Time is Not for Wasting

Manly P Hall


Time is Not for Wasting 10.6.1985 Transcript


The lecture emphasizes the importance of time, discipline, and understanding in personal growth and societal progress. It advocates for the effective use of time for personal growth, knowledge expansion, and service to the common good. It underscores the need for discipline in controlling destructive emotions and maintaining health. The lecture also highlights the importance of understanding and respecting different cultures, religions, and philosophies for global harmony. It criticizes the notion of life as a series of accidents, advocating instead for the recognition of purpose and intelligence in the universe. The lecture concludes by stressing the importance of personal growth, self-improvement, and the pursuit of beauty and truth.

Well, I wasn’t sure my subject was going to attract many people, but perhaps if you’ve come, you’re drawn to the idea behind it. We have probably, in the last 60 years, had a few questions that have recurrently come up. Hundreds of people have asked me a simple question: why was I born in the first place?

That’s a good start. From that point on, they get worse. An individual will say, “I didn’t ask to come here, and they’ve been getting along pretty well. I don’t ask to leave, but nobody tells me except that I must do whatever Providence demands.” So, the individual is not very sure of his faith in the plan of things, if he has one.

Some feel that they are simply the result of a biological progression, that there is no reason for anything in the first place, and therefore, the answer to it all is to quietly get through life as comfortably as possible. Others are a little more dynamic in their thinking. They feel that we should go through life making all the noise we can, that we should be busy every moment, and dissipate as far as the constitution will permit.

Others take some reference in philosophy. They try to understand the reason for life, but they are so unpopular that nobody pays much attention to them. Then the theologian comes along, and he has a very interesting story that was effective until quite recently. In those days, when the average person’s life was not more than 35 years or he was able to escape a major dilemma in his community such as a plague, a fire, or an invasion, these people under theological pressures tried to gain a certain patience and insight. They were trying to understand what God wanted them to do and were doing the best they could under the conditions. Theology told them or explained to them that the original point behind the whole thing was Original Sin. Way back in the dawn of time, Adam and Eve were indiscreet, and we have been punished ever since. This has lost favor for the most part because we no longer will accept this as a reason for thousands of years of assorted existence.

Then the philosophers came along, and they made a pretty good story out of it. They said that it was obvious that in this great plan of things, there has to be a reason for what happens. This universe has some kind of a controlling mind or consciousness behind it. So, philosophy said we must try and find out what the universe wants us to do. That was never popular because it seldom, if ever, agreed with what we wanted to do.

So, philosophy has a small following, and along came science and marvelously took care of that. Today, science has become the reason for existence and also, at the moment, possibly the most likely cause for the end of it. So, science became a kind of intellectual hobby. It enables human beings to find a new outlet, things to do, things to think about, and experiments to make that were wholly fascinating. So, it’s not gradually, in the course of time, a sort of scientific philosophy came into existence. According to which, the real purpose of life was the advancement of knowledge.

Well, we’ve been trying to do that for a long time, and the more we advance, the more our affairs go backward. So, this doesn’t seem to be a very good answer. Because politics is an answer to anything, it’s virtually impossible. Nobody knows. So, we are in here in a condition in which we have very few definite supports, and yet we are here, and we are here for an approximate length of time.

Time is the measure of opportunity. It is in time that we must succeed or fail. It is in time that we grow or decline. It is in time the span of our lives can be measured with reasonable accuracy. So, we have here a time now approximately 80 years. This doesn’t mean it’s a limitation. People can live much longer, but on the general average, that’s a fair point. Now, this 80 years seems to be quite a span in the eyes of nature. The universe, it is about one second, and the things that happen in a generation hardly register on the clock of universal events.

But we do have this span of time. We have gradually lengthened it. We have made it much more interesting. We have done all kinds of things to use, abuse, misuse time. And yet, we have it as a commodity. It really is about the only thing we bring with us as the basis of opportunity for growth, for improvement, or for the development of the individual or collective destinies of mankind.

So, we all have this time now. When we say 80 years, we’re not meaning that the individual has 80 years in which to do things. Far from it. Nearly a third of that time has to be used in sleep or rest. Another third of it has to be used to earn a living, and in early life, there’s very little achievement. And towards the end of life, there is a weariness which doesn’t want to labor too heavily. So, out of the 80 years that we have, we are very lucky as individuals if we can carve out one quarter of that free time allows us to do as we please, but often, due to accidents and incidents, we have about 20 years of man-made time in which to do what we were here to do in the first place. We’ve got to do something with this time. We may want to simply get through it as quickly, easily, and comfortably as possible. This seems to be the prevailing mode at the moment. Time is a disagreeable period, and the only thing to do to make it endurable is to waste it. The better we waste it, the shorter life will be, and the longer we will have in which to pass into some oblivion we know not of.

So, all this brings up the point of today. Here we are with a small span of opportunity time to do something, time to be something, with very little attention as to what we are going to do or what we’re going to be. Now, I would say that the majority of young people today are so uncertain on this issue that they decide that the only thing to do is to have fun as long as they can. Fun becomes the way of filling up the active quarter of human life that is not occupied by inevitable pursuits.

Fun now is all kinds of things, and today, fun is not what it used to be. In the older days, fun was largely a domestic household procedure. The small community made its own entertainments, and between birthday parties, Christmas, holidays, and church festivals, the individual got the idea that he was enjoying himself. At least he thought he was doing fairly well. Today, most of these answers are gone, and today, fun is for the most part participation. Fun is the individual definitely and desperately trying to forget the reason for himself, and yet he has this self. He cannot explain it, but he knows it’s there. He knows that this self in him is alive and is part of a greater life. He breathes, he thinks, he feels. Therefore, there is some part of himself that is in there as a conscious unit, a being, and this being is, to the most part, an annoyance.

