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Impermanence and the remembrance of death

SilouanSilouan Veteran
edited August 2012 in Faith & Religion
Both Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Buddhism share a profound emphasis in the remembrance of impermanence and death, and they have been central to my own spiritual quest.

The following is a reflection or prayer regarding them from my tradition that was composed by St Ephraim the Syrian who lived in the 4th century. I'm interested in reading similar reflections, prayers, or poems that are outside of my tradition too. If you have any you would like to share on the subject I would appreciate it.

A complaint against the world
No advantages do you offer those who love you, O World, you dwelling-place of sorrows. All who draw near to you do you seduce with all your treasures and with all your delights, but in the day of death both the fair countenance of the beautiful and the might of the strong will be cast down into the grave. Woe to him who loves you and is loved by you, for his joy will be transformed into cries.

In the world, that sea of sin, all my days have passed in vain. My life has gone by without bringing me any profit. I have even forgotten about the day of death. I have whirled about and gathered a burden of sins, whole sheaves of tares destined to be consumed by fire. And behold lamentation and sighs await me in that land full of horrors.

Because I have loved you, O cunning world, from my youth through my old age, the time of my life as passed without my notice; and lo, in sin will death steal me away. O, if only I had never set foot in you, O world that deceives all who enter! Those who love you enjoy no pleasures, and those who hate you weep not. Blessed is he who has torn your snares asunder, he shall inherit the habitation of joy.

This world even deceives the wise with its appearance, for at times it appears desirable. It even offers benefits and treasures for loan, but in the day of death it will take them back and give in return torment incomparably greater than our sins. For a short while will it let us sin, but as a reward it will give us eternal darkness.

Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and righteous is Thy Judgment that condemns the world and those who love it! Therefore do I pray Thee that Thy right hand which pulled Simon out of the sea might also pull me out of the waves and tumult of this world that rise up against me. I have become mired in filth; the waters of the world are drowning me, they do not let me break loose to catch my breath. May Thy Cross, O Lord, be my staff and my support on the path along which I walk.


  • jlljll Veteran
    life is uncertain, death is certain.
    when will i die? how? today, tomorrow, next year?
    it can happen anytime, anywhere.
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Simply, on the path. Veteran
    edited August 2012
    On this subject, I've always liked this poem:

    The Clock Of Life

    The clock of life is wound but once,
    And no man has the power
    To tell just when the hands will stop
    At late or early hour.

    To lose one's wealth is sad indeed.
    To lose one's health is more.
    To lose one's soul is such a loss
    That no man can restore.

    Today, only is our own.
    So live, love and toil with a will.
    Place no faith in tomorrow,
    For the clock may soon be still.

    ~ Robert H Smith
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