The Buddha on Not Chasing the Past or Placing Expectations on the Future

The Blessed One said:

One would not chase after the past,
 or place expectations on the future.
What is past
 is left behind.
 The future 
is as yet un-reached.

Whatever quality is present 
one clearly sees right there,
 right there.
Unvanquished, unshaken, 
that’s how one develops the mind.

Ardently doing one’s duty today,
 for — who knows? — tomorrow
 death may come.
There is no bargaining
 with Death and his mighty horde.

Whoever lives thus ardently,
 relentlessly
 both day and night, 
has truly had an auspicious day:
So says the Peaceful Sage.

♥ Chasing and Not Chasing the Past ♥

“And how, monks, does one chase after the past? One gets carried away with the delight of ‘In the past I had such a form (body)’… ‘In the past I had such a feeling’… ‘In the past I had such a perception’… ‘In the past I had such a thought-fabrication”… ‘In the past I had such a consciousness.’ This is called chasing after the past.

“And how does one not chase after the past? One does not get carried away with the delight of ‘In the past I had such a form (body)’… ‘In the past I had such a feeling’… ‘In the past I had such a perception’… ‘In the past I had such a thought-fabrication”… ‘In the past I had such a consciousness.’ This is called not chasing after the past.

♥ Placing and Not Placing Expectations On the Future ♥

“And how does one place expectations on the future? One gets carried away with the delight of ‘In the future I might have such a form (body)’… ‘In the future I might have such a feeling’… ‘In the future I might have such a perception’… ‘In the future I might have such a thought-fabrication”… ‘In the future I might have such a consciousness.’ This is called placing expectations on the future.

“And how does one not place expectations on the future? One does not get carried away with the delight of ‘In the future I might have such a form (body)’… ‘In the future I might have such a feeling’… ‘In the future I might have such a perception’… ‘In the future I might have such a thought-fabrication”… ‘In the future I might have such a consciousness.’ This is called not placing expectations on the future.

♥ Defeat and Victory In the Present ♥

“And how is one vanquished with regard to present qualities? There is the case where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person who has not seen the noble ones, is not versed in the teachings of the noble ones, is not trained in the teachings of the noble ones, sees form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.

“He/she sees feeling as self… perception as self… thought-fabrications as self…

“He/she sees consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. This is called being vanquished with regard to present qualities.

“And how is one not vanquished with regard to present qualities? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones who has seen the noble ones, is versed in the teachings of the noble ones, is well-trained in the teachings of the noble ones, does not see form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form.

“He/she does not see feeling as self… perception as self… thought-fabrications as self…

He/she does not see consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. This is called not being vanquished with regard to present qualities.

♥♥♥

One would not chase after the past,
 or place expectations on the future.
What is past
 is left behind.
 The future 
is as yet un-reached.

Whatever quality is present 
one clearly sees right there, 
right there.
Unvanquished, unshaken, 
that’s how one develops the mind.

Ardently doing one’s duty today, 
for — who knows? — tomorrow
 death may come.
There is no bargaining
 with Death and his mighty horde.

Whoever lives thus ardently,
 relentlessly 
both day and night,
 has truly had an auspicious day:
So says the Peaceful Sage.

[MN 131]

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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

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