- Religion and Philosophy
Dharma Talk 1
Is life worth living?
Have you ever thought about the purpose of life? The big picture.
Our wonderful sun that sustains all life will explode in a huge supernova that will engulf the earth and destroy all life on the planet. All human knowledge, efforts, joys and hopes will disappear in the aftermath of that nuclear explosion. What was all the fuss of life about?
I asked a carpenter friend of mine this question. He said that every time he builds a piece of furniture he know that someday it will be destroyed, but that doesn't stop him from creating. He enjoys working with the wood and tools as he creates the chair. The chair will provide comfort and joy to the family that own it. And yes it will decay, but the wood will be salvaged to make other furniture.
Nature is constantly building up and destroying to build new things. Nature is a process of growth and then creative destruction. Even the nuclear armageddon of the sun's supernova i creates the heavy elements necessary for life to exist. The carbon and iron in my body is the end product of a supernova of a previous star's nuclear furnace.
As both the Greek philosopher Heraclitus and Buddha said nothing is permanent. Everything is change. The only constant is the continual process of birth, growth and creative destruction.
Because nothing is eternal we need to appreciate the now. Each year, for a couple of weeks, the cherry trees in the park by my house explode into beautiful bouquets of pink blossoms. I make a special trip each day to admire them and try to enjoy at least one picnic beneath the boughs. And then the blossoms are gone. Because the blossoms are here only a short time I look forward to seeing them each spring.
Some of my sweetest memories are of spring love in Tokyo. There is very little privacy in the Japanese house . In my neighbourhood in Yokohama all the houses had thin walls of only brown, rusting sheet metal with no insulation. It's common for couples to visit love hotels where the rooms are rented out in 2 hour slots. Somehow the two hour time limit made each moment precious.
The first teaching of Buddha is that life is suffering. How can this gift of life be suffering? Because in the happy time we want to prolong the sweetness of the moment. We don't want to let it go. And during the sad times we want to deny the present and live in the future or the past. Humans are trapped in this process