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Tipitaka >> Sutta Pitaka >> Anguttara Nikaya >> Five Contemplations for Everyone

AN 5:57 Five Contemplations for Everyone

Translated from the Pali by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi


There are five facts, O monks, which ought to be often contemplated upon by everyone—whether man or woman, householder or one gone forth as a monk. What five?

“I am sure to become old; I cannot avoid ageing.”

“I am sure to become ill; I cannot avoid illness.”

“I am sure to die; I cannot avoid death.”

“I must be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me.”

“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.”

Now for what good reason should a man or woman, a householder or monk, often contemplate the fact that they are sure to become old and cannot avoid ageing? Beings while young take pride in youth; and infatuated by that pride in youth they lead an evil life in deeds, words, and thoughts. But in one who often contemplates the certainty of old age, the pride of youth will either vanish entirely or will be weakened. For that good reason the fact of ageing should often be contemplated.

For what good reason should a man or woman, a householder or monk, often contemplate the fact that they are sure to become ill and cannot avoid illness? Beings while healthy take pride in their health; and infatuated by that pride in health they lead an evil life in deeds, words, and thoughts. But in one who often contemplates the certainty of illness, the pride in health will either vanish entirely or will be weakened. For that good reason the fact of illness should often be contemplated.

For what good reason should a man or woman, a householder or monk, often contemplate the fact that they are sure to die and cannot avoid death? Beings while alive take pride in life; and infatuated by that pride in life they lead an evil life in deeds, words, and thoughts. But in one who often contemplates the certainty of death, the pride in life will either vanish entirely or will be weakened. For that good reason the fact of death should often be contemplated.

For what good reason should a man or woman, a householder or monk, often contemplate the fact that they must be separated and parted from all that dear and beloved to them? Beings have lustful desire for what is dear and beloved; and inflamed by lust, they lead an evil life in deeds, words, and thoughts. But in one who often contemplates separation from things dear and beloved, lustful desire for what is dear and beloved will either vanish entirely or will be weakened. For that good reason separation from what is beloved should often be contemplated.

For what good reason should a man or woman, a householder or monk, often contemplate the fact that they are owners of their actions, and that whatever actions they do, good or bad, of these they will become the heirs? There are beings who lead an evil life in deeds, words, and thoughts. But in one who often contemplates one’s responsibility for one’s actions, such evil conduct will either vanish entirely or will be weakened. For that good reason the fact of responsibility for one’s actions should often be contemplated.

Now, O monks, the noble disciple contemplates thus: “I am not the only one who is sure to become old, to fall ill, and to die. But wherever beings come and go, pass away and re-arise, they all are subject to old age, illness and death.” In one who often contemplates these facts, the path arises. He now regularly pursues, develops and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

Further, the noble disciple contemplates thus: “I am not the only one who must be separated and parted from what is dear and beloved; I am not the only one who is the owner and heir of his actions. But wherever beings come and go, pass away and re-arise, all must be separated and parted from what is dear and beloved; and all are owners and heirs of their actions.” In one who often contemplates these facts, the path arises. He now regularly pursues, develops and cultivates that path, and while he is doing so the fetters are abandoned and the underlying tendencies eliminated.

Worldlings are disgusted by other beings Who share in our common nature, By those afflicted with ageing and illness, By those on the verge of death. When I live for a higher aim, it is unfitting For me to loathe such pitiful beings. While dwelling thus, I will defeat The pride in health, youth and life, Having known the state free from props, Seeing security in renunciation. As I gazed towards Nibbana, zeal arose in me: “Now I can never pursue sensual pleasures! Never again shall I turn back, The holy life is now my highest goal.”

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