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The Upajjhatthana Sutta ("Subjects for Contemplation"), also known as the Abhiṇhapaccavekkhitabbaṭhānasutta in the Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana Tipiṭaka, is a Buddhist discourse (Pali: sutta; Skt.: sutra ) famous for its inclusion of five remembrances, five facts regarding life's fragility and our true inheritance. The discourse advises that these facts are to be reflected upon often by all.
According to this discourse, contemplation of these facts leads to the abandonment of destructive attachments and actions and to the cultivation of factors necessary for Awakening. According to the Ariyapariyesana Sutta (Discourse on the Noble Quest) MN 26,the first three remembrances are the very insights that led Gautama Buddha to renounce his royal household status and become an ascetic after experiencing strong feelings of spiritual urgency (saṃvega).
As the 57th discourse of the fifth book of the Pali Canon's Anguttara Nikaya (AN), this discourse's abbreviated designation is AN 5.57 or AN V.57. Alternately, it may be designated as A iii 71 to signify that in the Pali Text Society's Anguttara Nikaya's third volume, this discourse starts on page 71.
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.||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.||Kammassakomhi kammadāyādo kammayoni kammabandhū kammapaṭisaraṇo yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā tassa dāyādo bhavissāmī....|
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."
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.
In this discourse, the Buddha explains that the rationale for contemplating (paccavekkhato) the first three facts is to weaken or overcome conceit (mada) in youth, in good health and in being alive; the fourth contemplation is to weaken or overcome lust (rāga); and, the fifth contemplation is to weaken or overcome irresponsibility embodied in improper (duccarita) acts, speech and thoughts. Thus, by contemplating these facts, the Noble Eightfold Path (anchored in right understanding, conduct and effort) is cultivated and spiritual fetters are abandoned.
One reflects upon (paṭisañcikkhati) each of these facts in the following manner:
I am not the only one who is sure to become old. ... But wherever beings come and go, pass away and re-arise, they all are subject to old age...
Two central Buddhist concepts highlighted in this discourse and echoed throughout Buddhist scriptures are: personal suffering ( dukkha ) associated with aging, illness and death; and, a natural ethical system based on mental, verbal and physical action (Pali: kamma ; Skt.: karma).
In the Buddha's first discourse, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11), the Buddha is recorded as defining "suffering" (dukkha) in a manner that incorporates the first four remembrances: "Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering...."This formula is reiterated throughout the Pali Canon.
The first three remembrances are antidotes to the "threefold pride" of youthfulness (yobbana-mada), health (ārogya-mada) and life (jīvita-mada).Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999) note:
The first three contemplations commended serve to replicate, in the thoughtful disciple, the same awakening to the inescapable realities of the human condition that was thrust upon the future Buddha while he was still dwelling in the palace.
The Sukumāla Sutta (AN 3.38) illustrates the bodhisatta's early insights.For instance, in this discourse, the Buddha is recording as having observed:
...[T]he thought occurred to me: "When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to aging, not beyond aging, sees another who is aged, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to aging, not beyond aging. If I – who am subject to aging, not beyond aging – were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be fitting for me." As I noticed this, the [typical] young person's intoxication with youth entirely dropped away.
In the Devadūta Sutta (MN 130), King Yama, the righteous god of death,in judging a newly deceased person's destination, asks whether or not the person has seen and reflected upon five "divine messengers" (devadūta). These five are:
Regarding each of these, Yama would query:
Good man, did it never occur to you – an intelligent and mature man – "I too am subject to ageing, I am not exempt from ageing: surely I had better do good by body, speech, and mind"? ...[T]his evil action of yours was not done by your mother or your father, or by your brother or your sister, or by your friends and companions, or by your kinsmen and relatives, or by recluses and brahmins, or by gods: this evil action was done by you yourself, and you yourself will experience its result.
In the similarly named sutta AN 3.35, Yama's interrogation is reduced to addressing the three universal conditions of aging, illness and death.
