It is very easy to abuse, misuse, not use or even destroy life. While making good use of life is difficult, destroying it is easy. Gautam Buddha was once going through a forest where the fearsome Angulimal lived. He killed people and wore a necklace made from their fingers. No one had the courage to pass through that forest. When Angulimal saw the Buddha, he was surprised because the Buddha was calm and collected and had no fear.
“Are you not afraid? My name is Angulimal!”
The Buddha said, “Yes, I have heard of you, what do you do?”
“I kill,” replied Angulimal.
“Great indeed is your strength!” replied the Buddha. He then showed him the branch of a tree and asked him to break it. Angulimal broke it.
“Can you join it back and make it a living thing?” asked the Buddha.
“No,” replied the puzzled Angulimal, “I never thought of it.”
The Buddha pressed home his point, “What is so great about your strength? You can only destroy and kill, but you cannot give life!”
Angulimal understood. Transformed in an instant, he fell at the Buddha’s feet.
Values are permanent, but valuables are impermanent. Great values and noble virtues are permanent. Worldly wealth, however hard we may try to hold on to it, will never give us lasting solace. Even in today’s world, where the dollar is considered all-powerful, only a person of noble character with great ideals and a readiness to sacrifice is truly respected. We may applaud a person for what he has, but we respect one for what he is. The difference must be understood clearly. If you only want to accumulate wealth all the time without caring about values, the wealth will not last — it will be lost soon. We must understand that it is values that make the valuables shine. Even the business world recognises credibility and ethics. People with values are respected and outshine others in any field.
The Bhagavad Gita opines that the right way of living is to seek Him: “Having obtained this impermanent and sorrowful world, seek Me.” The world is only a transient spectacle, in which there is no permanent happiness to be found. It is only an appearance or an illusion of happiness. Worldly joys never put an end to our sorrow and never give us peace of mind. They give us comforts, pleasures, thrills and excitement. But they tire us and drain us completely. So, the Lord says, “Seek Me, the eternal.”
Right living is an art. If we prefer, we may even call it a science. Make good use of the things that life has provided. Do not misuse, abuse or not use them. Use them to bless others and yourself as well. This is the right way of living.