Revised March 2, 2020
Even if some of us are not thinking about a “wider world view” or “what happens after death”, all of us want a better world for all of us.
I thought of sharing this marvelous video from the late Dr. Carl Sagan:
When I read the writings of all those past scientists like Sagan, Feynman, Einstein, Bohm, Heisenberg, etc, I wonder how much more they could have accomplished spiritually if they were exposed to pure Buddha Dhamma. Yet, I am still impressed by their pure reasoning and compassion for humanity; they were not just scientists with a narrow focus. They thought deeply about the “purpose of existence”.
Even though science has revealed the unimaginable vastness of space, scientists think our universe is only 15 billion years old. However, each of us has an uncountable number of lives in the past. See, “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin.” Not only is our place in the vast cosmos insignificantly small, but our individual existence of about 100 years (in this life) is also insignificantly small too.
- Yet, out of countless beings that live on this Earth, we are the only species that is capable of forging our own destiny.
- We need to be mindful not only of the welfare of family and friends but for all other people and beings (seen and unseen).
Do you know why some actions are good and others bad? We may quote some ethical maxims or juggle with philosophical abstractions, but there is a very simple explanation that is called nature. “Good is good because it leads to happiness and freedom of the heart. Bad is bad because it leads to suffering, and it feels bad”. The Buddha said a moral deed (puñña kamma) is one that makes one’s heart “pulsating with joy”; an immoral deed leads to a burdened heart.
Nature encourages morality and punishes immorality via its built-in reward-punishment system, which is none other than the laws of kamma. But the punishment is not immediate, and that is why it is hard for people to make the connection. Even if the punishment in question comes to a few lives later, this “time lag” is really not that long since saṃsāra is “beginning-less” and “endless”.
Humans innately know what is right and what wrong. Most bad actions are committed with a mind that is not calm but is agitated. Therefore, we need to learn how to calm our minds: “Key to Calming the Mind – The Five Hindrances“.
By the way, Dr. Sagan’s books like “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space”, “The Varieties of Scientific Experience”, and “Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium” are very informative. These are likely to be available in local public libraries.