WE HAVE TO LIVE A PRACTICAL LIFE
TIME AND SPACE
Relative existence is controlled by time, while the absolute existence is timeless. Only the conception of man’s mind could ever consider anything like time. So, time could be a reality for relative existence; time could be a reality within the framework of evolution, where an atom progresses from one point to the other. Whenever we consider time, space is also considered. If we take two minutes to reach from this room to that house over there, that two minutes taken is also measured in space. Therefore, time and space work hand in hand, while the concept of the Absolute is beyond time and space. It is of an entirely different dimension where time does not exist, and space does not exist, and that is why some great poets say that eternity is in the moment, and the moment is eternity.
This is said to explain to us the timeless nature of actual reality, the Absolute. The mind and circumstances always measure time. Every housewife will know that when she watches the kettle boiling, it takes a longer time, it takes so much longer. It has taken the same time, but the anxiety of the mind in boiling the water quickly extends the time and makes it longer. There too, in reality, the time has not become longer, but the concept of our mind has become longer. So, time is governed by man’s mind. In this small example of boiling water, we have found that time expands and contracts.
We have talked about the expansion and lengthening of time, but for example, if you are engrossed in an excellent book and absorbed in it, then two hours will pass, and you think it was only two minutes. So, to recapitulate, time expands or contracts according to man’s mind, and because of its expansion and contraction, it has no true reality of its own, but the reality is imposed upon it by our minds.
The same thing applies to space; if you take a walk of two miles with an attractive friend and you are having a fascinating conversation, that two miles will seem very short, but if you have to take that walk alone and are feeling bored, then the two miles do not seem to end.
WE ARE SUBJECTED TO THE LAWS OF NATURE
So, time and space are but two sides of the same coin subject to contraction and expansion according to our concept, and our conceptions are nothing but conditionings of the mind.
Through meditation, we discover one thing: the unreality of time, which has been experienced in some measure by everyone. I can go into meditation for two hours, and when I come out of meditation, it seems that only two minutes have passed. What has happened there is that I have transcended or gone beyond the boundaries of the mind, and when you go beyond limitations, you go to the boundless, and there is no time in that boundlessness.
Being in the relative and having a body and subject to the laws of nature, we have to consider the time we know of. We must add practicality to time as we know it, and that practicality must be helpful and not useless. We spend one-third of our lives sleeping and one-third of our lives doing useless work. We call work useless because most of us lack interest in our work, and we only do the job to fill our stomachs. So, we are using our time, firstly in losing ourselves in sleep one third, and another third of the time in useless works to fill the stomach.
WE HAVE TO WORK TO MAKE A LIVING
We know many people that out of the eight hours left, they will spend two hours in the bar, two hours perhaps studying the race card, two hours or three hours with the television, and another few hours talking rubbish with their companions. Feeding the stomach is necessary, and living in this world, there are necessities of life. God has given us the air to breathe, but you have to pay for the air you breathe in taxes. Just to be able to walk on the Lord’s Earth, you pay for it also, in taxes. So, we have to pay for everything around us, and therefore we have to work. But work can be made interesting because there is nothing uninteresting in this world. If I find a dull person, I find something interesting there, too; I find interest in boredom. So, even if you are a shopkeeper or working behind a counter, many customers are walking into the shop. By observing the various kinds of people, so much interest can be found because every person is a unique person. By having the ability of deep perception created by meditation, you will find an exciting story in every face. If you can develop sympathy and empathy for the person, that same work of serving over the counter could become exciting. And the same principle applies to the carpenter, the bricklayer, or the professor at the university.
We have one meditator in one country who is a typist. Typing can become tedious if you are just a copy-typist because no creative intelligence is involved, and you are operating like a machine. Still, whenever she has to press the key G, this typist’s thoughts flow in her mind of Guru, Gurushakti and God. And her typing has become very interesting to her.
So, we have to work to provide a living for ourselves or our families, and whatever work we do can be made interesting, and every job in the world that provides us with an honest living is noble. When we are working for a boss, if we feel in our hearts that we are doing duty and being immersed in the task and the sense of responsibility, then the boredom too goes away because when we have a sense of duty, we find that we are walking the path of nature because the most outstanding example of commitment is nature itself. You will find the remarkable precision and exactness in nature, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and that the river flows down the hill and not up the mountain. And these are the disciplines of nature; being part of that nature, we can also discipline our lives, and whatever work can become exciting and life-supporting.