This being may have brought forward from the past a certain amount of moral tradition. It may also watch news reports and see what happens to people who abuse being and the trouble they get into. But having watched everyone else get into desperate trouble, the new viewer gets into the same trouble himself without a moment’s hesitation. Actually, we are here without motivations, and yet we have opportunity. So one of the things we must admit about life is that for many people, at least, life is a wasted opportunity. This should be something better we can do with it. There should be something about it that we can pass on as an achievement so that our descendants will be glad that they are here and that we have made life better for them.

So, this problem brings up the great issue that we want to discuss: the proper use of time. And we must admit, I think the old saying that time is not for wasting, and yet we are doing everything we can to waste it. Our entertainment is a waste of time for the most part. It has been highly philosophized that all these various programs indoctrinate us in great principles and truths and encourage us to avoid ills, but in practice, it does not work that way. We simply sit glued to the tube, and whatever is on that, we take, and we waste the time that we might be doing something with.

Now, one of the reasons why we come to this conclusion is that every once in a while, an individual has an opportunity. He has a chance to do something bigger and better than he’s ever done before, and he is totally unequipped to do it. He has not any background that is going to support a better level of living or thinking than he now has. He hasn’t advanced his studies well enough to claim a better profession. He hasn’t a deeper understanding of life with which to build a better home. He has many basic moral integrities to impart to his children, and in the world of politics, he does not know who to vote for and, for the most part, doesn’t care. Now, this is not good, and yet it comes about as the inevitable result of an unplanned life.

Now, you tell people today, young people especially, that life is something to plan for, and they will do everything they can possibly can to get rid of you. They do not want to plan because they feel that they are surrounded by circumstances that make planning useless. And one of these is nuclear warfare. Many young people today do not expect to fulfill their life expectancy. They believe that somewhere along the line, they are just going to be eliminated. Therefore, what they think, what they do, and why becomes comparatively unimportant. The problem is to live now and make every opportunity to enjoy yourself while you can. This was the motto of the old Romans: eat, sleep, be merry, but tomorrow you may die. This type of thinking has always burdened a world that continued to nurse ignorance and continue to support falsehood.

But now, in the 20th century, things are getting a little more complicated. There are more people, there are greater problems, there is less integrity, there is more conflict, and every individual sort of feels that his neighbors are his enemies, the neighboring countries are enemies, and those in office are enemies. And life itself, from the storekeeper to the politician, each is an adversary in itself. So, we are here in a world in which most people are not able to cope with the daily circumstances of life.

Now, those who are a little older in years have certain inheritances of thoughtfulness, and they are continuing to the best of their ability to make life a little better for themselves and each other. And youth is coming face to face with a major dilemma of its own. It is now becoming increasingly obvious to young people that dissipation is a fatal mistake. That this problem of trying to obscure time, trying to waste time by forgetting you even exist, is not working out. Little by little, a younger generation is destroying itself or at least disillusioning itself about its own attitudes.

So, with this type of thinking, we have to realize that an educational process is going on, whether we know it or not, or whether we like it or not, or whether we will accept it or not. Life is not a series of events that have no relationship to each other and no meaning. To attempt to prove that life is meaningless is to gradually transform an interesting and remarkable existence into a state of meaninglessness. It is meaningless simply because we have destroyed the meaning ourselves.

So, out of this comes a gradual recognition that is taking over very strongly at the present time, that the life of fun, the life of do as you please, the life of give no thought to each other, all this type of thinking is definitely wrong and is producing definitely destructive results. This is the most active and most positive proof that we have that the universe is an integrated being, that the Universe has integrities. One of the simple evidences found through the ages has been that those things which have integrities receive natural support. Those that go against integrities destroy themselves. Nature does not give a victory to that which is not right. It gradually, inevitably, and remorselessly forces the individual, the generation, or the humanity back into line with truth and with fact.

Now we’re beginning to see this. We’re beginning to see the young people we knew a few years ago starting out in life, and we see now that they are wrecks. We see that they have lost all their values, that the moral code is falling apart, and that freedom, as we call it today, is nothing but a travesty. It is the ability of the individual to do nothing. The right that he has to be wrong in every sense of the word, and this is simply not working out. If we could prove that a lawless generation lived better because it lived according to its own inner convictions, it would be different. But the moment the individual breaks away from the basic patterns of society, he is in trouble, and he will remain in trouble until he finally is brought back into line.

So, we see around us a lot of young people today who are badly frightened. Frightened over narcotics, frightened over many of the mores of modern living, frightened of dissipation, and afraid of the weaknesses in themselves. The discovery of internal weakness can be a destructive factor, or it can be an inspiration for the individual to mend his ways.

So, time is the problem. We have this time. This time is limited. This time is something that gives us only a few years in which to do something. Now, we know that we have social responsibilities. We know that we have responsibilities to the bodily needs of the flesh in which we dwell. We know that we have to contribute to the support of society. We know that we have to have some kind of income or compensation for effort in order that we can live and eat and have shelter over our heads and educate our children. These are jobs. These are duties. But on account of the civilization we’re in, most of the charm of these duties has disappeared.

