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342 LESSON 11 08 2011 Tuvataka Sutta Quickly FREE ONLINE eNālandā Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS letter to VOTE for BSP ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate Bliss-Through Free Buddhist Studies for Young Students- Lesson 7: Three characteristics of life
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342 LESSON 11 08 2011 Tuvataka Sutta Quickly FREE ONLINE eNālandā
Research and Practice UNIVERSITY and BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS letter to VOTE for BSP
ELEPHANT to attain Ultimate Bliss-Through Free
Buddhist Studies for Young Students-
Lesson 7: Three characteristics of life

Snp 4.14

PTS: Sn 915-934

Tuvataka Sutta: Quickly

translated from the Pali by

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1997–2011

“I ask the kinsman of the Sun, the great seer, about
seclusion & the state of peace. Seeing in what way is a monk unbound,
clinging to nothing in the world?” “He should put an entire stop to
the root of objectification-classifications: ‘I am the thinker.’[1]
He should train, always mindful, to subdue any craving inside him. Whatever
truth he may know, within or without, he shouldn’t get entrenched in connection
with it, for that isn’t called Unbinding by the good. He shouldn’t, because of
it, think himself better, lower, or equal. Touched by contact in various ways,
he shouldn’t keep conjuring self. Stilled right within, a monk shouldn’t seek
peace from another from anything else. For one stilled right within, there’s
nothing embraced, so how rejected?[2] As in the middle of the sea it is still, with no waves upwelling,
so the monk — unperturbed, still — should not swell himself anywhere.”
“He whose eyes are open has described the Dhamma he’s witnessed, subduing
danger. Now tell us, sir, the practice: the code of discipline &
concentration.” “One shouldn’t be careless with his eyes, should
close his ears to village-talk, shouldn’t hunger for flavors, or view anything
in the world as mine. When touched by contact he shouldn’t lament,
shouldn’t covet anywhere any states of becoming, or tremble at terrors. When
gaining food & drink, staples & cloth, he should not make a hoard. Nor
should he be upset when receiving no gains. Absorbed, not foot-loose, he should
refrain from restlessness, shouldn’t be heedless, should live in a noise-less
abode. Not making much of sleep, ardent, given to wakefulness, he should
abandon sloth, deception, laughter, sports, fornication, & all that goes
with it; should not practice charms, interpret physical marks, dreams, the
stars, animal cries; should not be devoted to practicing medicine or inducing
fertility. A monk shouldn’t tremble at blame or grow haughty with praise;
should thrust aside selfishness, greed, divisive speech, anger; shouldn’t buy
or sell or revile anyone anywhere; shouldn’t linger in villages, or flatter
people in hopes of gains. A monk shouldn’t boast or speak with ulterior motive,
shouldn’t train in insolence or speak quarrelsome words; shouldn’t engage in
deception or knowingly cheat; shouldn’t despise others for their life,
discernment, precepts, or practices. Provoked with many words from
contemplatives or ordinary people, he shouldn’t respond harshly, for those who
retaliate aren’t calm. Knowing this teaching, a monk inquiring should always
train in it mindfully. Knowing Unbinding as peace, he shouldn’t be heedless of
Gotama’s message — for he, the Conqueror unconquered, witnessed the Dhamma, not
by hearsay, but directly, himself. So, heedful, you should always train in line
with that Blessed One’s message,” the Blessed One said.

Lesson 7: Three characteristics of life

1. What did the little
Siddhattha see during the Farming ceremony he

attended with his father, and
what did he think about?

2. Years later, what 4 sights
did Siddhatha see on his visits outside the

palace, and how did it affect
him? When he thought about those 4

sights, what do you think he


a) Describe the 4 main stages
in peoples lives (childhood,

adolescence, maturity and old
age) and what people do and learn

during each stage. Discuss
how his or her body form, ability to move,

ability to speak and do
various things, and understanding of life


b) What is the maximum human
lifespan and what does it depend on?

2. Describe how you have
changed since you were a baby. Do you

sometimes wonder what it will
be like when you are very old?

3. One day your grandparents,
and then much later also your parents

will pass away. What do you
feel about that?


Three characteristics of life

The Buddha taught that all
living beings have 3 characteristics:

impermanence (anicca), not-self (anatta) and
suffering (dukkha).

The third characteristic is
very important to us, and the Buddha called

it The First Noble Truth. We
shall discuss it in the next lesson together

with the other 3 Noble

Impermanence (change, anicca)

The Buddha taught that not
only all things, but also all living beings

are impermanent. They arise
(come into being), change and pass

away. They have beginning and
end. Whatever has a beginning also

has an end, that is a law of

If you find the questions
below too difficult, then just answer what

you can and ask others to
help you.

