(Please note that in this series, I don’t plan to quote the entirety of the Sutra, since its translation is copyright)
“The first method is to realize that as soon as people are born they begin to grow old and that eventually they die. The world is like an inn where you stay temporarily. None of the beds or furniture are really yours. We will all be gone soon, for no one can stay long in an inn.” (Sutra on the Ten Methods for Meditating on the World, RM 49)
In the beginning of this sutra we are immediately presented with the fact that nothing in the physical world is permanent – all people and material objects have an expiration date. From birth through old age, we are in the process of dying. From day one, a human begins to slowly deteriorate. This is a very difficult subject for many people to think about. However, some within the East, and in some monastic traditions, contemplation on ones immortality is common place.
As macabre as it may seem to some, there are some monks and nuns who use imagery of skulls and skeletons, and sometimes the real objects themselves, to remind them that while on earth, they are subject to sickness, death and decay. With this in mind, it is easier to develop gratitude and appreciation for the gift of life, as short as it may be, and to give all honor and glory to the Lord of Heaven, knowing that what we have in the afterlife is eternal.
This verse reminds us that the body and material objects are nothing.
May the Lord of Heaven bless you,