AskDefine | Define impermanence

Dictionary Definition

impermanence n : the property of not existing for indefinitely long durations [syn: impermanency] [ant: permanence]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. want of permanence or continued duration
  2. the quality or state of being impermanent


Extensive Definition

Impermanence (Sanskrit: अनित्य anitya; Pāli: अनिच्चा anicca; Tibetan: མི་​རྟག་​པ་ mi rtag pa; Chinese: wúcháng; Japanese: 無常 mujō; Thai: อนิจจัง anitchang) is one of the essential doctrines or Three marks of existence in Buddhism. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that every conditioned existence, without exception, is inconstant and in flux, even gods.
According to the impermanence doctrine, human life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara), and in any experience of loss. The doctrine further asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile, and leads to suffering (dukkha). Under the impermanence doctrine, all compounded and constructed things and states are impermanent.
Buddhists hold that the only true end of impermanence is nirvana, the reality that knows no change, decay or death.
Impermanence is intimately associated with the doctrine of anatta, according to which things have no fixed nature, essence, or self.


"The five aggregates, monks, are anicca, impermanent."
"All is impermanent. And what is the all that is impermanent? The eye is impermanent, visual objects [ruupaa]... eye-consciousness... eye contact [cakku-samphassa]... whatever is felt [vedayita] as pleasant or unpleasant or neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant, born of eye-contact is impermanent. [Likewise with the ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind]" (SN 35.43/vol. iv, 28)
"All formations are impermanent"
"Whatever is subject to origination [samudaya] is subject to cessation [nirodha]" (MN 56)

Contemporary culture references

impermanence in Czech: Aničča
impermanence in German: Anicca
impermanence in French: Anitya
impermanence in Lithuanian: Laikinumas
impermanence in Marathi: क्षणभंगुर
impermanence in Japanese: 諸行無常
impermanence in Polish: Anicca
impermanence in Portuguese: Anicca
impermanence in Russian: Анитья
impermanence in Thai: อนิจจัง
impermanence in Vietnamese: Vô thường
impermanence in Chinese: 无常

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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