Lama Chönam: What Is the Value of Human Life?

lama-chonam1What is the value of human life? According to the Buddhist view it must be known that the quality of each individual’s life is actually the result of their previously accumulated karma which will be both positive and negative. If someone believes that their circumstances in life are the result of previously accumulated karma then whether things are going well or not this can be identified as the impermanent, ever changing, unreliable nature of life. Due to firmly believing that things come about due to previous actions, words and thoughts, such an individual has the opportunity to engage in life according to the dharma and also accumulate positive karma in this very life as well as sharing their wellbeing and happiness with others. It is then possible to maintain this positive direction all the way to enlightenment.

If that is not the case and the person thinks that material gain, relationships and fame are the causes for happiness then there is the danger of becoming more self-consumed and unable to be satisfied no matter how well things may be going. Not only that, through the misuse of power and authority such an individual will even bring suffering upon others. In truth, although temporarily things may seem to be fine, ultimately there can only be unhappiness and suffering in that and future lifetimes.

Conversely, when there is strong confidence in the teachings on karmic cause and result, even while undergoing suffering and that which is unwanted, no matter how hard this may become there will not be mental depression due to knowing that the nature of suffering is temporary and impermanent. By living according to the law of cause and result during their life, the person will also have the confidence of knowing that freedom from suffering will not be far away. They will be careful and mindful so that the rest of their life will be oriented towards the path of virtue and wholesome deeds.

Based on these reasons it is my opinion that the view of karmic cause and result is the panacea that brings balance and value to human existence. Like a mirror, the doctrine of karmic cause and result allows the individual to directly identify the happiness and suffering of human life. For example, a tree that is growing in an environment where the four elements are balanced will have a healthy trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. The tree will be a container of fully endowed qualities that others can easily appreciate. Just like that, the movement of the mind is like the nature of the four elements so in the best case all mental passions should be fully purified while at least ensuring that the passions are not controlling the mind. If that is the case, that individual, whether high, low, poor or rich, will be capable of enjoying the happiness of this human existence. Those around them will be able to connect, contribute and enjoy this as well. The teachings say, ”Without desire, attachment, hatred or delusion then whatever emerges will be the cause of happiness and virtue.”

In brief, whatever wisdom and skills need to be invoked, if the mind can be tamed rather than overcome by passions, that person will come to know an exceptional experience of blissfulness. When that person stops to think about their life, whether externally or internally, if they conclude that nothing is actually wrong and there is no need to complain, then that individual is experiencing the true value of human life.


~Lama Chönam, Chöying Namgyal, was born in the Golog area of eastern Tibet in 1964. His root teacher, Khenpo Münsel, was a direct disciple of Khenpo Ngagchung and was himself one of the great authentic Dzogchen masters of the twentieth century. He escaped Tibet in 1992 and later came to the United States, where he resides today. Over the past two decades Lama Chönam has been teaching Tibetan language and the Buddhadharma. He is one of the founders of the Light of Berotsana Translation Group and has co-translated numerous Buddhist publications.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Buddhism

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