Are you wasting your precious human life? Will you be happy in your old age because you have lead a full and meaningful life or will you be looking back bitter with regret? In this post I want to point out some sure-fire ways to waste your precious human life.
What is a precious human life?
The term ‘precious human life’ actually comes from the Hinayana Buddhist tradition. I will breifly explain what it means.
One of the first meditations you ever do when you become a buddhist is about realizing the opportunity you have in your current form. A buddhist believes that, depending on how you live your life, you can be born in any number of forms. For example, if you live a life of negativity you might be reborn as an animal next time round. Or, if you are a patient person in this life you will be very beautiful in your next life.
A precious human life, however, is something very special – something different. The buddhist masters say it is almost impossible to attain and once you have it you should not waste it because it is unlikely to come around again. Basically, a precious human life is where you attain a human body that is endowed with all the free and favourable conditions. These conditions include:
- Living in a country where you are free to practice spirituality
- Having all the human sense faculties
- To be born where spiritual teachings have been taught
- To be interested in those teachings
Simply put, a precious human life is a life where you are interested in changing your mind and your situation. Many people go their whole human life never realizing that happines lies right in their own mind. They persue money and fame and nice cars and when they grow old they realize they still aren’t happy. How sad.
To give you an idea of how important this human life is to buddhists they often give you this illustration:
A turtle lives in the ocean and every 100 years he comes up for air. If that turtle was to rise for air and by chance put his head through a bucket that was floating on the surface it would be extremely rare. Attaining a precious human rebirth is even rarer than that.
How to easily waste your precious human life
Worrying about money
The never ending quest to be financially secure will crush your chances of making something useful of your life. Imagine the horror of growing old and looking back and realizing you spent the better part of your life worrying about something that really was pointless. I think it would be quite difficult to bare.
Of course, you have to go to work, you have to pay the bills, you have to feed yourself. It is not the work I am talking about here. What I am referring to is the WORRY. The constant consuming mental habit of worrying about the future. It is pointless. And it leads me on to number two.
Working a job you hate
Almost as bad as spending your life worrying about money is working a daily job that you hate. I can’t think of anything worse!
The big question we need to ask ourselves is: is a job a means of earning money or should it be more than that? Should it be something we are passionate about or interested in? For me it is the latter. I would rather earn $10 an hour working in a job I loved than $500 an hour in a job I hate, a job which continually corrupts my character.
Spending your life concerned only for your own welfare
It sometimes really amazes me how people can go through an entire lifetime of 80-90 years and be only concerned with number one. I have seen it in a few of my relatives and it is really quite interesting to watch – their family dislikes them, they have no friends and they are on death’s door and yet they continue to look after only their own interests.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has a wonderful saying:
If you want others to be happy, practice compasson. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
I think he is right. A lifetime spent working for the benefit of others is a lifetime well spent. People who work in charity or nursing or healthcare sleep well at night and I am convinced they will be much more at ease when old age comes and death is near.
So the question is – how many of these are you doing?