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To manage time, see what your mind values || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Questioner (Q): Sir, how to utilize time?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Who will utilize time? Who wastes time?

Q: Me, myself.

AP: So, to who should the question be directed to? Or should we talk about time?

What do you waste? Do you waste time, or do you also waste resources? You also waste life. You waste everything that comes to you. Somebody who is wasteful, would he waste only time or would he waste a lot of other things as well?

So, is time the real issue, or is it ‘me’ that I should talk about? What should I talk about?

Q: Me.

AP: When you say, “How to utilize time?” you have made a very arrogant assumption. Your assumption is: “Everything is alright with me; it is just this small aspect of time utilization that I falter in. Everything else is good, nice. I am okay.”

It is like this: There is something wrong with my entire physical system. My blood, my very blood, contains a lot of impurities, and because of that there are a lot of symptoms showing up in my body: my heart is under pressure, my kidneys are not functioning well, my liver is enlarged, I keep feeling sleepy, I keep forgetting, my brain doesn’t function properly. And also, because the blood is impure, I have a few pimples on my face.

So, I go to the doctor and I say, “Sir, my problem is that I have a few pimples!”

Now, am I wise if I say that this is my problem? Is my problem that I have pimples? What is my problem? My entire being is my problem, my very blood is my problem, right? But what am I focusing on? Pimples!

Now, the doctor can give you a cream that will remove the pimples. But will that solve your problem? This pimple gone, another one will come up. Have you not seen that happen? It clears from here and comes somewhere else, or sometimes at the same spot.

We don’t even know what the real issue is like. It is not about time at all. Don’t ask how to manage time. Don’t ask how to utilize time. Ask yourself, “How do I manage myself?” Because it is the self that is wasting the time; it is the self that is wasting everything that is around it.

There are a thousand opportunities that come to you, life itself is a grand opportunity, but the self is squandering all the opportunities. Not only time, everything else as well.

So, we will go to the more basic question, to the more useful question, and that is: How to manage the mind? Because it is the mind that wastes time. We will forget time. Nobody can manage time. Time just flows, time cannot be managed. What can be managed? The self, my own mind, that needs to be managed. We will look at that.

Now, you need to then ask yourself: What does your mind find attractive? What does your mind do most of the time? There are 24 hours in the day for everybody. Ask yourself: Where do these 24 hours go? Where does my mind spend these 24 hours in?

When you will look at this, you will come across your values; you will come to know what it is that you prefer in life, because whatever you prefer in life, that is what you spend yourself doing.

If I have told myself that the biggest pleasure in life is sleeping, then don’t be surprised if I find that I sleep 11 hours a day. And why do I sleep 11 hours a day? Because I have thoroughly convinced myself that sleeping is the highest happiness.

Similarly, if you have convinced yourself that roaming around here and there is the biggest pleasure that is possible, then don’t be surprised if you find that you spend four hours a day gossiping, because you have told that to your own mind.

We are looking at the mind now, right? We have kept time behind; we are looking at the mind. We said we will find out what I spend my time doing, and when I find that out, I immediately come upon my values, what I have told myself to be valuable.

Whatever you have told yourself to be valuable, you will find that your time is going there.

And if you find that there is something you are unable to find time for—how many of you see that this happens with you? You want to find time for something, but you say, “I can’t find time for it. It is important, but I can’t find time for it.” With how many of you does this happen?

(The speaker and some listeners raise their hands)

Please be assured that somewhere you are convinced that that thing for which you cannot find time is not important. It is embedded deeply in your psyche that it is not important. So, howsoever much now you are trying, you will still find no time.

Had it been really important, had you been careful enough to really examine and see its importance, then time would have made itself available, because there are 24 hours in the day for everybody. How is it possible that somebody finds time and somebody does not find the time?

You are the one who is allotting time, and you allot time according to your values. It is a question of values. What do you find valuable?

“I find it deeply valuable that one must sit with the family and watch television.” So, don’t be surprised if you are doing that three hours a day.

“My definition of a valuable friendship is: when you talk three hours a day to somebody on a mobile phone.” So, don’t be surprised if that is what you do three hours a day.

You are spending time exactly according to your values. Not even a second is spent otherwise. Be convinced, time does not slip away; time strictly follows your values. So, if you say, “I don’t know, time just flies away,” then you are deceiving yourself. No, time never flies away. Every second of it is controlled by your mind.

If you do not find time for studying, the conclusion is obvious: you do not find studying valuable. In your value system, you do not accord priority to studying; that is why you cannot give time to studying. In your value system, had studying been important, time would have presented itself.

It is not about time at all, it is about my mind, the values enshrined in it. Is this becoming clear?

