Buddhism and Life

Explain the following quote using Buddhist terms and beliefs

“Do not think about the past.

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Do not worry about the future.

Things of the past have died.

The future has not arrived.

What is happening in the present

should be observed deeply.

The Wise Ones live according to this

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and dwell in stability and freedom.”

Bhaddekaratta Gatha

The meaning and context of the quote fall in line with the foundation principles of the Buddhist religion. The religion is based on four major truths. The first truth, dukkha, emphasizes, and translates to suffering and the rationale of suffering. Contrary to the popular thought that suggests that the Buddhist belief seeks to view the world from a negative perspective, the religion conceives life from its imperfect face. Religion makes a present stand by focusing on the currency of the suffering and explains the concept of suffering from the perspective of the present. In effect, suffering is not a consequence of past actions but a consequence of the current thirst for permanency. Therefore “do not think of the past and do not worry about the future”

The quest for permanency is the cause of suffering. The quest for permanency in an impermanent world causes the person to worry about the future, which is accompanied by Tanha, a personal selfish quest for private satisfaction. The religion, therefore, instructs that “Thy shall not think of the future but concentrate on the present for it is what matters.” The Buddhist will therefore marvel at the sunset but have or bear no wish that it lasts a while longer or that it should reoccur again despite the sadness of the ending of the beauty of the sun setting. The wise therefore dwell in this sense of liberation and freedom from worry and forecast.

This sense of liberation is the source of freedom and life, as well as the satisfaction of a Buddhist follower. The world is not permanent as the doctrine called Anicca (Anitya) suggests one should therefore liberate themselves from the worries of the past and the ravings of a long present as well as the fear of the future. As it is, the present is the most valuable of all (Keown 2003, p209).

As you now know, Buddhism calls us to face life as it really is and not pretend that it is something it is not. This exercise is designed to help you do just that. Your goal is to get to your true answers to the following questions and avoid superficial answers. Please answer the following questions:

What do you find really dissatisfying in your life?

Life, to me, is a circus of events that bombard me every morning I wake up. Like all entertainment modes, one can never get enough of one form of entertainment. No one ever wants an interesting movie to end. In the same circus, there are interesting and uninteresting events, yet still, I have to go through each one of them and cannot skip those that I want to the interesting ones. For instance, it is much more interesting to end the week than to begin it, and yet still, the weekend is never long enough to accommodate all the things I want to do in it. On the other hand, weekdays have the longest and slowest modes of satisfaction.

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Why are these dissatisfying?

These events are dissatisfying due to their lack of permanency. If it were my choice to choose what to happen when then I would make the whole week a weekend and spare a few hours to work and study. Therefore it is not pleasant to terminate the good, and neither is it satisfying to begin the uninteresting. The lack of control of the future makes these events dissatisfying.

What causes are outside your control?

The events and programs that I have to follow are beyond my control. These are responsible for the termination of the pleasant events and the beginning of the dissatisfying ones. These are, therefore, the uncontrollable causes of my dissatisfaction. The limited hours in a day and night is beyond my reach and cause great dissatisfaction since I have to adjust and compromise for less or too much of certain events that are either satisfying or dissatisfying.

What role does your desire to have things the way you want them to have in your dissatisfaction?

The need to have things my way is the main cause of dissatisfaction since I am never dissatisfied if my way is the same as the normal or present way. The need for private satisfaction causes a lack of contention and subsequent dissatisfaction. Essentially dissatisfaction is the failure to compromise for what is available and hanging on to what one wants.

What do you think the Buddha would say to you?

The lack of satisfaction is caused by Tanha. The sense of dissatisfaction is the result of private selfishness for private satisfaction. The nature of the world is to be impermanent, and therefore good things do not last, and neither do bad things. The important thing is to enjoy the limits of the present and not worry about the past or future. The available present should always be enough.

Comment on your answer to question #1

The quote makes a general disposition of the truths that are preached by the Buddhist religion. The religion is founded on four noble truths. The first truth dukkha translates to suffering its cause and justification. This truth rationalizes suffering as being the consequence of the lack of satisfaction. The second truth emphasizes the need for permanency as the cause of dissatisfaction and subsequent suffering, while the third and fourth provide remedies and ways to overcome suffering.

Comment on your answer to question #2

The Buddhist religion is a practical religion that is based on the everyday encounters of life. It provides a rationale for life and why things happen the way they are. Unlike all other religions, it gives the believer a practical and conceivable solution to suffering and alternative ways to overcome suffering as opposed to praying. The Buddhist religion is a practical religion and works to ease and reduce the level of suffering in the everyday encounters of life.


Keown Damien. Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. (2003).

Foltz, Richard. Religions of the Silk Road: Premodern Patterns of Globalization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2010).

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