A DEEP, RESTFUL SLEEP IS SO, SO NECESSARY
Now we come to the eight hours of sleep. Many people do not experience deep sleep because they are going through so much anxiety during their waking hours, which is created by themselves. They have built up a pattern formed by bad habits, bad habits of negative thinking, which could include greed, pettiness, hatred, unnecessary jealousy, and consciously denying those that are deserving – for one’s selfish interest. Pettiness could consist of self-aggrandisement or imagining oneself to be so wonderful when you are not, not living your true Self as you are because most people want to be something else, which they are not. They do not live naturally. The man with one leg tries to imagine himself running the Olympic race, and like that, the human mind is forever functioning. The human mind is forever trying to draw attention to itself because, firstly, it has the wrong impression that they are so important, and yet there is no human being in this scheme of the world that is not indispensable. People just do not want to be themselves. A person has passed Standard IV but would like to behave like a professor. A person that is a street sweeper would give off the impression that he is a great artist. The exact street sweeper can be a great artist, not in painting, but because the very street sweeping can be lifted to a great art. That street sweeper is more important than the university professor. He is doing his work so that thousands of people can live more healthily because he is removing the dirt, while many times, the university professor is confusing people s minds more and more. The street sweeper is taking away the dirt, and the professor is putting in the dirt. All these various theories are loaded into the mind, and when the young man leaves the university, he is more confused than before he entered it.
WE INCREASE THE QUALITY OF SLEEP THROUGH MEDITATIONAL PRACTICES
Now we have examined various aspects of daily living that produce anxiety, and these eight hours of anxiety affect the eight hours of sleep. That is why many people cannot have a deep, restful sleep because that deep, restful sleep is so necessary. After all, it renourishes the body by giving it rest and the mind by giving it rest. Shakespeare has said that sleep is the best nourishment in life’s feast.
So, you decrease anxiety, and you increase the quality of sleep. Therefore, our whole meditational programme is built around these factors, where we improve sleep quality during the daytime by being honest with ourselves and consciously helping ourselves. When we improve sleep quality, the next waking day improves. Meditation helps those people who cannot have a deep quality of sleep and makes up for what was lost by getting that deep rest.
HOW DO WE USE OUR SPARE TIME?
We have spoken about two-thirds of our lives, one-third sleeping and one-third working. Now we talk about the last third. We said before how the final third is wasted away, and this wasting away of the last third is not relaxing because if it were relaxing, one-third of working life would have less anxiety. The other third of sleeping life could be finer, deeper, and more profound.
What we do with eight hours of spare time is the most crucial thing in life. That eight hours could be spent doing good work, including meditation and spiritual practices, service to humanity, and inspiring people with love and hope. All the other aspects of life are improved when we do these deeds.
We have to think seriously about how we spend the 24 hours of waking life because, as someone has said, it is later than you think. The only thing that is certain in this life is death; you can be certain of nothing else; it can be in five minutes or five days or five years or fifty years when this body would have to be discarded, and all the things that we have left undone will have to be done in later life. If we can do them now, how much better would it be?
PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES HAVE TO BE PRACTICAL
Remember, man’s life is not measured by the years he lives, but man’s life is measured by how many breaths he takes, and therefore every breath is essential, and breath is measured in terms of seconds. So, every second is essential, and it must be used usefully. When calculating time and space in their relative values, we must always look at the practical side of it. Being caught up in time and space, how we use it depends upon our own free will because, as we said before, the eternal quality within us, the reality within us, is beyond time and space, and using relative time, the time at our disposal, in the proper manner, in its proper way, is to use the time to its highest ethical and moral value, for any philosophy is of no value if it is not practical. Theories that fill the mind can do nothing for you in the evolutionary process, and one ounce of practice is worth 10,000 pounds of view.
So, the concept of time, though governed by the mind as we spoke about, has still to be made real by its practical use. I will tell you a story of what practicality is. In India there was a large river, on one side of the river were so many villages and on the other side of the river were the cities. So everyday morning and evening, the people from the villages had to use buses and ferry boats to take them to work and to bring them home. Most of the people living in the villages were peasants and illiterate, but also some educated people, so on this ferry boat, there was one pandit travelling. A pandit means a man learned in the scriptures and daily, like people in Western countries, they also take their 8:00 or ten past eight trains or quarter past 8:00 train, so like that, everyone that had to reach their work used to take their particular time of ferry boat and this learned man, this pandit, used to speak to the peasants and he used to ask, “Did you read the Upanishads?” They used to say, “No.” “Did you study the Vedas?” They said, “No.” “Did you study Yajnavalkya?” They said, “No.” “Have you read Patanjali?” “No,” and like that, he mentioned all the great teachers whose works this pandit had studied. One day a storm came up, and the ferry boat started rocking, and the storm was so severe that the ferry boat capsized. Now this one peasant, an illiterate man who used to sit next to the pandit every day, asked the pandit, “Can you swim?”
The pandit could not swim, so he sank, and all his studies of those scriptures did not help him. Still, this peasant man, knowing that he had to cross the river twice a day, up and down, first learned how to swim, and that is practical because one day, this river might become rough, and his knowledge of swimming would be helpful, and all those books of the pandit were of no use at all. Therefore, I say all the philosophical theories of the world are of no use if things are not practical.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang Germany 1978 – 03