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anicca {pi}

Pāḷi; √ anicca
alt. sp.: IPA: ən̪ɪt͡ʃt͡ʃə, Velthuis: anicca, readable: anichcha, simple: anicca
translation ~:
khmer: អនិច្ច
thai: อนิจฺจ
sinhal.: අනිච්ච
burm.: အနိစ္စ


[dic] anicca

anicca: Description welcome. Info can be removed after imput.

ATI Glossary

anicca: Inconstant; unsteady; impermanent.


Buddhist Dictionary

by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:

anicca: 'impermanent' (or, as abstract noun, aniccatā, 'impermanence') is the first of the three characteristics of existence (see tilakkhaṇa). It is from the fact of impermanence that, in most texts, the other two characteristics, suffering (dukkha) and not-self (anattā), are derived (SN 22.15; Uda 4.1)

“Impermanence of things is the rising, passing and changing of things, or the disappearance of things that have become or arisen. The meaning is that these things never persist in the same way, but that they are vanishing dissolving from moment to moment” Visuddhi Magga VII, 3

Impermanence is a basic feature of all conditioned phenomena, be they material or mental, coarse or subtle, one's own or external: “All formations are impermanent” (sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā; MN 35, Dhp. 277). That the totality of existence is impermanent is also often stated in terms of the five aggregates (see khandha), the twelve personal and external sense bases (āyatana), etc. Only Nibbāna, which is unconditioned and not a formation (asaṅkhata), is permanent (nicca, dhuva).

The insight leading to the first stage of deliverance, Stream-entry (Sotāpatti; see ariya-puggala), is often expressed in terms of impermanence:

“Whatever is subject to origination, is subject to cessation” see Dhammacakkappavaṭṭana Sutta, SN 46.11

In his last exhortation, before his Parinibbāna, the Buddha reminded his monks of the impermanence of existence as a spur to earnest effort:

“Behold now, Bhikkhus, I exhort you: Formations are bound to vanish. Strive earnestly!” vayadhammā saṅkhārā, appamādena sampādetha; DN 16

Without the deep insight into the impermanence and insubstantiality of all phenomena of existence there is no attainment of deliverance. Hence comprehension of impermanence gained by direct meditative experience heads two lists of insight knowledge: (a) contemplation of impermanence (aniccānupassanā) is the first of the 18 chief kinds of insight; (b) the contemplation of arising and vanishing (udayabbayānupassanā-ñāṇa) is the first of 9 kinds of knowledge which lead to the 'purification by knowledge and vision of the path-progress' (see visuddhi, VI). - Contemplation of impermanence leads to the conditionless deliverance (animitta-vimokkha; see vimokkha). As herein the faculty of confidence (saddhindriya) is outstanding, he who attains in that way the path of Stream-entry is called a faith-devotee (saddhānusārī; see ariya-puggala) and at the seven higher stages he is called faith-liberated (saddhā-vimutta), - See also anicca-saññā.

See The Three Basic Facts of Existence I: Impermanence (Wheel 186/187)


PTS Dictionary

by the Pali Text Society:


Glossary Thanissaro

anicca(ṁ): Inconstant, unstable, impermanent.


Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:


Step-by-step change

Anicca concerns change that is either step-by-step or continuous. For example, the Sattasuriyuggamana Sutta (AN iv 100) describes seven successive disasters that will step-by-step destroy Planet Earth. Firstly the vegetation will be destroyed, then the rivers and lakes, the oceans, the mountains, and finally the planet itself. Each destructive step is said to illustrate anicca (evaṁ aniccā bhikkhave saṅkhārā).

