The one question in the minds of all people, after they attain the basics: a roof overhead and food on the table, is, “Why am I here?”  “What is the purpose of my existence?”  “How can I find out what that is and how do I travel down that path?”

Some choose to anesthetize themselves through alcohol, drugs and sex (or worse) and not think of things they don’t want to confront.  Some seek God in various ways: meditation, living in a spiritual community.

Unfortunately, those are not ways to enlightenment; those are ways to escape your responsibility.  And what is that responsibility?

You may have considered why you were born into an industrialized society, a first tier nation, and safe country, afforded the best health care, food, medicine, and educational opportunities.

The answer is, you were born into such circumstances so you can help all those in the world born into poverty, crime, disease, people in a lesser position than yourself, people the targets of genocide, boys made into child soldiers, girls raped and sold into slavery, the starving masses, the hopeless, the disowned, those forced into prostitution to eat and feed their families, those whose limbs were chopped off and can no longer feed or care for themselves, the naked, the freezing, the draught-stricken, the orphans, the abandoned.

You were born into an elevated state and position to make a difference in the world, not to satiate yourself with rich food, expensive wine, cocaine, alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, material possessions, and to view TV reality shows.  Discussing who won “Dancing with the Stars,” “The biggest Looser,” The Voice,” ‘Survivor” does not count toward fulfilling your purpose on Earth, but only act as buffers between you and your purpose, which is to better a person, a contributing member of a village, a supporter of downtrodden people…depending on your financial wherewithal, physical abilities and level of commitment.

You actually believe, deluding yourself, and think that it is your hard work, diligence, education, vision, that brought you success.  How naive.  You could just as well have been born in Calcutta, as an untouchable, begging on the streets of the city, where people go to the bathroom on the sidewalks, where poverty is the norm, where disease kills you by the age for 35, where people starve to death every day.

No, wait, you just realized why you are not happy, unfulfilled.  It’s the fact that you only have a 5,000 sq. ft. house.  If you had the 10,000 sq. ft house, then you would be happy.  No, wait, it’s the fact that you only own a new Prius that’s causing your depression.  If you had a Tesla, or a Bentley, or a Ferrari, then you’d be happy.  Yes, that’s it!  You just need to get to that next level of wealth.  That’s what’s in between you and true peace and joy.

After you bought those things, then a few weeks or a few months later the excitement and the sense of satisfaction wore off and you’re lying in bed asking yourself why…why the joy went away, why you need those things, why your life doesn’t have any meaning, maybe, just maybe you’ll come to the realization that the reason you were born in America, had luck in financial matters (no, it was not all due to your hard work), that you attained a great education, were surrounded by supportive people and unlimited opportunity, maybe you will realize that your higher purpose is to help those less fortunate than you.

You seek self-realization, nirvana, enlightenment.  Those are worthy goals.  But do you know the first step to attainment of those goals is?  As the Buddha said, “Be awake.”  Awake to the circumstances around you.  Not your neighbor’s lawn being unkempt or your car getting a scratch, or your child caught smoking, but conditions in the world, outside of your same-think, similar-habit, uniform-acting friends and family.

Millions dying of starvation, beatings and execution in North Korea.  Hundred of children kidnapped by Boko Haram in Africa, millions displaced into camps where they are raped, forced to pay for free food.  Al Shabab executing Christians, hundreds if thousand killed in Syria, millions displaced.  Doctors without Borders being killed because they try to inoculate at risk children all over the world…but they keep going into conflict zones.  Ebola aid workers, in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, born into poverty themselves risking their lives to help others…knowing that the chances of dying are greater than 50-50.

Well, these things upset you and you’d rather discuss who won the big game, or maybe something really important…like how the new iphone is a must purchase this year, or how they changed the exhaust pipes from round to square and because of that you had to get the latest model car.

You have one, and only one responsibility in this life…and that is to help others less fortunate than yourself.  You have a responsibility to learn what is happening in the world around you, and I don’t mean to your neighbors who are having problems with their crabgrass, or your son trying marijuana.  I mean the real world, not your fantasy existence surrounded by five and ten thousand square foot houses, ninety thousand dollar SUVs, and wine coolers.  I mean gaining understanding and empathy with the people in north Korea who are staving by the millions, who throw up and re-eat their food in the hopes it might save them, I mean families in Africa who are killed, mutilates, starved, driven from their homes, which consist of nothing but a straw hit with no electrical or running water, who see their children kidnapped and made into child soldiers or sex slaves.  Or people in those country who can’t afford to educate their children and perpetuate poverty, unemployment and crime.

But what can you do anyway?  Nothing…unless you lift a finger.  After all, you are just one people thousands of miles from those tragedies.  You can first pull your head out of your ass and learn what is happening, then go there, see the people, help them, come back, tell your neighbors and friends, make them go, make them help.

Did you know there are Catholic charities working on the border between china and North Korea who help starving, beaten, tortured, people escape?  For the price of $25 a Chinese or North Korea guard can be bribed and a person set free.  You didn’t know that?  How could you?  It’s not in Investor Daily newspaper. It’s not on Fox News or CNBC.  In your next life, you’ll know it better because, if you do nothing in this life, then you’ll be living that nightmare in the next life.

But you like your comfort zone; people you know don’t talk about horrific condition in America or the world.  They speak of comfortable things that do not challenge your values or expand your consciousness.

We are here to develop our skills and talents and use them to help others, not simply benefit ourselves.  But in truth, benefiting others is the greatest reward and feeling of joy one can ever aspire to.  We must surround ourselves with people who can inspire and guide us on the path to reaching our highest potential: to believe truly that we can make a difference in this world.  The future is not set; there is no karma that cannot be overcome, there is no destiny that is set in stone.

The Buddha found nirvana.  Do you know what his first immutable law is? Be awake.  Be aware; be aware of what is going on around you.  The second law, do no harm.  That means don’t destroy the environment, don’t pollute with a big car, don’t waste resources of the planet.  The third law?  Be of benefit to others.  The fourth step…attain self-realization.  You’re trying to skip the first three and get to the fourth without paying your dues.  If you think that’s possible, then there is no hope for you.  Go out and buy that newer SUV because they changed the shape of the exhaust pipes from round to square, go out an eat that one hundred dollar dinner and drink that seventy-five dollar bottle of wine.  Maybe a second bottle which will help you forget that there is no amount of money, no amount liquor or pot, or coke that will even enable you to attain a peace with yourself and at oneness with others in the world.

Fourth, get rid of the “I”.  That means there is no separation between yourself and others, or nature.  And then you have reached your destination: self-realization, oneness with God, nirvana.  The last step is a little difficult, but you surely won’t reach step four without dedicating yourself to the first three.


But you say you still desire to meditate and center your life around meditation and sabbaticals to ashrams?  Pray with Monks?  You can do that in your next lifetime – the one where you come back as a beggar on the streets of Calcutta, with no legs, blind, an Untouchable, if you waste this lifetime.

Well, I will end here.  I have an appointment to get a new tattoo….Oh, I’m sorry, what I was thinking.  What I meant to say was that I am going to send the money I was contemplating for a tattoo to the Africa Relief Fund so a family of twelve can eat for a month.




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