In this teaching extract, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains that we are always craving for more, better, bigger, be it money or possessions or relationships. There is no limit to this desire, and the more we get the more we want. Rinpoche recalls reading a Time magazine a long time ago, where they had depicted the most successful man of the year, which of course was in terms of earning money. Yet, this person was completely unhappy, always scared of getting kidnapped or robbed. Thus Rinpoche reminds us to practice contentment and to bring happiness to others instead of harming them. In this way we make our precious human rebirth meaningful, instead of wasting it.
Read the first part of the video transcript, lightly edited by Sandra Smith, below.
A Meaningful Life: Practicing Contentment and Bringing Happiness
I want to emphasize this tonight, then stop here. When you get too much desire, “I want more, better, more, better." The money or anything, the house, so many things, better, better, always better, and more, more, more. If you have a thousand, you want ten thousand; if you have ten thousand you want hundred thousand; if you have hundred thousand you want a million; then billion, zillion, trillion. I don’t know after that, so you have to add by yourself after that, I have no words. So anyway, like that there is no end, then after some time death comes and then it is gone, it is gone. This life is gone. It is like that, on and on. So then, that way, then so much suffering, your life has no happiness, so no satisfaction, no satisfaction, then greater, greater, greater dissatisfaction, life is so much unhappiness, so much unhappiness, even though you are living in jewel palace, made with diamonds, a palace, the mind is like this, eating million-dollar food or whatever. Unbelievable dissatisfaction, even physically there is no particular sickness, but the mind is so unhappy, so miserable, unbelievably miserable.
There was Time magazine, a long time ago, many years ago, we started meeting, FPMT, at Kopan at that time. Each year whoever is the most successful person in the world, they use that person’s picture on the cover of Time magazine. For a few years they did that, then stopped. “Successful” means who made the most money in that year. Time magazine describes about the person’s life—the person was so scared to go outside, afraid of being kidnapped, and had so much fear to go outside, then their life was disordered, totally disordered, with so much unhappiness and dissatisfaction, bah, bah, bah, like that. Anyway, the example is like that, you see.
Think, “I’m born, this is one time I received a precious human body, a most precious human body, or you can say a perfect human body, even more precious than just a human body, therefore, I must practice contentment, therefore I must practice contentment. When the desire is going on, I must control my desire and practice contentment, to bring happiness in my life, to bring happiness, to not open the door for suffering for myself, so much suffering, unhappiness, and for others, bah, bah, bah, so much suffering. To stop that, then I must stop the dissatisfaction, [overthrowing] desire, and practice satisfaction, contentment, practice contentment, satisfaction, so that is renunciation, same, practice contentment, satisfaction, to make meaningful my human life.” Do you understand? You have to think that.
This teaching continues in the video. Click here to watch the video and read along with the transcript overlay, or alternatively, you can watch the video without the transcript. To browse more video extracts from the series, visit Lama Zopa Rinpoche Essential Extracts webpage.