… continued from Pt1. Previously in my brief history of time (somewhat simpler than the version by physicist Stephen Hawkins) the idea was put to reduce your burden caused by another’s unreasonable demands on your time. The roadside billboards warning of txting ‘M8 it can W8‘ are a pointer to harm arising from a sense of immediacy. Whether due to willingness to please, or desperation to retain work, readily agreeing to deadlines can’t be undone – so take care in committing. A fellow Naval Officer had the rule that the answer to any request is “No! … but make out a case for ‘yes’.” Employment isn’t slavery, so negotiate and demonstrate the acumen that you were selected for. Increased scope must have a trade-off elsewhere, and remember that inability to adapt did the dinosaurs no good at all.
Rigidly held beliefs can be harmful. The frustration of insomnia could be greatly alleviated by recognising that closed eyes are resting those muscles – beneficial even if it has been decided you should be asleep at that hour. Despite individual uniqueness, some patterns of alertness emerge and Perry & Dawson’s 1988 ‘The secrets our body clocks reveal’ explores chronobiology of scheduling to suit our cycle. Changing your habits so that sleep fits into a natural programme requires rethinking maxims for productivity. None of this is new, and New Agers are embracing spirituality & Eastern philosophy.
16th century St Francis de Sales was ahead of the game in saying “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed“, an idea repeated by the Dalai Lama. Indeed, His Holiness is fascinated by timepieces, from childhood tinkering with clock mechanisms (see Scorsese’s 1997 film ‘Kundun’) to his collection of rare watches, explained in his book ‘Ethics for a New Millenium’ thus: “It reminds me that I am no different from the rich or the poor. We are the same in wanting happiness and not wanting to suffer. It is also true that I possess several valuable wristwatches …. So I must admit a contradiction between my principles and my practice in certain areas“.
And should you too ever understand ancient truths, inevitably the rules change so you’re no longer a time lord. Circadian rhythms are thrown into sleepless chaos by illness, which is where Vidyamala’s book begins. I suggest to read that download before proceeding, since what follows is a departure from practical and into existential.
Impermanence is an aspect of the Buddha’s four noble truths about suffering. Time changes all things, and our attachment to rigidly held views will cause hurt when they pass. “… the suffering latent in every situation we meet, in this case, the suffering of not getting what we want” writes Khentrul Rinpoche in ‘Unveiling Your Sacred Truth’, expands upon the first teaching of life’s unsatisfactoriness. Time is only one factor in the conditions that arise and influence our ‘self’, but selflessness overcomes time’s toll on our mortal life. Our inability to defer gratification means we want it all, now. But what will you leave behind? Descartes separated mind and body, writing “I consider the human body as a machine“, and setting us on our path to control health just as we do the environment, or time.
The planet’s not sustainable, time pressure is harming health in the Western world, but there’s a timely return to therapeutic meditation – control the mind first. All else follows.