It used to be that many jobs were inspiring. It took something to be a good shoemaker, and when you were a master shoemaker, you were a person of consequence. Now, this type of ability is comparatively lost. It is only in the arts, practically, that any individual initiative is recognized. For the rest, we are expected to become machine operators. We are expected to punch buttons. We are expected to follow the patterns of increasing industrial complexity, and at the same time, we are gradually being displaced. Little by little, we are losing our leadership over the machines that we invent. The reason, of course, is obvious. As we invent the machine, we give up our individuality. We try to depend upon the machine to think for us, work for us, and labor for us in order that we may do nothing and enjoy it. This isn’t working out at all. We are gradually becoming unemployed because we are busy making a profit creating the instruments that are going to displace us. We are doing everything possible on the ground that idleness is the supreme achievement, that the individual should spend his life having fun. So, he’s creating machines that take him out of work in order that he may have fun by not working. But fun without work is not very pleasant if you have no way of making a living.

So, we are just losing common sense, and with the loss of it, we are losing our leadership in the world in which we live. We are not protecting our domains as animals do. We are not taking care of our young as birds do. We are simply doing as little as we can because the intuitive, instinctual part of our own nature has been blocked. And also, we find that those things we need to do are least practical, and profit is measured only in terms of gain or fame.

So, here we are with this time on our hands. What are we going to do about it? Well, one of the things we have to think of in connection with it is that life is a many-splendored thing. We are not just simply here to punch buttons. We are not here to just simply sit in an office and write toys. We are here for a multitude of purposes, and the leisure time that we buy by constant acceptance of responsibility is a very precious commodity, something that should not be wasted watching rock music or murder films on TV. There are more things to do. The individual has a self within him to bring out. He has capacities he’s not even interested in developing, and yet within himself, he carries the greatest potential of any living creature on Earth today. Man has the power to be that which he is willing to accept responsibility for, but he shies away from responsibility. He wants to do as he pleases, not work but spend, and keep on spending without earning. This leads to a bad end. It is the same in almost everything we do. We are flattered into extravagance, constantly wasting what we cannot afford, and living beyond our means in most instances. This is simply because we do not care about the future or the world we’re going to leave behind.

Some of our ancestors may have thought the same, which is why we’re in so much trouble now. Regardless of how you look at it, these years that we have, these hours a day, maybe two or three hours a day, are available for something better than wasting, something better than trying to bury our boredom. Something that is more valuable to us than trying to forget that we do have a life and hoping that by forgetting and taking our mind away from facts, we can drift slowly into oblivion with a bridge card in one hand.

Many older people now are just trying to fill up time. They have no real initiatives, no values, and yet they have within them the most powerful force in the world – the human spirit. What is happening to it? It gets tired, largely because it doesn’t have any resources. If it really understands itself, it won’t be tired, but if it understands nothing but a job, it will be tired. If it recognizes that as long as it can breathe, it can learn, life would be far more interesting. But we gradually overlook all this and largely over-influence our own feebleness of age.

With nothing to live for, there’s very little for the body to do to help us. However, if we keep on calling on resources, the body will continue to provide them. Maybe not completely, but enough to give us a very interesting and purposeful existence.

So, in this particular problem, it’s a matter of finding out that we will live longer and better if we’re doing something we believe in. If we’re making some kind of an effort to help others, to advance the cause of good projects, if we are definitely engaged in meaningful activity that satisfies the mind, the heart, and the hand, we will have a much better chance of health. There’s nothing more likely to produce a very serious health relapse than a life devoted to escaping responsibility. The more we escape, the more we compromise, the more we dissipate, the more likely it is that we will practically die on our feet because we have nothing left to live for.

We have some time. It’s a good point to start in as early as we can to figure out how to use these potentials that we have. The old guild system in Europe was one of the best that we know. The guild system was a very carefully developed process based upon the Dionysian artifices of ancient Greece. The guild system was the basis of education, the education was what we would term today as apprenticeship. The individual learned by doing.

He learned to be a shoemaker by apprenticing himself to a shoemaker and for five or ten years he stayed with his master, the shoemaker, until the master gave him his papers by which he became a full-fledged shoemaker in his own right. Having attained this particular distinction, he had a career for life. He was also bound by the system to the integrity of his labor. Every pair of shoes he made was part of a guild structure, and a cheap pair of shoes was a disgrace to every shoemaker that ever lived. When it happened, the disgracing one lost his papers. He could not shoddy his goods, he could not overcharge, he could not misrepresent, or he would be out of business.

Now we have unions today. It might not be a bad idea to include a little bit of this in the modern thinking of unions, that the union worker is part of a structure of labor, a laboring structure to provide the necessities of life. Any member of a union who cheats, defaults, overcharges, exaggerates, or fails to fulfill in the best way possible the job he has, is a disgrace to his union. In the 16th and 17th century, that disgrace came as a very rapid punishment. So the unions in those days produced these workmen who were trained, who were dedicated, and to whom a good day’s work was part of a basic religion.

And it was sanctioned on the point as to whether there is a God or not, it is a good religion to do a good honest day’s work. Now this type of thinking has kind of disappeared, but the guilds had another interesting point. When you were a member of the guilds, you didn’t just go on all the time doing nothing but shoemaking. You had a complete pattern of life in there, and these guilds all of them functioned on a level of creative art.

A good guildsman was probably a musical composer. He made shoes in the daytime and wrote poetry at night. He not only did that, but he had competitions in music in the local church or cathedral. He had all kinds of artistic achievements. He was a composer, he was a literary man, he did everything you could think of. Perhaps he was a tailor in the daytime, but at night he painted portraits. Every guildsman had to have two strings on his bow. He had to have two things to do, one to make a living for himself and his family, and the other to make a living for the being inside of himself that wanted to do something important.

