Perhaps the most influential teacher about right livelihood, for me, is Tarthang Tulku, Rimpoche, a Tibetan Vajrayana teacher and lama who introduced the Nyingma school tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to the United States. He is a prolific author and, in my opinion, gifted the world with Skillful Means: Gentle Ways to Successful Work—one of the most practical handbooks on right livelihood I’ve encountered.

Lately, I’ve been musing about time, time management, how much time I have left, what exactly we mean when we talk about “time.”

I returned to Skillful Means for some inspirations and thought I’d share some notes from my review.

On Time and Time "Management"


Time can be cultivated.
     As a friend
     As a helper
     For inspiration
Time “allows” things to happen.
     Events flow.
     Experience unfolds
Time creates opportunity.
     To live.
     To develop.
     To grow.
     To appreciate our inner nature.
Time will eventually “run out.”
But time has “allowed” our lives to unfold.

Time "Management"

What is time’s value?
Do we have enough time?
How do we spend our time?
     Idle conversation.
     Useless pastimes.
          Feeding our fantasy life through words and images, moving and static.

Do you put things off thinking “There’s plenty of time.”?

Are you filled with worry that “There isn’t enough time.”?
Does your sense of time make you happy? “Time enough for living, time enough to die.”
Or does it make you angry? “I don’t have time for this!”
What if time were money? How would you treat it then?
Where did you get your ideas about time?
Are your time ideas and behaviors too well established to be changed?
Do you respect the quality of your time?
Do you use your time fully and effectively?
What role does time play in helping you clarify your purpose?
Do you let time slip through your fingers like the sands of an hourglass?
Do you wander from pillar to post, not knowing your direction?
Does your life seem rushed and chaotic?
Are you ruled by time, forcing your living into 15-minute boxes on a piece of paper or a phone or computer screen?
Do you hurry to complete your work, but find yourself distracted by everything else on your task list or in your work space?
Do you work long hours but find you have done little that is truly joyful or satisfying?
Are you moving too fast to stop and smell the flowers?
Or does each day bring a deeper appreciation of your purpose and your sense of contributing something of value?
Are your days focused and productive?
Or are they hazy and unclear on just what it is you have accomplished?
Do you have time for self-discovery and personal growth?
“When we waste our time, it is like plucking the pearls from a dazzling necklace one by one and throwing them away. But when we use time well, each minute adds another jewel to enhance the beauty of our lives.”
Tarthang Tulku, Rimpoche
Skillful Means

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