Precious Human Life

Chapter 7 focuses on the notion of our lives being precious, a simple concept that I think is easy to misunderstand or to take as some idealistic notion that does not actually relate to our everyday lives.

In a recent teaching, Venerable Tashi, a local monk who gives regular talks here in Dallas, was talking about this subject and in the excerpt below related the number of sentient beings just on this planet right now to the number of human beings, just to illustrate the point.

"In this room, right now, there are more than seven billion other sentient beings. I’m not talking about spirits. Right? You know how many bacteria are in this room right now? Have you ever thought about that? How many dust mites? Do you know how many bacteria live in your body? Much more than
seven billion. I guarantee you. So in this room alone there are more sentient beings than the
totality of all human beings on the planet. If you go beyond this room, right? And compare the
number of human beings to infinitesimal creatures, insects, plants, animals, reptiles, fish, etc.,
we’re actually a very minute fraction of living beings. Is that not so? And of those that are born
with human form, in human body, most are in very unfortunate situations, either economically or
politically because they’re oppressed or because they lack the use of some senses or they lack
the use of the mental faculties, so the number of human births that are precious keeps reducing."

Full transcription of the talk is located here.

Gregory Hamilton Schmidt's picture

Engaging in Bodhisattva Deeds

Compare this to the quotation from Santideva on page 125 of The Great Treatise:

If I do not cultivate virtue
Even when I have the chance to do so
What virtue will I cultivate in a miserable realm
Completely confused and suffering?