14 June 2017 0 Comments

Clarify Your Priorities; Responsibilities and Time

The time for contemplation is the spring that feeds our action, and our action will be as deep as the spring. We need time to allow the spirit to clear the obstacles – the clinging debris and mud – that keeps the spring from flowing freely from its clear, deep source. And we need time for the spring to overflow into insightful and compassionate action.

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, the most common form, of innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys her own inner capacity for peace. It kills the root of inner wisdom that makes work fruitful.

~Thomas Merton



These words point to the very heart of our spiritual bankruptcy. In his book “Time and Soul,” Jacob Needleman says, “The time famine of our lives and our culture is in fact a symptom of metaphysical starvation.”


How many of us are swept away by what I have come to call an “active laziness”?

Naturally there are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern style consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea and gossiping with friends.

Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time left to confront the real issues.

If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so called “responsibilities” accumulate to fill them up. One master compares them to “housekeeping in a dream”. We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the important things of life, but there never is any time.

Helpless, we watch our days fill up with telephone calls and petty projects, with so many responsibilities – or should we call them “irresponsibilities”?

~Sogyal Rinpoche


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