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Impermanence in Chinese / Japanese...

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China wú cháng
Japan mujou
Impermanence Vertical Wall Scroll

無常 is the state of being "not permanent," "not enduring," transitory, or evolving.

It can also mean variable or changeable. In some context, it can refer to a ghost that is supposed to take a soul upon death. Following that, this term can also mean to pass away or die.

In the Buddhist context, this is a reminder that everything in this world is ever-changing, and all circumstances of your life are temporary.
If you take the Buddhist philosophy further, none of these circumstances are real, and your existence is an illusion anyway. Thus, the idea of the eternal soul is perhaps just the attachment you have to your ego. Once you release your attachment to all impermanent things, you will be on your way to enlightenment and Buddhahood.

Language notes for this word when used outside the context of Buddhism:
In Korean Hanja, this means uncertainty, transiency, mutability, or evanescent.
In Japanese, the definition orbits closer to the state of being uncertain.

Mono no Aware

Japan mono no awa-re
Mono no Aware Vertical Wall Scroll

This literally translates as, "the pathos of things," "an empathy toward things," or "a sensitivity to ephemera."

物の哀れ is kind of a Japanese proverb for the awareness of impermanence, or transience of things.

Both things and the emotions about those things do not last forever.

Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Not the results for impermanence that you were looking for?

Below are some entries from our dictionary that may match your impermanence search...


If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese

Simple Dictionary Definition



see styles
Mandarin wú cháng / wu2 chang2
Taiwan wu ch`ang / wu chang
Japanese mujou / mujo / むじょう
Mono no Aware Vertical Wall Scroll
Chinese variable; changeable; fickle; impermanence (Sanskrit: anitya); ghost taking away the soul after death; to pass away; to die
Japanese (adj-na,n,adj-no) {Buddh} (ant: 常住・2) uncertainty; transiency; impermanence; mutability
anitya. Impermanent; the first of the 三明 trividyā; that all things are impermanent, their birth, existence, change, and death never resting for a moment.


see styles
Mandarin sān jiào / san1 jiao4
Taiwan san chiao
Japanese sankyou / sankyo / さんきょう
Chinese the Three Doctrines (Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism)
Japanese Shinto, Buddhism and Confucianism; (given name) Mitsunori
The three teachings, i.e. 儒, 佛 (or 釋), and 道Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism; or, 孔, 老, 釋 Confucianism, Taoism (aIso known as 神敎), and Buddhism. In Japan they are Shinto, Confucianism, and Buddhism. In Buddhism the term is applied to the three periods of Śākyamuni's own teaching, of which there are several definitions: (1) The Jiangnan 南中 School describe his teaching as (a) 漸progressive or gradual; (b) 頓 immediate, i.e. as one whole, especially in the 華嚴經; and (c) 不定 or indeterminate. (2) 光統 Guangtong, a writer of the Iater Wei dynasty, describes the three as (a) 漸 progressive for beginners, i.e. from impermanence to permanence, from the void to reality, etc.; (b) 頓 immediate for the more advanced; and (c) 圓complete, to the most advanced, i.e. the Huayan as above. (3) The 三時敎q.v. (4) The 南山 Southern school deals with (a) the 性空of Hīnayāna; (b) 相空of Mahāyāna; and (c) 唯識圓 the perfect idealism. v. 行事鈔中 4. Tiantai accepts the division of 漸, 頓, and 不定 for pre-Lotus teaching, but adopts 漸 gradual, 頓 immediate, and 圓 perfect, with the Lotus as the perfect teaching; it also has the division of 三藏敎 , 通敎 , and 別敎 q.v.



see styles
Mandarin sān lún / san1 lun2
Taiwan san lun
Japanese sanrin / さんりん
Japanese three wheels; (p,s,f) Miwa; (place-name, surname) Minowa; (surname) Mitsuwa; (surname) Mitsurin; (surname) Sanwa; (surname) Sanrin
The three wheels: (1) The Buddha's (a) 身 body or deeds; (b) 口 mouth, or discourse; (c) 意 mind or ideas. (2) (a) 神通 (or 變) His supernatural powers, or powers of (bodily) self-transformation, associated with 身 body; (b) 記心輪 his discriminating understanding of others, associated with 意 mind; (c) 敎誡輪 or 正敎輪 his (oral) powers of teaching, associated with 口. (3) Similarly (a) 神足輪 ; (b) 說法輪 ; (c) 憶念輪 . (4) 惑, 業, and 苦. The wheel of illusion produces karma, that of karma sets rolling that of suffering, which in turn sets rolling the wheel of illusion. (5) (a) Impermanence; (b) uncleanness; (c) suffering. Cf. 三道.


