Let’s look at the 24-hour period of the day. Everybody has got 24 hours each day, so if I understand these 24 hours I can know how to use them to my advantage.
The mode of goodness starts at four in the morning and it goes until about, being very lenient, seven. You can feel it; if you get up early everything is very quiet and peaceful. This is the time for spiritual practice. Your mind is quieter, it is too early to do other things – go to work, get on your cell phone, etc., etc. It’s an opportunity to do Gauranga breathing, japa yoga, chanting, kirtan (if you have some … listening to chanting on a recording) this is perfect. Reading scripture or devotional activity as well. This is the time of day that is designed for this purpose, just before sunrise.
If you are in nature you can feel it more profoundly. The early mode of goodness time actually is an influence that helps you in your spiritual life. It is said that doing any spiritual practice at that time will produce more results than at a later time during the day. It is as if God has arranged this: ok, if you do it then I will give you more benefit than if you do it later. So we can take advantage of that, “Oh, good, I will do it then.”
From 7 o’clock throughout the day is the mode of passion. This is when you get things done, you are more active, you can do whatever you do, go to work, and you are productive in whatever that may be. The mode of passion is designed to help you.
Then around sunset the mode of goodness comes back and things quiet down again. If you are in nature of course you can feel it. In the cities you cannot feel it very much. I’m sure everybody has been in nature and felt when the sun starts going down … the animals and the birds quiet down, and they go to sleep. That is a good influence again for spiritual activity.
I lived on the north shore of one the Hawaiian Islands for a long time. A lot of people were living along the north shore as well. Almost everyone was tuned into this, at sunset everybody came out of his or her house and sat down along the shore and watched the sun going down into the ocean. Everyone was basically quiet, no loud or big music. Everybody was just sitting and watching the sunset; if they were talking, they were talking very quietly. They were so peaceful, just sitting there and feeling … wow, so fantastic.
These things started changing my life. I started experiencing another whole dimension of life.
So sunset is a good time for spiritual practice.
Those of us who practice bhakti yoga get together and chant in the evenings, study Bhagavad-gita or other scriptures. We spend our evenings like this and we are assisted by the mode of goodness. Then about 9 o’clock, we will say 9 to 10, again being lenient; the mode of ignorance comes in. And that ignorance is for sleeping, that is the influence, darkness. So the night is dark and the mode of ignorance helps us sleep, according to the system you go to bed. It is said that the sleep you get before midnight is much more important than the sleep after. The body has an internal cleaning system and a rebuilding system that rebuilds your body from the wear and tear of the day between 10 o’clock at night and 2 o’clock in the morning. For that to happen you have to be asleep, it does not happen if you are awake.
The yogi’s system is that you go to sleep at 9-10 o’clock, then all this takes place, your body is rebuilt, you sleep deeper, you are more rejuvenated and then at 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock in the morning you wake up. When you wake up you feel fresh, energized, you didn’t do stupid things all night. Waking up … Your mouth does not taste like a Chinese army changed clothes in it. You feel good and now you are ready to “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna…” Take a nice shower; sit down, “Hare Krishna…” And your day is started in a very wonderful way, spiritual foundation.
So this is what we should do if we are serious. Just material life … it is the absolute best way to live.