The Value of Time

I was once gathered with a group of people where a 14 year old spoke up to share something in front of everyone. Before she could speak she took a deep breath and started to cry.


She was so emotional while everyone stood in silence, waiting to hear what she had to say. She tried to formulate her words but was so choked up by tears of emotion that it took her a while to finally point to a nearby tree and ask everyone a simple but powerful question:


“Can’t you hear what this tree is trying to tell us? This tree has witnessed generations of human beings pass by and is wondering why do you human beings waste your time obsessing and fighting over such superficial things? Time is so precious and you live such short lives. Why don’t you take seriously what is actually important: your spiritual relationships with each other, with nature and with God?”


As she cried we all felt as if the tree was actually speaking through her, because the words coming from this innocent child really struck our hearts in a deep and profound way. Time truly is precious and we live very short lives, especially when compared to that tree. 

One time I was with my father, who was 91 years old at the time, and he was telling stories of when he and his brother were about seven or eight years old. He was telling me that on Sunday nights the whole family would gather in a circle around a radio and listen to shows in the 1920s. He said it was so long ago, but felt like yesterday, and that he could remember those days much better than all the things in between.


Life flies so fast and the most precious thing we have is each and every moment of time. Time itself is so mystical, because

you cannot see it, touch it, hear it, feel it, taste it or smell it

but that very time is in the process of extinguishing the sun,

evaporating every ocean,

and pulverizing every planet into dust,

what to speak of our little bodies.

Bribes cannot corrupt time

and beauty cannot seduce it.

The greatest militaries with all of their arsenals

cannot stop its progress for even a moment. 


There’s specifically a verse found in the Bhagavat Purana which mentions that with every rising and setting of the sun, regardless of who we are or whatever we have accumulated, we’re simply one day closer to death. But for those who utilize their time for a spiritual higher purpose, then with every rising and setting of the sun we are one day closer to eternal life.


This is why the basic question that is there in so many of the great philosophies and religions of the world is “who am I?”  Because unless we know who we are we cannot really understand our relationships with each other or with the environment around us, what to speak of the higher spiritual powers beyond us. And who we are is the eternal force within, who is seeing through the eyes and hearing through the ears and tasting through the tongue and thinking through the brain and loving through the heart. The nature of that living force in Sanskrit is called atma. It is eternal and undying. By nature it is full of knowledge and full of happiness.


And what is that happiness? We know that there are things which can give some pleasure to the body and mind and our physical senses, but things can never give fulfillment to the heart. Only love can give fulfillment to the heart, and to give love and to receive love is the most fundamental need of every living being. This is how we are meant to use our time, to cultivate this awareness of our true essence, to uncover the true self within and to help and serve others as they strive to do the same.That is the nature of genuine love and compassion.