see styles
Mandarin jiǔ dào / jiu3 dao4
Taiwan chiu tao
Japanese kudō
idem 九有情居.; The nine truths, or postulates: impermanence; suffering; voidness (or unreality of things); no permanent ego, or soul; love of existence or possessions, resulting in suffering; the opposite (or fear of being without them), also resulting in suffering; the cutting off of suffering and its cause; nirvāṇa with remainder still to be worked out; complete nirvāṇa; nine paths


see styles
Mandarin èr xiāng / er4 xiang1
Taiwan erh hsiang
Japanese nisou / niso / にそう
Japanese (noun - becomes adjective with の) two-phase
The two forms, or characteristics, of the bhutatathata, universal and particular. The 起信論 gives (a) 淨智相 pure wisdom, cf. ālaya-vijñāna, out of whose primary condition arise (b) 不思議用相 inconceivable, beneficial functions and uses. The same śāstra gives also a definition of the 眞如 as (a) 同相 that all things, pure or impure, are fundamentally of the same universal, e.g. clay which is made into tiles; (b) 異相 but display particular qualities, as affected by pure or impure causes, e.g. the tiles. Another definition, of the 智度論 31, is (a) 總相 universals, as impermanence; (b) 別相 particulars, for though all things have the universal basis of impermanence they have particular qualities, e.g. earth-solidity, heat of fire, etc; two characteristics



see styles
Mandarin èr niǎo / er4 niao3
Taiwan erh niao
Japanese nichou / nicho / にちょう
Japanese (female given name) Nichou
The drake and the hen of the mandarin duck who are always together, typifying various contrasted theories and ideas, e.g. permanence and impermanence, joy and sorrow, emptiness and non-emptiness, etc; two birds


see styles
Mandarin jǐng hé / jing3 he2
Taiwan ching ho
Japanese igawa / いがわ    ikawa / いかわ
Japanese (surname) Igawa; (surname) Ikawa
Like the well and the river', indicating the impermanence of life. The 'well ' refers to the legend of the man who running away from a mad elephant fell into a well; the 'river ' to a great tree growing on the river bank yet blown over by the wind; [like] the well and the river


see styles
Mandarin bā mó / ba1 mo2
Taiwan pa mo
Japanese hachima
The eight Māras, or destroyers: 煩惱魔 the māras of the passions; 陰魔 the skandha-māras, v. 五陰; 死魔 death-māra ; 他化自在天魔 the māra-king. The above four are ordinarily termed the four māras: the other four are the four Hīnayāna delusions of śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas, i.e. 無常 impermanence; 無樂 joylessness; 無我 impersonality; 無淨 impurity; cf. 八顚倒.


see styles
Mandarin sì shān / si4 shan1
Taiwan ssu shan
Japanese yotsuyama / よつやま    yoshiyama / よしやま    shizan / しざん
Japanese (place-name) Yotsuyama; (surname) Yoshiyama; (given name) Shizan
Like four closing-in mountains are birth, age, sickness, and death; another group is age, sickness, death, and decay (衰, i. e. of wealth, honours, etc., or 無常 impermanence); four mountains


see styles
Mandarin sì shé / si4 she2
Taiwan ssu she
Japanese shida
idem 四毒蛇. The Fanyimingyi under this heading gives the parable of a man who fled from the two bewildering forms of life and death, and climbed down a rope (of life) 命根, into the well of impermanence 無常, where two mice, night and day, gnawed the rattan rope; on the four sides four snakes 四蛇 sought to poison him, i. e. the 四大 or four elements of his physical nature); below were three dragons 三毒龍 breathing fire and trying to seize him. On looking up he saw that two 象 elephants (darkness and light) had come to the mouth of the well; he was in despair, when a bee flew by and dropped some honey (the five desires 五欲) into his mouth, which he ate and entirely forgot his peril.



