user29568
    Oct 13, 2018 at 12:16
  • 1
    Emotionally independent. Mentally independent. Emotionally mature. Mentally mature. Which, of course, includes understanding the limits of one's independence and maturity. Children want toys, have fears, are impulsive, have simplistic views, are often cluelessly cruel etc. Adults are supposed to be wise. I think it's a useful metaphor.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 13, 2018 at 12:20
  • I understand what you mean but when Lao Tsu compares a sage to a new-born baby, there are things in a child which are considered wise. Adults want money, have fears, are reactive, cling onto definitions, and are often selfish when preoccupied with the 'self.' Children learn those things from the adults. I just wanted to point out that it isn't as simple as adult versus child = wise versus unwise.
    – user29568
    Oct 13, 2018 at 13:21
  • 1
    Right, so in this sense these "adults" are not mature enough still, they are not "universal" adults. Of course this is just a figure of speech, that has its limits as any.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 13, 2018 at 13:25

What do you think? What's the core of Buddha's teachings?

I think the core is the "four noble truths" -- that craving, attachment, and suffering co-arise or are related.

But I don't think there is one core.

Another core is the "Middle Way" -- classically between hedonism and self-mortification; but also e.g. between eternalism and nihilism; or between renunciation and non-self on the one hand, and the brahmaviharas, ethical conduct, and spiritual friends on the other.

Another is the Dhamma being visible, inviting inspection, testable (unlike doctrines of some other religions).

I suspect that anatta is at least as important as impermanence -- and ethics perhaps even more so.

Identifying the mental hindrances or fetters is a core doctrine -- "purify the mind".

Every time we decide to accept impermanence we are Enlightened.

I don't know, maybe it's every time we decide to accept things-as-they-are (which includes "impermanent" -- and that may be one of the harder characteristics to accept, but is not the only characteristic).

  • Yes, to accept things as they are including the fact that they are impermanent. Acceptance being an aspect of love, this takes us to universal love, our final destination. Right? Oct 20, 2018 at 16:59

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