As in any practice, we must first know its underlying concept. It is only after full apprehension of the concept that practice can proceed. Without right understanding, our practice is blind. Without practice, right understanding is also useless. Hence, one complements the other; each is indispensable. We can eradicate our afflictions and attain liberation only with the perfect union of the two. Accordingly, before we discuss the actual practice of the Three Dharma Seals, we must also know its concept.
How did the concept of the Three Dharma Seals originate? According to the sutras, when Sakyamuni Buddha was about to enter parinirvana, a disciple asked the Buddha, “If a non- Buddhist or some other person comes along after you are gone to give teachings and proclaims that to be the Dharma, how should we discern if it is the true Dharma?” The Buddha replied, “After I am gone, any belief or teaching which incorporates the Three Dharma Seals is the true Dharma; any belief or teaching which not only excludes but also refutes the Three Dharma Seals is not the true Dharma.”