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Why are Concepts not Impermanent? I found the below explanation in another forum. Are they Permanent? or not both?

Conventional reality (sammuti sacca/ pannatti) is just a concept and not real. Non-real dhammas don’t exist and therefore cannot be anicca or dukkha.

According to Abhdhamma:

  • dhamma = paramata + pannatti
  • paramata = sankhata + asankhata
  • sankhata = citta + cetasika + rupa
  • asnkhata = nibbana
  • dhamma = citta + cetasika + rupa + nibbana + pannatti

All the dhammas are anatta. Anatta means devoid of essence/self/ownership/hegemony.

Only the sankhata (compounded) is anicca-dukkha. Nibbana and Pannatti are anatta only.

Nibbana is real but not compounded. Therefore not anicca-dukkha. Pannatti is non-real. Therefore not anicca-dukkha.

In Theravada, Concept is an object (unreal object). It is not the Concept-formation of our mind. Mind and mental factors that form a concept do arise and cease, but not the Concept.

The conceptualizing in mind is the impermanent one, but not the Conceptual-object of Conceptualizing-mind. Pannatti is an object. This fake object is perceived by the impermanent mind.

The colors that the eye sees in a movie are real, but not the concept of “movie”. What is fake is the Object pointed by the Idea of “movie”.

What “Conceptualizing” points to, is the Concept. It is a fake object that “Conceptualizing” points to.

The pointer exists, but “what is pointed” doesn’t exist.

So Concepts are not considered as anicca or dukkha.

Conventional Reality is not Impermanent!

Introduction to the Ultimacy (International Institute of Theravada)

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    Please be cautious for the source from where you read about Buddhism- whether it be online, books or people. Especially if one is new to it. "Conventional reality is impermanent" is something that is accepted by all schools of Buddhism. Oct 5, 2022 at 2:47
  • The Theravada Abhidhamma, Vinaya Parivarapali and Commentary says that Concepts are not Anicca or Dukkha but only Anatta.
    – Blake
    Oct 5, 2022 at 4:41
  • Please quote the actual source. Thank you Jul 10, 2023 at 4:56

3 Answers 3

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To my understanding, only two things are not impermanent.

The first is Nibbana, based on Ud 8.1 and Ud 8.3.

The second is the three marks of existence, based on AN 3.136.

For other concepts - let's take the example of the concept of a chariot from SN 5.10. If no one thought of it, would the concept of a chariot arise and exist on its own? I don't think so.

“There is, mendicants, that dimension where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no wind; no dimension of infinite space, no dimension of infinite consciousness, no dimension of nothingness, no dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; no this world, no other world, no moon or sun. There, mendicants, I say there is no coming or going or remaining or passing away or reappearing. It is not established, does not proceed, and has no support. Just this is the end of suffering.”
Ud 8.1

“There is, mendicants, an unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned. If there were no unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned, then you would find no escape here from the born, produced, made, and conditioned. But since there is an unborn, unproduced, unmade, and unconditioned, an escape is found from the born, produced, made, and conditioned.”
Ud 8.3

“Mendicants, whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles: all conditions are impermanent. A Realized One understands this and comprehends it, then he explains, teaches, asserts, establishes, clarifies, analyzes, and reveals it: ‘All conditions are impermanent.’

Whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles: all conditions are suffering. A Realized One understands this and comprehends it, then he explains, teaches, asserts, establishes, clarifies, analyzes, and reveals it: ‘All conditions are suffering.’

Whether Realized Ones arise or not, this law of nature persists, this regularity of natural principles, this invariance of natural principles: all things are not-self. A Realized One understands this and comprehends it, then he explains, teaches, asserts, establishes, clarifies, analyzes, and reveals it: ‘All things are not-self.’”
AN 3.136

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  • Would the "Concept of Chariot" arise and exist on its own, even when someone thought of it? (Theravada always considers the Concept as an Object.)
    – Blake
    Oct 5, 2022 at 4:51
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the way in which the question is formulated is non-sense. concepts are mental constructs, sankhara. and all constructs, material and mental, are impermanent, sabbe sankhara anicca. from a buddhist perspective it is very straight forward and non debatable, actually.

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  • concepts are not independent, but their meaning persists. concepts are not living, why does their permanence matter?
    – blue_ego
    Jul 15, 2023 at 1:02
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    in case you find the original question irrelevant, you should take it up with the one asking it
    – john-doe
    Jul 15, 2023 at 2:08
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As Buddhists, we should not take seriously those who engage in unsubstantiated speech. Whether or not what the poster said is true according to his beloved Abhidhamma Commentary is irrelevant. The poster has not provided any links to relevant texts, which makes their speech unsubstantiated.

At the DhammaWheel links, in defense of this unsubstantiated speech, another poster of unsubstantiated speech said:

What Eko Care has said is correct according to the Classical texts. The conceptualizing in mind is the impermanent one, but not the Conceptual-object of Conceptualizing-mind. Pannatti is an object. This fake object is perceived by the impermanent mind.

In the Suttas, all conditioned things are impermanent, including objects perceived by the mind. There suttas explicitly on this subject, such as:

If anyone says, ‘mind-objects are self’, that is not tenable.The arising and vanishing of craving is evident...

MN 148

Bhikkhus, Forms are impermanent... Sounds … Odours … Tastes … Tactile objects … Mind Objects are impermanent. What is impermanent is suffering. What is suffering is nonself.

SN 35.4

Ignorance is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away, and cessation.

SN 12.20

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