by Sayādaw U Sīlānanda




ISBN 978-983-3512-36-2


Size: 5.75” x 5.25”

Pages: 56 pages


Wherever I talk about vipassanā, I say vipassanā is seeing things in various ways, seeing mind and matter or mental and physical phenomena in light of their characteristics — seeing things as impermanent, as painful or unsatisfactory and an insubstantial or non-self. These are the three characteristics of everything that is in the world. We find these characteristics or these marks in everything and every being.

What is meant by everything in the world?

What is impermanent?

How do we know that something is impermanent?

What is it that is suffering?

And what is it that is anattā, that is soullness or non-self?

Through the practice of vipassanā meditation, and through paying attention to the objects at the present moment, you can see three characteristics for yourself. Once you see these three characteristics for yourself, you don’t have to base your faith on what other people say. Through your own experience you can verify that the teachings of the Buddha are correct. When you see this for yourself and come to this firm understanding, nobody can shake you away from this understanding. It becomes your very own property, your very own knowledge.

In this short essay, Sayādaw U Sīlānanda explained the different aspects of “seeing” or understanding these characteristics.



The Venerable Sayādaw U lānanda was selected by the late Most Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw of Burma to carry out the honourable task of spreading the Dhamma in the West, more than 30 years ago.

Today, the Venerable Say
ādaw is the Abbot of Dhammananda Vihāra in California and the Spiritual Director of the Theravāda Buddhist Society of America, Dhammachakka Meditation Center in Berkeley, the Tathāgata Meditation Center of San Jose, the Society for Advancement of Buddhism in Ft. Myers (Florida) and the Bodhi Tree Dhamma Center in Largo (Florida). In Myanmar, the Venerable is also one of three spiritual directors (Ovadacariya Sayādaws) of the Mahāsi Meditation Center in Yangon.

Born to a devout Buddhist family in Mandalay on 16 December, 1927, the Venerable received his early education at Kelly High School, an American Baptist Mission School for boys. In 1943, at the age of 16, he ordained as a novice monk and began formal religious training with his preceptor and other renowned monks. Full Bhikkhu ordination followed in 1947.

The Venerable holds two Dhammacariya (Master of Dhamma) degrees and has taught at the Athithokdayone P
āli University. He was an External Examiner at the Department of Oriental Studies, University of Art and Sciences in Mandalay, Myanmar.

The Venerable was the Chief Compiler of the Tipi
aka Pāi-Burmese Dictionary and was one of the distinguished editors of the Pāi Canon and associated Commentaries at the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Rangoon (Yangon) from 1954 to 1956. He is the author of seven Burmese Buddhist books and nine in English. Three of his English books had been translated into Chinese.

Well-regarded as a compassionate, knowledgeable and wise teacher, the Venerable Say
ādaw teaches Vipassanā meditation, Abhidhamma and other aspects of Theravādian Buddhism in English, Burmese, Pāi and Sanskrit. He has led meditation retreats throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.

In 1993, the Venerable was awarded the title of Agga Mah
ā Paṇḍita by the Burmese religious authorities and in 1999 the title of Agga Mahā Saddhamma Jotikadhaja. He was also appointed as Rector of International Theravāda Buddhist Missionary University of Yangon in Myanmar. More recently, in 2000, he was conferred Honorary Doctorate (D.Litt.) by Yangon University.

Venerable Say
ādaw U Sīlānanda passed away on 14 Aug 2005 at the age of 77.

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