Why Are We Born?
Humans have freedom. We have the freedom to choose our feelings, thoughts, and actions, no matter what we are facing. Humans are different from animals because we have self-awareness. We are able to look inside to see how we feel, to be above our feelings, not controlled by them. To be self-aware is to obser ve our bodies and minds. To notice that everything we do in our lives, from breathing to eating, everything, is to keep us away from pain. We breathe in and have to breathe out, eat and excrete, have companionships and possessions to comfort us, moving away from pain towards well-being. And what is us? Us is our bodies and minds.
To be aware of our bodies and minds helps us to see how anguish arises and passes away. We can develop awareness of our minds, eyes, ears, noses, tongues, and bodily senses, to truly realize what is happening inside and outside of us now, so that we can wisely choose our reaction to each sensation experienced. We humans are born to develop ourselves through the practice of mindfulness.
We are capable of sensing ourselves— to be aware of now, not consumed by thoughts, memories and feelings. We can have them, acknowledge them and not be consumed by them. We are capable of deciding how to respond in thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. However, our schooling and training focus on reading, writing, and other skill sets connected to getting a job and being able to take care of our material needs and wants. Our life curriculum does not include drills on how to keep our minds free from the control of instinc ts and habits.
Priorities at school are not to train us to cultivate happiness in ourselves, to develop our inner human potential, to be free. We generally grow up doing just what everyone else is doing, without really considering: What am I doing? Why am I doing it this way? We hurry along, never stopping long enough to reflect, competing with each other at school and then later at work. And we feel the pressure to marry and have children by a certain age. But of course we do not hurry to grow old, get sick or die.
Then it suddenly hits us that will happen. We will grow old, begin to ail …and soon no longer exist. And so, imagine one person inexorably racing through life towards his death, never stopping long enough to consider: Is there more to life than getting rich? Is there more to it than raising a family, per forming some good deeds, committing a few bad ones, laughing and cr ying, experiencing happiness and suffering—and then dying? This rat race that we live in simply because it’s what ever yone else is doing: Is this right? Is this good enough? Can this path truly bring us sustainable happiness? What is the purpose of lives that we can experience now, not after death?