I’m not a Buddhist and have no intention of becoming one, but do appreciate many of the teachings and have found them useful. The one I return to daily is something called the Five Remembrances of the Buddha. There are many translations of it, but the one I like is by Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Buddhist monk:
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 the nature to change.
There is no way to 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.
I shared these with some people recently and they found them to be very depressing. I can see how one might draw that conclusion. Looked at from a certain perspective it appears to be saying that life is a big bummer and then you die. Nothing is going to stay the same. Everyone and everything is going to change. Sounds shitty, doesn’t it?
Yet, I find that the Five Remembrances have cut down on my anxiety. I need facts in my life—foundational ideas that cannot change. I need to be able to know there’s something I can rely on. I’ve thought about these five things and realized that they are true and unchangeable. They will always be there. And thus, they’re something I can believe in.
The Five Remembrances also encourage me to live in the moment and get out of my head. And they’re important (and confusing) enough to be worthy of exploration in future posts.
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