The Ultimate Goal
Many people feel a sense of aimlessness about their lives. Nihilism, the sense that life has no real meaning is an increasingly held view in modern times.
According to Buddhism, life is anything but meaningless.
"Many people believe that material development is the real meaning of human life, but we can see that no matter how much material development there is in the world it never reduces human suffering and problems. Instead, it often causes suffering and problems to increase; therefore it is not the real meaning of human life.
We should know that at present we have reached the human world for just a brief moment from our former lives, and we have the opportunity to attain the supreme happiness of enlightenment through practising Dharma. This is our extraordinary good fortune. When we attain enlightenment we shall have fulfilled our own wishes, and we can fulfil the wishes of all other living beings; we shall have liberated ourself permanently from the sufferings of this life and countless future lives, and we can directly benefit each and every living being every day.
The attainment of enlightenment is therefore the real meaning of human life. Enlightenment is the inner light of wisdom that is permanently free from all mistaken appearance, and whose function is to bestow mental peace upon each and every living being every day.
We should ask ourself what we consider to be most important – what do we wish for, strive for, or daydream about? For some people it is material possessions, such as a large house with all the latest luxuries, a fast car or a well-paid job. For others it is reputation, good looks, power, excitement or adventure. Many try to find the meaning of their life in relationships with their family and circle of friends. All these things can make us superficially happy for a short while but they will also cause us much worry and suffering. They will never give us the real happiness that all of us, in our hearts, long for. Since we cannot take them with us when we die, if we have made them the principal meaning of our life they will eventually let us down. As an end in themselves worldly attainments are hollow; they are not the real meaning of human life.
With our human life we can attain the supreme permanent peace of mind, known as ‘nirvana’, and enlightenment by putting Dharma into practice. Since these attainments are non-deceptive and ultimate states of happiness they are the real meaning of human life. However, because our desire for worldly enjoyment is so strong, we have little or no interest in Dharma practice. From a spiritual point of view, this lack of interest in Dharma practice is a type of laziness called the ‘laziness of attachment’. For as long as we have this laziness, the door to liberation will be closed to us, and consequently we shall continue to experience misery and suffering in this life and in countless future lives."
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