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Impermanence in Chinese / Japanese...

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 wú cháng
Impermanence Scroll

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

It can also mean variable or changeable. In some contexts, 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. Thus, the idea of the eternal soul is perhaps just your attachment 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

 mono no awa-re
Mono no Aware Scroll

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

物の哀れ is 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.

Mujo no Kaze / Wind of Impermanence

 mu jou no kaze
Mujo no Kaze / Wind of Impermanence Scroll

無常の風 is an old Japanese proverb that means the wind of impermanence or the wind of change in Japanese.

This can refer to the force that ends life, like the wind scattering a flower's petals. Life is yet another impermanent existence that is fragile, blown out like a candle.

The first two characters mean uncertainty, transiency, impermanence, mutability, variable, and/or changeable.

In some Buddhist contexts, 無常 can be analogous to a spirit departing at death (with a suggestion of the impermanence of life).

The last two characters mean “of wind” or a possessive like “wind of...” but Japanese grammar will have the wind come last in the phrase.

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
wú cháng
    wu2 chang2
wu ch`ang
    wu chang
 mujou / mujo

More info & calligraphy:

variable; changeable; fickle; impermanence (Sanskrit: anitya); ghost taking away the soul after death; to pass away; to die
(n,adj-na,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
 mujounokaze / mujonokaze

More info & calligraphy:

Mujo no Kaze / Wind of Impermanence
(exp,n) (idiom) wind of impermanence (that ends people lives, like the wind scattering a flower's petals)


see styles
sān jiào
    san1 jiao4
san chiao
 sankyou; sangyou / sankyo; sangyo
    さんきょう; さんぎょう
the Three Doctrines (Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism)
(1) Shinto, Buddhism and Confucianism; the three religions; (2) Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism; (3) Buddhism, Shinto and Christianity; (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
sān lún
    san1 lun2
san lun
three wheels; (p,s,f) Miwa
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
jiǔ dào
    jiu3 dao4
chiu tao
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.


see styles
èr xiàng
    er4 xiang4
erh hsiang
 nisou / niso
(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.



see styles
èr niǎo
    er4 niao3
erh niao
 nichou / nicho
(female given name) Nichō
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.


see styles
jǐng hé
    jing3 he2
ching ho
(surname) Igawa
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.


see styles
bā mó
    ba1 mo2
pa mo
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
sì shān
    si4 shan1
ssu shan
(place-name) Yotsuyama
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).


see styles
sì shé
    si4 she2
ssu she
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
shā guǐ
    sha1 gui3
sha kuei
(female given name) Satsuki
To slay demons; a ghost of the slain; a murderous demon; a metaphor for impermanence.



see styles
wú zhù
    wu2 zhu4
wu chu
 mujuu / muju
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.


see styles
dòu qū
    dou4 qu1
tou ch`ü
    tou chü
(Buddhism) suffering (from Sanskrit "dukkha")
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
diàn yǐng
    dian4 ying3
tien ying
 denei / dene
movie; film; CL:部[bu4],片[pian4],幕[mu4],場|场[chang3]
(1) (in Chinese) (See 映画) movie; film; (2) (obsolete) lightning
Impermanence of all things like lightning and shadow.


see styles
yī fǎ yìn
    yi1 fa3 yin4
i fa yin
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.


see styles
sān fǎ yìn
    san1 fa3 yin4
san fa yin
 sanbouin / sanboin
Dharma seals; three marks of existence (suffering, impermanence, non-Self)
idem 三印.



see styles
bù jìng lún
    bu4 jing4 lun2
pu ching lun
One of the three 輪: impermanence, impurity, distress 無常, 不淨, 苦.



see styles
èr wú cháng
    er4 wu2 chang2
erh wu ch`ang
    erh wu chang
 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
wǔ mén chán
    wu3 men2 chan2
wu men ch`an
    wu men chan
 gomon zen
(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.



see styles
sì jù zhí
    si4 ju4 zhi2
ssu chü chih
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.


see styles
sì fǎ yìn
    si4 fa3 yin4
ssu fa yin
 shihouin / shihoin
{Buddh} (See 諸行無常,諸法無我,一切皆苦,涅槃寂静) the four signs of orthodox Buddhism
The seal or impression of the four dogmas, suffering, impermanence, non-ego, nirvana, see 四法本末.


see styles
sì xíng xiàng
    si4 xing2 xiang4
ssu hsing hsiang
 shi gyōsō
To meditate upon the implications or disciplines of pain, unreality, impermanence, and the non-ego.


see styles
niè pán yìn
    nie4 pan2 yin4
nieh p`an yin
    nieh pan yin
 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.



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



see styles
wú cháng yī
    wu2 chang2 yi1
wu ch`ang i
    wu chang i
 mujō e
The reliance of the impermanent, i.e. Buddha, upon whom mortals can rely.



see styles
wú cháng xiū
    wu2 chang2 xiu1
wu ch`ang hsiu
    wu chang hsiu
 mujō shu
cultivation of (awareness of) impermanence



see styles
wú cháng jié
    wu2 chang2 jie2
wu ch`ang chieh
    wu chang chieh
 mujō ge
Verse of Impermanence



see styles
wú cháng táng
    wu2 chang2 tang2
wu ch`ang t`ang
    wu chang tang
 mujō dō
無常院; 延壽堂; 湼槃堂 The room where a dying monk was placed, in the direction of the sunset at the north-west corner.



see styles
wú cháng xìng
    wu2 chang2 xing4
wu ch`ang hsing
    wu chang hsing
 mujō shō

Click here for more impermanence results from our 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
Mujo no Kaze
Wind of Impermanence
無常の風mu jou no kaze
mu jo no kaze
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.


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

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