Not asking for a friend, or as a plan... I started doing this some 11-14 years ago, and wondered if it was over - in any significant sense. Not that it matters - I might take the bodhisattva vows, now :)


My question is: is self enlightenment achieved through contemplation of impermanence :) ?

  • Yes............
    – dgo
    May 2, 2015 at 2:47
  • No.............
    – dgo
    May 2, 2015 at 2:47

3 Answers 3


It really depends who you ask, and what you mean by "contemplate". The Buddha said:

When one sees with wisdom that 'all formations are impermanent', this is the path of purification.

(Dhp. 277)

So the actual path is through "seeing" impermanence. One might correct your question to say that self-enlightenment can be achieved through seeing impermanence.

It can also be achieved through seeing suffering, or non-self.

One could also adjust and say that self-enlightenment is achieved through contemplating the impermanent, i.e. the five aggregates, since contemplating them - or observing objectively, rather - is what leads one to see impermanence, suffering, and non-self.

"Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: is form permanent or impermanent?" — "Impermanent, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?" — "Painful, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my self'"? — "No, venerable sir."

-- SN 22.59 (Nyanamoli, trans)

  • ok as with Suminda: the aggregates, not the world and death :) ?
    – user2512
    May 1, 2015 at 14:50
  • 2
    The aggregates are the world and they are death :) May 1, 2015 at 14:51
  • Are you saying that enlightenment is achieved (finished) by seeing any one of the three characteristics? Or, is it started by seeing... ? Is this seeing necessary but not sufficient (i.e. more is needed too)? Are there other, single ways (other than seeing one of the three characteristics): for example, metta? Is the eight-fold way ... optional?
    – ChrisW
    May 1, 2015 at 14:58
  • @user3293056 When Suminda said "see the phenomena arising and passing" I assume that the phenomena meant 'everything' i.e. 'all compound and/or conditioned things' and/or perhaps all 'mental fabrications' -- apparently the Buddha taught that the three marks of existence are characteristics of "Saṅkhāra".
    – ChrisW
    May 1, 2015 at 15:06
  • 2
    @ChrisW any one of the three is sufficient. One of the three is necessary. May 1, 2015 at 15:06

Contemplating will not take you all the way as there will be a perception or notional residue.

You can start with it and make efforts to see the phenomena relating to the aggregates arising and passing.

This will get you to the final goal as long as you do this with equanimity and non clinging and craving.

For further details see Girinananda Sutta. Here the flow of instructions starts with various contemporary practice to reduce polarity of perception but finally switch to Anapana for the lasting or final solution which is to eradicate any residual perception and the aggregates.

  • phenomena - such as, ?
    – user2512
    May 1, 2015 at 8:36
  • 1
    @User. Mental and physical phenomena.
    – user2424
    May 1, 2015 at 9:56
  • but not - e.g. death and the world ?
    – user2512
    May 1, 2015 at 10:46
  • @User. "Death and the world" falls under mental and physical phenomena.
    – user2424
    May 26, 2015 at 18:41

You need to also recognize that what is impermanent is stressful and what is stressful and impermanent is not self.

Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering.

. . .

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

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

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

-The Dhammapada Ch. 20(275-279)

  • is that all - tho?
    – user2512
    May 1, 2015 at 8:35
  • @user3293056 Knowing it through concepts, as words on a screen, is one thing. Knowing it through insight and being (un)molded by it, is another.
    – user70
    May 2, 2015 at 0:53
  • ok - i didn't mean it frivolously - but i think it's an anti depressant thing in my case - peace :)
    – user2512
    May 2, 2015 at 19:01

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