Какова цель жизни?
Глава 7. Нравственная основа для человечества
Буддизм для людей, живущих в обществе
What is the Purpose of Life?
The Human Being is the highest fruit on the tree of evolution. It is for the individual to realise his or her position in existence and understand the true meaning of his life. The purpose of life is to achieve the end of suffering or unsatisfactoriness.
TO know the purpose of life, you will first have to observe it through your experience and insight. Then, you will discover for yourself its true meaning. Guidelines can be given, but you must create the necessary conditions for the arising of realisation yourself. There are several prerequisites to the discovery of the purpose of life. First, you must understand the nature of human life.
Next, you keep your mind calm and peaceful by adopting religious practices. When these conditions are met, the answer you seek will come like the gentle rain from the sky.
Understanding the Nature of Human Beings
HUMAN beings may be clever enough to land on the moon and discover wondrous things in the universe, but they have yet to delve into the inner workings of their own minds. They have yet to learn how their minds can be developed to the fullest potential so that its true nature can be realised.
As yet, human beings are still wrapped in ignorance. They do not know who they really are or what is expected of them. As a result, they misinterpret everything and act according to their imagination. Is it not conceivable that our entire civilisation is built on this misinterpretation? The failure to understand existence leads us to assume a false identity of a bloated, self-seeking egoist, and to pretend to be what we are not or are unable to be.
People must make an effort to overcome ignorance to arrive at realisation and Enlightenment. All great people are born as human beings from the womb, but they work their way up to greatness. Realisation and Enlightenment cannot be poured into the human heart like water into a tank. Even the Buddha had to cultivate His mind to realise the real nature of human life.
Human beings can be enlightened—become a Buddha—if they wake up from the ‘dream’ that is created by their own ignorance, and become fully awakened. They must realise that what they are today is the result of an infinite number of repetitions of thoughts and actions. They are not ready-made: they are continually in the process of becoming, always changing. And it is in this characteristic of change that their future lies, because it means that it is possible for them to mould their character and destiny through the control of their actions, speech and thoughts. Indeed, they become the thoughts and actions that they choose to perform. They are the highest fruit on the tree of evolution. It is for them to realise their position in existence and to understand the true meaning of life.
Understanding the Nature of Life
MOST people dislike facing the facts of life and prefer to lull themselves into a false sense of security by dreaming and imagining. They mistake the shadow for the substance. They fail to realise that life is uncertain, but that death is certain. One way of understanding life is to face and understand death which is nothing more than a temporary end to a temporary existence. Many people do not even like to hear of the word ‘death’. They forget that death will come, whether they like it or not. Recollections on death with the right mental attitude can give a person courage and calmness as well as an insight into the nature of existence.
Besides understanding death, we need a better understanding of our life. We are living a life that does not always proceed as smoothly as we would like it to. Very often, we face problems and difficulties. We should not be afraid of them because the penetration into the very nature of these problems and difficulties can provide us with a deeper insight into life. The worldly happiness provided by wealth, luxury, respectable positions in life which most people seek is an illusion because it is impermanent. The fact that the sale of sleeping pills and tranquilizers, admissions to mental hospitals and suicide rates have increased in proportion to modern material progress is enough testimony that we have to go beyond worldly, material pleasure to seek for real happiness. This does not mean of course that Buddhism is a negative religion which condemns the acquisition of wealth. Far from it. The Buddha has expressly encouraged hard work to gain wealth because He said that wealth can give a person the opportunity to lead a decent life and to do meritorious action. What He discouraged was attachment to that wealth and the belief that wealth alone can bring ultimate happiness.
The Need for a Religion
TO understand the real purpose of life, it is advisable for a person to choose and follow an ethical-moral system that discourages evil deeds, encourages good, and enables the purification of the mind. For simplicity, we shall call this system ‘a religion’.
Religion is an expression of the striving of human beings: it is their greatest source of power, leading them onwards to selfrealisation. It has the power to transform a person with negative characteristics into someone with positive qualities. It makes the ignoble, noble; the selfish, unselfish; the proud, humble; the haughty, forbearing; the greedy, benevolent; the cruel, kind; the subjective, objective. Every religion represents, however imperfectly, a reaching upwards to a higher level of being. From the earliest times, religion has been the source of humanity’s artistic and cultural inspiration. Although many forms of religion had come into being in the course of history, only to pass away and be forgotten, each one in its time had contributed something towards the sum total of human progress. Christianity helped to civilise the West, and the weakening of its influence has marked a downward trend of the Occidental spirit. Buddhism, which civilised the greater part of the East long before, is still a vital force, and in this age of scientific knowledge is likely to extend and to strengthen its influence. It does not, at any point, come into conflict with modern knowledge, but embraces and transcends all of it in a way that no other system of thought has ever done before or is ever likely to do. Westerners seek to conquer the universe for material ends. Buddhism and Eastern philosophy strive to attain harmony with nature and enhance spiritual satisfaction.
