Life, when you get right down to it, is ultimately a question of your own inner feeling or awareness. It is not just a matter of theories or words. Everything that happens to us has a meaning. Even if you’re sad and filled with pain and feel like you can’t go on, as long as you keep going and keep pressing forward bravely, living your life without being defeated, you will come to see the meaning of that suffering and pain. This is the essence of life. You can talk about how joyful and happy you are, but if what you actually feel inside is depression and despair, all your talk of happiness is meaningless.
Life is eternal. Though we say we have ‘lost’ someone when they die, actually we could just as well say that they have gone somewhere far away for a while, as when a friend goes overseas, and we can’t see him or her for a while. Likewise, while you may believe on an intellectual level that life is eternal, which too is empty and meaningless if you fail to challenge yourself and make efforts in your life so that it will shine with everlasting brilliance. In fact, you can’t be said to have a real understanding of the eternity of life, either. The law of life and death is universal, applying across the cosmos. But it always manifests itself uniquely, differently for each and every individual. Life is tremendously complex, with many causes and conditions at work therein.
We can’t blame anyone else for our problems. Everything we are is the result of our own actions. Some people fret about why they were born into a certain family, or why they weren’t born more beautiful or more handsome, but everything is determined by their own past actions. When our actions are good, we will receive positive effects that make us happy; when our actions are bad, we will receive negative effects that make us unhappy. It all eventually comes back to us.
It is even quite likely sometimes that people who commit acts of terrible cruelty and inhumanity may not be reborn as human beings in their next lifetime. The good and evil energy that is engraved in one’s life does not vanish at death. We carry it with us into our next lifetime. Perhaps you can think of this phenomenon as similar to the principle of the conservation of energy taught in physics.
No matter what sufferings or hardships we may encounter, we must live bravely and strongly, challenging them until we triumph. The person who wins in the end is a true victor in life. Victory is not decided halfway through. If we win in the end, we can look back on everything that has occurred up to that moment and realize that it all had a meaning. On the other hand, if we lose in the end, everything in our life will have been meaningless, no matter how smoothly things may have been going until then.
If a person has strong will power to the very end, he or she has triumphed. There are many people, who in spite of being fatally ill and suffering greatly themselves, have given courage and inspiration to countless people. Such people will quickly be reborn with a healthy body. All of us will die eventually. The crucial thing is how we have lived. It is important to live as long as we can, but length is not the measure of a good life. What matters most is what we have done with our lives. That is what determines whether it has been a good life or not. At any rate, the important thing is not whether our life is long or short. Of course we mustn’t lose our precious lives through our own carelessness. Thinking that we’re safe from accidents is a kind of arrogance. Our correct attitude should be to take extra precautions against accidents and illnesses.
Suicide rates all over the world have risen to an alarming rate. People who kill themselves feel as if they have no way out. They don’t have the strength to fight. They have nowhere to take refuge or find solace. But seeking escape in death does not end one’s sufferings. In fact, by destroying the treasure that is your own life, you commit a grave offence that only adds further to your sufferings.
Suicides feel trapped and drained of vital life force. The reason they feel that way is that they are essentially living in opposition to the fundamental law of life. The entire universe flows in the rhythm of life and death. The largest star lives and dies, the smallest insect lives and dies. All phenomena move in the rhythm of life and death. We may not be able to directly apprehend what death is like, but we can get an idea from life.
We cannot scientifically prove what state after death is like. There are many people, though, who say that it is impossible to prove the existence of life after death, and that we can only know what death is like by dying. But what are you going to do if, after you die you find out that you were wrong? It will be too late to change your life then. Even if, just supposing, there were no life after death, all your efforts to perfect yourself still wouldn’t be wasted, because you’d end up a better person and leading a fulfilled life. Either way, you’d still come out ahead! If we think of this as a bet, it’s the best bet going!
Science is not almighty; there are many things it can’t prove. In particular, modern natural science excels at researching things within the realm of the five senses, but it has no means for inquiring into those things beyond that realm. Science has no means to investigate life after death. Therefore, the proper scientific attitude should be to withhold judgement about things that one doesn’t understand. Science has no authority to declare whether life exists after death or not. To declare without proof that life after death does not exist is arrogant, and it is also an error.
No other age has been so intent on refusing to face the fact of death and so ardent in pursuing worldly desires as this age of science. Yet it is no coincidence, that today’s world that has forgotten death has witnessed the twentieth century as the century of mega deaths by seeing two world wars and a nuclear arms race carrying the threat of global annihilation. We cannot possibly hope to find a basis for respect for the sanctity of life in a view of life and death that maintains there is no life after death and that human beings are nothing but aggregations of matter.
That is why it is of prime importance that the youth of today should study and spread the philosophy of the sanctity of life around the world so as to make the twenty-first century a century of peace. One should study the correct view of life and death, base actions on it, and regard each and every day as a precious, irreplaceable treasure. One should aim to fill one’s life with hundreds of years’ worth of value and lead an invincible existence, the legacy of which will shine on brightly for all time.