So, each person, we know, probably one of the best examples of this is the story of the Meistersingers of Nuremberg in the opera of Richard Wagner. The hero, a shoemaker who was also a politician, was an artist, a musician, had his apprentices, and taught them as a parent, not as a taskmaster. He wasn’t there to get the last ounce of life out of his apprentices. He was there to see that when they came and got their papers, they would be a credit to the guild, a credit to the trade they belonged to, and also that they would share in the avocational developments appropriate to a good workman.

A good shoemaker cannot make shoes 24 hours a day, even if he could stay awake. A good man in any line, a tailor, a grocer, a mechanic, they cannot do nothing but that without destroying the inner part of their own lives. Therefore, everyone who has a trade should have an art. Everyone who has a craft should work towards a profession. Everyone who is working works for three things: the good of society, the advancement of human needs, and his own life and the glory of God. Those were the principles upon which labor was originally based.

Today, such thoughts are a little better than treason. We have lost all of this. We have lost it and have now made it a virtue to think of only one thing, and that’s your job, and stay on it till you wear it out, and then someone else will take your place. This is not humanity. This is the result of a loss of the realization of the human dignity of every human being.

We are all here for mutual support. In the course of society, it has become necessary for us to all cooperate to maintain the common good. In one way or another, we all have to help each other, whether we like it or not. But with the making of this type of a decision, we need dreams, we need hopes, we need visions, we need something in the inner life of the individual that makes it needful and proper for them to grow. For him to grow as a person, he must not only be a good carpenter but a good father. He is not only to work to maintain the physical existence of his family but to see that it grows, is educated, and if necessary, to sacrifice much of himself for the burdens which he has voluntarily assumed. But if he is proper-minded, these experiences are all valuable.

A man may learn a trade, but if he fails to hold his home together, something is wrong with his integration. So now we come to this top problem of time. These hours that we have to ourselves are the opportunities for our cultural development. They are the period in time in which we can do the things that we want to do, but everything depends upon our wanting to do something that is worthy of a human being.

It doesn’t have to be a great and masterful achievement, but it has to be something that is a step ahead of the monotony of labor. It has to give some contribution to the evolving of life. When the old Guild Masters built a house, it was more than just a roof, a basement, and four walls. A house had to have something about it that was beautiful. It had to be timbered on the outside, sometimes in Europe painted with interesting designs, religious or secular. A place made beautiful. No one was satisfied simply with four walls and a floor. They wanted something that pleased the inner life of themselves, something pleasant, something inspiring, something comforting. And the same when they furnished it.

They were not buying furniture on the basis of finding out who could afford the biggest shelf in here or something. They bought the things they liked, and having liked them and bought them, they loved them for the rest of their lives. The process of dumping the house and refurnishing it every three months does not occur as an example of taste. It ignites another one of these desperate nervous reflexes to burden the individual, to test to do something. So the easiest thing for him to do is spend money. He has it, and if he has it and can spend money, then he has the yacht and the condominium and all these things, but he is still bored. And these things do not constitute growth. They do not make a better person.

The purpose of time is to make it a part of growth. It is our growing time, and up at the present time, it has been largely a growing pain. We have not recognized the magnificent opportunity to do something that we can be proud of. There’s no use trying to be proud of the fact that we are more eccentric than somebody else, or that we are in worse taste than our neighbor, or that we make more noise than anyone else in the community. These are not the tests. The tests are that we have proved conclusively that we are making use of potential.

A human being has over 40 faculties within that skull of his, any one of which can develop an art or a science. He has all kinds of potentials waiting for something to do with them. A few, by working very hard in their fields, become specialists to the degree that they are musicians, or artists, or great architects, or highly gifted and recognized scientific thinkers. They have done a great deal with themselves to gain this kind of reputation, and we all have the opportunity to spread out into the fields of emotional maturity.

Our emotional lives are going to pieces also. There is no longer very much integrity in them. Emotion at the present time is simply a quick reflex to escape boredom. It is anything at the moment it becomes monotonous, it is broken up. There is no real effort to build these things as positive equations in life. We accept them as just another way of wasting time until we die. So out of all this time wasting, we are becoming a world of alcoholics, drug addicts, and what have you. The entire theory of life has fallen apart.

Now, unfortunately, in the midst of all this, the prodding of inner conscience has begun to move things a little bit. More and more people every day have come to the conclusion that delirium treatments are not an achievement. They are also beginning to realize that a series of divorces is not the symbol of a successful marriage and that children becoming minor delinquents are not proof that we’re doing things well in the home.

Little by little, we are beginning to realize something that we wanted to forget, and that is the rules are in here somewhere. There are rules that created us in the first place. They are rules that are magnificent in their potential, far beyond anything that we can achieve or hope to achieve. We cannot keep the stars in their courses, we cannot prevent the changes of seasons, we cannot make any great variation in the laws of nature, but we don’t need to. Most of these laws are working eternally for a purpose, and in these laws, there is an integrity, even when the laws do not please us.

If a law doesn’t seem to please us, then we are inclined to change the law rather than ourselves. Now, there’s a man-made law we can change it with a reasonable amount of discretion, but a Divine Law we cannot change. In the case of a Divine Law, it intends to change us and will do so at all costs. So, in a universe in which man is trying to take over the Divine prerogatives but has never been able to control himself, there is a need for a new attitude toward time. The only chance we have to learn how to live in this world is to live in this world. The only way we can find out the better things of this world is to cultivate those better things, to become aware of them, become interested in them, become dynamically involved in them.