When you will be clear about what is really valuable in life, then you will find that all your time is devoted to that which is really valuable. Become clear. Know what is really valuable.

Do you know what is really valuable? Have you ever given a thought to it? What is really valuable in life? What is really, really important?

(Someone says happiness, someone says time, someone says money, and someone asks: How do I know what is really valuable?)

See, four or five responses came. I said, do we know what is really valuable? There were four or five responses. Somebody said money, somebody said happiness, somebody said time, one of you said something else. And then there was this girl who says, “How do I know what is really valuable?”

Now, there are others who are already convinced about what is really valuable. If money is really valuable, what would you spend most of your time doing? Dreaming about money—and that is what you do. Dream, have money, without asking: Who is it that is having money, and how is money benefiting him? But it must be from some source that you are gathering this notion that money is the most important thing.

Somebody said happiness. Yes, good. But what is happiness? Is happiness that which you experience on hearing a joke? Is happiness that which you experience upon achieving a target? What is happiness? And why must happiness be different for different people?

Why does happiness vary for the same man at different times? Today something is happiness for you; ten years back your doll was the greatest happiness for you. And what is the value of such a happiness which keeps changing?

What is happiness? One has to find out. I am inviting you to this.

When I was your age, this was the one question that was so important for me: What is valuable in life? I was very clear that I will not commit myself to any path till this question is answered. How can I just start doing something without knowing that it is really valuable? I have these few years of my life with me, and I have one life. How can I spend this life doing something of which I am not convinced?

And at the end of it, what will happen? If I see that I have wasted my time in a pursuit that had no value at all, is that not horrible? Your 70th year, you are dying, and you are realizing that “I have spent my life doing something that had no value.” Tell me, won’t that be horrible?

And I am telling you, 99.99 percent of this world faces that horror daily. Your so-called grown-ups, the so-called successful people, the so-called super achievers, they all are realizing this every second: that they have wasted their life doing something which is not valuable at all.

Why are you quick to jump to conclusions? Why do you want to quickly commit yourself? Why can’t you investigate? And she has put it so nicely: “How do I find out what is really valuable?”

Q: We have already been told what is valuable.

AP: Good, very good! So, you have something to start with, right? You already have something to start with, and that is coming from outside. You have already been told what is valuable.

What is valuable? A huge car is valuable. A ten storey mansion is valuable. That red light, those beacons, they are very valuable. Ten muscle men on your side, they are valuable. A bank statement that has ten zeros behind it is very valuable.

And all these things have been told to you by your so-called well-wishers. They have already filled you up with what is valuable, and you are chasing that without examining whether it is really valuable.

How can I inquire into what is valuable when I have already been told what is valuable? The inquiry has been closed.

We have been told that there is no need to inquire. Getting married is valuable. Having two kids is valuable. Having a house is valuable. Being respected is valuable. And you will say, “Yes sir… But, you know, everybody says that! Are these not valuable? Why should I say no?”

I am saying, go and find out. Why can’t you find out? Are these things really valuable?

When you discover what is not valuable, then that which is really valuable will start showing up; it will silently start shining. But first, you will have to reject all that which is rubbish but you are mistakenly thinking to be of value. First you will have to reject that.

So many of you believe fakeness is so valuable. So many of you believe that living a structured life is so valuable. Are we not intelligent? Don’t we have our eyes? Don’t we have our own mind to examine? Can’t we go close and see whether these things are really of any importance? Will we just believe, take something on face value? I am asking you.

You just want to believe? Then why are you studying science? Does science tell you to believe, or does it tell you to go close and ask questions and examine and experiment? Tell me. Or does science tell you to be superstitious, just believe anything?

“They have told me that going to the temple every Tuesday is very valuable, very important, so I go.” Do you know why you are going there? And if you don’t know, why must you go there? Do you even know what a temple is? Then what are you doing in a temple?

You have been told you must always look good, you must be praiseworthy, people should say nice things about you, you should be respected. Do you understand what is praise? Do you understand what is respect? Then why should you feel bad when somebody does not respect you?

Without understanding something, why have you given it importance?

Get married, settle down, have a family. Do you understand what is marriage? And if you don’t understand, why are you getting restless to get married? And why do you feel devastated if you see somebody not getting married?

Do you know a thing about what is really important in life? And if you don’t know, then open your eyes and see. It is not a huge secret, it is an obvious fact—if only you will bother to inquire.

You are intelligent, you have the capability. Just open your eyes and see. I assure you, all of you are capable of looking at the facts and being in the Truth—if only you are not afraid, if only you have not closed your eyes saying, “I already know.”

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