The Five Remembrances of Buddhism have been a powerful practice for me for a very long time. I’ve blogged about my experiences with them, both in personal practice and in group practice as well as with the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center. Reciting the Five Remembrances is a traditional practice across Buddhist traditions that speaks powerfully to impermanence, the inevitability of death, and how the only certainty we carry with us is the results of our actions of body, speech, and mind, which give them paramount importance in our lives:
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.
I find these last lines extremely empowering and a powerful motivation to make choices based on wisdom and compassion, instead of fear, anger, or greed. This year, when negative emotions have swirled powerfully and constantly around and through me, I felt that I needed a visual reminder of the Five Remembrances to hang on my bedroom wall, where I could see it each morning and evening. I wanted a physical touchstone that combined color and design with the powerful words.
I chose a seasonal assortment of fabrics to represent that these truths ring true throughout all time. There is blue for the winter, pink for spring, yellow for summer, and orange for autumn, with corresponding creatures to represent each time period (blue jay, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, respectively). There are also four skeletal humans from a Day of the Dead fabric to represent that the Five Remembrances apply to all people at every stage of life, no matter their occupation or any other personal characteristic.
I represented the relative ‘length’ of the seasons as I typically experience them here in Maryland by varying the amount of each primary colors in the outer border to correspond with: short winter, interrupted spring, long summer, and long autumn.
This is very much a quilt for today . . . and this year . . . and every day and every year. Thinking of you, and me, and all of us.
Powerful words and imagery for a difficult time; and these words are true at all times.
I love the way you used fabrics to create a visual representation of the Rememberances. Once hung, I hope that having the quilt in your room will bring you peace.