What Are We Living for?

We should make it our top priority to benefit others, the first step in benefiting others is not to obstruct others.

What are we living for? Who are we? What are we here for?

Someone says, “We're here to collect garbage.” Is that so? Nowadays, people pick through things that others throw away, finding treasures in others’ garbage. People also plagiarize and copy others’ styles, while neglecting their own inherent talents. They rationalize, “If copying isn’t allowed, then where did other people get their styles from?” They renounce the essence and grasp at trivialities, making things worse by clumsily trying to imitate others. As a result, their own true wisdom remains concealed and undeveloped. The more they direct their attention outwards, the further away they drift! This is truly a great mistake.

But why are we born here? To pan gold and seek profit? No! To make fortunes? No! Money and material things are not truly useful. When the time comes to die, what use are they? What have we come into this world for? Since we have been born here, we should help the world and the people in it. Benefiting living beings is our duty. We shouldn’t degrade the value of our life by directing it towards selfish ends. We make it our top priority to benefit others and always be concerned about humanity as a whole. The first step in benefiting others is not to obstruct others. To benefit ourselves at the expense of others, thus bringing harm and affliction to others, is not a proper thing to do.

Being born in this world, our first task is to establish merit and virtue; writing literature is secondary. Merit and virtue are invisible, while words are visible. It is said, “When words cut off, the mind’s activity ceases.” If we arrive at that state, we are not far from enlightenment.

A talk given on the evening of March 21, 1980,
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas