The Three Signs


This book is a trans­la­tion of chap­ter 3 of Bud­dhad­ham­ma, explain­ing the Bud­dha’s key teach­ing on the Three Char­ac­ter­is­tics (tilakkhaṇa): imper­ma­nence (anic­ca), suffering/stress (dukkha), and not-self (anat­tā).

As Ajahn Payut­to points out ear­ly in this chap­ter, a true under­stand­ing of the Three Char­ac­ter­is­tics is equiv­a­lent to under­stand­ing the teach­ing on Depen­dent Orig­i­na­tion—these two teach­ings reveal the same truth from dif­fer­ent angles. By under­stand­ing these teach­ings, a per­son reach­es the heart of Buddhism.

This book clar­i­fies the mean­ing of the term dukkha, which has led to many mis­un­der­stand­ings through inad­e­quate trans­la­tions. For exam­ple, how many times have we heard the con­fus­ing ren­der­ing of ‘All life is suf­fer­ing’? Sim­i­lar­ly, the book offers a com­pre­hen­sive expla­na­tion of the term anat­tā (‘not-self’), which can be per­plex­ing to stu­dents new to Buddhism.


Introduction (pdf file)

Chapter 1: Understanding the Terms Dhamma and Saṅkhāra

Chapter 2: Scriptural Definitions

Scriptural Definitions (pdf file)

Chapter 3: Concealers of the Three Characteristics

Chapter 4: Nonself and No-self

Chapter 5: Ego and Conceit

Chapter 6: Practical Value

Practical Value (pdf file)


The Buddha’s Words

      The Buddha’s Words (pdf file)