Meaningful Life

Lama Govinda, whose book The Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism is the definitive book on the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, and certainly one of the most important modern books about Buddhist practice, wrote this in another of his works,*

In Buddhism, the question was never raised as to whether life in itself has a meaning of its own or not: from the point of view of the Dharma this is a meaningless question. The important thing for the practice of Dharma is that each of us should give his own life an individual meaning. Just as in the hands of an inspired artist a worthless lump of clay can turn into a priceless work of art, so we too should try similarly to form the existing “clay” of our lives into something of value, instead of bewailing the worthlessness of life. Our life, and the world, have just as much “meaning” as we ascribe to them and put into them.”

No one and nothing can give your life meaning. You have to create it for yourself. The purpose of Buddhist practice is to develop your own life and discover its meaning. This is not an easy thing. There are times when the meaning of our life has to be forged like iron, or fought for by battling with ourselves. It’s not only ignorance about where the source for a meaningful life is found (within), but we must also deal with our arrogance, our fears, and habitual life tendencies.   

These are mental afflictions, and since we the change we are trying to forge within ourselves is so great, we can’t relax in the fight to win over ourselves.

I heard the Dalai Lama once say, “Those who battle against mental afflictions are true heroes.”

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Lama Anagarika Govinda, A Living Buddhist for the West, Shambhala, 1989


4 thoughts on “Meaningful Life

  1. Wonderful, wise and subtle message. Thank you very much.

    In Gasshô _/|\_


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