1. Describe what each of the
non-living things listed below is made of,

how it changes and how long
it can last:

a) Earth

b) Sun

c) rocks, water, air, fire,

c) molecules

d) atoms

e) subatomic particles (e.g.
protons, electrons)

f) light energy (describe the
colour spectrum, and its characteristics)

g) a colour photo in a
magazine, and a picture on a TV screen

(describe the component
colours, and how is the picture made).

2. Describe the following
animals (their body parts, how they change

through life, and how long do
they live): a snail, crab, butterfly, fish,

frog, lizard, bird, dog,

3. Describe yourself (your
body, mind and consciousness). Do you

know how long will each part
of you last? Can you find any part of

you that is not changing, is
permanent, may last forever?

Not-self (not a lasting self, anatta)

The Buddha taught that there
is not a permanent or lasting individual

self (atta). What people call a self, is just an aggregate
or a compound

of 5 changing and impermanent
things: body (form), bodily feelings

(sensations), sensory
perceptions (sights, sounds, smells, tastes,

contacts), mental formations
(thoughts, ideas, emotions), and

consciousness. They depend on
each other for existence, and do not

last forever. Therefore there
is no
atta, only anatta.

Modern scientists teach that
not only visible objects, but also their

component parts are compounds
and impermanent, all made of

energy. In a similar way, the
Buddha taught that the whole individual

and its parts (body, mind and
consciousness) are just compounds, and

do not last forever. He also
taught a theory of individual evolution –

individual development that
continues over a long series of lives,

according to the Law of
Kamma, and until the Supreme

Enlightenment. So he neither
taught that an individual being lives

forever, nor that an
individual ceases entirely when the body dies, as

some modern scientists do.

1. Can you find a lasting
part of you, your permanent self (

a) Examine your body form,
feelings, sense-perceptions, and mental

formations. Is any of these
your lasting self (
atta), that will last


b) What is consciousness? You
may use a dictionary or other

resources to discuss this

c) Describe what happens from
the time you go to sleep until the time

you wake up. Describe the
wakeful state, dreaming and deep sleep. Is

consciousness a lasting self


d) Have you found any part of
you that may continue after the body



a) What is light and what is
darkness? What is the electromagnetic

(EM) radiation or energy?
Name the main parts of the EM spectrum.

What range of the EM energy
do radios and TV sets receive? Which

part of the spectrum is a
visible radiation or light?

b) What EM range can animals
perceive? What EM range can people

perceive and how?


a) In what ways is
consciousness similar to visible EM energy (light)?

b) The Buddha taught that
living beings are reborn and can recollect

their previous lives. But
what part of the being did he teach is reborn?

Use the Buddhist resources
listed in the References, and ask your

parents or a Buddhist teacher
to help you.

 Do you know that?

Your body is made of millions
of tiny cells, like bricks that make up a

house. These tiny cells are
made of molecules and the molecules are

made of atoms. Atoms are in
turn made of even smaller particles, and

these are composed of energy.
The energy itself is made of a spectrum

of photons with
characteristic wavelengths and frequencies. So the

whole body is just a complex
energy structure. Your body changes all

the time, and each day some
cells die and are replaced by new ones.

So every few years you have a
brand new body.

Many scientists teach that
our Universe began with Big Bang (or big

explosion of energy) several
billion years ago. Following that,

subatomic particles, atoms,
elements and molecules were formed, and

stars and planets were born.
One of those stars was Sun and one of

those planets was Earth. Then
as the Earth cooled, solid earth, oceans

and atmosphere formed, all
made of many different atoms and


Then over many millions of
years complex molecules

(macromolecules) formed in
the oceans out of the simple molecules.

These macromolecules then
gradually developed to form single celled

(uni-cellular) organisms.
These one-celled organisms not only

multiplied, but also changed
and grouped to form multi-cellular

organisms – bodies of plants,
animals, and after many millions of

years, also people. So the
life forms slowly developed, or evolved,

over hundreds of millions of

Scientists also study how
galaxies, stars and planets are born and die.

Based on that, they predict
that many millions of years from now, the

Sun will grow bigger, become
very red and then slowly die, turning

into a ball of hot ash. They
call such a ball of ash White Dwarf. When

that happens, all life on
Earth will also gradually die and Earth will

become a frozen planet.

Based on their present
understanding, scientists also teach that the

Universe is still expanding,
but one day it will begin to contract.

However they are not really
sure what will happen at the end, nor how

the Big Bang started.

As with other great
scientific theories, theory of the origin of our

Universe is based on a strong
basis of collective observation of the

natural world, and analysis
of the data. It cannot be fully proven, but

until evidence is shown
against it, for practical purposes we can

assume it is true.

Can possibly any thing or any
person be unchanging and last forever

in the Universe that is
constantly changing, and has a beginning and

an end?

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