Time and Spiritual Life (Part 5)

Dwelling in the Present

Our true, spiritual nature is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. Until we unfold our spiritual nature, we are caught in the web of time, space, and causation. The mind by definition is in a state of flux all the time. It alternately dwells on the past or the future. It feels joyful or miserable by dwelling on pleasurable or painful experiences of the past, and grows anxious because the future is uncertain. The mind is never idle. When it is not given good, spiritual food, it reverts to its default mode: dwelling on sensual thoughts. It abides in the present only when we train it to hold on to a pure divine thought to the exclusion of all other thoughts. The past is dead and gone, and the future lives only in our imagination. The more the mind dwells in the present, the less it is subject to the ravages of time, and the less it wanders and drains our energy. It grows calm and helps us become more effective in work and spiritual practices. However briefly the mind that is detached from sense objects dwells in the present, it effectively dwells in the Spirit. Says Swami Ramakrishnananda: "In the division of time as Present, Past, and Future, the Present is the supreme Spirit."

Right Attitude of a Spiritual Seeker

Though we are caught in the web of time, through proper utilization of the present is the way out of time. A spiritual seeker looks upon every day as another precious day to strive for freedom, and diligently practices spiritual disciplines. He realizes the evanescence of life and the inevitability of time in the form of death. He struggles to dwell in the present and make the best use of his every waking moment. Says Sri Shankara in his prayer to Shiva for forgiveness: "One's lifespan decreases every day and youth decays. Days that are gone by never return. Time is the great devourer of the world. Fortune and wealth are as fleeting and fickle as waves in the ocean; life itself is as momentary as lightning. Therefore, O Giver of refuge, grant me protection even now; I have taken refuge in You." (Shivaparadha-kshamapana-stotra, 13)

Time Management as a Spiritual Discipline

Our thoughts define our mind. They are by nature random and scattered. The mind does not make its presence felt until its randomness is threatened. When we watch our mind and try to bring order into our thoughts and actions, the mind rebels and puts up stiff resistance to our efforts. When we do not have a fixed routine for our everyday activities, the mind acts against our interest by making us fritter away our energy, and we just idle away our time with useless thoughts and actions. That is the trick the mind plays on us. On the other hand, a fixed daily routine helps us to effectively utilize our time, saves our precious energy by making us dwell in the present, and helps us become the master of our wayward mind.

Part 6

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