Waking Essence: FUTURE LIVES? #Lucky #LiveWell #Buddhism

Right now we have obtained a human rebirth and have the opportunity to attain enlightenment through Dharma practice, so if we waste this precious opportunity in meaningless activities there is no greater loss and no greater foolishness.
— Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Modern Buddhism

If there are past and future lives, one has to wonder  - how did I get to this one? Whether through karmic ripening or virtuous actions, you have come to have this precious human life. According to Buddha’s teachings, you are very fortunate to be here, to have this opportunity is rare.

This is because in future such a precious opportunity will be extremely hard to find. In one Sutra Buddha illustrates this by giving the following analogy. He asks his disciples: ‘Suppose there existed a vast and deep ocean the size of this world, and on its surface there floated a golden yoke, and at the bottom of the ocean there lived a blind turtle who surfaced only once in every one hundred thousand years. How often would that turtle raise its head through the middle of the yoke?’ His disciple, Ananda, answers that, indeed, it would be extremely rare.
— Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Modern Buddhism

At a retreat I attended in the Kadampa tradition, I have heard it put this way. We are fortunate to be here.  Whether or not there are future lives, we would do well to “pack our spiritual bags” by living a good life while in this one. There are four scenarios to consider.

If you live well and there are future lives, then you have put yourself in a good position for the next one.

If you pack your spiritual bags and there are no future lives, wonderful, you have done some good in this world.

If you don’t live a good life and there are no future lives, well then, you gambled and won.

Finally, if you don’t pack your spiritual bags and there are future lives, well you have gambled and lost, and, in your next life, you may not be so fortunate.

The moral of the story, then, is live well. You will have nothing to lose and everything to gain.