Who has the time?
The notion of time and time keeping is nowadays so deeply rooted in our reality that we seldom stop and wonder how this time business started in the first place. Why do we keep track of time and how have we become so time-addicted?
The Benedictine rule introduced into Western culture the idea of regulated time, for Benedict believed that every waking minute should be consumed by labor either physical or spiritual.
The monastic community was regulated by an uncompromising daily schedule. At a certain time of the day, one would attend mass. At another time, one would work in the garden, and so on. Our entire orientation towards time in European and European-derived cultures owes its origins to Benedict’s regulation of time.
Now, recently emerged from a short dip in Buddhist waters, I can say that the subject is even more intriguing that I first imagined.
I was walking in a temple that housed over 300 Buddha statues and was lucky enough to stumble upon a full fledged lecture on the Buddha pose and it’s meaning. Among other priceless information, I found out that the “Buddhist day” is divided into 4 activities, each deserving 6 hours to be allocated in which ever order: 6 hours for sleep, 6 hours for study or work, 6 hours for walking and 6 hours for sitting in meditation or silence.
While Europeans used time as a measure for how well you are doing in satisfying your religious and social duties, the Buddhists concentrated on the duty to ones self, the source of all problems, solutions and well being.
Is the European medieval institution of time compatible with this pattern of self-observation or is the importance of duty towards others strong enough in Europe that we could never find an agreement between the two?