“All conditioned things are impermanent” — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.

“All conditioned things are impermanent” — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.

This is a genuine Buddha quote. It’s from the Dhammapada, verse 277.

If you like it, please share!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someoneShare on StumbleUpon
The following two tabs change content below.

Bodhipaksa

DIrector at Wildmind
If you'd like to support the work I do here, please feel free to donate to Wildmind, the online meditation center I run, or to visit Wildmind's online meditation supplies store, where you'll find lots of meditation MP3s, CDs, and other cool stuff.

11 thoughts on ““All conditioned things are impermanent” — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.

    • “Conditioned things” is a rendering of saṅkhārā, which is a difficult term to translate, but you’re pretty close, I think. To say that things (and we’re especially although not exclusively talking about mental states when we talk about “things”) are conditioned means that things don’t exist in and of themselves. They arise out of other factors and conditions. Because those factors and conditions are subject to change, any experience you care to point to is not permanent.

      One import of this is that there’s no possibility of finding a sense of peace or happiness by arranging things so that we can experience only pleasure and not pain. We can try to so arrange things, but since the supports for our pain-free pleasure-only state are unstable, it can’t last.

      So how do we find peace or happiness? We accept that experiences change. So unpleasant experiences come and go, and we don’t fight them. Pleasant experiences come and go, and we don’t try to hold onto them or worry about their passing.

    • Conditioned things are things which arise due to conditions. Fire arises due to the combined presence of fuel, oxygen, and heat. Water arises due to the combining of hydrogen and oxygen in correct proportions: that is the condition that makes it happen. Take, for example, the person out there who thinks I’m oversimplifying this: they are conditioned by a need to sound more clever than others, and so someone who presents a non-mystical, non-poetic rendering of Buddha’s teaching gives rise to the feeling of their ego being threatened. Similarly, the condition of my statement being complete gives rise to its ending.

      • Hi DB.

        “Take, for example, the person out there who thinks I’m oversimplifying this: they are conditioned by a need to sound more clever than others.”

        Well, if someone said you were over-simplifying then it could of course be that you were over-simplifying :)

        I think your example is fine (I made the comment to KK, below, that “conditioned things” could include anything from a galaxy to a thought), but what the Buddha had in mind in talking of “saṅkhārā” didn’t seem to have much to do with the physical world. He seems principally to have been talking about the mental states that we fabricate by reacting to our experience with either aversion or craving.

    • Conditioned things are things that exist because of other conditions. For example you exist because of atoms, molecules, cells, the planet, the solar system, plants to eat, animals to eat etc… So you see, in this reality that we live in, all things are conditioned because all things required other conditions to arise and exist. Even space and time are conditioned.

      According to the Buddha, the only unconditioned element that exists regardless of whether the universe is here or not is Nirvana. That is because it has no qualities that can be described, like: up, down, in, out, here, there, hot, cold, happy, sad, etc. It is the absence of conditioned things…which does not mean that Nirvana can only exist when all conditioned things cease to exist, it means that Nirvana exists regardless of these things and is not dependent upon these things.

      This is unlike conditioned things like happiness, sadness and the like. These things are conditioned by other causes and they cease to be when the causes cease to be or after they stop causing. But to say that Nirvana “exists” is also false, because it is beyond existing and not existing. That is how profound the concept of Nirvana can be.

  1. going completely off topic again, in the “do people under 40 know what they are missing if they don’t have to read stuff twice” department. At first glance I thought it said “Air conditioning” Great quote in spite of my tortured processing abilities.

    • In this particular use of the term saṅkhārā (conditioned things) the term includes anything that comes into being, changes, and then disappears. So it could include anything from a galaxy to a thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>