3 Dharma Seals (Universal Marks) Connected with Existence
• Impermanence – all phenomena are impermanent
• Not-self – all Dharma are not-self
• Nirvana is the eternity
Note: Sometimes, people add “suffering” to the 3 Seals
The Practice of Looking Deeply Using Three Dharma Seals by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that by looking deeply we develop insight into impermanence and no self. These are the keys to the door of reality.
All authentic practices of the Buddha carry within them three essential teachings called the Dharma Seals. These three teachings of the Buddha are: impermanence, no self and nirvana. Just as all-important legal documents have the mark or signature of a witness, all genuine practices of the Buddha bear the mark of these three teachings.
If we look into the first Dharma Seal, impermanence, we see that it doesn’t just mean that everything changes. By looking into the nature of things, we can see that nothing remains the same for even two consecutive moments. Because nothing remains unchanged from moment to moment it therefore has no fixed identity or a permanent self. So in the teaching of impermanence we always see the lack of an unchanging self. We call this “no self,” the second Dharma Seal. It is because things are always transforming and have no self that freedom is possible.
The third Dharma Seal is nirvana. This means solidity and freedom, freedom from all ideas and notions. The word “nirvana” literally means “the extinction of all concepts.” Looking deeply into impermanence leads to the discovery of no self. The discovery of no self leads to nirvana. Nirvana is the Kingdom of God.