Reflections on Impermanence and Mortality. Part III – Benefits of practicing The Five Remembrances

This is the third blog in a series of blog posts that are my varied reflections on impermanence and mortality.

Disclaimer: This blog series attempts to elaborate on many aspects of human mortality as elaborated in Buddhist teachings. The goals of these teachings are to cultivate an appreciation for the present moment as well as to cultivate kindness and compassion for all living beings as we all possess the same nature.

The Five Remembrances are a set of teachings in Buddhism that are meant to help practitioners reflect on the impermanence of life and cultivate an appreciation for the present moment. These short, simple but extremely profound teachings are often recited during meditation or contemplation practice. In this blog post, I want to elaborate on the benefits of practicing the 5 Remembrances.

Cultivate Loving Kindness and Compassion: The Five Remembrances foster a sense of loving kindness and compassion for ourselves as well as for all living beings as we all possess the same nature.

Cultivate Gratitude: The Five Remembrances foster a sense of gratitude for the present moment and for our good fortune. When we reflect on the fact that we are alive and have the capacity to make choices, we can develop a greater appreciation for the here and now.

Cultivate Emotional Resilience: Regular contemplation of impermanence can contribute to emotional resilience by allowing us to be more adaptable and less shaken by life’s ups and downs. When we understand that change is an inherent part of life, we can navigate challenges with greater equanimity.

Motivation for Positive Action: These teachings, especially the fifth remembrance pointing to our actions as our only true belonging, serve as a source of motivation for positive and wholesome actions. Recognizing the uncertainty of life can inspire us to live more purposefully, to be kinder to others and engage in the right activities.

Mindfulness: Contemplating the Five Remembrances encourages mindfulness, as it prompts us to pay attention to the present moment and our thoughts and feelings about impermanence. This contemplation also makes it easy for us to deal with various hindrances and obstacles as they arise in our minds thereby leading to an enhanced ability to stay present and make conscious choices in our daily lives.

Acceptance of Death: One of the central themes of the Five Remembrances is the inevitability of death. By confronting this reality, we develop a healthier relationship with death. We reduce fear and anxiety towards it. We are also prompted to simplify our relationships with others by taking a range of actions like forgiveness, letting go of attachments, etc. This can lead to a more peaceful and accepting attitude towards the end of life.

Overall, the practice of the Five Remembrances is a way to develop a more balanced and insightful perspective on life. It encourages a shift away from attachment and aversion and promotes peace, joy, compassion and mindfulness in daily living. This simple but profound practice can be truly transformational.

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