In the Dasadhamma Sutta (AN 10.48), the Buddha identifies "ten things" (dasa dhamma) that renunciates (pabbajita) should reflect on often:
As can be readily seen, this list retains the fourth and fifth remembrances of the Upajjhatthana Sutta as its sixth and seventh contemplations.
In the Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta (MN 135), the Buddha is asked to elaborate on his statement:
... [B]eings are owners of kammas, heirs of kammas, they have kammas as their progenitor, kammas as their kin, kammas as their homing-place. It is kammas that differentiate beings according to inferiority and superiority.
The Buddha responds in the context of the Buddhist notion of rebirth. He identifies that killing or physically harming living beings, or being ill-tempered or envious or uncharitable to monastics or stubborn or uncurious about the teachings leads to inferior rebirths; while abstaining from these actions (kamma) leads to superior rebirths. The Buddha summarizes:
So ... the way that leads to short life [that is, killing others] makes people [oneself] short-lived [in ones next life], the way that leads to long life makes people long-lived; the way that leads to sickness makes people sick, the way that leads to health makes people healthy; the way that leads to ugliness makes people ugly, the way that leads to beauty makes people beautiful; the way that leads to insignificance makes people insignificant, the way that leads to influence makes people influential; the way that leads to poverty makes people poor, the way that leads to riches makes people rich; the way that leads to low birth makes people low-born, the way that leads to high birth makes people high-born; the way that leads to stupidity makes people stupid, the way that leads to wisdom makes people wise...
Some alternate titles for the Upajjhatthana Sutta are based on this discourse's opening words (in English and Pali):
|There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.||Pañcimāni bhikkhave ṭhānāni abhiṇhaṃ paccavekkhitabbāni itthiyā vā purisena vā gahaṭṭhena vā pabbajitena vā.|
Thus, based on the discourse's third Pali word, the Pali-language SLTP (n.d.) text simply refers to this discourse as the Ṭhānasuttaṃ.In general, ṭhāna (pl. ṭhānāni) can be translated as "abode" or "state" or "condition." In the above translation, Thanissaro (1997b) translates ṭhāna as "fact."
In addition, based on the discourse's fourth and fifth Pali words, the Pali-language Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana edition is entitled, Abhiṇhapaccavekkhitabbānasuttaṃ.Upalavanna (n.d.) translates this into English as, "Should be constantly reflected upon."
Furthermore, Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999) provide this discourse with the English-language title, "Five Contemplations for Everyone."
Śrāvaka (Sanskrit) or Sāvaka (Pali) means "hearer" or, more generally, "disciple". This term is used in Buddhism and Jainism. In Jainism, a śrāvaka is any lay Jain so the term śrāvaka has been used for the Jain community itself. Śrāvakācāras are the lay conduct outlined within the treaties by Śvetāmbara or Digambara mendicants. "In parallel to the prescriptive texts, Jain religious teachers have written a number of stories to illustrate vows in practice and produced a rich répertoire of characters.".
Bhāvanā literally means "development" or "cultivating" or "producing" in the sense of "calling into existence". It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana or metta-bhavana. When used on its own, bhavana signifies contemplation and 'spiritual cultivation' generally.
Sukha means happiness, pleasure, ease, joy or bliss, in Sanskrit and Pali. Among the early scriptures, 'sukha' is set up as a contrast to 'preya' (प्रेय) meaning a transient pleasure, whereas the pleasure of 'sukha' has an authentic state happiness within a being that is lasting. In the Pāli Canon, the term is used in the context of describing laic pursuits, meditative absorptions, and intra-psychic phenomena.
The Majjhima Nikāya is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Composed between 3rd century BCE and 2nd century CE. This nikaya consists of 152 discourses attributed to the Buddha and his chief disciples.
Āyatana is a Buddhist term that has been translated as "sense base", "sense-media" or "sense sphere". In Buddhism, there are six internal sense bases and six external sense bases.