see styles
Mandarin shā guǐ / sha1 gui3
Taiwan sha kuei
Japanese satsuki / さつき    saki / さき
Japanese (female given name) Satsuki; (female given name) Saki
To slay demons; a ghost of the slain; a murderous demon; a metaphor for impermanence.



see styles
Mandarin wú zhù / wu2 zhu4
Taiwan wu chu
Japanese mujuu / muju / むじゅう
Japanese temple lacking a priest; (personal name) Mujuu
Not abiding; impermanence; things having no independent nature of their own, they have no real existence as separate entities; non-abiding


see styles
Mandarin dòu qiā / dou4 qia1
Taiwan tou ch`ia / tou chia
Japanese zukya
Chinese dukkha (Sanskrit); suffering (Buddhism)
duḥkha, trouble, suffering, pain, defined by 逼惱 harassed, distressed. The first of the four dogmas, or 'Noble Truths' 四諦 is that all life is involved, through impermanence, in distress. There are many kinds of 苦 q. v.



see styles
Mandarin diàn yǐng / dian4 ying3
Taiwan tien ying
Japanese denei / dene / でんえい
Chinese movie; film; CL:部[bu4],片[pian4],幕[mu4],場|场[chang3]
Japanese (in China) (See 映画) movie; film
Impermanence of all things like lightning and shadow; lightning and shadows


see styles
Mandarin yī fǎ yìn / yi1 fa3 yin4
Taiwan i fa yin
Japanese ippōin
The seal or assurance of the one truth or law, see 一如 and 一實; the criterion of Mahāyāna doctrine, that all is bhūtatathatā, as contrasted with the Hīnayāna criteria of impermanence, non-personality, and nirvāṇa; a seal of Buddha truth


see styles
Mandarin sān fǎ yìn / san1 fa3 yin4
Taiwan san fa yin
Japanese sanbouin / sanboin / さんぼういん
Japanese Dharma seals; three marks of existence (suffering, impermanence, non-Self)
idem 三印; three seals of the dharma



see styles
Mandarin bù jìng lún / bu4 jing4 lun2
Taiwan pu ching lun
Japanese fujōron
One of the three 輪: impermanence, impurity, distress 無常, 不淨, 苦; impure wheel



see styles
Mandarin èr wú cháng / er4 wu2 chang2
Taiwan erh wu ch`ang / erh wu chang
Japanese ni mujō
Two kinds of impermanence, immediate and delayed. 念念無常 things in motion, manifestly transient; 相續無常 things that have the semblance of continuity, but are also transient, as life ending in death, or a candle in extinction.



see styles
Mandarin wǔ mén chán / wu3 men2 chan2
Taiwan wu men ch`an / wu men chan
Japanese gomonzen / ごもんぜん
Japanese (out-dated kanji) (Buddhist term) five approaches to meditation; five objects of meditation
idem 五停心觀; there is also a fivefold meditation on impermanence, suffering, the void, the non-ego, and nirvana; five approaches to meditation



see styles
Mandarin sì jù zhí / si4 ju4 zhi2
Taiwan ssu chü chih
Japanese shikushū
The four tenets held by various non-Buddhist schools: (1) the permanence of the ego, i. e. that the ego of past lives is the ego of the present; (2) its impermanence, i. e. that the present ego is of independent birth; (3) both permanent and impermanent, that the ego is permanent, the body impermanent; (4) neither permanent nor impermanent; that the body is impermanent but the ego not impermanent; four statements of attachment


see styles
Mandarin sì fǎ yìn / si4 fa3 yin4
Taiwan ssu fa yin
Japanese shihouin / shihoin / しほういん
Japanese {Buddh} (See 諸行無常,諸法無我,一切皆苦・いっさいかいく,涅槃寂静・ねはんじゃくじょう) the four signs of orthodox Buddhism
The seal or impression of the four dogmas, suffering, impermanence, non-ego, nirvana, see 四法本末; four seals of the dharma


see styles
Mandarin sì xíng xiāng / si4 xing2 xiang1
Taiwan ssu hsing hsiang
Japanese shi gyōsō
To meditate upon the implications or disciplines of pain, unreality, impermanence, and the non-ego; four defining characteristics


