Sr Thuận Nghiêm talked about the Upajjhatthana Sutta (Subjects for Contemplation) otherwise known as the Five Remembrances during the Spring Retreat.
1. I am of the nature to grow old, I cannot escape old age.
Plum trees need to be trimmed so that their sap energy does not get dispersed into growing lots of branches and leaves, but instead can be directed to produce more fruits. We are the same, with the practices of mindfulness, we can grow old beautifully, bearing many fruits of happiness and peace. Who are our role models for growing old gracefully? Thầy, Sr Chân Không, Sr Chân Đức can be our source of inspiration for how to age with wisdom and beauty.
2. I am of the nature to get sick, I cannot escape sickness.
The Buddha taught that sickness comes from the way we consume and what we consume through edible food, sense impressions, volition, and collective consciousness. How is your consumption in daily life affecting your body and mind? Depression and loneliness are very prevalent in our society now. Fostering a community connection can alleviate these maladies because it brings the warmth of being in a family. Eating a vegetarian diet, organic food, meditation, exercise, relaxation and friendship are other important factors in the healing process.
3. I am of the nature to die, I cannot escape death.
We can remember the fact that each day that passes we have one day less to live, so we can do and say things to appreciate and cherish our loved one’s presence. When our parents have passed away, instead of regretting and lamenting their loss we can contemplate on what aspirations they had and we can continue to realize it for them. This is one way we continue them. How can we overcome feelings of resentment towards a loved one before they die? Try to look at the positive things they have done, and see the bigger picture, or the conditions that have made them the way they are.
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.
Life can be full of unexpected events, earth quake, tsunami, people we live with can die the next day. Do we take time to recognize the preciousness of our relationships?
5. I inherit the results of my actions of body, speech, and mind. My actions are my continuation. The echo in the mountains is our life. What we give out through the three actions of body, speech and mind comes back to us, even very little things in our thinking. If we have received positive things from a good environment, like a sangha, then we are more inspired to give back positively by sharing our peace and joy to others.
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