In the spiritual life we come to learn of the immortality of the soul and the idea of eternity. But at the same time a spiritual seeker needs to value the importance of time. It is tempting to feel that after making a certain amount of progress we can stop and relax. Sri Chinmoy suggests that during our meditation, we should not think about anything but our meditation. It is no good to spend time in meditation when our attention is elsewhere.
“Always say, 'Today is the only chance I have, absolutely the last chance.' Then you are bound to get a good meditation. Otherwise, there is no goal. If you feel, 'Oh, now I am only twenty-eight. At the age of seventy-eight I will realise God,' then you will never realise God. Perhaps at the age of thirty or forty God will call you to the other side.”
If we meditate with this kind of intensity, unimportant things will not distract us during our meditation. If we really did have 1 day left to live, would we really spend it worrying about trifling issues like paying our Gas bill on time? But if we have no intensity in our meditation, if we feel we can just sit there and allow thoughts to drift through our minds there will be no real meditation and no real progress.
Towards the end of the nineteenth Century there was a young Catholic girl Therese Martins. At the age of 15 Therese felt an overwhelming urge to enter a convent. She felt an inner calling from Jesus to dedicate her life to a spiritual life. However, when the 15-year-old girl asked for permission to enter the convent; she was kindly told to come back when she was 21 and more “grown up”. Therese however was heartbroken, as she felt God’s hour had struck. But Therese wouldn’t take no for an answer, so she travelled to the Vatican where she took the opportunity to personally petition the Pope. A few months later her heart’s desire was filled and she joined the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France.
Therese died just 9 years later, form TB at the tragically early age of 24. But during these 9 years, her saintly approach to life had a deep effect on the whole community. Therefore the elder nuns asked her to write down her experiences and approach to the spiritual life. The essence of Therese’s philosophy was that “it is not in doing great works that matters but doing small things with love.”
After her death these simple, yet soulful writings gave inspiration to many thousands of people and she was later canonized as St Therese of Lisieux. In 1997 she was named as one of the 33 doctors of the Catholic Church alongside St Augustine and St Teresa of Avila.
View: Poetry of St Therese
I guess the implication is that we never know how long we have to live, or what fate has in store. If something is worth doing it is worth doing now.