Fulfillment in Life
By Bhante Debongshi
The Source of Creation
A student asked the following question in meditation class: “How can we create a life of fulfillment in such a chaotic world?” I answered the question in this way: “The world has always been in a chaotic state. Firstly, you must know the source of creation and then work towards it. If you have the right thought, words and actions along with wisdom, then creating a life of fulfillment is not difficult.” In regard to the source of creation, the Buddha said: Atta hi attano natho, atta hi attano gati – that is, “You are your own maker, and you make your own destiny. Now you know that the source of creation is within you.”
Just as a skillful artist can create an image with his or her skills, you can create your own destiny with your intellect. There is nothing more fulfilling in this world than knowing that you are the source of your own creation. There are people who look good on the outside, but within themselves, they are miserable. They do not know that the source of creation for their lives is within their own being. Without knowing the source of happiness, there can be no joy or prosperity. For this reason, most people do not feel fulfilled in their lives.
Tendency toward pleasure
There is a tendency to find pleasure in every effort that is made. That being said, the goal of an action is to find joy and to elevate one’s self-esteem. Consequently, people search for pleasure without pain. The mistake that most people make is in trying to elevate their self-esteem through the accumulation of mental and physical attributes in order to find fulfillment in life. This article will provide an answer to the question: “Can one continue to make progress on the path to absolute fulfillment?”
The Dhammapada is one of the great texts of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali Tipitaka. It states that one who lives a conscious life that is energetic and pure in action, acts with care and attention, restrains his or her senses and conducts oneself in a diligent and dutiful manner will have continuing prosperity and fulfillment in his or her life. Therefore, living life to the fullest is a natural tendency that is very important.
By nature, humankind is fundamentally self-centric. That is why consciousness and integrity should be the fundamental qualities of living, and yet humanity suffers greatly from the lack of consciousness and integrity. There is no self-consciousness without integrity and no integrity without self-consciousness. One who has both self-consciousness and integrity lives consciously with strength and courage. Indeed, the lack of consciousness is the main shortcoming of humanity. Consciousness is a sense of self-awareness; therefore, in losing self-awareness, one loses the sense of life.
Sensitivity to Life
If you are not sensitive to life, you will distance yourself from being alive. Therefore, the state of living is one of either self-abandonment or self-imprisonment. In this condition, you will never have the sense of free will and will live like a victim of accidental circumstances. For a life of true fulfilment, it is so important to bring sensitivity to the psychophysical system which allows one not only to explore the mechanism of life but also to skillfully transcend the limitation of the six senses.
The Buddha’s Guidelines
There were two practices that were prescribed by the Buddha in order to have fulfillment in life.
Firstly, giving up unskillfulness: He pointed out that it is possible to give up that which is unskillful. If it were not possible to give up unskillfulness, he said, “I would not tell you to give up that which is unskillful. But because it is possible to give up unskillfulness, I have therefore told you to give up that which is unskillful. If giving up that which is unskillful would cause no benefit, I would not tell you to give up unskillfulness. But because giving up unskillfulness is beneficial for liberation, therefore, I have told you to give up that which is unskillful.”
Secondly, cultivating skillfulness: Buddha knew that it was possible to develop that which is skillful. If it were not possible to develop skillfulness, he said, “I would not tell you to develop that which is skillful. But because it is possible to develop skillfulness, I have told you to develop that which is skillful.' If making progress in skillfulness would cause no benefit, I would not tell you to develop that which is skillful, but because making progress in skillfulness is beneficial to liberation, therefore, I have told you to develop that which is skillful.”
A virtuous person rises above unskillfulness and brings skillfulness into his life and is pure in his conduct, sorrowless and free from the corruption of mental defilement. When unskillful means have been given up and skillfulness has been developed, that person will inevitably have fulfillment in his or her life. The virtues of courage and strength will have been developed and will lead to liberation in the present life.
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