Recently, I read a Theravada Buddhist pamphlet at my local Thai restaurant by the famous teacher Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. In the pamphlet I found this great quote:
Nothing is worth clinging to as ‘I’ or ‘mine’.
Usually when people try to explain Buddhism in English, they use big words like impermanence or attachment and so on. But not everyone understands what this means. What Buddhadasa Bhikkhu is saying makes more sense: most things in life are not worth it in the long-run.
For example, imagine that you spend a lot of money on a new iPad or game console, or you stay up overnight so you can be the first to buy it. Will it still be fun 30 years later? Looking back, was it worth the money and effort? What about getting an attractive partner? You might feel proud having a “hot girlfriend” but will she stay attractive forever? Will you two get along years later? What about being famous? What if you spend years finding the perfect job and then realize you hate it?
This is not to say that there are fun, pleasant things in life, but that in the long-run, they’re usually not worth the time, money or effort you put into it.
People often live for short-term gratification, without thinking about the future until it’s too late. They act like they are constantly drunk. By “drunk”, I mean that they think and act impulsively without considering the long-term cost or benefit. Then when it’s too late they sigh and regret many things in life.
Like the famous Iroha poem says:
Although its scent still lingers on
the form of a flower has scattered away
For whom will the glory
of this world remain unchanged?
Arriving today at the yonder side
of the deep mountains of evanescent existence
We shall never allow ourselves to drift away
intoxicated, in the world of shallow dreams.
So, it’s good to sober up and think long-term. Someday you will thank yourself.