Sunday, March 27, 2011

What is the purpose of life?

What is the purpose of life?
This story was submitted by a reader.
“Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.'

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life - - like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.' “
This story, as simple as it looks, is very profound.  Many people spend endless time and effort in searching for the meaning of life, for its purpose. But, who really knows the purpose of life? Shakyamuni Buddha said that people would spend all their time debating and discussing those questions that lead nowhere. Actually, so did Socrates which is why Socrates avoided them altogether as well.

The Buddha added, "all this radical preoccupation on these questions, which they could not prove anyway,  was like a man shot by a poison arrow who — rather than have it removed as it’s killing him and time is of the essence — first demands to know what type of arrow it was, what poison was used, who shot it, why did they shoot it, how much force did they use, where did they come from  and all sorts of other interesting but useless questions to the main need of saving his life."
He further explained, "Look, you’re confronted with suffering in the human realm. That’s the fact in front of you. You know it. It’s real. Incarnation after incarnation you’re faced with this fact until you can attain enlightenment and escape, which is control of the process. This you know. This is in front of you. This is what’s real.” Simply stated, don’t waste your time in those questions, but focus on how to live this life!
Going back to our story, if a dog was the teacher, then you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
The art of living is to live simply, to love generously, to care deeply, to speak kindly and finally,


  1. Some animals live much longer than humans, then by the same logic they have a even more difficult time than us on living a good life.

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