If you are performing the daily actions of your life with two attitudes, you are getting close to enlightenment. The two attitudes are: 1) having a sincere heart, doing social service with compassion (working for others); and, 2) meditating on the lam-rim (the gradual path to enlightenment). This may not mean actually meditating, but living your life with lam-rim, in order to purify and collect merit, and then on top of that practicing tantra, in order to achieve enlightenment quickly, or at least to prepare the mind, by leaving positive imprints every day. Social service means doing something for others, doing it from your heart. Even if it is only a little help that you give, you still get real satisfaction, like you have done something meaningful in your life. You have done something positive. Then, every day, every moment, every second, you are getting closer to enlightenment.
Otherwise, if you just live your life only thinking about your own pleasure, trying to achieve it for yourself, with attachment, then the main aim of your life is you. You are looking for pleasure for yourself, sexual pleasure and so forth, with attachment, and from this comes only pain. Everything just becomes painful.
There is the pain of separation, where you can’t stand to be away from the person you are attached to. Then, each day, your feelings becomes stronger, until the attachment becomes unbearable. Then there comes the pain of jealousy toward others. You don’t want others to have a connection. You have so many worries and fears, and it becomes so much suffering.
If your life does not have these two things in them (social service or lam-rim) then no matter how much you meditate, if it is not done with lam-rim, or by doing social service, doing work for others, then instead you are only doing it for yourself, and your whole life gets tied up with attachment, to sex and other things. Then there is nothing positive in your life, now or in the future. Your life will become dark, because your whole life is lived with the self-cherishing thought, with desire, attachment and clinging to this life, and all of these are non-virtues. So when you die, you don’t have any positive thoughts, and you are not able to renounce life.
With attachment, your whole life is so tremendously painful. You have so many projections, so many worries and fears. If something changes or happens to the person you are attached to—for example, he or she is no longer interested in you, or leaves you, or goes with someone else—then there is unbelievable pain. An incredible disaster happens in your mind. It is like war that you see in a movie; it is the same in your mind, and this can also actually happen in your life. You begin the war, and are attacked by your own hallucinations, fears, and so forth, and you actually harm each other. Your life becomes this huge movie of violent negative karma. Then there is nothing to rejoice in, and nothing to dedicate. Your mind is very sad and dissatisfied.
With attachment, you recognize that your life has been totally wasted. You didn’t do anything meaningful, and you die with great regret, because your life had no purpose and now it is finished. You die with all the negative karmas that you have collected every day in your life, every minute, every hour, every day, every year, because nothing has been purified. Not only that, but the negative karma has also grown, so you go to the lower realms.
All this happens even though you have taken this most precious human rebirth, with all the qualities and endowments, with so many good things that you could have used to create peace and happiness and even ultimate happiness for numberless sentient beings. At least for yourself, you could have caused long life and happiness, the temporal happiness of future lives, having a peaceful mind in daily life, and even your own ultimate happiness. You could have performed spiritual practice, meditation, purified negative karma and collected merit, and especially you could have meditated on the lam-rim and on that basis practiced tantra. But instead you followed attachment.
Most people in the world do not know about this. They have no idea, and their whole life is spent living in pure attachment, in sexual pleasure, and that’s it. When you live with attachment, all the suffering comes from this, and you cannot achieve happiness in this life or in your future lives. From this, you can see how the world is suffering. You can see how much people who do not have any idea about this are suffering and creating more suffering. If you don’t apply the meditations, then even if you have a small attachment arising, there is so much suffering. When you think of people who are never involved in doing something positive—offering service for others, having compassion—you can see how their whole life is wasted, and how much they will suffer. Even their future is wasted. If they spent their life pursuing only this life’s happiness, such as being a famous singer, actor, president, or king, in reality, their life is totally wasted. It is without meaning, and there is nothing positive at all in their life.
If you are not able to renounce life one hundred percent, which means to renounce desire and clinging to this life in your daily life, and if you are not able to perform social service (working for others) or practice the lam-rim, then your life has no meaning. Your life is totally empty and wasted. Not only that, but it also becomes negative, and creates all the future sufferings, one after the other. You will have to experience them by yourself. It only comes back to you.
However much peace and happiness there is depends on your attitude. If you have attachment and your main goal is to obtain freedom for yourself, then you are creating negativity all the time, and you are not creating positive emotions, like compassion and loving kindness. If your main goal is desire, attachment, and clinging to this life, and if other sentient beings are not important to you, then that means you are creating more negativity and a more unhappy life. However, if your Dharma practice is to benefit others, then there will be more peace and happiness, even if you are not completely renounced. If others are the most important thing in your life, then you will have happiness. If others come first, in your heart, then there will be so much peace and happiness, and so many less emotional problems.
Basically, it all depends on how much you are able to guard your mind—guard it from attachment, and also from the thought of self-cherishing. How many positive attainments and positive actions you have depends on how much you are able to guard yourself from following these negative thoughts, and how much you keep the mind in a positive attitude. With this, there is a big difference in enjoying your life, even enjoying sex. There is a difference if it is done with the thought of benefiting others, even that one other person that you are with, rather than enjoying just for your own pleasure, just for yourself.
So these two attitudes make an unbelievably huge difference in your life. With one, the sun is shining; with the other it is dark, and obscured. Life is dark because of attachment, and you have a dark, obscured attitude, a negative attitude.
The difference is like sky and earth, like black and white.