Our precious human life provides us with the foundation to enhance not just this life, but also all our lives here after. It offers us the chance to attain enlightenment, realize true peace and joy, and radiate those qualities effortlessly to benefit countless beings. If we realize our enlightened nature, the universe will become a source of peace and joy for us, and we will become a source of peace and joy for the universe.
If we recognize how precious this opportunity is and understand the value of our own existence, we will immediately feel a sense of great appreciation and thankfulness for the blessings of life that we enjoy. That gratitude will turn into a strong determination never to waste a moment of this life, and to dedicate it entirely in the best way that we possibly can.
Let us consider how many beings in the world have this extraordinary opportunity, as doing so can help us realize just how fortunate we are. Looking around, we can see that there are countless beings in the world. If we turn over a single rock, hundreds of insects could be crawling. If we had a microscope, trillions more creatures would become visible. Billions of bacteria, I am told, live in our intestines alone. According to Buddhism, every one of them has a mind and seeks happiness.
The beings we can see, moreover, are just the tip of the iceberg. Like the cultures around the world that traditionally believe in invisible beings such as angels, gods, demons, and ghosts, Buddhists also believe in numerous classes of invisible beings. Many of these beings exist in our midst, in the very place where we now sit and breathe. The only reason we don't see one another and don't interfere in one another's lives is that we lack the common causal (karmic) connections that would produce mutual perception.
Yet among this vast and wondrous array of visible and invisible life, human beings possess the greatest potential for realizing enlightenment, as we have the intellectual capacity, incentive, and stamina to seek a spiritual path and stick with it. Consider animals and hell-beings, to take two examples. These beings endure such fear, pain, and dullness that they lack the strength to gather even a trace of the qualities of enlightenment. Now take beings like the long-lived gods, who might seem to be luckier than we are, what with their beautiful light-bodies and access to all sorts of delights. The truth, however, is that the gods-unlike human beings, who taste both happiness and suffering and therefore have the incentive and the ability to seek enlightenment-are too rapt in their sensual pleasures and lack any experience of pain that might spur them to do spiritual work.
Yet even among human beings, if we look closely, we see that there are actually very few who have the disposition and are likely to seize the opportunity to work toward enlightenment, Many people today don't believe in the spiritual. Many have no inkling of their mind's potential. This is so even among some educated people. An intellectual once told me, "Mind is just a fungus on the brain."
Some people are too submerged in the struggle against poverty or illness or to caught up in addiction to indulgences and excitements to give time to spiritual development. Others pour every ounce of their energy into achieving material success and fame. And still other people, who might have some spiritual inclination, never get on track because they fall in with the wrong crowd and pick up the wrong values. So when we boil it all down, only a tiny percentage of human beings have a realistic chance of taking advantage of the opportunity for spiritual growth.
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