In India, time is an abstract, relative notion. Nothing runs on time. A party called for eight o’clock implicitly means ten o’clock. It can take days to accomplish a simple task like mailing a parcel. Trains do not run on schedule. They can arrive hours late, days late, or sometimes not at all. To the Western mind, this is chaos. Certainly it is disorganized. But the underlying cause is not that India is simply inefficient, there is a fundamental spiritual and psychological difference.
Central to Hinduism and Buddhism is the notion of reincarnation. There are many lives, infinite lives, all with the purpose of reaching a perfected state of consciousness, at which point one rejoins to the eternal. There is no goal in this life other than to raise one’s consciousness. All else is empty.
When you believe you only live once, naturally you will feel anxious. The fear of death, of finality is always with you, always lurking in the subconscious. You have only one life to experience and achieve. Time is running out, every day finished is a day closer to death, to the end.
When you believe you only live once, you will cling to all earthly things. Amassing material wealth, collecting external experiences, trying to find some meaning in your life. You are like a starved beggar seated before a great feast, unsure that there will be another chance to eat, so you stuff yourself until you are sick, unable to move.
The conscious person knows that existence is infinite. The body dies, but what is beyond the body, the consciousness is eternal. Once this is realized, all tension automatically disappears.
Once death arrives, nothing from this life can be taken with you. So then what is the objective? What is the rush to achieve anything? You can become a doctor, a lawyer, you can buy a house and have a family, nothing will stop the inevitability of death.
The only path is to live in the moment, to use your feeling of inner joy as a compass for your life’s direction. Anything which brings you joy is a step closer to your true self, anything which brings you discontent is movement away. Trust yourself and yourself only; listen to yourself and yourself only.
In the West, we go on filling our days with meetings, appointments, dates. We cling to the notion of productivity, of using our time wisely, as if it is a finite source. Productivity is only a relative term. Productivity can only exist if you believe in the notion of some end goal which you can achieve. Productivity can have short-term application, but in the scope of a lifetime, or an existence, it is completely empty.
You rush because you have plans. You have some idea of what you want the future to look like. You think within that fantasy lies your fulfillment. But the human mind is so small and existence is infinite. There is no way that you can predict the future. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, only this moment.
There is no objective in this life. There are no winners or losers. You do not win by dying with the most money, or collecting the most honors and awards, or even having your name transcribed in the history books.
When you understand there is no objective, you will stop hurrying. Where are you trying to reach? It is the ego that is forcing you run, dangling a carrot before you, tempting you that satisfaction and happiness are just around the corner. But we are never satisfied. This happiness never comes by chasing; it just keeps moving further and further away, like the horizon, forever just beyond reach.
Our society is invested in our unhappiness. In our un-fulfillment, we keep working, we keep running to achieve so that we might have a taste of it later. It is why we are in such a hurry; the current state of mind is so unbearable that we rush to escape it. It is the fuel that powers our economic system. If one day you decided you were completely content, you would have no more need to do anything. You would stop going to work, you would stop paying your bills, you might just go and live in a mountain somewhere as the Saddhus do in India.
By running from it, by living in a rush, you cannot escape your unhappiness. You can distract yourself so that you might forget once in a while, but it will still be there. You can drink and take drugs to sublimate it for a moment, but then it will return.
Experience everything which comes to you, live it fully. There is no question of asking for anything to be different. Do not even rush to experience enlightenment, you have as many lives as you need ahead.