Contemplating deep truths

6 Jun 2020 9:35 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

On Friday a group of senior students and I contemplated the Buddhist teachings of the Five Remembrances and a short essay by the meditation teacher Jeff Foster.  --Tim

Here are the Five Remembrances from the Upajjhatthana Sutta of Early Buddhism:

Five remembrances

Below are two English translations and the original Pali text of the "five remembrances":

1. I am sure to become old; I cannot avoid ageing. I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging. Jarādhammomhi jaraṃ anatīto....
2. I am sure to become ill; I cannot avoid illness. I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness. Vyādhidhammomhi vyādhiṃ anatīto....
3. I am sure to die; I cannot avoid death. I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death. Maraṇadhammomhi maraṇaṃ anatīto....
4. I must be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me. I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me. Sabbehi me piyehi manāpehi nānābhāvo vinābhāvo....
5. I am the owner of my actions, heir of my actions, actions are the womb (from which I have sprung), actions are my relations, actions are my protection. Whatever actions I do, good or bad, of these I shall become the heir.[2] I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.[3] Kammassakomhi kammadāyādo kammayoni kammabandhū kammapaṭisaraṇo yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā tassa dāyādo bhavissāmī....[4]

The Buddha advised: "These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained."[5]

Since the Buddha redefined kamma as intention in the Nibbedhika Sutta, intention or intentionally committed actions may be better translations of kamma in the last recollection.

Jeff Foster - You will lose everything…

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realising this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.

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