Where does life lie? Buddhist sutras teach, "Life hinges on a breath!" If we take the duration of a breath seriously, we appreciate the value of life. "An ounce of gold cannot buy an ounce of life." The world we live in is one that is constantly doing battle with time. We must fight for time in anything we do, and are always racing against it. In being able to create endless accomplishments within a limited time period is timeliness.

Without control over timeliness, the food we have bought will rot, the news we learn about is outdated, popular trends have become passed, and even our beneficial thoughts have slipped by us. Because they are not timely, they cannot be fully developed as we lose our best opportunities.

Government policies are often lagging behind the times of society and people's needs. The lack of timeliness makes them inefficient. Without proper city planning or zoning, all kinds of construction may be built before the government decides to ban them and enforce new rules and regulations. This can create chaos for the community. When the economy slows down, politicians are still bickering over their partisan interests which only adds to the problem. By the time they realize that the situation is so serious, they try to make up for time lost. Such belated actions not only fail to bring any positive result but also cost them a loss in public confidence.

When rescue workers fail to arrive on time to accidents and natural disasters or doctors do not handle emergency cases right away, many more people die. If battling countries do not withdraw their troops in time, they lose the opportunity for peace. If parents do not provide their children education at the right time or children miss the opportunity to honor and respect their parents, they all end up with regrets in life.

Leaders of the world often act on impulse or miss the timing for important decisions for their countries. It is impossible for them to go back in time again for the lost chance. Even though we are living in an age of expediency and efficiency, many times we find ourselves unwittingly missing many golden opportunities in life.

Therefore, we should not waste time in practicing benevolence. When we have money and do not use it to do good deeds, we may not be able to do so the next time around. The Buddha once told a story about a foolish man who thought he could save the milk in his cows before his guests arrived for his party. However, when his guests did come later, he could not get a drop of milk from his cows.

The hare thought it was running very fast in the race against the turtle and took a long nap halfway. By the time the turtle reached the finishing line, it was too late, and the hare still lost the race in spite of its advantage over the turtle. Without planting in spring, how will there be a harvest in fall? Without working hard in our youth, how will there be achievements in our old age.

We should be timely in dealing with people and handling situations. If we lose the right timing, the moment will never come back for us again. Many people spend their lives regretting what they have done or failed to do in the past. If we can finish off all we set out to do in a timely manner, we will not have regrets later. Why do we have to wait for tomorrow, the next year or even longer? Wait! Wait! Wait! We may wait till we are old and dying, and nothing will be of any use anymore!