The Three Characteristics Of Life

What a perfect time to gain insight into the Buddha’s teachings on the Three Characteristics of Life: suffering, impermanence, and no-self. 

He summarized their importance in one classic statement; “Nothing is above the Great Elements, not even myself”. Without these three elements, life has no character. Therefore without acknowledgement, there is no conscious existence. The Three Characteristics of Life have always exemplified its true nature, in every moment. Understanding them can be a challenge, if we look at them separately.

However, at this time of global pandemic, these teachings offer precious insights into our shared distress as we struggle to take in the news from various countries, cities, neighbors, friends, and, of course, our own worries. 

Another unique aspect of the Three Characteristics is that they reveal the impermanence of all life events. We do have a choice, to witness, to not be attached, and to deeply explore the concept of no-self.  A universal phrase, “agreeing to disagree,” comes to mind, as we search to be content.

The Three Characteristics are an experience; they are, and always have been, inseparable.  Gaining insight into the Three Characteristics of Life gives us an opportunity to develop a more harmonious relationship with life, and a healthier body and mind, as we carry on in our pursuit of freedom.

Mitta – Friend:
Full of trust you left home,
and soon learned  to walk the Path,
making yourself a friend to everyone
and making everyone a friend.

When the whole world is your friend,
fear will find no place to call home.

and when you make the mind your friend,
you’ll know what trust really means.

Listen.

I have followed this Path of friendship to
it’s end.
And I can say with absolute certainty—
it will lead you home.

(“The First Free Women” Poems Of The Early Buddhist Nuns;
Author: Matty Weingast, 2020, Shambhala Publishing)