Vijñāna (Sanskrit) or viññāṇa (Pāli) is translated as "consciousness," "life force," "mind," or "discernment."
Vedanā is an ancient term traditionally translated as either "feeling" or "sensation." In general, vedanā refers to the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations that occur when our internal sense organs come into contact with external sense objects and the associated consciousness. Vedanā is identified as valence or "hedonic tone" in psychology.
The Anguttara Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the fourth of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that comprise the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. This nikaya consists of several thousand discourses ascribed to the Buddha and his chief disciples arranged in eleven "books", according to the number of dhamma items referenced in them.
Upādāna is a Vedic Sanskrit and Pali word that means "fuel, material cause, substrate that is the source and means for keeping an active process energized". It is also an important Buddhist concept referring to "attachment, clinging, grasping". It is considered to be the result of taṇhā (craving), and is part of the dukkha doctrine in Buddhism.
The Ānāpānasati Sutta (Pāli) or Ānāpānasmṛti Sūtra (Sanskrit), "Breath-Mindfulness Discourse," Majjhima Nikaya 118, is a discourse that details the Buddha's instruction on using awareness of the breath (anapana) as an initial focus for meditation.
Paṭikkūlamanasikāra is a Pāli term that is generally translated as "reflections on repulsiveness". It refers to a traditional Buddhist meditation whereby thirty-one parts of the body are contemplated in a variety of ways. In addition to developing sati (mindfulness) and samādhi (concentration), this form of meditation is considered conducive to overcoming desire and lust. Along with cemetery contemplations, this type of meditation is one of the two meditations on "the foul"/unattractiveness.
Indriya is the Sanskrit and Pali term for physical strength or ability in general, and for the senses more specifically. In Buddhism, the term refers to multiple intrapsychic processes and is generally translated as "faculty" or, in specific contexts, as "spiritual faculty" or "controlling principle." The term literally means "belonging to Indra," chief deity in the Rig Veda and lord of the Trāyastriṃśa heaven hence connoting supremacy, dominance and control, attested in the general meaning of "power, strength" from the Rig Veda.
The Buddha identified the threefold training as training in:
In English translations of Buddhist texts, householder denotes a variety of terms. Most broadly, it refers to any layperson, and most narrowly, to a wealthy and prestigious familial patriarch. In contemporary Buddhist communities, householder is often used synonymously with laity, or non-monastics.
The Dighajanu Sutta, also known as the Byagghapajja Sutta or Vyagghapajja Sutta, is part of the Anguttara Nikaya. For Theravadin scholars, this discourse of the Pāli Canon is one of several considered key to understanding Buddhist lay ethics. In this discourse, the Buddha instructs a householder named Dīghajāṇu Vyagghapajja, a Koliyan householder, on eight personality traits or conditions that lead to happiness and well-being in this and future lives.
In Buddhism, a mental fetter, chain or bond shackles a sentient being to saṃsāra, the cycle of lives with dukkha. By cutting through all fetters, one attains nibbāna.
In Buddhism, bodhipakkhiyā dhammā are qualities (dhammā) conducive or related to (pakkhiya) awakening (bodhi).
The Four Right Exertions are an integral part of the Buddhist path to Enlightenment. Built on the insightful recognition of the arising and non-arising of various mental qualities over time and of our ability to mindfully intervene in these ephemeral qualities, the Four Right Exertions encourage the relinquishment of harmful mental qualities and the nurturing of beneficial mental qualities.
Passaddhi is a Pali noun that has been translated as "calmness," "tranquillity," "repose" and "serenity." The associated verb is passambhati.
The Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta is a Pali Canon discourse that provides an elaboration on the Buddhist notion of "right view" by the Buddha's chief disciple, Ven. Sariputta. The Chinese canon contains two corresponding translations, the Maha Kotthita Sutra (大拘絺羅經) and the Kotthita Sutra (拘絺羅經).