This Sutta details five subjects for frequent contemplation: The inevitability of aging, illness, death, separation from what is appealing to me, and the fact that I am the owner, heir and product of my actions. The reason it is important to meditate on the inevitability of these things is because of how prone we are to become intoxicated with health, youth and life, despite how fleeting they are, and the misery to which we will become subject if when our health fails and our youth fades. Our looks and faculties are always susceptible to unanticipated damage and deterioration and as the owner and product of our actions, we must exercise our will to be mindful of the inevitability of these things, and of the consequent necessity to not be attached to them or cling to them. Indeed, everything that is dear to us, beyond health and youth, is perishable and it is for this reason that we must train ourselves to be liberated from attachment to them by understanding the conditions that generate the delusion that we require them for happiness.
The conditions that generate the delusion that we require them for happiness (namely, the deluded belief in a self and failure to be mindful of the temporariness of all pleasure and pain, and of the objects of our pleasure and pain), ironically, necessarily results in misery because we continually fear their potential loss and, if this fear comes to pass, grieve their actual loss. We suffer what may come to pass, and thereby already suffer from that very fear, and then our suffering is compounded by grief if the feared event does indeed come to pass. As we reflect on these realities, attachment to these things and the misery-producing dependence upon them for happiness weakens, and true happiness begins to arise.
Failure to understand the conditions that perpetuate suffering in this world lead us to perpetuate and compound our misery in pursuit of happiness, but the Buddhist who is properly instructed in the Dhamma can use “samveda” to achieve “pasada.” Samvega is horror and grief at the realization that we have been living in a way that is conducive to the very misery we are trying to avoid and counterproductive in the pursuit of the very happiness we are trying to acquire, and “pasada” is the sense of contentment and well-being we experience once we mend our ways and begin to use the teachings of the Dhamma to free ourselves from bondage to the attachment to mental and physical contact that perpetuates our suffering.