Now, we look around and into the present situations, which way do we turn? Well, a great many people are turning to religion, and if the selection is carefully made and thoughtfully fulfilled, it can be a very great help. Because religion will remind us of one thing, namely, that there is a moral universe, and we are a citizen of that as well as the physical world. This moral Universe of Integrity is known to all the religions of mankind, and we now gradually come to realize that if we break too many of The Commandments of religion, we destroy our civilization and ourselves. We’d like to escape this.

When we read that says in the decalogue “Thou shalt not kill,” we pause for a moment, but many people will say well that was written long ago, we can’t follow that now, it’s just not possible. And so we ignore it, go to church, teach religion to our children, and declare war on another country. We seem to realize that if we serve our country, then we are heroes, not because we have prevented a war, but because we have, in our best Integrity that we know, we have given of ourselves as much as we can. But the problem is not solved this way. The problem is solved only when we get to the point where we don’t break these laws in the first place, where we are not likely to get into these difficulties personally or collectively.

We are warned that we should not covet, and yet 90 percent of people are covetous and go to church regularly. It doesn’t occur to them that there’s any inconsistency. “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” if that was enforced, half the law of thoughts of the world would close. “Honor thy father and thy mother,” many try to do it very desperately, but it’s becoming more and more of a problem because not only are the children keyed to a different pattern, but the elders themselves don’t want the old way of doing things. So little by little, the morality and ethics of life are undermined, and then in this undermining, there comes a gradual disillusionment. Nothing is worthwhile, as one man told me one day, he said there’s so few of us get out of this world alive. The answer is, as far as we know, there was only one, and we killed him simply because we will not face facts.

So this world is something that we have to give a little thought to, and in order to give a thought to it, we generally have to get the mind off of something that has hypnotized it for generations or at least for most of our lifetimes. It’s very hard to tell a scientist that he should take time off of his laboratory because he lives there, thinks there, believes in it, and what he’s doing. The individual with a good job is ready to die for the job. He is not interested in diversifying. He wants to get further and further into what he has in the hopes that will result in him having more. So he keeps on until retirement blocks him, and when retirement blocks him, he’s completely at loose ends because he has no other life. Is that right to do this to the thing we call a human being? There must be something better that can be accomplished if we really want to do it.

So the second string on the bow, as the old gills tell us, could be a great help. If the individual who is in business became profoundly interested in the moral values of Art, so that he could combine both of these factors, and very often this happens in exceptional cases where a person has had extremely powerful internal initiatives. The great millionaire ends up by building a museum for art, originated gives a great donation to a cathedral, or he does something for a great charity because somewhere inside himself, he can’t live with himself any longer, and he finally has to get rid of some of the pressures, undefined pressures of conscience, which will not let him forget the fact that he’s a member of the Human family.

So we have all kinds of instances in which a very powerful and useful accomplishments come. Now many people are interested in good accomplishments, but then again, the dominant attitude of accomplishment is that it must be physical. By practical, we must mean something that will kill us in due course, and if it’s creative, if it’s dynamically inspiring, then it’s not practical. The practical thing to do if you want to leave a fortune is to leave it to an institution that already has one, so that it will continue to flourish and do the things that it is doing but may or may not make any permanent investment in common good. Everywhere the individual is now tempted to support trivia and not the things that are necessary in life, and where we have good-heartedness, we also often have a lack of discrimination, and the generous person is simply deceived and exploited.

All of these things added together make a kind of a sad picture out of the noble creature which we call man. It just does something to prove to us that in some way we’re not as far from the jungle as we thought we were. That actually, we will never really achieve our Humanity until our heads are in the air, are way up in the sky of Truth, and our feet are on the Earth. Man has been given the power to think, to dream, to create, and it is necessary for him to use these powers in their higher echelon of meaning, that they are to be used to achieve the more noble and significant actions.

Looking back over the world’s heroes, we find that those whom we most admire who have gone before have been those who have made a great and unselfish contribution to the common good. We accept their contribution with gratitude and quietly overlook the fact that we probably crucified them while they were here. We’ve got to get to the point where we honor integrities, where we can recognize values, and where we are resolved to grow. Now this growth doesn’t have to be a painful thing. Most people today are afraid to think. They’re afraid if they start thinking, they’re going to be miserable. The truth is if they don’t think better pretty soon, they’re going to be miserable anyway. So that actually, creative thought is a cure for misery, not a cause of it. The cause of misery is an individual situation in which the individual lives below the level of his own Humanity, which he can’t afford to do because if he does, he’ll be in trouble forever.

So, we’ve got now two hours a day to do a lot of things in. I think one of the things we ought to do is to gradually refine our attitude of what to do with time. We have two hours a day, and we have weekends, and we have occasional holidays, and we have various opportunities for doing something. So what are we going to do? Are we going on a picnic? It might be a nice idea if the whole family goes, but are we really trying to use this time to strengthen Family Life? Are we using it to try to improve our own abilities in a valuable way? Are we searching for idealism? Are we looking at a great landscape and seeing in it a workmanship of divinity more beautiful than anything we can create? Are we trying to find life, our place in it? Are we trying not to be cast away on the desert island of materiality? We are trying to do something to make life beautiful, not only for ourselves but for others.

