What is procrastination? || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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Speaker: What is it that you shift to the future? Do you shift that to the future, which is really important, really enjoyable?

Listener 1: Sir, we shift to the future something which is not useful.

Speaker: So, procrastination is nothing but the postponement of misery. ‘If I do it right now, I will feel miserable.’ So I somehow try to escape by sending the thing into the future. Are you getting it?

Listeners: Yes, Sir.

Speaker: If you find yourself procrastinating a lot of times, if you find that you have fixed a schedule for yourself and you can’t stick to it, then that is a clear indicator that you have filled up your life with miserable tasks. Then it is a clear indication that the climate in the mind is that of suffering and irritation.

One does not postpone joy. One does not postpone freedom and love. One only postpones suffering. And that is procrastination.

Kindly do not think that procrastination is about laziness. We often think that lazy people procrastinate. No, it’s not about laziness. It’s about the climate of the suffering mind. You want to escape the misery, so you are sending it away. You are saying it need not happen right now, it must happen at some other time.

So let’s not ask, ‘How to end procrastination?’ Let’s simply get in to the question of living in a way, in which there is no need to procrastinate, in which the very thought of procrastination does not arise. Can one live in that way? Is that kind of a mind possible?

Procrastination is always about the future. Right? Procrastination means something apart from this moment. A mind that is immersed in the present will not procrastinate. And a mind that is continuously thinking of the future, will do nothing but procrastinate. This question is a very good opportunity to find out whether that kind of living is possible. And if it is not possible, then you are saying, ‘Life must be hell. Life must remain hell. And I have reconciled to the fact that there is no other option available. I have given up. I am dead.’

ProcrastinationIt is something like, ‘I have been put in a jail and I don’t see any possibility of ever coming out.’ I hope most of us are not as dead as somebody who has surrendered to such a defeat. That is what is meant by awareness.

Awareness is not some magical trick. Awareness is just about looking at your daily actions and seeing, ‘This is my life.’ Life is not some imaginary quantity somewhere. What you do from morning till evening, is life. And if your life is full of delays, procrastinations, gossips, worries, tensions, then that is what you are living and nothing good can come out of this kind of climate.

Misery begets misery. Miserable decisions will lead to more miserable decisions. As is the seed, so is the fruit. You will have to look at the seed. That’s extremely important. Find out what is it that you will not try to procrastinate and give more of that to yourself. Do you understand this? Find out what is it that you do not want to procrastinate and give more of that to yourself. Allow yourself to have more of that.

And whenever the mind wants to defer something, wants to send it to the future, then ask the mind, ‘What is it that you are not liking? What exactly are you not liking?’ Pause and ask, ‘What are you not liking? Why are you sending this away to future? It’s a bad treatment that you are giving me.’

Procrastination is like saying, ‘Don’t get hurt today, get hurt tomorrow.’ But ultimately you are admitting that hurt is inevitable. Today or tomorrow it will happen. Instead of this kind of a dejected surrender, ask, ‘Is it really inevitable? Why don’t I like something? Why don’t I like anything? Why is it so that I feel bored always?’

You see, I address all kinds of audience and it’s been a long time now, it has been more than a decade. The student says, ‘Why do I postpone? Why do I postpone?’ The professional says,’Why do I postpone?’ The senior manager says, ‘Can there be a way to live in the moment?’ The student is bored in the classroom thinking that when he becomes a professional, then life will have a different flare.

But if you look at the people standing on a crossing, people who are traveling to work, if you look at their faces, you will hardly find a joyful face. It would appear that all of them are being made to go to a torture house. And they will stand at the same crossing in the evening, around 7 P.M. when they are returning from work. Watch their faces again. They are still bored, they are still depressed. Boredom, weariness, has become a way of life with them.

You are talking of procrastination probably with respect to some activity. But ask yourself, ‘Is there anything that I would rather not procrastinate?’ Given the opportunity, we would not do anything. Just send off everything to future. Nothing matters. There is nothing in life that is important because we have actually never found anything which is important. That’s true. That’s just true.

Find out that to which you can dance. Find out that which you can do even without being paid. I am not saying that don’t get paid. But find that out which you can do even without being paid. Find out a loving way of life. One never procrastinates love.

Otherwise you are asking for a very miserable, very dreary existence. Don’t do that. Alright?

View the session at: What is procrastination? The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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  1. “Procrastination means something apart from this moment.” Thought it is laziness, but no it is the climate of the suffering mind… an immersed mind will not procrastinate! Procrastination directly means suffering now and not immersed in this moment.


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