Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.
… This is our problem,you see. We are not alive. We are not awake. We are not living in the present. Take education. What a hoax. As a child, you are sent to nursery school. In nursery school, they say you are getting ready to go on to kindergarten. And then first grade is coming up and second grade and third grade. And then, when you get to the end of grade school, they say, ‘You’ve been getting ready for high school.’ And then in high school, they tell you you’re getting ready for college. And in college you’re getting ready to go out into the business world with your suit and your diploma. And you go to your first sales meeting, and they say, up the ladder in business if you sell it, and maybe you’ll get a promotion. And you sell it, and they up your quota. And then, finally at about the age of forty-five, you wake up one morning as vice president of the firm, and you say to yourself, 'I’ve arrived. But i’ve been cheated. Something is missing. I no longer have a future. 'Wrong,’ says insurance salesman. 'I have a future for you. This policy will enable you to retire in comfort at sixty-five, and now you can look forward to that.’ And you’re delighted. You buy the policy, and at sixty-five, you retire, thinking that this is the attainment of the goal of life. Except that now you have prostate trouble, false teeth, and wrinkled skin. And you’re a materialist. You’re a phantom. You are an abstraction. You are nowhere, because you were never told, and you never realized, that eternity is now. There is no time.
We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.
Don’t let the darkness from your past block the light of joy in your present. What happened is done. Stop giving time to things which no longer exist, when there is so much joy to be found here and now.
‘Peace can only exist in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say “Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace. What is “this”? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace some day.”
The practice of mindfulness doesn’t forbid us to plan for the future. It’s best not to lose ourselves in uncertainty and fear over the future, but if we’re truly established in the present moment, we can bring the future to the here and now, and make plans.
We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.
There are two things that I accept unquestioningly: that time is an illusion and the past and the future don’t actually exist, except in memory or as imagination; and that, in this universe, everything is temporary, making change inevitable.