AN 5.57

Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi (copyright Wisdom Publications, Somerville, MA, USA)

“Bhikkhus, there are these five themes that should often be reflected upon by a woman or a man, by a householder or one gone forth. What five?
(1) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to old age; I am not exempt from old age.’
(2) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to illness; I am not exempt from illness.’
(3) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to death; I am not exempt from death.’
(4) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable to me.’
(5) A woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do.’

(1) “For the sake of what benefit, bhikkhus, should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to old age; I am not exempt from old age’? In their youth beings are intoxicated with their youth, and when they are intoxicated with their youth they engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, the intoxication with youth is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to old age; I am not exempt from old age.’
(2) “And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to illness; I am not exempt from illness’? In a state of health beings are intoxicated with their health, and when they are intoxicated with their health they engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, the intoxication with health is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to illness; I am not exempt from illness.’
(3) “And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to death; I am not exempt from death’? During their lives beings are intoxicated with life, and when they are intoxicated with life they engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, the intoxication with life is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am subject to death; I am not exempt from death.’
(4) “And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable to me’? Beings have desire and lust in regard to those people and things that are dear and agreeable, and excited by this lust, they engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, the desire and lust in regard to everyone and everything dear and agreeable is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable to me.’
(5) “And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do’? People engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, such misconduct is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do.’

(1) “This noble disciple, bhikkhus, reflects thus: ‘I am not the only one who is subject to old age, not exempt from old age. All beings that come and go, that pass away and undergo rebirth, are subject to old age; none are exempt from old age.’ As he often reflects on this theme, the path is generated. He pursues this path, develops it, and cultivates it. As he does so, the fetters are entirely abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.
(2) “This noble disciple reflects thus: ‘I am not the only one who is subject to illness, not exempt from illness. All beings that come and go, that pass away and undergo rebirth, are subject to illness; none are exempt from illness.’ As he often reflects on this theme, the path is generated. He pursues this path, develops it, and cultivates it. As he does so, the fetters are entirely abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.
(3) “This noble disciple reflects thus: ‘I am not the only one who is subject to death, not exempt from death. All beings that come and go, that pass away and undergo rebirth, are subject to death; none are exempt from death.’ As he often reflects on this theme, the path is generated. He pursues this path, develops it, and cultivates it. As he does so, the fetters are entirely abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.
(4) “This noble disciple reflects thus: ‘I am not the only one who must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable. All beings that come and go, that pass away and undergo rebirth, must be parted and separated from everyone and everything dear and agreeable.’ As he often reflects on this theme, the path is generated. He pursues this path, develops it, and cultivates it. As he does so, the fetters are entirely abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.
(5) “This noble disciple reflects thus: ‘I am not the only one who is the owner of one’s kamma, the heir of one’s kamma; who has kamma as one’s origin, kamma as one’s relative, kamma as one’s resort; who will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that one does. All beings that come and go, that pass away and undergo rebirth, are owners of their kamma, heirs of their kamma; all have kamma as their origin, kamma as their relative, kamma as their resort; all will be heirs of whatever kamma, good or bad, that they do.’ As he often reflects on this theme, the path is generated. He pursues this path, develops it, and cultivates it. As he is does so, the fetters are entirely abandoned and the underlying tendencies are uprooted.

“Worldlings subject to illness,
old age and death, are disgusted
[by other people] who exist
in accordance with their nature.

“If I were to become disgusted
with beings who have such a nature,
that would not be proper for me
since I too have the same nature.

“While I was dwelling thus,
having known the state without acquisitions,
I overcame all intoxications—
intoxication with health,
with youth, and with life—
having seen security in renunciation.

“Zeal then arose in me
as I clearly saw nibbāna.
Now I am incapable
of indulging in sensual pleasures.
Relying on the spiritual life,
never will I turn back.”

5 responses to “AN 5.57

  1. After reviewing this passage many times and practicing its contemplation and other meditations and virtues in the 8-fold path, I’ve come to realize that we’re not turning our backs on youth, life, and health; rather, we’re to begin a more wholesome application of what youth, life, and health we have in our daily lives.

    Man, it’s that simple. 🙂

  2. Is this sutta translation published in a particular book?

  3. Carol Cook

    Is it possible to know your name?

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