Long ago, the Buddha was at the the Jetavana Grove in Sravasti teaching the Dharma. One day, King Prasenajit sat in a quiet place and contemplated: “In this world there are three things that are to be abhorred, not to be adored, and not to be yearned for. What is to be abhorred? Aging. What is not to be adored? Sickness. What is not to be yearned for? Death.”
After reflecting thus, King Prasenajit went to see the Buddha. After he prostrated to the Buddha, he sat on the side and asked, “The World Honored One, I was contemplating in a quiet place. In this world there are three things: The first one is to be abhorred; the second one is not to be adored; the third one is not to be yearned for. What is to be abhorred is aging. What is to not to be adored is sickness. And what is not to be yearned for is death. I beseech the Buddha to elucidate this for your disciple.”
The Buddha said, “Your understanding is uncommonly good. Just as you said, aging is to be abhorred; sickeness is not to be adored; and death is not to be yearned for. If there were no aging, sickness or death in this world, the Tathagata would not have appeared in this world to teach the Dharma. But since there are aging, sickness and death in this world, Buddha has appeared in the world to preach to all sentient beings what the Tathagata has attained and the ways to overcome these three things.”
The Buddha continued, “Your Majesty’s carriage is decorated in such a splendid way, but after much use, the colors will peel off and fade away; much like our bodies will undergo decay. But your Majesty, only the Dharma does not suffer decay with time. Even a healthy and vigorous body will deteriorate with age. Even if you live to a healthy hundred, you are still doomed to die. Sickness can strike at any time, depriving one of one’s strength. Old age means we are moving towards death. Therefore we should always practice meditation, moderate our desires and cultivate our minds diligently. We should know that where there is birth, there is death. We should aim to conquer the evil of aging, sickness and death, transcend this shore of birth and death, and reach the other shore of cool liberation.” When the Buddha had spoken the Dharma, all the bhiksus vow to joyfully follow the teaching.
Life is short. In one moment it passes, and it’s gone. Our attachment to this impermanent body, leads to greed, anger and ignorance. We carry out many evil deeds and suffer the pain of rebirth. Trapped in the cycle of delusion, karma and suffering, we can never be free from the six paths of rebirth. Only Buddha and enlightenment is our true refuge. Therefore, we should always contemplate on the oppressive force of impermanence, and diligently practice the Dharma. We should not waste this short life on love and hate, or the pursuit of power and victory. We should use this limited life to attain the infinite life of the Buddha.