The Upajjhatthana Sutta ("Subjects for Contemplation") is a
Buddhistdiscourse ( 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 Enlightenment. According to a related canonical discourse, the first three remembrances are the very insights that led
Gautama Buddhato renounce his royal household status and become an ascetic.
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. IAST|"Jarā dhammomhijaraṃ anati...." 2. I am sure to become ill; I cannot avoid illness. I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness. IAST|"Vyādhidhammomhi vyādhiṃ anati...." 3. I am sure to die; I cannot avoid death. I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death. IAST|"Maraṇadhammomhi maraṇaṃ anati...." 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. IAST|"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 their heir. [Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), p. 135. Omitted from these sentences is a translation of the recurring phrase (translated elsewhere by Nyanaponika & Bodhi): "... to be often contemplated upon by everyone — whether man or woman, householder or one gone forth as a monk."] 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. [AN 5.57 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html (based on Thanissaro, 1997b).] Deleted from these sentences are ellipses (...) meant to signify the recurring phrase: "... one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained"] IAST|"Kamma ssakomhikammadāyādo kammayoni kammabandhū kammapaṭisaraṇo yaṃ kammaṃ karissāmi kalyāṇaṃ vā pāpakaṃ vā tassa dāyādo bhavissāmī...." [La Trobe University (n.d.), Sutta Pitaka, Anguttara Nikaya, Book 3, BJT pages [http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/dcd/tipitika.php?title=&record=6104 108] and [http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/dcd/tipitika.php?title=&record=6105 114] , retrieved 29 Aug 2007. Elided from each of the Pali sentences is the phrase "abhiṇhaṃ paccavekkhitabbaṃ itthiyā vā purisena vā gahaṭṭhena vā pabbajitena vā" which Thanissaro (1997b) translates as "one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained."]
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." [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html Thanissaro (1997b).] ]
Methods of contemplation
The discourse itself identifies two specific ways for contemplating these remembrances:
* Reflecting on them as stated, which should diminish or cause one to abandon their attachment to youth, health, life and dear things, and should diminish or cause one to abandon improper ("duccarita") acts, speech and thoughts.
* Reflecting on them as follows: "I am not the only one subject to aging, ...illness, ...death, ... who will grow different, ...who is the owner of my actions...." This leads to the development of path factors which lead to Arahantship. [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html Thanissaro (1997b).] ]
Related canonical discourses
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").
"Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta" (SN 56.11)
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...." [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.piya.html Piyadassi (1999).] ] This formula is reiterated throughout the Pali Canon.
"Sukumāla Sutta" (AN 3.38)
The first three remembrances are antidotes to the "threefold pride" of youthfulness ("yobbana-mada"), health ("ārogya-mada") and life ("jīvita-mada"). [Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), p. 283 "n". 20.] 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. [Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), p. 297 "n". 19.] The "Sukumāla Sutta" (AN 3.38) illustrates the bodhisatta's early insights. [Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), pp. 53-54; and, [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html Thanissaro (1997a).] ] 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. [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html Thanissaro (1997a),] square-bracketed term is part of Thanissaro's text.]
"Devadūta Sutta" (MN 130 & AN 3.35)
In the "Devadūta Sutta" (MN 130), King
Yama, the righteous god of death, [IAST|Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), p. 1341 "n". 1206.] 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:
# a newly born, defenseless infant
# a bent over, broken-toothed old person (aging)
# a suffering ill person (illness)
# a punished criminal
# a dead person (death)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.' [IAST|Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), pp. 1029-1036.]
In the similarly named sutta AN 3.35, Yama's interrogation is reduced to addressing the three universal conditions of aging, illness and death. [Bodhi (2005), pp. 29-30.]
"Dasadhamma Sutta" (AN 10.48)
In the "Dasadhamma Sutta" (AN 10.48), the Buddha identifies "ten things" ("dasa dhamma") that renunciates ("pabbajita") should reflect on often:
# "I have become casteless"
# "My life is dependent on others"
# "My behavior should be different [from that of householders] "
# "Can I fault myself with regard to my virtue?"
# "Can my knowledgeable fellows in the holy life, on close examination, fault me with regard to my virtue?"
# "I will grow different, separate from all that is dear & appealing to me"
# "I am the owner of my actions ("kamma"), 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"
# "What am I becoming as the days & nights fly past?"
# "Do I delight in an empty dwelling?"
# "Have I attained a superior human attainment, a truly noble distinction of knowledge & vision, such that — when my fellows in the holy life question me in the last days of my life — I won't feel abashed?" [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.048.than.html Thanissaro (1994),] square-bracketed and parenthesized terms are part of Thanissaro's text.]