Well, we have three general fields in which we can operate, and these are the fields of the yogas of India. The first, most apparent field is service. Service of something that is important, service of something that we respect, service that calls out of ourselves sympathy, understanding, charity, something that makes life better because we have given of ourselves and not of something that we had. So service in the course of the less privileged and in the larger domain of things, a career built upon the protection of those values which we are likely to forget. Service is very important. Service is something that can really take the place of Television, which is a tremendous interval. But instead of watching somebody murder somebody on TV, we can do something that is at least constructive. We can try to help someone we know is in little need of help. We can become involved in community projects, which today are very numerous. We can do all kinds of forms of service and find greater help and greater happiness in working with underprivileged persons than we find listening to rock music on the radio. And we can do something with life, gradually to make ourselves a little bit glad about ourselves, that we are doing something that might be of some general public value.

Now, the second form of growth, of unfoldment, is self-improvement. Self-improvement implies a great many things. Young people starting out today have problems of Education. They are not planning an education in most parts; they’re looking around or listening to somebody tell them what job will make the most money. They don’t realize the fact that the job they’re going to plan for because it makes more money may not even exist by the time they graduate. We are losing more people who are trained in something that is no longer being done than we can afford. So instead of this type of thing, there could be a discrimination, a discretion. What kind of a future can a young person make or build that is almost certain to survive? It won’t be a computer because the computers are 10 years from now he won’t be able to operate without at least 10 more years of instruction. It won’t be to make a better mousetrap because they are practically extinct. The man who made the last buggy whip was a master workman, but then he starved to death. No one will follow these things. But look over the world you live in, and what do you see? Something that could be the basis of a good future. Well, one thing it seems to me should be given some consideration is language. Language is going to be increasingly valuable if we are ever going to build interracial and international understanding. The study of language on the side will not interfere with your daily job as a mechanic. It won’t prevent you from being a good doctor. It can’t. Interfering with the practice of law, it can do none of these things. It is simply a trained and disciplined avocational interest to prepare for a future that is very likely to happen.

They have changed the models of the cause, they’ll change the model of the typewriter, they will change the laboratory techniques, but when people want to talk to each other, they’ve got to have a basis of understanding. Going around as we do now, depending constantly on interpreters and translators, is foolish. We are, for the most part, an isolated world, limited to the English language.

A world is growing up around us in which other things are going to be tremendously important, and we cannot also depend upon the mistranslation of our ideas by undisciplined or unscrupulous politicians. So language comes in now. You can get a gentle knowledge of French, but this isn’t going to be so useful. Languages will have to be selected for use. We are developing a tremendous polyglot population here. Language is going to be very useful, but most of all, it’s going to be a problem where someone will come up and say, “We’ve got a job that is of world importance. We need a good American to fill this job, but he must speak Russian.” You’re not going to have much competition.

Another one will say, “We can put a very good man in Taiwan, but he must be Chinese.” So somebody else gets the job, and we keep on doing the things we always have done because we haven’t built a future on imagination. We haven’t sensed the things that can be done that could be tremendously important. But our avocational interest also opens up a whole world in language. It opens up music, literature, history. It gives us a tremendous new atmosphere in which to work. It is an open door into a larger world, and it is much more important to us than watching somebody shoot somebody on TV.

