In the Upajjhatthana Sutra, the Buddha taught there there are five facts that one should reflect on frequently:
- I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.
- I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.
- I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.
- I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.
- 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.
I am subject to aging and I am subject to illness; while I should strive to remain healthy, I will eventually get old and sick. There is no escaping these two facts, and contemplating them teaches me that I am changing, it is pointless to grasp for the past or for health because I have changed, and will continue to change. This illness I have now is impermanent and will end, just as the health that follows is impermanent and will end.
I am subject to death; this teaches me that I don't have forever. What is important to me? I better do that now because, who knows, I could die one minute from now!
I will grow different; just as I change, and will grow differently from others, others change and will grow differently from me. It's unavoidable. That also, of course, means that I can grow closer to others, as well as apart from them.
I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions; everything I think, everything I do, everything I say, will have an effect. Every effect that is a product of my thoughts, speech, and actions, will become a cause for future thoughts, speech, and actions, which will produce another effect, and so on.
1-Minute Contemplation: Contemplate these 5 factors for just 1 minute. That's 12 seconds each.
Homework: Next time you're standing in line, just waiting patiently, contemplate 1 or more of these factors, as many as you have time for. Even 1 second of focused contemplation will benefit your mind.