• Bhikkhus, there comes a time when for many hundreds and thousands of years there is no rain. Without rain, all grass and vegetation, all trees yielding medicine, all the palms and giants of the jungle become parched and dried up and are no more. Thus unlasting are originated phenomena.

evaṁ aniccā bhikkhave saṅkhārā. (AN iv 101)

Continuous change

More usually, however, anicca refers to a continuous process, where the practice involves the uninterrupted observation of change. For example:

• Some person abides contemplating unlastingness in relation to all originated phenomena, perceiving unlastingness, experiencing unlastingness

idhekacco puggalo sabbasaṅkhāresu aniccānupassī viharati aniccasaññī aniccapaṭisaṁvedī

… continuously

… without a break

… uninterruptedly

… intent upon it mentally

… penetrating it with penetrative discernment

We illustrate this idea with the following quote:

• As swift as are the sun and moon, and as swift as are the devas that run before the sun and moon, the factors essential to life perish even more swiftly than that. Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: ‘We will abide diligently applied [to the practice]’

yathā ca candimasuriyānaṁ javo yathā ca yā devatā candimasuriyānaṁ purato dhāvanti tāsaṁ devatānaṁ javo tato sīghataraṁ āyusaṅkhārā khīyanti. Tasmātiha bhikkhave evaṁ sikkhitabbaṁ appamattā viharissāmā ti. (SN ii 266)

The problem of ‘impermanent’

Anicca is usually termed ‘impermanent.’ And if permanent means ‘continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change’ (Webster’s), then impermanent means continuing or enduring with fundamental or marked change. In which case, permanence means lastingness without change, and impermanence means lastingness with change. But the concept that things last, continue, or endure to the slightest degree is not supported by the scriptures.

1) Firstly, we have noted that anicca is continuous and uninterrupted, and this discounts any degree of lastingness.

2) Secondly, there are three marks of the originated.

Tīṇi'māni bhikkhave saṅkhatassa saṅkhatalakkhaṇāni

• an arising is discernable

uppādo paññāyati

• a disappearance is discernable

vayo paññāyati

• a changeability while persisting is discernable

ṭhitassa aññathattaṁ paññāyati. (AN i 152)

The idea of ‘changeability while persisting’ again negates any possibility of lastingness. Hence ‘impermanence’ is unsatisfactory for this reason.

Nicca: lasting and everlasting

Nicca stems from ni, which means ‘downward’=onward, on and on, says PED. We give it two meanings corresponding with the two meanings for anicca.

1) When we call it ‘everlasting’, it is commonly linked to ‘eternal’:

• Having passed on, that I will be―everlasting, enduring, eternal, of an unchangeable nature; I will endure like unto eternity itself’:

so pecca bhavissāmi nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo sassatisamaṁ tatheva ṭhassāmī ti. (MN i 138)

2) Where nicca is linked to ‘unlasting’ we call it ‘lasting’:

• Is bodily form lasting or unlasting?

rūpaṁ niccaṁ vā aniccaṁ vā ti. (SN iii 187)


Illustration: anicca, unlastingness

How is the perception of the unlastingness [of the five aggregates] developed and cultivated?

kathaṁ bhāvitā ca bhikkhave aniccasaññā kathaṁ bahulīkatā…

Such is bodily form, such its origination, such its vanishing etc

Iti rūpaṁ iti rūpassa samudayo iti rūpassa atthaṅgamo. (SN iii 155)

Illustration: anicca, unlastingness; aniccaṁ unlasting; aniccaṁ, unlasting

And what, Ānanda, is the perception of the unlastingness [of the five aggregates]

In this regard, Ānanda, a bhikkhu… reflects

The five aggregates are unlasting

rūpaṁ aniccaṁ vedanā aniccā saññā aniccā saṅkhārā aniccā viññāṇaṁ aniccan ti

Thus he abides contemplating unlastingness in relation to these five aggregates

What, Ānanda, is the perception of the unlastingness of all originated phenomena?

Katamācānanda sabbasaṅkhāresu aniccasaññā

In this regard a bhikkhu is revolted, appalled, and disgusted by all originated phenomena.

idhānanda bhikkhu sabbasaṅkhārehi aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati.

This, Ānanda, is called the perception of the unlastingness of all originated phenomena

ayaṁ vuccatānanda sabbasaṅkhāresu aniccasaññā. (AN v 111)

To abandon the view that there is sweetness in originated phenomena the perception of the unlastingness [of the five aggregates] should be developed .

Assādadiṭṭhiyā pahānāya aniccasaññā bhāvetabbā. (AN iii 447)

If a bhikkhu’s mind is imbued with the perception of the unlastingness [of the five aggregates], his mind draws back, bends back, turns away from gains, honour, and renown and is not attracted to it, and either indifference or loathing is established in him.