No, that type of thing is a specialized problem in training, and as we look at it, we realize for once that it has nothing to do with the crafts and trades with which we are familiar. We are not going to be in need of more mechanics. We’ll have more than we ever need, the same of doctors and lawyers. What we are needing is people who can communicate on human problems, and this is very, very short in supply at the present moment. So here is one way of planning that extra string on the bow. You don’t have to do it, it doesn’t have to be language, but it has to be or should be something which is not dependent upon somebody inventing something out of it. It is not something that we must compete with others who have more skills than we have. It is something to contribute to understandings of life. This is the second problem. It is the bridging of intervals. It is the bridging of ignorance. It is the breaking down of the barriers which lead to hypocrisy and intolerance. So these things are very important, and we can give them a lot of consideration. Another field that is, of course, tremendously vital is inter-religious and inter-philosophical understanding. The time has come when it is necessary for the mature, thoughtful person to understand the beliefs of the human race, what they mean, and how they can be advanced and used. And whenever a person from this country or any English-speaking country goes to a country with a different religion, he should go with a reasonable understanding of the mechanics and inspirations of that other faith. As their language will open one door, a common belief in the integrities of people will open another door. This does not mean that he has to give up his own religion. It simply is that he has to recognize his own religion in the religions of other people and that the same principles and ideals are there. So to communicate on that matter, our business standpoint from a career-building standpoint can be the difference between another civil war and a better understanding between nations. These things have nothing to do with money, but they have to do with a great satisfaction of the spirit, and this is something that we are losing and don’t know what to do about. Then we have other problems, and that is the Oriental philosophy of self-discipline. The self-discipline which comes from Zen, yoga, balanta, or any Buddhism or all these different religions. The individual must finally get to the condition in which he can run his own life right, instead of being in the condition of being constantly apologetic for his mistakes. He should learn to gradually live and develop his own character. Discipline will prevent him from destroying his own body, will prevent him from making himself incapable of using the faculties with which he has been naturally endowed. Discipline, therefore, is of tremendous value. It prevents almost all forms of misunderstanding. It ends gossip, jealousy, and all the small troubles that bother humanity. Discipline is to put the self under the control of a pattern. Now this pattern doesn’t have to be everybody else’s pattern, but it must be a pattern which ensures that the person will never be less in his conduct than the best that he knows. This self-discipline is the beginning of broadening out the foundation of a complete life. For all these things together make up a life. A life has to be made up of a series of balanced factors. The individual who becomes unbalanced in living is going to head into disease and into sickness, and when the time of life comes when he could enjoy himself a little bit, he’ll be too tired, too sick, and too weary to worry about it. So this discipline is the greatest factor in the maintaining of health, and health in this case is mental health, emotional health, and physical health. So a little time devoted to this problem, a little discipline every single day, a fulfillment of those things which are best as they arise, the control of temper, the control of unkindness, the end of bickerings, the ability to live with someone who disagrees with you and still live happily and harmoniously, simply because you have overstepped or gone above the basis of quarrels. If you rise high enough in quarrels, you will finally find that they end in unity. But if we nurse them on the earth, they will never get over it. So there is another point where discipline is very, very important. Now all children growing up, and young people for that matter, all old people, must learn to love beauty and love life as it is. Instead of going out to criticize everything they see and do, they’ve got to learn the dignities of life. They’ve got to learn to appreciate emotionally and mentally the beauties with which this world has been naturally endowed. The sunsets, the gardens, the flowers, the trees, these things are remedies for hate, suspicion, and despair. Little by little, the natural universe is given an opportunity, can bring great consolation to our hearts and minds. We have to gradually learn that we live in a beautiful world, and if it looks a little otherwise, it’s largely because of us. That actually, we live in a well-disciplined pattern. We live in a world that is almost like a great club in which everything runs on time. We’re living in a world in which laws, rules, and patterns are highly protected, but we have taken the attitude that protection is a kind of imprisonment, that we are being protected from doing the things we want to do when in reality we are protected from doing the things that we can’t afford to do, but we don’t realize it. Therefore, to cooperate with nature, to recognize the natural beauty of existence, to gradually cultivate the power to control all emotions that are destructive, will give us a new understanding of life. If we begin to see the beauty in things, we’re not going to watch the things that are not beautiful. We’re going to realize that asymmetry, discords, these things are the result of ignorance, of misunderstanding, and of excessive lack of discipline. We are going to realize that where the individual can’t endure himself, can’t live with himself, can’t understand himself, he will make a loud noise. This doesn’t solve anything, but it gets it out. It gets him out. It gets out of his system, but only for a moment. Five minutes later, he has to make another loud noise, and so on until he is too weak to continue the process. Actually, therefore, we have to recognize that time is a problem in health. Time means that we should do everything possible to maintain as good and body health as we can for a reasonable length of time, that we should try to enable the face life with a certain amount of conserved vitality. If we waste everything we are on riotous living, we have no vitality, we have no health. It is not only is health important toward the perpetuation of life, it is important for the moods in which we become involved. An individual who has lost his vitality, who is variously dissipated, run down, confused physically, and ailing most of the time, cannot have the proper internal adjustments with truth or reality. Now we have another fight in connection with this, and that is this problem of reality. The sophisticate, the skeptic, would like us to believe that there is no truth, that there are no realities, that existence is a vast unconditioned accident, that all things just happened, and that this just happening includes everything of biology, archaeology, astronomy, you know, everything you can think of. The universe never was an intelligent thing, it was just there. Now to have thousands of years of culture and 20 years of education in our present embodiments and be told that nothing means anything in the first place or the last place is a little bit weak. It is an indication of stupid sophistication. It is not that way. You cannot assume even for a moment that this vast machinery that we see around us is without a soul. It has to have a mind. It has to have realities, and it has to have purpose. We can’t imagine an eternity going on forever beyond the conception, beyond the furthest imaginations of mortals, simply for no reason. We too cannot actually also take it for granted that anything is the cause of itself. We can’t assume that nothing brought forth something, that no law gave us laws. We cannot assume that the vast pageantry of spheres which we can contemplate at night, if the fog isn’t too heavy, is nothing but an accident. We are already in science saying it is an accident or has no meaning, at the same time depending upon it exactly and absolutely for the advancement of this science itself. If there were not rules, no scientific experiment would have any meaning whatsoever. It is because of these exactitudes that research is possible, and yet at the same time, we cling to these exactitudes and deny their meanings. We have got to take a new attitude towards this whole problem because it’s getting nowhere. We have to realize definitely that whatever the setbacks may be, we must have some kind of a personal integration. We must have a philosophy of life. We must have a code which is sufficient to ourselves, and if we want to assume that we are the only creature in the universe that has such a code, what is the difference? We have to have it. We cannot afford to attempt to exist without it, for this code is the basis of the complete survival of the person. Without this code, some part of each individual is going to die. The death may not be complete. He may linger for 75 or 80 years, but some part of himself has died when he ceases to dream, ceases to hope, and ceases to have faith in the purpose for which we are created. So we have to be you have to have little thinks about this type of thing. Now it may be that I remember a man who was in Western Pennsylvania who had a farm, and this man had a little stream that ran through his farm. The stream was a rather muggy little thing. It didn’t amount to too much, and he didn’t pay much attention to it. And so finally, along comes one of these engineers that’s hired by the community to take care of the safety of the citizens. He made a series of researches that took about a week to find out the quality of the water in this little creek, and he finally decided that it wasn’t fit to drink, that it wasn’t fit to be used by cattle, that the water was not safe. So carefully, he made all these researches and came to this conclusion.

