There is a strong human potential movement that counsels ‘mindfulness’ by living in the present, and not worrying about or identifying with the past, and not imaging or creating images about the future in one’s mind. This movement has an underlying truth associated with it, as dwelling on either the past or the future, without focus on the present, can indeed be both unhealthy and unproductive. And it addresses in a very direct way the issue of always hurrying forward to achieve a result, to reach a destination, rather than participating fully and with attention in the process, the journey, the day to day life one is leading.

When one is engaged with achieving a specific result, anything that delays the process, any obstacle, setback or even a sequential series of steps, requires one to fight and rail against whatever is holding up one’s result. Of course, when once an individual achieves an objective with this mind-set, he generally finds out that somehow the fulfillment has escaped and he must move toward another goal or object, and thus, can never rest.

Wilhelm Goethe captured this restless attitude in his famous rendering of Faust, who was never satisfied with anything he achieved, and who even famously held “If ever to the moment do I say, ah, linger on, thou art so fair” then he would consider himself doomed.

As long as we live in the ego-personality and the surface consciousness, there can be no real solution to this constant drive forward without satisfaction or solution. It is only when we shift the standpoint to the eternal consciousness, that has nothing to achieve, nothing to prove, nothing to accomplish, other than carrying out its systematic manifestation through Time and Space, that we can be at peace while simultaneously acting with the full power of the divine in its effortless effort.

The Mother writes: “We — I mean men — live harassed lives. It is a kind of half-awareness of the shortness of their lives; they do not think of it, but they feel it half-consciously. And so they are always wanting — quick, quick, quick — to rush from one thing to another, to do one thing quickly and move on to the next one, instead of letting each thing live in its own eternity. They are always wanting: forward, forward, forward…. And the work is spoilt.”

“That is why some people have preached: the only moment that matters is the present moment. In practice it is not true but from the psychological point of view it ought to be true. That is to say, to live to the utmost of one’s capacities at every minute, without planning or wanting, waiting or preparing for the next. Because you are always hurrying, hurrying, hurrying…. And nothing you do is good. You are in a complete state of inner tension which is completely false — completely false.”

“All those who have tried to be wise have always said it — the Chinese preached it, the Indians preached it — to live in the awareness of Eternity. In Europe also they said that one should contemplate the sky and the stars and identify oneself with their infinitude — all things that widen you and give you peace.”

These are means, but they are indispensable. … And I have observed this in the cells of the body; they always seem to be in a hurry to do what they have to do, lest they have no time to do it. So they do nothing properly. Muddled people — some people turn everything upside down, their movements are jerky and confused — have this to a high degree, this kind of haste — quick, quick, quick…. Yesterday, someone was complaining of rheumatic pains and he was saying, ‘Oh, it is such a waste of time, I do things so slowly!’ I said (Mother smiles), ‘So what!’ He didn’t like it. You see, for someone to complain when he is in pain means that he is soft, that is all; but to say, ‘I am wasting so much time, I do things so slowly!’ It gave a very clear picture of the haste in which men live. You go hurtling through life… to go where?… You end with a crash!”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Vital, Haste and Agitation, pp. 61-63

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.