Life seems like a busy marketplace to me. There is a lot going on, we get bombarded with all sorts of things right and left. On one side there are our responsibilities. There is always something that needs to be done. Coming out of a longer period retreat a few weeks ago, it strikes me how complicated modern life is. How much there is that needs to be planned and arranged! We need a place to live, work, car or other transportation, health insurance, and then there are family responsibilities … the list sometimes doesn’t seem to end. On the other side, there are all sorts of offerings that promise pleasure and happiness, if we just do this or buy that. So many things pull on us from all directions. It is easy to be busy with not much result like the pigeon that spends all night arranging its nest and ends up not getting any sleep
It’s easy to get lured into wasting one’s time with all sorts of activities that are ultimately meaningless. If we get continuously distracted, when it’s time to die we will not be prepared. We will have no choice but to leave empty handed, because we haven’t been able to accomplish anything meaningful and lasting that will benefit us beyond this life. As it says in the four thoughts that turn the mind from samsara in the Longchen Nyingtik Ngöndro, “When his time has come, even a king has to die, and neither his friends and his wealth can follow him. So for us — wherever we stay, wherever we go — karma follows like us a shadow”.
The way I understand the advice of my teachers is that we must not ignore the realities of life. We need to take care of our lives and act in accordance with our responsibilities. It is important to be conscientious about our action and most importantly about the intention behind them. Our actions sow the seeds for what we will experience in future lives. While taking care of our responsibilities in this life, we also mustn’t allow ourselves to get sidetracked and lost in distractions. We mustn’t loose sight of our priorities and instead give our life the best possible purpose by using it as an opportunity to walk further on the path to lasting freedom. The teachings tell us that this freedom comes when we truly understand the inherent nature of our mind and that of the world. Therefore we need to never loose sight of our aim to tame our mind, to realize how things really are, and to always strive to see what is really true behind this amazing spectacle that we call our life.