How we view life – the perspective we have on life, on death, and on the human condition – is the basis for everything. Most of us have a distorted understanding of the fundamental question of life and death. The bottom line is, if we do not turn our attention back to the fundamental issue of life and death, no matter what superficial measures we may take, nothing will ever really change.
Society’s leaders and the majority of people have avoided thinking about this most important of issues, brushing it aside in the single-minded pursuit of immediate desires. It’s like trying to treat an illness with pain relievers without addressing the cause. Though our symptoms may be eased temporarily, we are only deceiving our bodies, and we will not get better.
According to Buddhism, the universe is one giant living entity. If we compare it to a vast ocean, each individual life is like a wave in that ocean. When the wave rises from the ocean’s surface, that is life; when it merges back into the ocean, it is death. Life and death are one with the universe. In the birth of a single life, the whole universe approves and cooperates. All of you have been sent here with the blessings and congratulations of the entire universe.
Everybody has a mission in life. That is why we are born. That is why, no matter what happens, we must press on in life through all things. For what purpose do we use our life? For what purpose have we been born in this world, sent from the universe? Why have we been dispatched here? The questions pertaining to the real reason of our existence still linger on.
All life is equally precious; we cannot apply a hierarchy of value to life, making one living thing more worthy than another. Each life is unique and individual. Every person’s life is as valuable as the universe; it is one with the life of the universe just as important. That is why we mustn’t take our own lives. It is why we mustn’t resort to violence; why we mustn’t hurt or bully others. No one has the right to harm the precious treasure that is life.
If we consider physical birth as our first, youth can be called as ‘second birth’. It is during our youth that we are truly born as a person. That’s why it is such a difficult period in life, why we have to go through so much. It is a struggle, like the struggle of a chick trying to break out of its egg.
The crucial thing is never give up. As you struggle to find your way, think, study, talk with your friends and give your all to taking care of what’s important now. If you challenge yourself without throwing in the towel, then your very own mission – the one that only you can fulfill will reveal itself without fail.
Those who are beaten by their problems experience no fresh growth or ‘rebirth’ as human beings. They end up living by instinct alone, like an animal. And that is spiritual death. If you think about it, although we may not be destined to die five minutes from now, we are all, without exception, going to die at some point. We can count on it one hundred percent. There is nothing surer than this.
Ideally we should live every minute of our life valuable, as if it were an age. Those who live aimlessly are left with a sense of emptiness at the end of their lives, but those who live all-out, surviving right to the very end, will die a peaceful death.
A life without death might seem like a nice idea but it would also mean that we’d put everything off, thinking that even if we didn’t take care of things now, we could still do it in ten or twenty years’ time. In fact, we’d probably never do anything at all. We’d all become completely decadent and lazy.
If we go to see that’s what happens to people who spend their days living haphazardly, never giving serious thoughts to the reality of death. Death does not come to the person who is tired; it comes to the person who has stopped moving forward.
A philosopher has said that an awareness of death, our own mortality, is what separates humankind from the rest of the animal kingdom. So along with this awareness, let us forge ahead and do our best to create a century of life!