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The Five Recollections

BunksBunks Australia Veteran

Via the Upajjhatthana Sutta, the Buddha stated the five things below that we should reflect on each day:

  1. I am of the nature to grow old; there is no way to escape growing old.
  2. I am of the nature to have ill health; there is no way to escape having ill health.
  3. I am of the nature to die; there is no way to escape death.
  4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  5. My deeds are my closest companions. I am the beneficiary of my deeds. My deeds are the ground on which I stand.

Very sobering....

CarlitaJeffreypersonVastmindNirvanaDhammaDragonSnakeskinShoshinSocair

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Truth hurts, don't it....?

    BunksSnakeskin
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    These are chanted regularly at my center at the beginning of weekly gatherings. Very good reflections for reducing attachment and better appreciating it when we do have good conditions.

    BunksSnakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I wonder what the benefit is of being reminded of exactly these things. They are true, but so are other things which are less depressing.

    If you look at for example Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on suffering, he often emphasises that the reason we should learn about suffering is to also learn about happiness. I like his balance in that.

    After all the reason why we pursue the cessation of dukkha is not in order to stare at dukkha for long hours, but to be free of it.

    lobsterDhammaDragonSnakeskin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited December 2017

    Well said @Kerome

    I like the 5th recollection but focussing on the rest which are true enough, is like watching the news. Yuk!

    What is conducive to good living?
    Lobster recollections ...

      • I will grow old disgracefully
      • I will nurture my well being
      • Today is a good day to live (Klingon heresy)
      • Embrace change
      • Do good

    Did I go wrong again? o:) Ah well ... 'Don't be too Buddhist' can be number 6 ;)

    KeromeDhammaDragonSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2017

    @Kerome said:
    I wonder what the benefit is of being reminded of exactly these things. They are true, but so are other things which are less depressing.

    If you look at for example Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on suffering, he often emphasises that the reason we should learn about suffering is to also learn about happiness. I like his balance in that.

    After all the reason why we pursue the cessation of dukkha is not in order to stare at dukkha for long hours, but to be free of it.

    You've fallen into the trap of believing that such teachings are 'depressing' along with many other people.
    It surprises me that one following Buddhism should consider such a Universal Truth as 'depressing'.

    They're not depressing at all. They bring you into the Now and make you realise how precious each moment is; they're a reminder to live well and skilfully, because time is one thing we have no guarantee of. So use your time skilfully, joyfully, kindly and compassionately.

    Do not dwell on past matters, because that is a dangerous Chaise Longue to sprawl on... Do not dwell idly dreaming of what may come, because plans have a tricky habit of tapping you on the shoulder and blowing a raspberry in your ear.

    Live each day, to the full, in joy, companionably and amiably with those around you; leave a good impression of yourself, so that you will be missed and held up as a beacon of goodness, rather than one whose outlook was all eeyore and grumbles.

    Is basically, what it's telling you.

    BunkspersonDavidSnakeskin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I wonder what the benefit is of being reminded of exactly these things. They are true, but so are other things which are less depressing.

    I recite the Five Remembrances every morning as a way to remind myself that life's transiency is a good inspiration to live more intensely in the present moment.

    And to compensate for what might seem to be a rather bleak teaching, I follow it by a recitation of Thich Nhat Hanh's translation of the "Sutta on a better Way to live alone," which somehow has a more optimistic ring to it:

    “Do not pursue the past.
    Do not lose yourself in the future.
    The past no longer is.
    The future has not yet come.
    Looking deeply at life as it is in the very here and now, the practitioner dwells in stability and freedom.
    We must be diligent today.
    To wait till tomorrow is too late.
    Death comes unexpectedly.
    How can we bargain with it?
    The sage calls a person who dwells in mindfulness night and day, ‘the one who knows the better way to live alone.’

    https://plumvillage.org/sutra/discourse-on-knowing-the-better-way-to-live-alone/

    KeromeSnakeskin
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Well said @federica. Nothing depressing at all in there.

    I find they have a calming effect on my mind.

    Snakeskin
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I wonder what the benefit is of being reminded of exactly these things.

    So that you realize that it's quite fine to let go of the things you hold onto. For example, If you fully realize that old age is inevitable, there there is no point in trying to hold onto youth. So you stop holding onto youth and stop suffering from doing so. So the benefit is less suffering.

    The sutta goes on to explain it in the next 5 paragraphs.

    "Now, based on what line of reasoning should one often reflect... that 'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging'? There are beings who are intoxicated with a [typical] youth's intoxication with youth. Because of that intoxication with youth, they conduct themselves in a bad way in body... in speech... and in mind. But when they often reflect on that fact, that youth's intoxication with youth will either be entirely abandoned or grow weaker...

    When a person is not intoxicated with youth, old age does not cause any suffering.

    After all the reason why we pursue the cessation of dukkha is not in order to stare at dukkha for long hours, but to be free of it.

    In order to be free of dukkha, dukkha must be understood. In order to understand something, you must observe it. That's what insight meditation is all about, observation of reality.

    Henepola Gunaratana, in his book Mindfulness in Plain English, puts it like this.

    "The way out of a trap is to study the trap itself, learn how it is built. You do this by
    taking the thing apart piece by piece. The trap can’t trap you if it has
    been taken to pieces. The result is freedom."

    "Mindfulness in Plain English" is a very good read if anyone has never read it. =)

    DavidSnakeskinlobsterKerome
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran
    edited December 2017

    These 5 reflections are a cornerstone of my practice. I recite them every morning, first with myself as the subject then "others". I recall them throughout the day too, whenever I need to reel my #&$@ in. The translation I use came from a book/PDF I'd downloaded from accesstoinsight.org about lay practice. I'm sure my memory has modified it over the years. :lol:

    I am subject to aging; I've not got beyond aging.
    I am subject to sickness; I've not got beyond sickness.
    I am subject to death; I've not got beyond death.
    All that is mine, beautiful & pleasing, will change and vanish.
    I am the owner of my kamma, heir to my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma, abide supported by my kamma. Whatever kamma I may do, whether wholesome or unwholesome, of that will I be the heir.

    BunksDhammaDragon
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    "Change is inevitable ...Suffering(Dukkha) is optional" (The nutshell version) :)

    DhammaDragonSnakeskin
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