Itivuttaka 63

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: “Monks, there are these three times. Which three? Past time, future time, present time. These are the three times.”

Perceiving in terms of signs, beings

take a stand on signs.

Not fully comprehending signs, they

come into the bonds

of death.

But fully comprehending signs, one

doesn’t construe a signifier.

Touching liberation with the heart,

the state of peace unsurpassed,

consummate in terms of signs,


delighting in the peaceful state,


an attainer-of-wisdom

makes use of classifications

but can’t be classified.1


1. At first glance, the verses here do not bear much relationship to the prose introduction. However, if they are viewed in the context of MN 2 (see the note to §16), their relationship becomes clear: the person who applies appropriate attention to the notion of past, present, and future time does not define him or herself in those terms, and so does not cling to any sense of self in those terms. Without clinging, one is liberated from birth and death.