"Human beings are always searching for a way to feel satisfied and comfortable. So we produce countless experiences in daily life, good and bad, right and wrong. But no matter how long we seek interesting experiences, expecting they will give us happiness, our desires are still not satisfied. This is true even when we have good experiences, because we want to keep our good feelings around. We want to hang on to wholesome states of being because we know there are also unwholesome states of being, and we don't want to face them. So, whatever we do, there is always dissatisfaction.
"We feel dissatisfied in daily life because there is time. In the stream of time our desires and experiences constantly appear and disappear from moment to moment, so there can be no permanent satisfaction. The functioning of time is something that is beyond human perceptual recognition, but even so it is something we have to understand through and through at any cost. Buddhism tells us that if we misunderstand time, life doesn't work: we don't feel happy; we don't feel comfortable. So we want to know what time is. But time is very strange. Time is not the long hand of the clock going around. Time is change.
"In daily life you experience time because something is always changing. Even when you are alone in a room that is completely separated from the changing world outside, you feel time because your body changes. Time passes and your stomach feels hungry. If you could completely shut yourself off from physiological change, you would still feel time, because you have a constantly changing stream of consciousness.
"Looking at it this way, maybe you would say that time is a constant stream of consciousness. But that understanding is a little shaky because your stream of consciousness is closely connected with memory. While you are asleep you don't see time. And sometimes, if you have a big shock, the stream of consciousness stops. Then one moment seems to be an hour because you completely lose the sense of time.
"Would you experience time if you lived in paradise? People say that in paradise you live forever and all your desires are satisfied, so there's no need to seek anything. Can you see a stream of consciousness or feel time in such a situation? No, there is no sense of time there. Maybe, philosophically, there is something called absolute time there, but Buddhism wants us to know real time, not metaphysical time. Real time is closely related to the human life we are living now.
"For example, in human life, if you take an examination at school, when the time is up you have to stop writing. Even though you think, 'I want a little more time,' there is no time left, so you have to stop. Or, if you become sick, even though you hope, 'Please wait, because there is something important that I have to do before I am sick,' it's too late there is no time to wait. This is called impermanence. Whatever you think or hope, something is always changing."