As a preliminary to this teaching, we must consider three things; the preciousness of being born a human being, the fact of impermanence and the problem of samsaric existence.
From the point of view of one who seeks enlightenment, it is far better to be a human being than to be born even in the heavens of the godsâ€¦
It is as humans, and not as gods, that every one of the thousand Buddhas of this age has attained, or will attain, enlightenment. This human existence, moreover, is not to be achieved by force or mere chance; it is the result of positive actions. And because it is rare for beings to accomplish positive actions, a precious human existence is indeed difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, we have now managed to be born into such a state; we have encountered the Buddhadharma, have entered the path and are now receiving teachings. But if we are unable to practice them, simply listening to the teachings will not in itself liberate us from samsara, and will be of no help to us when we are confronted by the hardships of birth, disease, old age and death.
Our lives are fragile and impermanent, and because death and its causes are uncertain, we may succumb at any moment. We may think, â€œOh, I will practice when I am older, but now while I am young, I will live an ordinary life, making money, getting the better of my rivals, helping my friends, and so on.â€ But the fact is that we might not live to be very old. Just think for example of the people who were born at the same time as ourselves. Some might have died as children, some as adults, at their work and so on.
We are now in possession of a precious human form and have discovered the Teachings of Buddha. Therefore we should think to ourselves, â€œI am not going to miss my chance. While I have this precious opportunity, I will practice the Dharma.â€
The defects of samsara
The experience of happiness and suffering comes about as a result of negative and positive actions; therefore evil should be abandoned and virtue cultivated as much as possible.
Even the tiniest insect living in the grass wishes to be happy. But it does not know how to gather the causes of happiness, namely positive actions, nor how to avoid the cause of suffering, which is evil behavior
At the moment, we are all caught in the state of delusion, and so we should acknowledge all the negative actions we have perpetrated throughout our many lives until the present time. And from now on, we should turn away from all such actions big or small, just as we would avoid getting thorns in our eyes. We should constantly be checking what we do: any negative action should be confessed immediately, and all positive actions dedicated to others. To the best of our ability, we should abandon wrongdoing and try to accumulate goodness.
From Enlightened Courage, by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Copyright 1993 by Editions Padmakara (Padmakara Translation Group). Published and distributed by Snow Lion Publications. Used by permission.
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