In what sutta did the Buddha say: "Don't let the moment pass you by"?


3 Answers 3


"Don't let the moment pass you by" found in four or more suttas with this google search.

Put differently as, "Death, monks, is but a gap of a thought away," here.

  • Thanks a lot🙏🏾
    – user24100
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 1:48

I looked up the one in Dhammapada 315:

don’t let the moment pass you by.
khaṇo vo mā upaccagā;

The PTS dictionary entries for khaṇa suggests a dual meaning -- i.e. of "moment" and of "opportunity" -- and translates the phrase as, "let not the slightest time be wasted".

I like that phrasing better, incidentally, because it's more impersonal i.e. without the "you" that's present in the phrase "pass you by".

Also perhaps, does that the fact that "upaccagā" is "aorist" mean that the point of the statement is NOT to detail the process of the moment's passing by -- and is instead a statement that focuses on the whole or result, something like, "don't let it be in a has-passed-by state".

  • Thanks a lot ChrisW will look it up.
    – user24100
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 11:10

It doesn't sound like the sort of prose you'd find in the pali canon. The general theme for some of the 'serious monks' went like this: After the Dhammacakkappavattana teaching, the Buddha gathered those same monks, and said to them (I'm paraphrasing) "Right guys, from here on, remain with the six sense experience".

This was delivered using a granular description of awareness through something called the five aggregate model. This involves watching experience at one or all of the six sense doors. The idea is to watch with such diligence that the phenomenal world of the six sense organs is seen to pass by without achieving anything.

As you can probably see, this is the opposite of not letting the moment pass you by. In Theravada, watching the six sense experience waxing and waning is seen as a developmental forte that can mean the difference between becoming something weird called an arahant, or just remaining in either in the stream or even a run-of-the-mill person (Puthujjana).

By the way, this kind of practice leads to a lot of emotionally cold and despondent practitioners, which is why I always had my other five fingers firmly stuck inside the Mahayana pie!

  • doesn't the statement fit perfectly well with what you are saying though? to watch diligently is to not to let the moment pass by...
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 21:45
  • Meaning the moment is surrounded by void
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 0:27
  • @blue_ego - Initially, that is the illusion - the idea that someone is doing the watching, the duality, the game of this & that. The things that are watched are a distraction from the illusion. When you get behind the illusion, nobody is watching anything. The Heart Sutra references this like so: there are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or mind which highlights centerlessness. There is nothing holding anything.
    – user17652
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 3:28
  • 1
    watching meaning after-the-fact...the momentary consciousness is over. the illusion is persistence of consciousness
    – blue_ego
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:49

You must log in to answer this question.