When we look at materially successful people around us, whom many of us worship as role models, we get inspired, we dream of following in their footsteps and aspire to lead lives in the same frame. In a bid to fulfill such materially elevated aspirations, we try to imitate them, we often plan out every detail of how our daily activities should be executed. However, unfortunately, inspite of all efforts invested in designing a foolproof plan of action, when the time of execution arrives, we are hit by a storm of inertia, we get engulfed by the thorns of laziness, we are doomed as we fail to achieve our short term or long term goals. At such critical times, we need to question ourselves - who is the culprit for causing serious loss of the most precious jewel of our lives i.e. time? Procrastination is rightly called the thief of time. But how exactly is procrastination to be understood? It has been described by timeless Vedic texts as imprudent, irrational, inconsistent, and even immoral. This vexing practical problem in turn generates a great deal of frustration, regret, and harm.
Who is responsible for such acts? It is nobody else but our own selves, our mind and senses, who are conditioned to seek pleasure and mundane enjoyment.
Our mind is habituated to getting carried away in the wilderness of unwanted thoughts about the past, present or future, the futility of which we realize after we lose ourselves in the forest of darkness. To cure this disease of procrastination, our great acharya Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura has rightly propounded that we must beat the mind hundred times with the shoes. We must try to regulate ourselves as 'Tomorrow never comes'
The very first step towards achieving this is developing the strong desire, the will power to become spiritually strong. It is through this spiritual strength, through our regulated devotional practices, through our sincere prayers to the Supreme Lord to channelize our energies in the right direction, that we can overcome this vicious cycle of killing time.
Let me share a practical realisation that greatly inspired me. While I was sitting by the lake chanting my rounds, I saw an eagle swoop down and silently perch itself on top of a mango tree above my head. I looked up at it and observed that it was staring at the lake with one-pointedness. I was taken aback when suddenly, the eagle dived head-first into the lake. There was a skirmish and splashing. The eagle emerged from under the water a few seconds later with a flapping fish in its claws. The fish was struggling for its life as the eagle flew far into the forest, out of sight.
That fish was just swimming along like any other day; with friends and family, looking for food, having fun and swishing around. It didn’t expect anything traumatic to happen. Suddenly however, it was ripped right out of its reality, away from everything it identified with. It came face-to-face with death. Isn’t that a potential situation for everyone? We just go about our lives like any other day and the eagle of fate strikes – there’s a calamity in the family, a traumatic experience, disease, or death itself.
At that moment, I was thinking that the moral is that we should not be complacent. We should take the spiritual opportunities we have in our life very seriously. One of the greatest enemies of a living being is procrastination. We get into the groove of our lives and put the most important things off for another day, oblivious to the fact that this red-eyed eagle of fate may come for us at any moment.
But there was also another lesson; if that fish swam deeper, the eagle could not have caught it. In the same way, if we go deeper into our spiritual practices, deeper into our meditation, transport our minds to that deeper place within our heart where there is real fulfillment; then whatever situation may come upon us in this world, won’t really affect us. We will realize what is the real purpose of our life and work towards it. We must re-engineer our lifestyle and simultaneously intensify our spirituality; it just requires determination and organization.
Lord Krishna asserts in the Bhagavad Gita As It Is (18.28) that the worker who is always engaged in work against the injunctions of the scripture, who is materialistic, obstinate, cheating and expert in insulting others, and who is lazy, always morose and procrastinating is said to be a worker in the mode of ignorance.
Therefore, the key to overcoming procrastination is constantly reminding ourselves that whatever actions we are performing in this lifetime are for the pleasure of our Eternal Father. Either it is now or never. He should feel proud of our acts and based on our degree of sincerity and spiritual consciousness, would at the end of our mortal life, ultimately hold our hand and take us alongwith Him to His Spiritual Kingdom - back home, back to Godhead.