So, he told the farmer, “You can’t drink this water, and you shouldn’t give it to your cattle. You shouldn’t even use it for bathing; it’s that bad.” The old farmer said, “Well, you’re probably right. My grandfather told me that 75 years ago.” The manager asked, “How did he know?” The farmer replied, “It’s very simple. In those early days, there were fish in this pool. After too many cesspools, the fish all died. He noticed that 75 years ago, and it didn’t cost a nickel. This survey was very expensive and came to the same conclusion. Native intelligence can take care of many problems which we now build great scientific projects for because science, instead of being organized common sense, is a definite effort to reject common sense as being insecure, unreasonable, and unrealistic. And yet, if it had not been for common sense, most of humanity would never be here. Common sense is very important, and it’s really most uncommon. But actually, common sense is based upon a folksy statement or concept that the common agreement, the common mind of people, is very apt to be more accurate than any specific research project. We all know because we live, and those who live in the world know more and know it sooner than those who function behind the walls of a great laboratory. Science has its place, there’s no doubt about it, but science also has to realize that if it doesn’t find God, that doesn’t mean that God isn’t there. It means that a highly specialized training has been built around a concept of a series of universal accidents, which to my thinking, is the worst form of non-science that you can possibly imagine. How science can build itself upon an accident is rather difficult to understand, but they rationalize it into a fairly good job of it. But we all need discipline in our lives. We need to say, as Muhammad is supposed to have said, that there is the 24-inch rule: the day, 24 hours, divided into three eight-hour periods. The first is for rest and repose, the second is for labor, and the third is for the growth increase of knowledge and the glory of God. We need this kind of balance. Now, this is the same idea that the guilds had. The guilds believed that the life of the individual has in it no place to do nothing. It has no place to wander about in the fault. Whatever life we have is useful, must be useful, to the day we die, and maybe a little longer if we really could understand all of it. But in any event, there should be no waste of time. Now, in wasting time, is not the answer to joy. We do not have to make time a burden. Time is not a responsibility; it is an opportunity. As much as time is good, there’s time to have fun, there’s time to be happy, there is time to serve the common good. But in all time, there must be growth. There must be something accomplished that makes us better for ourselves. Your time can, in the long run, make us happier. Then our happiness will be real. But if we depend on happiness for participation, our happiness will be fatal to our survival. Little by little, we have to keep the rules if we want the rules to keep us. And these rules are that we’ve got to do things that mean something, that relaxation and time are for good, for happiness, for growth, for the development of potentials. And in some cases, we find people in retirement age who go into a new business, make a success of it. But if the business has something for the common good, the older person who is no longer so much concerned with wealth is likely to be a very good servant to a common need. Everywhere, to work together is good. Everywhere, to use spare time for pleasant labors. The Chinese, for example, if he has a couple of spare time hours and he doesn’t know just what to do with it, is very apt to go out and read poetry in a bamboo grove. He might also go out in the bamboo grove and write poetry, or he may join with neighbors in a little tea ceremony to be associated with the contemplation of the beauties of nature. We just drive through the beauties of nature at a pretty fast rate, and we fly through even faster. The world of nature has disappeared for most people. The only time we really see nature now is when we have to watch somebody else’s picture that they took on a vacation. That is how we travel. But there is a world that we are missing, a world that we’re cutting out. Overpopulation and urbanization are resulting in the destruction of the beauties of nature and of life, and surmounting this difficulty is getting to be a great problem. We have to find new beauties that we didn’t understand before, but we must have beauty or we die. So little by little, we have to do to find the things that help to make life possible. And if we can do that, we will have a good life, and we will make proper use of time. Time is here because it is the golden opportunity. Time goes by, and in the end, the hourglass runs out. But time, while it is here, it reminds us of the saying of the old Greek sage on his deathbed who was listening carefully to the gossip in the front room. They told him he might not be alive more than an hour, and it wasn’t worthwhile to listen to gossip anymore. But he was upon his elbow with his hand coiled behind his ear, and he said, “Well, I might be dead in an hour, but I’m alive now. And while I’m alive now, I can learn.” And the use of knowledge and time to find out why we’re here, and why it is that we need to be here, and what we can do about being here, and how we can help to fulfill a plan of which we are a part and from which we can never escape. If we begin to think in these types of terms, we will have better music, better art, better literature. We will find opportunities to find the refreshments of idealism, and we will not be continuously confronted by something that destroys our faith in ourselves and other people. It’s just a matter of each person becoming more or less immune to the negations which are dominant around him. He must gradually build a strength of inner life, not a great big massive stupendous thing, but a gentle, kindly, quiet appreciation for that which is good, and a resolution to support good where he finds it and refrain from involvement in corruption. If these things can be worked out by a simple process, the simplest person, even a child, can gradually come to understand the importance of this point of view. The child can learn why he is here before people misinform him on the subject. He can learn why he should have a nice disposition, why he should learn, why he should study, and gradually the curriculum can be made into something that he will enjoy rather than resent. I think most children would be willing to accept a form of knowledge that would help them to grow into the right kind of people, to grow into the fulfillment of those natural impulses and instincts which we all possess. We want to be happy. We would like to have a nice home. We would like to have a successful marriage. We would like to have attractive, interesting children, and we would like to help to build them into characteristics which are good for them. We have lots of things we can afford to love, but they are not the things that hurt us. And if we will gradually build back some of the simple normalcies that sophistication has tried to destroy, we will not be one of those who has to face the future as an addict to cocaine. It is all part of an escape from self when, in reality, this kind of self that the individual is trying to escape is the truth in him which he is trying to deny. So if we keep these thoughts in mind, work with them a little all the time, I think in time we’ll find something in time that makes it very good that we have been given this allotment of opportunity. For that is what it is. It is as time set aside to the privilege of growing up, growing into the beautiful realities which we have all dreamed about, growing and making come true the fairy tales of childhood. We can make things beautiful, but we can only do it if we gradually improve ourselves. And because of the kind of laboring world we live in, we have restricted opportunity and time to do all these beautiful things. We can do most of them, however, if we do not waste the time as opposed.


Manly P Hall

Research & Brainstorming Below