Recently, inspired by the meditation retreat she had just attended, our beloved yoga teacher Angela recited the Five Daily Recollections given to us by the Buddha in one of his sermons. There were two typical types of responses: “wow, that’s grim, depressing,” and “wow, I’d like a copy of those; they seem wise.”
Why do they elicit such strong and contradictory reactions? We are being asked to go against the stream of much of our unconscious daily life, where we act as if we can be in control of our bodies and health, other people, events, the future. It can be painful to truly acknowledge that all things are impermanent, including us, but when we do acknowledge the truth of how things are, it is actually quite liberating. The preciousness of this human life is seen deeply, and we also see that our actions do count.
Here are the Five Daily Recollections:
A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth (nun or monk), should often reflect thus:
1. I am of the nature to grow old; I have not gone beyond aging.
2. I am of the nature to grow ill; I have not gone beyond sickness.
3. I am of the nature to die; I have not gone beyond death.
4. All that is mine, dear and delightful, shall vanish and be gone.
5. I am the owner of my karma (actions); I am born of my karma; I am supported by my karma. All that I do, skillful or unskillful, so shall I inherit.