Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part V, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw

(75) It is pitiable for being also carried away to old age, sickness and death

          “Upaniyati loko adahuyoti passantanam buddhanam
          bhagavantanam sattesu mahakaruna okkamati.”

Loko – All beings, upaniyati – are being conveyed to inevitable old age, sickness and death. Adahuyo – 0, it is impermanent! Iti passantanam – Seeing as such, nay, endowed with this realisation or perception, buddhanam bhagavantanam – Holy Buddha, sattesu – towards all living beings, mahakaruna – great compassion with sympathy, okkamati – arises in their hearts. In other words, a great compassion for mortals arises in the Lord Buddha.

In every existence, all living beings are carried away to reach old age from the time of their birth, and from old age to sickness and then, from sickness to death. Buddha, perceiving with his insight-knowledge the nature of “impermanence”, has great compassion on all beings. Of course, insofar as beings are concerned, if they reflect, they will have an inkling of the impermanent nature of their own khandhas. However, they may still think that they will have to live long, apparently assuming that no deterioration is taking place in their youthful appearance and in their health. While imagining as such, unexpectedly, sickness may prevail on them under unfavourable circumstances. Some died at an early age while still young. If death does not occur early, they gradually grow older and older day’ by day, month by month, and year by year. Yet, inadvertently at first sight, they do not think of themselves as getting old with the passage of time. Only when their hair turned grey and their teeth decayed, etc., they would come to realise that they have become old and decrepit. Who are those carrying them away to inevitable old age, sickness and death? It is the rupanama-khandhas in one’s own material body who are conveying them, as stated already. From the time of conception, new rupas and namas are incessantly forming or arising and dissolving and then appearing afresh to be again dissolved undergoing a gradual process of continual change. A person slowly and perhaps unnoticeably grows older in every split second and a fraction of a minute, etc., until when becoming advanced in age, say about forty, the bodily appearance becomes obviously changed showing signs of deterioration or decay with the appearance of grey hairs, wrinkles, etc. Withering with age, one can easily be afflicted with a disease at one time or other, and after serious derangement of his health, he reaches his deathbed and ultimately passes away. It, therefore, becomes evident that hour by hour, as time goes on, one is carried closer to old age, sickness and death.