Central to the teaching of Buddhism are the three marks of existence (trilaksana).
The three marks of existence are:
- saṅkhārā aniccā — “all saṅkhāras (conditioned things) are impermanent”
- sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā — “all saṅkhāras are unsatisfactory”
- sabbe dhammā anattā — “all dharmas (conditioned or unconditioned things) are not self”
Conditioned things (sankhara), according to Buddhism, do not make up the entirety of things. There are also unconditioned things. Together conditioned and unconditioned things are called the dharma – the entirety of the world.
Nirvana (the realization of the non-self or emptiness of everything, conditioned and unconditioned) is neither impermanent nor permanent, and neither unsatisfactory nor unsatisfactory. To say it is permanent would be to not understand its characteristics. To say it is satisfactory would be to not see the inconsistency of duality. The neutral, zero position of Buddhism is something rather hard to grasp. And by being unenlightened is to be not fully understanding the zero position, but be like somewhere between -1 and +1, other than 0. By having a value – positive or negative – we are not understanding the meaning of 0. The irony is, we cannot know zero without recourse to every other number, that is, zero means nothing without something.