Yet even when things are going really great, we hear about natural disasters, mass killings, and international conflicts. We are never immune from worry it seems. Life can be so intense that at times it may seem just too much to handle, especially after a long day of struggling for your family or even just getting by yourself.
Then the creeping question of doubt arises... So why even go on?
|Original Photo by Beachcomber1954 available on Flickr.com
When we get to this point, friends all chime in with the same old phrases that we should keep fighting the good fight, not give up, etc. But amidst so many personal hardships and global catastrophes, how can we really justify that life is always precious?
This can't be something we just blindly believe in, because if a tragedy strikes us at our very core and we lose what's dearest to us... we'll be the next ones wondering why we're alive. In a moment like that, "You can do it!" and "Hang in there!" will suddenly appear as blanket, empty expressions of naive reassurance.
To be born a human being is a rare and wondrous experience we should feel extremely grateful for with every fabric of our being.
But how can we truly know for sure?
Sakyamuni Buddha used a parable to put the value of human life into perspective for one of his followers in the Connected Agama Sutra.
|Original Photo by nsyll available on Flickr.com
"Once every 100 years, this blind turtle poked its head out of the water."
|Original Photo by NOAA National Ocean Service available on Flickr.com
|Original Photo by Daniel P. Davis available on Flickr.com
|Original Photo by J. Michael Tracy available on Flickr.com
|Original Photo by Jeffpro57 available on Flickr.com
Think about it, just how many different kind of life forms live on this earth?
In just the oceans and rivers, how many fish swim? Picture that just one sunfish can lay 300 million eggs at one time. And scientists have yet to count how many species of insects there are, making the actually number of them to be astronomical! We haven't even gotten to all the birds, reptiles, mammals...
So being born as a human is already very special for this planet, a unique experience unlike any other. And of all the billions of people, no two are exactly alike, not even twins. There's something mysterious about this, and it's something to be really thankful for!
When something is rare or valuable, we go to great lengths to protect it. That's why doctors, nurses, and ambulatory workers give up their holidays and work relentlessly around the clock to preserve human life. It's also why medical researchers develop technologies to help add years, days, and even minutes to people's lives.
Yet there are times when patients must endure excruciating treatments at this chance for more life, or family members must make critical decisions for their loved ones on life-assisting machines. If life is precious, one may begin to wonder what the meaning of living longer could be under such excruciating circumstances.
Others can have difficulty believing in the value of life at all and commit suicide, sometimes even taking others along with them. It is an extremely sad and painful reality for these people and the ones affected by such tragedies.
Only hearing how precious life is doesn't work when you're in such agony. When life becomes so miserable, one may wish to have never been born. Knowing how hard life is and to just carry on doesn't make it any easier. There must be some kind of solid reassurance that yields purpose or some hope that adds meaning to one's painful existence in order to move forward.
We cannot live in in doubt of finding true happiness. We need an answer now while we're alive. This is the life we find the answer, as human beings.
Some mistakenly believe that because of transmigration, this life is just part of the journey. They feel like they will get do-overs in their next lives, and as if death is just like a reset button on a video game. This is simply not the case. Death is not something to be taken so lightly.
If we don't discover the preciousness of life now, when can we?
Really think about this.
Sakyamuni Buddha taught that being human may be tough, but without having been born in this unique form we would not have had the chance to seek for a joy that never fades even in the face of death.