The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Five Remembrances

I am of the nature to grow old.  There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.  There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.  There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.  There is no to way escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.  I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.  My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

--The Plum Village Chanting Book,  by Thich Nhat Hanh

Annicca, impermanence.
We spend a lot of time ignoring the reality of change, especially in America's culture of never ending youth and vitality.  For our culture, there's always something better just beyond our grasp, just beyond the horizon, whether that be a better job/home/partner, a toned, unchanging body, a sharper ride/toys/clothes, even a more "satisfying" meditation session!  
America was built upon Manifest Destiny--since we first arrived here, we've projected all our longing, ambitions and insecurities on the Land, with a capitol "L".  Geography has become a defining archetype.
All is impermanence.
All conditioned phenomena is subject to continuous, relentless change and flux--this is the very nature of life itself.  Yet our grasping and ignorance creates intense Dukkha, suffering.  When we grasp at what is inherently changeable, we experience dis-ease--pleasure wanes, just as pain does, but we seek to extend the pleasant moment and avert the painful, through a cycle of ignorance, delusion and greed.
As we begin to understand that all is impermanent, our lives take on a deeper sense of gratitude for these fleeting moments--we tend not to grasp, but to simply be.  We learn how to appreciate each moment for what it is, not for our conditioned reactions, our projections, our hopes and fears--Reality as it is.
The reality is that all is in a continuous state of flux, even this body/mind we call "ME", especially this "ME"! As we begin to comprehend this truth, the 4 Noble Truths become brilliantly clear.  
We move from creating suffering, to living in the reality of Annicca, the ultimate teacher.  


Elizabeth said...

Nagarjuna's 'Precious Garland' says:

You dwell among the causes of death
Like a butter lamp standing in a strong breeze.

Elizabeth said...

From Patrul Rinpoche's 'The Words of My Perfect Teacher':

Whatever is born is impermanent and is bound to die.
Whatever is stored up is impermanent and is bound to run out.
Whatever comes together is impermanent and is bound to come apart.
Whatever is built is impermanent and is bound to collapse.
Whatever rises up is impermanent and is bound to fall down.
So also, friendship and enmity, fortune and sorrow, good and evil, all the thoughts that run through your mind--everything is always changing.

Elizabeth said...

And finally, Jetsun Mila sang:

Fearing death, I went to the mountains.
Over and over again I meditated on death's unpredictable coming,
And took the stronghold of the deathless unchanging nature.
Now I have lost and gone beyond all fear of dying!

Brookie said...

And finally, as Van "The Man' Morrison says, "It aint why, why, why, it just is."
Thanks E.