Religion teaches a person how to calm down the senses and make the heart and mind peaceful. The secret of calming down the senses is to eliminate desire which is the root of our disturbances. It is very important for us to have contentment. The more people crave for their property, the more they have to suffer. Property does not give happiness. A great many rich people in the world today are suffering from numerous physical and mental problems. With all the money they have, they cannot buy a solution to their problems. Yet, the poorest people who have learnt to have contentment may enjoy their lives far more than the richest people do. As one rhyme goes:
‘Some have too much and yet do crave
I have little and seek no more;
They are but poor though much more they have
And I am rich with little store.
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I have; they pine, I live.’
Searching for a Purpose in Life
THE aim in life varies among individuals. An artist may aim to paint masterpieces that will live long after he is gone. A scientist may want to discover a new phenomenon, formulate a new theory, or invent a new machine. A politician may wish to become a prime minister or a president. A young executive may aim to be a managing director of a multinational company. However, when you ask the artist, scientist, politician and the young executive why they aim thus, they will reply that these achievements will give them a purpose in life and make them happy. But will these achievements bring lasting happiness? Everyone aims for happiness in life, yet they suffer more in the process. ‘The value of life lies not in the length of the days, but in the use we make of them. People may live long without doing any service to anybody and thus, live very little’.
ONCE we realise the nature of life (characterised by unsatisfactoriness, change, and egolessness) as well as the nature of greed and the means of getting them satisfied, we can understand the reason why the happiness so desperately sought by many people is so elusive like catching a moonbeam in their hands. They try to gain happiness through accumulation. When they are not successful in accumulating wealth, gaining position, power and honour, and deriving pleasure from sense gratification, they pine and suffer, envying others who are successful in doing so. However, even if they are ‘successful’ in getting these things, they suffer as well because they then fear losing what they have gained, or their desires have now increased for more wealth, higher position, more power, and greater pleasure. Their desires can never seem to be completely satiated. This is why an understanding of life is important so that we do not waste too much time doing the impossible.
It is here that the adoption of a religion becomes important, since it encourages contentment and urges a person to look beyond the demands of his or her flesh and ego. In a religion like Buddhism, people are reminded that they are the heirs of their karma and the master of their destinies. In order to gain greater happiness, they must be prepared to forego short-term pleasures. If people do not believe in life after death, even then it is enough for them to lead a good, noble life on earth, enjoying a life of peace and happiness here and now, as well as performing actions which are for the benefit and happiness of others. Leading such a positive and wholesome life on earth and creating happiness for oneself and others is much better than a selfish life of trying to satisfy one’s ego and greed. If we do not know how to live up to the expectations of others, how can we expect others to live according to our expectations?
If, however, people believe in life after death, then according to the Law of Karma, rebirth will take place according to the quality of their deeds. People who have done many good deeds may be born in favourable conditions where they enjoy wealth and success, beauty and strength, good health, and meet good spiritual friends and teachers. Wholesome deeds can also lead to rebirth in the heavens and other sublime states, while unwholesome deeds lead to rebirth in suffering states. When people understand the Law of Karma, they will then make the effort to refrain from performing bad actions, and to try to cultivate the good. By so acting, they gain benefits not only in this life, but in many other lives to come.
When they understand the nature of human life, then some important realisations arise. They realise that unlike a rock or stone, a human being possesses the innate potential to grow in wisdom, compassion, and awareness—and be transformed by this selfdevelopment and growth. They also understand that it is not easy to be born as a human being, especially one who has the chance to listen to the Dharma. In addition, they are fully aware that life is impermanent, and they should, therefore, strive to practise the Dharma while they are still in a position to do so. They realise that the practice of Dharma is a life-long educative process which enables them to release their true potentials trapped within their mind by ignorance and greed. To experience worldly pleasure there must be external objects or partners but to gain mental happiness it is not necessary to have an external object.
Based on these realisations and understanding,they will then try to be more aware of what and how they think, speak and act. They will consider if their thoughts, speech and actions are beneficial, done out of compassion and have good effects for themselves as well as others. They will realise the true value of walking the road that leads to complete self transformation, which is known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path. This Path can help people to develop their moral strength (sila) through the restraint of negative actions and the cultivation of positive qualities conducive to personal, mental and spiritual growth. In addition, it contains many techniques which they can apply to purify their thoughts, expand the possibilities of the mind, and bring about a complete change towards a wholesome personality. This practice of mental culture (bhavana) can widen and deepen the mind to gain a better understanding of the nature and characteristics of phenomena, life and the universe. In short, this leads to the cultivation of wisdom (panna). As wisdom grows, so will love, compassion, kindness, and joy. They will have greater awareness of all forms of life and better understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, and motivations.
In the process of self-transformation, people will no longer aspire for a divine birth as their ultimate goal in life. They will then set their goal much higher, and model themselves after the Buddha who has reached the summit of human perfection and attained the ineffable state we call Enlightenment or Nirvana. It is here that we develop a deep confidence in the Triple Gem and adopt the Buddha as our spiritual ideal. We will strive to eradicate greed, develop wisdom and compassion, and to be completely liberated from the bonds of Samsara.
Глава 7. Нравственная основа для человечества
Буддизм для людей, живущих в обществе
Редакция перевода от 03.07.2015 13:54