From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Time is more precious than money. Time is more precious than the most valuable thing in the world. It is the richest treasure. Time is the soul of the world. Time is life. Utilize time profitably in spiritual pursuits. Waste not even a second.

Time is formless. But it devours everything. Time does not spare anybody. Time is relentless. Time is Lord Yama. Time is Kala. It obliterates even what apparently looks very enduring. Time spares not even the greatest person for a moment. Time pervades and controls all things. It assumes the formidable form of a burning fire during dissolution and reduces the whole world to ashes. Nothing can stop its course. Only the sages, seers, and saints of God-realization have defied its might.

The Eternal is timeless. Brahman transcends time. Brahman is eternal. It is a timeless reality. This world will pass away with all its occupants. The sun, moon and stars will pass away. All joys and sorrows will pass away. The five elements, the earth and heaven will pass away. Only Brahman, the pure Satchidananda, will shine eternally. Attain Brahman and conquer time. Transcend time and become one with Eternity.

The fleeting nature of sensual life

This world is a play of colours and sounds. This sense universe is a play of nerves. It is a false show kept up by the jugglery of Maya, mind and senses. You enjoy sensual pleasures for a period of twenty years, when the senses are young and strong. What is this short, evanescent period of twenty years in eternity? What is this monotonous, sensual life compared with the eternal and peaceful life in the Immortal Self within?

Being much hemmed in on all sides in this ever-fluctuating world, you are ever whirling with delusion and afflicted with pains. Reflecting upon time, which is eternal in its true nature, you cannot but term the hundred years of your life as a moment. Then how is it that you estimate your life so greatly, and fall into all sorts of despondencies through the insatiable desires?

The purpose of human life

You have come here with a definite purpose. Life is not meant for eating, drinking, dressing and procreating. There is something grand and sublime, an eternal life of bliss beyond. Every second must be well utilized for the achievement of this goal of life. Life is short. Time is fleeting. Obstacles are many. Apply yourself diligently to yogic sadhana. This life is a bubble for two seconds. You came alone. You will go alone. No one will follow you. You came naked. You will go naked. No one will follow you. Do bhajan, do kirtan, for this alone will follow you.

People have risen to greatness and prominence by utilizing every second profitably. Keep a daily diary. Reduce your sleep. Give up idle talk. Observe mouna. Understand the value of time. Draw up a daily routine and stick to it tenaciously. Grow. Evolve. Expand. Have success in life. Realize God. Reflect. Meditate. Unfold the hidden spiritual consciousness.

Uncertainty of earthly life

The leaves of life are falling off. Youth is fading. The days are rolling on. Time, the destroyer, lays his icy hands on the whole world. Existence in this world is as momentary as a bubble or lightning!

A doctor speaks on the telephone and ascends the staircase itself on account of cardiac failure. A man loses his father. On the following day he loses his son also. Such is the uncertainty or evanescent nature of life here, and yet he foolishly wastes his time. He is foolish enough to think that he will live forever – when the people who came before and after him have died – and postpones doing sadhana.

How to utilize time

Just as worldly people who are engaged in business are very careful about their time, so also spiritual aspirants are very careful about their time, and they use it in contemplation of God. They will not speak even a single word unnecessarily. They want to spend every second in the service of God. That is the reason why they observe mouna and hide themselves in the Himalayan caves. If you take care of the seconds, the hours will take care of themselves.

Time is, indeed, most precious. It can never come back. It is rolling on with tremendous speed. When the bells ring, remember you are approaching death. When the clock strikes, bear in mind that one hour is cut off from the span of your life. You must tremble with fear and say, “Death is drawing near. I am wasting my time. When shall I realize the goal of life? When shall I have darshan of my ishta devata? When shall I be free from this wheel of samsara?”

Your birthday reminds you that your life is shortened by a year. On this day, make a firm resolve to make your future life more fruitful and useful. Do not postpone doing good deeds, for there is no certainty of life. What you propose to do tomorrow, do today. What you propose to do today, do this very instant. Do in the daytime that by which you will live happily in the night. Do in the early part of your life that by which you will live happily in old age. Throughout your life do all that by which you will live happily after death.

Sit down before retiring to bed, and count the acts that you have done. If you have wiped away the tears of even one person by a single word of comfort and cheer, by a single good deed, then you may count that day well spent. You have done an act that is pleasing to the Lord. But, if you have not done any act that has brought solace to anyone, if you have not spoken one word that eased the heart of a person in agony, you have lived in vain on that day.

Life is a link in the chain of time. If you waste time, you waste life. Know the value of time. You cannot salvage a second spent in worthless ways. Time is most precious. Trifle not with time. Make the utmost use of it. Utilize every second in spiritual pursuits and service.

The nature of time

Time is a creation of the mind. It is an illusion. It depends on the nature of the event. When your mind is deeply concentrated, a period of two hours passes like five minutes. If the mind is distracted and wandering, half an hour hangs on as two hours. This is everybody’s experience. In dream also, many events that represent a period of fifty years take place within ten minutes. Time is but a mode of the mind. It is kala shakti. It is illusory.

Without the mind, there is no concept of time. Annihilate the mind. You will go beyond time. You will enter the realm of the Timeless. You will live in the Eternal. In the Absolute, there is no time. Time is a measure or duration of experiences. You sit for lunch at one p.m. and get up at two p.m. You have spent one hour taking food. There is an interval between the two experiences. Where there is only one homogenous experience of the Self, how can time be there?

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Time is formless, but it makes an appearance when some motion occurs in nature. The wheels of time are mysterious. Past, present and future are all relative. Present becomes past. Future becomes present. Present alone is real. Live always in the present. Today becomes yesterday. Yesterday is today’s memory. It is a remembrance only. Tomorrow is today’s dream. It is a longing only. Live in the solid present alone. Wipe off yesterday and tomorrow. In God, there is neither past nor future. It is all eternity. It is all solid present alone. Present is the solid reality.

You cannot remedy the past. You are not sure of tomorrow. The only and best thing is to make today as useful as it can be. Yesterday is gone. Forget it. Tomorrow is not here. Worry not. Today is present. Use it well. Today is your own. Tomorrow perchance may never come. Do not worry about dead yesterday or unborn tomorrow, but concentrate on today, the eternal present.

Live well every day as if it is the last. Every moment is virtually important; every day is like the turning of a new leaf; and every year, the beginning of a new hope.