In his book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh lists the Five Remembrances which the Buddha recommends reciting everyday:
1) I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
2) I am of the nature to have ill-health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.
3) I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
4) All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5) My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.
Facing the reality of mortality is not easy. We all want to be young, healthy, and alive forever. We want to believe people who assure us that, if we are good enough, God will bless us with life, health and vitality for ourselves and our loved ones.
When I was a younger and more devout Mormon, I interpreted the Last Days rhetoric of the Church and D&C 43:32 and 63:51 to conclude that the Second Coming would be in my lifetime. I would be changed from mortality to immortality in the twinkling of an eye. What a comfort to believe I would not have to undergo impaired old age and painful death. I was not alone in this belief.
I no longer cling to this idea. Experience has taught me that God seldom intervenes when even very good people who receive priesthood blessings and ward fasts and prayers become ill and die.
George and I have been married for many years, and we’ve both changed a great deal. Our children have grown and changed their religious views. I could make myself miserable if I believed my eternal reward was based on all of us maintaining the faith of our childhood.
A measure of Buddhist philosophy might help aging Mormons and those with loved ones who no longer accept the family faith to cope with reality.