Before any concern is shown or any other words are read I wish to reassure that this is not a note expressing suicidal tendencies but more simply an article based on my view of this question – What makes life worth living?
What do you think? Maybe take 30 seconds out, grab a piece of paper, a pen and jot down your initial answers to this question.
When we think about life we think about our experiences. I can imagine some people would give answers such as; my family, my lover, my friends, nature, being alive, possibility, travel, animals, perhaps life’s fluctuating scales of joy and unhappiness, serving others. Maybe I’m being a bit idealistic and the more realistic answers may be; cars, weed, Xbox, money, Netflix, shopping, weekends perhaps…? But if we try to summarise these ideas they appear to be a relative mix of whatever our unique life experience has consisted of, and what we’ve connected with that’s made us happy.
So what allows us to have this experience? What makes all of this possible? I think we tend to forget that if we didn’t have planet Earth as a habitat to exist on, then this experience may not be possible for any of us. It is clear that without planet earth I wouldn’t be able do what I’m doing now which is to write this using a pen and a piece of paper. The planet makes what is possible – ‘reality’– as it is. This is why it’s important that we re-think how we relate to the earth, because sooner then we might expect, the planet will not be able to sustain our species’ existence. Primarily, this is due to how quickly and mindlessly we are using our planet’s resources in the race for power, superiority and monetary wealth.
In the latest edition of the book Operating Manual For Spaceship Earthby R. Buckminster Fuller his grandson begins with this poem:
is the already accomplished
organization of human capabilities
the initiatives of human life
the magnitude of true wealth
consists of the number
of forward days
of the number of human beings
already provided for”
From this poem we can explore the idea of happiness from true wealth. S.N. Goenka tells a story regarding a man who has a large amount of money the storyline is that he buys an Audi and at first that makes him happy, then a Mercedes, then a Ferrari, then a Rolls Royce, then a fleet of Rolls Royce, then a yacht, then a plane, then a jumbo jet, then an island, then a spaceship that can go to mars, then a spaceship that can go to every galaxy in the universe – but still, the sky is the limit with money. It’s easy to intellectually understand this and for people like myself who haven’t had this experience it does seem to be a great way to spend one’s life.
However, as Mahatma Gandhi said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” – and this is clearly highlighted in the time we’re living in now. With new reports appearing everyday such as this stating that in June we’re entering the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. The Global Footprint Network stated that August 9th (2014) marks the date when humanity exhausted nature’s budget for the year. Humans used up the year’s supply of natural resources in less than eight months. However, there are solutions to this and they aren’t just in hoping that some tech-whizz is going to create a game-changing form of sustainable energy that is going to reverse the planetary destruction. It’s understandable that we don’t want to give up some of our easy luxury lifestyles of convenience, comfort and choosing what we want to do without thinking about the consequences.
Nonetheless, The way we choose to act in our lives plays a large part such as how we spend our money, what we consume, what energy we choose to support, whether we choose to support local or large corporations, the transport we use, how we dispose of our waste and so forth.
It’s undeniable there are vast amounts of this information and we don’t all have the time to sift through it. But we all know small things we can start doing, that which we do have control over, such as: how we eat – conscious eating e.g. supporting large corporations using unsustainable agricultural methods or supporting local organic foods, how we spend our money – conscious consumers e.g. fulfilling our needs not our greed, how we dispose of our waste e.g. through recycling and composting, what we choose to support through conscious action e.g. not only in our votes but in protests, online and in our communities, the transport we use and getting involved with the millions of people who want change so that all beings may be happy.
This article isn’t aimed at making someone feel as if their actions aren’t good enough; it’s merely my explanation of reality as it is today. We are responsible for our actions in the world, for our own experience and the experience of every other being.
This leads me to the next article ‘What Makes Life Worth Living – Part 2 Connection’. Yes, we can help to save the earth through doing our part and yet once we’ve solved this issue there is that same question “What Makes Life Worth Living?” and if you skip back to the first paragraph you will see that more or less the points mentioned rely on our connections with other humans, other species and the planet.
The Buddha said, “There are 3 types of actions, physical action, vocal action and mind action.” We tend to give most importance to physical action however mind action comes before physical and vocal and that’s what we will explore in the next article.