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
Scriptural Definitions (pdf file)
Chapter 3: Concealers of the Three Characteristics
Chapter 4: Nonself and No-self
Chapter 5: Ego and Conceit
Practical Value (pdf file)
The Buddha’s Words (pdf file)