As can be readily seen, this list retains the fourth and fifth remembrances of the "Upajjhatthana Sutta" as its sixth and seventh contemplations.
"Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta" (MN 135)
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." [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.135.nymo.html IAST|Ñanamoli (1994).] ]
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...." [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.135.nymo.html IAST|Ñanamoli (1994).] ]
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. [ [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html Thanissaro (1997b).] ] IAST|"Pañcimāni bhikkhave ṭhānāni abhiṇhaṃ paccavekkhitabbāni itthiyā vā purisena vā gahaṭṭhena vā pabbajitena vā." [ [http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara3/5-pancakanipata/006-nivaranavaggo-p.html SLTP (n.d.), sutta 5. 2. 1. 7.] ]
Thus, based on the discourse's third Pali word, the Pali-language SLTP (n.d.) text simply refers to this discourse as the "IAST|Ṭhānasuttaṃ". [ [http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara3/5-pancakanipata/006-nivaranavaggo-p.html SLTP (n.d.), sutta 5. 2. 1. 7.] ] In general, "IAST|ṭhāna" (pl. "IAST|ṭhānāni") can be translated as "abode" or "state" or "condition." [See, e.g., Rhys Davids & Stede, 1921-25, p. 289, [http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.1:1:1881.pali entry for "Ṭhāna," retrieved 29 Aug 2007.] ] In the above translation, Thanissaro (1997b) translates "IAST|ṭhāna" as "fact."
In addition, based on the discourse's fourth and fifth Pali words, Upalavanna (n.d.) provides the following title in Pali and English: "Abhiṇhapaccavekkhitabbānasuttaṃ — Should be constantly reflected upon." [ [http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara3/5-pancakanipata/006-nivaranavaggo-e.html Upalavanna (n.d.), sutta 7.] ]
Furthermore, Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999) provide this discourse with the English-language title, "Five Contemplations for Everyone." [Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), pp. 135-37.]
Dukkha- canonical definition includes aging, illness and death.
Karma in Buddhism
Noble Eightfold Path
* Recollection (Buddhism)
* Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2005). "In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon". Boston: Wisdom Pubs. ISBN 0-86171-491-1.
* La Trobe University (n.d.). Pali Canon Online Database. Available at http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/dcd/pali.htm.
* Thera (trans.) (1994). "Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Shorter Exposition of Kamma" (MN 135). Retrieved 31 Aug 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.135.nymo.html.
*, Bhikkhu (trans.) & Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed.) (2001). "The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya". Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 086171072X.
Nyanaponika Thera& Bhikkhu Bodhi (1999). "Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya". Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press. ISBN 0-7425-0405-0.
Piyadassi Thera(trans.) (1999). "Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth" (SN 56.11). Retrieved 30 Aug 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.piya.html.
* Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). "The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary". Chipstead:
Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
* Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project (SLTP) (n.d.). IAST|"Nīvaraṇavaggo" (AN 5.6). Retrieved 29 Aug 2007 from "MettaNet - Lanka" at http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara3/5-pancakanipata/006-nivaranavaggo-p.html.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu(trans.) (1994). "Dasadhamma Sutta: Ten Things" (AN 10.48). Retrieved 31 Aug 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.048.than.html.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997a). "Sukhamala Sutta: Refinement" (AN 3.38). Retrieved 29 Aug 2007 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997b). "Upajjhatthana Sutta: Subjects for Contemplation" (AN 5.57). Retrieved 3 Oct 2006 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html.
* Upalavanna, Sister (trans.) (n.d.). "Nīvaranavaggo" (AN 5:6). Retrieved 29 Aug 2007 from "MettaNet - Lanka" at http://www.mettanet.org/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara3/5-pancakanipata/006-nivaranavaggo-e.html.
* [http://dharmastudy.org/article/12/three-more-versions-of-the-five-remembrances Alternate translations of the Upajjhatthana Sutta] , including by
Thich Nhat Hanhand by Nyanaponika Thera& Bhikkhu Bodhi
* [http://www.yogajournal.com/meditation/1748.cfm Suggestions for daily meditation]
* [http://www.suttareadings.net/audio/index.html#an05.057 Upajjhatthana Sutta read aloud]
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