In the 1960s Swami Prabhupada wrote an article entitled, “No time: the chronic disease of modern man.” In it he comments: “The busy man should try to know as to where he is going. This life is but a spot in his longest sojourn, and the sane person should not be busy with a spot only. Nobody says that the body should not be maintained – but everyone should know from Bhagavad-gita that the body is the outward dress and the ‘soul’ is the real person who puts on the dress. So if the dress is taken care of only, without any care of the real person – it is sheer foolishness and a waste of time.”
Often times, even those who appreciate the spiritual dimension in life have trouble finding time for quality practice. Work or family demands can occupy our attention and sap our energies. Many resign themselves to defeat and instead resolve to deepen their spirituality later in life when worldly demands have eased. But will life ever be free of unexpected distractions and pressing responsibilities? Cars break down, family feuds need to be mediated, homes need improvement, friends seek advice and attention, health problems slow us down and work demands drain our free time. It will always be a challenge to find time.
Thus, putting our spirituality ‘on hold’ in anticipation of a ‘better’ situation is a risky strategy. There’s no need to wait and no time to lose. As the American poet, Longfellow said, “trust no future, however pleasant!” The external reorganization of our life and the internal cleansing of our consciousness need not be mutually exclusive activities. Like the two rails of a train track, they can exist side-by-side. We can re-engineer our lifestyle and simultaneously intensify our spirituality; it just requires determination and organization.
We can all improve in our time management skills. Identify and eliminate the usual “time-killers” such as television, internet browsing, unnecessary phone talk and the like. Have clear goals and schedules, carefully avoiding procrastination and lethargy. Learn to strike a proper work-life balance, where you meet your financial needs and worldly responsibilities, yet simultaneously factor in quality time for meditation, scriptural study and introspection. Schedule in a time for these direct spiritual practices, and guard those hours with your life! The famous verse in (Mark 8.36) reminds us: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”