“The Five Remembrances” Foreword by Ku San The “Five Remembrances” are part of the liturgy of Sotoshu Zen. It is recited during the daily liturgy on sesshin and zazenkai and at our ordinary brief sitting days at Soto Zen temples. The English translation is very direct yet provides an understanding of the true nature of our life. It is usually recited three times giving the sangha members time to fully appreciate the meaning of the words. The “Five Remembrances” help us face our own death and the death of others we love and cherish. Reciting the verse daily helps us find peace within our practice of Zen and our own knowledge of our own death and those of others we love. When we see beautiful flowers after they are freshly picked and displayed upon the altar or in our home or when we see them growing in the garden, we usually feel joy because of the beauty of their colour and fragrance. When we take them outside and dispose of them, we see that the flowers are dying and have lost their glow and fragrance. Then we realize at some place deep within us, the fear of losing our own vitality and losing our beloved. Yet as we read on, the verse continues to help us understand our lives. The last section of the “Five Remembrances” highlights how our deeds are our closest companions and we are the beneficiary of our deeds. In our short life we find love and warmth and companionship with our family, friends and our contact with all the people we see and pass, going and coming from work and coming and going when shopping. In our day to day practice of Zen meditation we begin to open to our own suffering and to the suffering of all sentient beings of the universe. We begin to see our own face in the people around us. We see our deep connection with all in the great universe and we see our great compassion for all beings and our own self. It is as if we are forgetting our-self and opening to the ten thousand dharmas of our daily life. We open and come forth with gift bestowing hands of loving kindness and compassion. These deeds of compassion become the ground on which we all stand. If you find the verse below interesting and you feel it may help your meditation practice, I recommend that you read “The Five Remembrances” at least once a day but three times if you have time during meditation practice. You might take a second of your valuable time, no longer to wonder about how extraordinary things can be in this moment. “The Five Remembrances”�“ I am of the nature to grow old; there is no way to escape growing old. I am of the nature to have ill health; there is no way to escape having ill health. I am of the nature to die; there is no way to escape death. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature of change; there is no way to escape being separated from them. My deeds are my closest companions. I am the beneficiary of my deeds. My deeds are the ground on which I stand.” Ku San