Impermanence, Selflessness, And Dissatisfaction Essay

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Impermanence, Selflessness, and Dissatisfaction

Buddhism is neither a religion nor a philosophy, but rather a way of life. This does not imply that Buddhism is nothing more than an ethical code: it is a way of moral, spiritual and intellectual training leading to complete freedom of the mind. (DeSilva, 1991:p 5). Of the many Buddhist sects, Zen
Buddhism places particular emphasis on living ‘the right' life, and does not revolve around rite and ritual. Buddhism outlines the three characteristics of existence, which aids one in achieving enlightenment. Impermanence, selflessness, and dissatisfaction are concepts that are easily understood on an intellectual level, but to apply these concepts in one's life is challenging.
Impermanence is
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Impermanence allows one to possess a firm grip upon reality, knowing that there is an ever-changing landscape, encouraging one not to take things for granted.
     Related to impermanence, is the concept of selflessness. Selflessness involves the knowledge that there is no immortal soul or eternal Self that exists in each individual (Fadiman & Frager, 1994:p 545). The so-called individual is a collection of attributes, all of which are impermanent and constantly changing. According to the Buddha, the person is made up of five basic factors- body, perception, sensation, consciousness, and mental activities.
(Fadiman & Frager, 1994:p 545) Selflessness enables the individual to focus upon the external with the understanding that ‘I' is not of significant priority.
In taking the importance away from the individual, it permits one to become concerned with issues not related directly to the self. The fact that the world is constantly changing, and that one does not possess an immortal soul; allows the stage to be set for dissatisfaction, as it encompasses a number of principles.      Dissatisfaction exists, it is not a foreign notion. To this single problem we give different names: economic, social, political, psychological, and even religious problems. Do they not all emanate from that one single problem,
namely