Nicolae Tanase: Khenpo Rinpoche, what is the meaning of life?
Khenpo Sodargye Rinpoche: For each of us, no matter where we are from or what kind of background we are raised in, we all need to have an unbiased attitude, an open mind, and a logical way of thinking. In this way, whatever we do will be guided by wisdom, and our behavior will be fueled by reason. This is true even in terms of religion; if one’s faith in that religion lacks wisdom, that kind of faith can become nothing but blind faith.
From the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate meaning of life is to help others. In general, all the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism can be summarized as methods for cultivating an altruistic mind. Without having an altruistic mind, whatever one does will be meaningless, existing only superficially. Having an altruistic mind is essential even for a normal person, such as a teacher or a student. If a teacher has an altruistic mind, his or her teaching will be meaningful to students. Then, if students are able to enter society with an altruistic mind as well, those students’ careers will have meaning, too.
Therefore, a meaningful life is a life imbued with both wisdom and altruism. For a practitioner who lives in solitude, even if he or she is able to concentrate on developing the threefold progression of listening, contemplating, and meditating, the risk remains that he or she may become someone who possesses much knowledge but doesn’t know how to put that knowledge into practice and thereby skillfully engage with the society. However, if he or she combines the threefold progression of listening, contemplating, and meditating with the practising of altruistic actions, that practitioner’s transitory life will become meaningful, because then he or she will be able to anchor the Buddhadharma within his or her mindstream and therefore put into practice the spirit of the Dharma teaching while engaging with society.
At one time, I studied the Buddhadharma while living in a remote mountain area, leading a reclusive life and feeling unwilling to have contact with people. Now, although I am connecting more and more with society, this in fact does not affect my learning and practicing at all. Moreover, my engagement strengthens my faith in Buddhism and enhances my compassion. Therefore, when we undertake the process of learning the Buddhadharma, it is also worthwhile that we endeavor to sow the seed of goodness and virtue in the mind of even one living being.
In summary, I think a meaningful life is one that embodies the wisdom of helping others. With that, you will be happy yourself; with that, you will bring happiness to the people around you; with that, you will have a bright future.
~Khenpo Sodargye Rinpoche, a spiritual leader of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, is one of the most renowned and influential Tibetan masters in this modern age. Khenpo’s Dharma activities have been acknowledged and disseminated around the world. For a long time, he has been standing in the forefront of the times, propagating the teaching of both Sutrayana and Vajrayana by using the means of modernized technology.
Khenpo Rinpoche says he always believes that Buddhism is much more than a religion: it is an education of mind, an inner science that explores human emotions and deals with human afflictions. He also says that, in order to cultivate genuine and deep wisdom and develop pure faith in regard to the Buddhadharma, one has to receive systematic teaching and undertake the traditional threefold progression of listening, contemplating and meditating.