We have a chance in this life, don’t we? A chance for freedom, for understanding to awaken, a chance to fully realise truth. It’s worth spending a moment to reflect on that.
It’s said that 80% of the resources of the world are held by just 20% of us. So do you feel you might be in the 20%? If you are then you’ll need to work to survive, but there is usually some work available you can do and that allows you to put a roof over your head and feed yourself. If you’re in a democracy you have, at least to some extent, freedom of speech and thought. Hopefully you’ll be lucky enough not to be caught up in a war at this time. But has that always been the norm?
Had we been born in the past, perhaps more than one hundred years ago, for the vast majority of people the daily struggle to survive was their single priority. Social structures were in place to ensure that you remained in your station and had little chance of advancement. Access to education was limited. Religious or spiritual teachings were confined to those of the recognised churches with little or no disemination of other teachings.
Further back in time, even to express views beyond that of the orthodoxy or discuss religious matters in open debate might lead to charges of heresy or atheism which have often carried heavy penalties. In some cases this led to the creation of secret societies, or coded or veiled texts.
For some in the world today these restrictions and challenges are still in place. Not all parts of the world are equally free and in some places life can be a short and bitter journey of suffering to an unmarked end.
Now back to you. If you live in the West, enjoy your freedoms, have enough to get by, some leisure time, access to a wide range of information, teachings and thoughts from sources both East and West, then it’s easy to think this is how it will always be. But that’s not what history teaches us, is it? If anything, in the future people might well look back at this era as a golden age of freedom – brief and all too rarely appreciated by those fortunate enough to live through it.
So for those of us who share a belief in reincarnation or rebirth to go through life with the attitude, ‘I can’t get on a spiritual path right now, I’ll do it when the conditions are right, maybe in my next life…’, well, in the words of the famous teacher, Ajahn Chah when someone expressed these views to him, ‘Good luck!’
The spiritual path or quest for truth, whatever you want to call it, never starts in the future, it always starts in the now, this present moment. Because it’s all about the now, right here and now, just what is and our realisation of that. It doesn’t need planning or circumstances. Life is what is, just the way it is.
So perhaps it’s useful to reflect on the opportunity of this life and ask ourselves, ‘why not?’ Reflecting on having a fortunate and rare set of circumstances in which we have the opportunity to realise truth might lead us to the obvious conclusion – you don’t know when this will come around again but you do know that you’ve been extremely fortunate in this life to have this perfect chance. You waste it at your own risk.