“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha
— Black Royalty™ (@royallayn) June 14, 2012
This is another one from Jack Kornfield’s Buddha’s Little Instruction Book (1994), which isn’t a collection of Buddha quotes, but is Jack’s rather lovely interpretation of Buddhist teachings.
According to the publisher:
Just as the serene beauty of the lotus blossom grows out of muddy water, Buddha’s simple instructions have helped people to find wholeness and peace amid life’s crisis and distractions for more than 2,500 years. For this small handbook, a well-known American Buddhist teacher and psychologist has distilled and adapted an ancient teaching for the needs of contemporary life. Its practical reminders and six meditations can infuse smallest everyday action with insight and joy.
It’s a lovely book, although the title has led many people to think that its contents are quotations from the Buddhist scriptures. In some cases that appears to be so, but most of the aphorisms seem to be Jack’s own thoughts.
This is an odd one, though. I’m not actually sure what it’s saying. I recently wrote some thoughts to someone who asked me about this quote:
“The trouble is that we think we have time.” This suggests we don’t have time. 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 be, but if I’m being told that I don’t, in fact, have time, then what’s the point? Is it suggesting that we don’t have time *to waste*? That’s true, but not having “time to waste” is not the same thing as not having time.
Or is the quote trying to say that time is not a thing we can have or possess? That’s true, but the wording of the quote, if that’s what it’s meant to convey, could be clearer, since I don’t think most people would read it that way.
It’s a rather confusing quote. It appears to mean something, but the more I look at it the less it means.
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.