June 7 : Valuing Our Intelligence
When we appreciate the Dharma for what it can do for us, we appreciate our lives. When we believe that there are other realms of existence, the Dharma helps us to understand the preciousness of our human life. When we do not think of the other realms, or think only of the animal realm, we may say, “Okay, I could be born as a cat at the Abbey. Ignorance is bliss, they say, and I can sleep all day, and nobody bosses me around.” There is no appreciation for the preciousness of having human intelligence and the possibilities we have as a human being. Think about the fact that we could be born as another life form and what it would be like to experience that life form. If we think of our mind being trapped in the body of another life form, we will then really appreciate our precious human life.
If it is difficult for us to think of other life forms, start by thinking of being 90 years old and senile your whole life. Or imagine your whole life as a one-year-old or a two-year-old and never being able to evolve past that. That is still human, but would you want to stay in a baby’s body or an elder’s body for several decades?
If we really aspire for liberation, we see that when we are stuck in certain bodies, the mind is very limited and what the mind can do is so narrow and confined. It is quite helpful to think like this, otherwise we take our present experience for granted, and we think that we have always had the intelligence and ability we now have and will always have it. Have you ever had a fever and been delirious and could not think straight? What would it be like to experience that mental state your whole life? Part of our problem with not appreciating our precious human life and its meaning is that the appearance of the present moment is so strong that we think it is permanent, and it is going to last forever. That is a big problem in our minds. We take everything for granted and complain that it is not better. We get involved in all our petty problems because we do not think that there is any long-term meaning to our lives.
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