Sutra on Impermanence

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The Tibetan canon contains two sutras with the title Sutra on Impermanence (Skt. Anityatāsūtra; Tib.མི་རྟག་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་མདོ་, mitakpa nyi kyi do, Wyl. mi rtag pa nyid kyi mdo), both found in the General Sutra section of the Kangyur (Toh 309 and 310).

  • The first one (Toh 309), which is translated into English, is a brief sutra in which the Buddha reminds his followers of one of the principal characteristics of samsaric existence: the reality of impermanence. The four things cherished most in this world, the Buddha says—namely good health, youth, prosperity, and life—are all impermanent. He closes his teaching with a verse, asking how beings, afflicted as they are by impermanence, can take delight in anything desirable, indirectly urging his disciples to practice the path of liberation.[1]


Sutras with equivalent titles are also found in other Buddhist canons, but their contents differ substantially from the one translated here.

  • The Chinese Tripiṭaka contains two sutras so entitled (Taishō Nos. 801 and 759)
  • In the Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon, the collection of discourses grouped by themes, there are a number of different texts with the title Sutta on Impermanence (Pali. Aniccasutta).


  1. 84000 Translating the Words of the Buddha