无常 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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wúcháng 无常

Anitya / Impermanent

缺乏恒常性。世间万物皆因缘和合而生、离散而灭,并不存在一个恒常不变的本质,可以作为其同一性的根据。佛教又将“无常”分为两个层次:一个叫“相续无常”,指生命个体缺乏诸如灵魂等不随生死变异的本质,仅有表面上的相续相似性;一个叫“念念无常”,指一切缘起的事物随心念刹那间生灭变化。

This term means lack of permanence. Everything in the world comes into being through a combination of causes and conditions. It perishes without them. There is no permanent, unchanging essence which one may see as the basis of its identity. Buddhism distinguishes two levels of impermanence. First, impermanence of successive appearance: A living individual lacks any essence, such as that of a soul, which does not change in a succession of birth and death. Continuity and similarity are mere appearance. Second, impermanence of every thought-instance: It emphasizes that everything which has arisen from conditions changes, arises and is extinguished in the instant of a thought.

引例 Citation:

◎身亦如是,但皮骨相持,随心风转,念念生灭,无常空寂。无有作者,无骂者,亦无受者,本末毕竟空故;但颠倒虚诳故,凡夫心著。(《大智度论》卷三十)

(身体亦是如此,它仅仅是皮囊与骨架相依持存,实际随着心念像风一般飘转,在念念间生灭不断,没有恒常的本质,空寂无物。既无所谓造作的人,也没有责骂或受到责骂的人,因为他们终究不实在。然而,由于把虚妄的事物错当成了真实,凡夫才对此本来不实在的东西有所执著。)

Our body is the same. It is but maintained by skin and bones. It whirls with the wind of one’s thoughts. Every instant it arises and is extinguished. It is impermanent and empty. There is no creator, abuser or victim, because it is always empty after all. But due to wrong understanding and total confusion, a common man sticks to things that actually do not exist. (The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom)

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