see styles
Mandarin niè pán yìn / nie4 pan2 yin4
Taiwan nieh p`an yin / nieh pan yin
Japanese nehan in
(涅槃寂靜印) The seal or teaching of nirvāṇa, one of the three proof that a sutra was uttered by the Buddha, i.e. its teaching of impermanence, non-ego, nirvāṇa; also the witness within to the attainment of nirvāṇa; seal of nirvāṇa



see styles
Mandarin wú shàng rěn / wu2 shang4 ren3
Taiwan wu shang jen
Japanese mujō nin
The highest patient equanimity in receiving the truth; also, to believe the truth of impermanence without doubt, v. 十忍; unsurpassed tolerance



see styles
Mandarin wú cháng juān / wu2 chang2 juan1
Taiwan wu ch`ang chüan / wu chang chüan
Japanese mujō ken
The bird which cries of impermanence, messenger of the shades, the goat-sucker; cuckoo of impermanence



see styles
Mandarin liù shí èr jiàn / liu4 shi2 er4 jian4
Taiwan liu shih erh chien
Japanese rokujūni ken
The sixty-two 見 or views, of which three groups are given: The 大品般若經 in the 佛母品 takes each of the five skandhas under four considerations of 常 time, considered as time past, whether each of the five has had permanence, impermanence, both, neither, 5 x 4 = 20; again as to their space, or extension, considered as present time, whether each is finite, infinite, both, neither =20; again as to their destination, i. e. future, as to whether each goes on, or does not, both, neither (e. g. continued personality) = 20, or in all 60; add the two ideas whether body and mind 神 are a unity or different = 62. The Tiantai School takes 我見, or personality, as its basis and considers each of the five skandhas under four aspects, e. g (1) rūpa, the organized body, as the ego; (2) the ego as apart from the rūpa; (3) rūpa as the greater, the ego the smaller or inferior, and the ego as dwelling in the rūpa; (4) the ego as the greater, rupa the inferior, and the rupa in the ego. Consider these twenty in the past, present, and future = 60, and add 斷 and 常 impermanence and permanence as fundamentals = 62. There is also a third group; sixty-two (mistaken) views



see styles
Mandarin sì kū sì róng / si4 ku1 si4 rong2
Taiwan ssu k`u ssu jung / ssu ku ssu jung
Japanese shiko shiei
When the Buddha died, of the eight śāla trees surrounding him four are said to have withered while four continued in full leaf— a sign that the four doctrines of 苦 suffering, 空 the void, 無常 impermanence, and 無我 impersonality were to perish and those of 常 permanence, 葉 joy, 我 personality, and 淨 purity, the transcendent bodhisattva doctrines, were to flourish; four withered, four teemed



see styles
Mandarin sì wú cháng jì / si4 wu2 chang2 ji4
Taiwan ssu wu ch`ang chi / ssu wu chang chi
Japanese shi mujō ge
(or 四非常偈) Eight stanzas in the 仁王經, two each on 無常 impermanence, 苦 suffering, 空 the void, and 無我 non-personality; the whole four sets embodying the impermanence of all things; four stanzas on impermanence



see styles
Mandarin bǎo yìn sān mèi / bao3 yin4 san1 mei4
Taiwan pao yin san mei
Japanese hōin zanmai
The ratnamudrāsamādhi, in which are realized the unreality of the ego, the impermanence of all things, and nirvana; jewel-seal absorption


see styles
Mandarin xiǎo chéng sān yìn / xiao3 cheng2 san1 yin4
Taiwan hsiao ch`eng san yin / hsiao cheng san yin
Japanese shōjō san'in
The three characteristic marks of all Hīnayāna sūtras: the impermanence of phenomena, the unreality of the ego, and nirvāṇa; three seals of the lesser vehicle

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Mono no Aware Vertical Wall Scroll
Mono no Aware Vertical Wall Scroll
Mono no Aware Vertical Wall Scroll
Mono no Aware Vertical Wall Scroll

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Lookup Impermanence in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary

The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
mujou / mujowú cháng / wu2 chang2 / wu chang / wuchangwu ch`ang / wuchang / wu chang
Mono no Aware物の哀れmono no awa-re
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.

Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

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Peace and Prosperity
Peaceful Warrior
Shotokan Karate
Tang Soo Do

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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.

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