Talk Categories Modern Spiritual Life | Talk Locations University of Eswatini

Realizing the Meaning of Life

In this talk, Khenpo Sodargye mentions different views of a meaningful life held by different groups of people. Most people these days pay much more attention to material life than spiritual life, but it doesn’t necessarily bring them the happiness they desire. Khenpo summarizes three prerequisites for understanding and realizing the meaning of life. One should understand oneself and the truth of the world through extensive learning: the lack of knowledge increases the chances of making mistakes. Hard work is also necessary in the process of achieving a meaningful life. Moreover, Khenpo believes that what makes life the most meaningful is being kindhearted.

Speech by Khenpo Sodargye

How to Face Difficulties

No Matter How Long I live, Life Holds Value as Long as I Can Help Others

I also believe that even if I do not know how long I will live, my life will be meaningful and valuable as long as I can bring some happiness to even just one person by making that person physically comfortable and spiritually relaxed.

Three Levels of Life

There was a scholar who compared humankind’s status of living to a pyramid-like building with three floors. The bottom floor refers to the life of those who care more about material possession and enrich themselves through seeking it. This is the life value for most people nowadays—they rely on external things to survive, to live and to enrich themselves. The second floor refers to the life of those who enrich their lives through engaging in the learning of a specific subject like art or other academic disciplines. The third and uppermost floor refers to the life of a small number of people who seek for the meaning of life within religious theories that help one to transcend oneself.

How to Face Difficulties

All of our experiences are unavoidable in our lives. Even if you encounter the severest hardship in your life, or are experiencing the most difficult time, you should not choose to end your life. Even though you are so frustrated and perhaps not brave enough to face it, never treat yourselves in irrational and ill-advised ways. As a matter of fact, if we are courageous and strong enough to face all the troubles we encounter, they will all be gone in a very short time, no one lives a hard life or experiences difficulties all the time. Life is like the weather: the sun will shine shortly after cloudy skies, thunder, downpour, hail, etc. It is essential to constantly practice how to have the courage to face hardships, otherwise, it is impossible to respond to them bravely when they suddenly appear.

No Matter How Long I live, Life Holds Value as Long as I Can Help Others

I also believe that even if I do not know how long I will live, my life will be meaningful and valuable as long as I can bring some happiness to even just one person by making that person physically comfortable and spiritually relaxed.

Do We Become Happier as Our Material Life Improves?

Do We Become Happier as Our Material Life Improves?

The place I come from, Tibet, used to be an intact and pure place, and the people there were kind and simple—always singing and dancing. Back then, we loved our own tradition and culture. Somehow the prevalence of western cultures changed our life—while our material life is increasingly rich and colorful, our spiritual life has become increasingly dull and barren. As the pace of life moves faster, the sharpness of our wisdom seems to decrease. Inner happiness does not grow proportionately as material resources increase. Rather, we lose inner happiness due to the abundance of external material things because it is harder for us to feel content when there are more options.

When I was young, I would be very happy to have a new piece of clothing and very content to have a piece of candy. However, young people nowadays are not satisfied with the many clothes they have, they desire more and more. What adds to their desire is that advertisements of clothes from popular brands continuously pop up as they browse the internet. Many people want them but cannot afford them, thus it brings about suffering. Before, people were content with a motorbike or even a simple bike as it made life convenient. However, nowadays, even a luxury car cannot meet some people’s needs because they always want a better one.

We Always Want More Than What We Need

Always, the case is that we want a lot but we cannot afford everything we want. Actually, there’s always a gap between what we want and what we really need. We should be aware that we always want a lot, but we don’t need that much. According to statistics by some scholars, we only need 30% of what we have, 70% is not needed at all. For example, three sets of clothes are enough, but we may want to have 10 or even 20 as long as we have the money to buy them.

A Kind Heart Is More Valuable than Gold

What makes our lives the most meaningful is to be kindhearted. The well-known writer William Shakespeare described a kind heart as golden. My spiritual teacher His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok, who passed away more than 10 years ago, was a great scholar and practitioner. He also said that all that he had taught in his life could be summarized this way: be kind in mind and be helpful in conduct. I believe that gold or diamonds are precious and of great value at any time in any country. Likewise, a person with a kind heart, never bearing malice but always trying to be helpful to others, is the most precious among people of all colors.

Buddhism Is Not Just a Philosophy

As a matter of fact, Buddhism is an education. There are more than 100 Buddhist sutras, with more than 200 commentaries by Indian Buddhist masters and thousands of treatises written by Tibetan and Han masters. I have studied Buddhism in many aspects, and found it an integrative discipline. It is not only about religion and philosophy, but also includes the knowledge of geography, astronomy, humanity, etc. Therefore, Buddhism is integrative and a combination of the knowledge of both ancient and modern times.

A Kind Heart Is More Valuable than Gold

What makes our lives the most meaningful is to be kindhearted. The well-known writer William Shakespeare described a kind heart as golden. My spiritual teacher His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok, who passed away more than 10 years ago, was a great scholar and practitioner. He also said that all that he had taught in his life could be summarized this way: be kind in mind and be helpful in conduct. I believe that gold or diamonds are precious and of great value at any time in any country. Likewise, a person with a kind heart, never bearing malice but always trying to be helpful to others, is the most precious among people of all colors.

Question and Answer Session

Life is a one-way trip during which we will encounter both the beautiful and the unpleasant. This is all part of life experience and there is no turning back.