This life is precious.
I don’t realize that too often but I’m better at it than I used to be. I used to not think that at all. In fact, just a few years ago when I was still drinking and using, I used to wish this life would just end as quickly as possible.
In Buddhist terms we call this life a Precious Human Life. Yes, in capitals. When we take some time to think about what we really have, we realize how rare and special our lives are. We also realize how fleeting they are, how they can be extinguished in a moment. As a result, we are motivated to use this life with more intention and purpose.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a few deep breaths, come into the present moment and look at your life closely. Maybe you haven’t done this in a while, so take your time with it.
At the very least you will find that you’re alive and breathing. (This is good. Rejoice at this!) You’re able to read, think and make choices. You have enough food, clothing and shelter or else you probably wouldn’t be reading this in the first place. You live in a free country. You aren’t a slave or someone’s property (working 9-5 doesn’t count!). You can study and practice whatever spiritual path you choose. You have many privileges, leisure and opportunities that not everyone has.
When I was in India a few years ago, I was speeding down the road in the back seat of a hired cab. We blew through village after village and every one looked poorer than the last. What I realized was that if I had been born there, I wouldn’t have any of the opportunities I have now. There would have been no coming out to family and friends. No “finding Buddha”. No working hard to save enough money to go on a pilgrimage to a far away place. My life and my choices would have been already decided for me.
So think about this for a few minutes. It’s not about taking yourself on a guilt trip. But you can cultivate a sense of gratitude for what you do have. Once you do that, you can make an effort to use what life you have left to benefit others. It doesn’t have to be the whole world all at once. Start small. Start at home. You can make life better for your family, your children, your friends, your co-workers. In that way, little by little, you willmake the world a better place.
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