Aniccasaññā paricitena bhikkhave bhikkhuno cetasā bahulaṁ viharato lābhasakkārasiloke cittaṁ patilīyati patikuṭati pativaṭṭati na sampasārīyati upekkhā vā paṭikkūlyatā vā saṇṭhāti. (AN iv 47)

When one abides contemplating unlastingness in relation to the six senses, a repulsion to sensation is established in oneself;

Chasu kho nāgita phassāyatanesu aniccānupassīno viharato phasse pāṭikkūlyatā saṇṭhāti. (AN iii 30)


niccā: (main article see: anicca)

Illustration: niccā, lasting

There are among humans no sensuous pleasures that are lasting.

na santi kāmā manujesu niccā. (SN i 22)


aniccaṁ: (main article see: anicca)

Illustration: aniccaṁ, unlasting

You should abandon fondness for what is unlasting.

Yaṁ kho bhikkhu aniccaṁ tatra te chando pahātabbo ti. (SN iii 76)


aniccato: (main article see: anicca)

Illustration: aniccato, unlasting

Seeing all states of individual existence [according to reality] as unlasting

Aniccato sabbabhavaṁ vipassaṁ. (Tha 1091)


aniccā: (main article see: anicca)

Illustration: aniccā, unlasting

In the past this Mount Vepulla was called Pācinavaṁsa, and the people were called Tivaras whose lifespan was 40,000 years. They could climb Mount Pācinavaṁsa in four days and descend in four days. At that time the Blessed One Kakusandha, arahant, perfectly enlightened, had arisen in the world. His two chief disciples were named Vidhura and Sañjīva, an excellent pair. Now see, bhikkhus! That mountain’s name has disappeared, those people have died, and that Blessed One has passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue.

• Thus unlasting are originated phenomena, thus unenduring are originated phenomena, thus unconsoling are originated phenomena. It is time enough, bhikkhus, to be disillusioned with all originated phenomena, to be unattached to them, to be liberated from them.

Evaṁ aniccā bhikkhave saṅkhārā evaṁ addhuvā bhikkhave saṅkhārā evaṁ anassāsikā bhikkhave saṅkhārā. Yāvañcidaṁ bhikkhave alameva sabbasaṅkhāresu nibbindituṁ alaṁ virajjituṁ alaṁ vimuccituṁ. (SN ii 191)


aniccatā: (main article see: anicca)

Illustration: aniccatā, unlastingness

Now there comes a time, friends, when the external Gaseousness Phenomenon is agitated. It blows away village, town, city, district, and country. But there comes a time when, in the last month of the hot season, people try to stir a breeze with a fan or bellows, and even the grass at the fringe of a thatch roof does not stir.

So when even in the external Gaseousness Phenomenon with all its vastness, unlastingness is discernable, destruction is discernable, disappearance is discernable, changeableness is discernable, then what to say of this short-lasting body?

Tassā hi nāma āvuso bāhirāya vāyodhātuyā tāva mahallikāya aniccatā paññāyissati khayadhammatā paññāyissati vayadhammatā paññāyissati vipariṇāmadhammatā paññāyissati. Kiṁ panimassa mattaṭṭhakassa kāyassa. (MN i 185-9)


niccaṁ: (main article see: anicca)

Illustration: niccaṁ, constantly

They extinguish the fire of attachment, constantly perceiving the foul.

Te nibbāpenti rāgaggiṁ niccaṁ asubhasaññino. (Iti 93)

I go constantly through the mechanism of thought, for my mind, brahman, is joined to him.

Saṅkappayantāya vajāmi niccaṁ mano hi me brāhmaṇa tena yutto. (Snp 1144)

With those who are constantly energetic.


Glossary various Teacher

anicca: impermanent, inconstant, sometimes used by Ajahn Chah to mean 'not a sure thing'. (Source: Glossary late Ven. Ajahn Chah)


See also

Suttas and Dhammadesanā

Anicca: (impermanence, inconstancy). See also Tilakkhaṇa (three characteristics of existence).


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en/dictionary/anicca.txt · Last modified: 2019/09/25 05:32 (external edit)