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The trouble is, you think you have time.

the trouble is you think you have time Buddha Imgur

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Not actually said by Buddha:

It was probably the (fictional?) Yaqui shaman from Carlos Castaneda’s books. And indeed, I found the following in Journey to Ixtlan, Castaneda’s third book:

There is one simple thing wrong with you – you think you have plenty of time … If you don’t think your life is going to last forever, what are you waiting for ? Why the hesitation to change? You don’t have time for this display, you fool. This, whatever you’re doing now, may be your last act on earth. It may very well be your last battle. There is no power which could guarantee that you are going to live one more minute.

So this another version of the “timeless” reminder that time is brief and that we should make good use of it.

Shorn of this context, though, as it is in Buddha’s Little Instruction Book, I’ve often found this quote to be a little counter-productive. I knew what the quote was intending to say, but what is it we don’t have time for? The quote doesn’t say. I certainly hope I have time to get enlightened. Of course I don’t know how much time is available to me, but if I’m being told that I don’t, in fact, have time, then what’s the point? The quote’s intention is to point out that we don’t have time to waste, but not having time to waste is not the same thing as not having time. We do have time, or at least we have some time, and the question is how we’re going to use it.

Shorn of its context, I think that this particular quote may be an example of what Daniel Dennett has called a “deepity.” Here’s an adaptation of Wikipedia’s account of that term:

Deepity is a term employed by Dennett in his 2009 speech to the American Atheists Institution conference, coined by the teenage daughter of one of his friends. The term refers to a statement that is apparently profound but actually asserts a triviality on one level and something meaningless on another. Generally, a deepity has (at least) two meanings; one that is true but trivial, and another that sounds profound, but is essentially false or meaningless and would be “earth-shattering” if true.

Well, Adam...I think you know my response. (Do you still remember?)

Yes. You believe life is long.

And although in general that is true (average life expectancy keeps going up), in any particular case, life could end at any time, and therefore there is incentive to get busy living.

Haha, "Deepity do dah, Deepity ay, my oh my what a wonderful day!"

Fun word, it's kinda like "Truthiness"

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen Teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.

Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

Not twice this day

Inch time foot gem.

This day will not come again.

Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

Both of you: Well said.

Adam, I found your statement, "I certainly hope I have time to get enlightened. " provocative on its own.  In your view, what is hope?  What is enlightenment?

Thank you!

Hope is a belief that things will turn out the way we want. 

Enlightenment is a place of inner peace that accompanies us wherever we may go., if hope is the yin, is faith (or belief) the yang?

To pick up from our other thread, are you saying that if there is an ignorance/enlightenment continuum that we respond to stimulus along, an enlightened person's response brings inner peace?  What does about an unenlightened person? 

In your view, is peace the only aspect there is to enlightenment?

Also, how do you believe "time" factors into this equation?

I believe in the power of optimism and striving for positive outcomes while avoiding negative target attraction.  Whenever I personally use the word 'hope', that's what I mean, not metaphysical wishing or request.  Dwelling on past or future bad outcomes is the root of all evil.

I think of enlightenment as more than "a place of inner peace".  Since the literal meaning is "to add light", it fundamentally consists of sophisticated knowledge, experience, and understanding.  Someone very ignorant can be in a place of inner peace if they aren't craving understanding and they happen not to be gripped in various common ignorance failure modes, but they are not enlightened.  I would define enlightenment as having as full as possible understanding of the world, themselves, and opportunities and possibilities; having made a good effort to become self-actualized, meaningful, and accomplished in a path of their choosing while gracefully managing risks and setbacks, and being in a place of inner peace with their place in the world.  Enlightenment is gradually attained on a life-long path, along which your instantaneous peace varies according to successes and challenges in understanding and action, the endpoint of which is as full an achievement of enlightenment as possible.  Whether you are enlightened right now, and happy with that level of enlightenment, is a matter of whether you are where you could and think you should be on this life-long path and whether you will reach key levels of understanding while it still matters.  It's usually more a matter of mileage than age, and degree of introspection enabled by broad understanding, often hampered by misguided and misinterpreted religion, culture, history, and other dogma.


I like your definition of hope. Striving for optimism = believing things will turn out all right.

I had never heard the "inner peace through ignorance" argument before, and it's good food for thought. Your philosophy is one of continual improvement as a path to enlightenment, and ignorance does not allow for that.


I think hope/faith/belief are all the yin, and the yang is thought/logic/science.

I think an unenlightened person does not understand why they don't have inner peace, and that there's an anxiety and unease accompanying that, whose source is unknown to them.

In my view, peace is the only aspect to enlightenment worth considering, because it is freedom. Pursuit of knowledge, experience, and understanding is never-ending because there is no finish line.

Time is the thing that gives us urgency. If we had infinite time -- or if we never die -- then we have no immediacy, no drive that pushes us to make progress down the path.


This is even more interesting in the context of supernormal stimuli, which provide the OPPOSITE of inner peace. They're ever- and over-stimulating:

1.I put hope as a place in another continuum - first comes dream, then comes desire, then comes hope, then comes faith, then comes belief, then comes fact.  Thought, logic, science are our tools to validate a progression along this continuum or else end the progression of that dream. To progress from a dream to a fact peacefully takes optimism on one hand and thought/logic/science on the other so I see the yin/yang there.  This is a way of looking at the creative process.

I agree inner peace is possible with optimism.  

Steve, your statement, "Dwelling on past or future bad outcomes is the root of all evil" sounds like you're saying that bitterness regarding the past and pessimism (or at least worry) regarding the future is the root of all evil.  Am I following you?

2. You've heard of blissful ignorance? I think it's a form of inner peace though it's rarely sustainable or particularly meaningful in the long run.

3.I like the philosophy of continual improvement helping lead us towards full enlightenment.  A good balance of introspection and an open mind unfettered by prejudice help move us along the path to enlightenment as long as our motivation is good.

4. Time.  I like the idea that time gives us urgency and that without it there would be no immediacy or dirve to push us.  As I sit here and think about it I might substitue the word "lifetime" for "time". 

5. Enlightenment.  I understand both of your positions and definitions as you write them.  My view is probably less correct as far as pure definition and I'm struggling right now to articulate it.  I'm spent for the day.  More tomorrow! :o)

I like the idea that time gives us urgency, too.

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