WHY THE HUMAN BIRTH IS PRECIOUSIT IS DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN
All sentient beings have a natural tendency to act harmfully; few
act beneficially. Even among the few who do, the capacity for moral conduct
required for acquisition of a human body is very rare. As a result,
beings of the three lower realms are as numerous as grains of soil in the
earth, while gods and human beings are exceedingly rare. Furthermore,
there are scarcely enough sentient beings with human bodies who live
by the Dharma to constitute a class of samsaric beings! It is impossible
to count all the insects living beneath a slab of rock. But it is possible
to count all the men living an an entire kingdom! So few human beings
practice Dharma; those who practice it correctly are as rare as daytime
stars.IT IS EASILY LOST
This body is threatened by many potentially fatal circumstances
such as fire, flood, poison, weapons, malevolent planetary influences,
earthquakes, etc.---yet we never know when they will occur! Few
conditions favor its survival. Since the only difference between life
and death is the exhalation or inhalation of one rasping breath, this
body is more easily destroyed than a bubble.
A precious human body like this one will never be found again.
Do not let it go to waste! If you had an animal's body, the means to
achieve enlightenment would be beyond your reach. Although you would
not know how to recite one ''Mani,"12 you would have the power to do
the kind of deeds which lead to rebirth in the lower realms.IT HAS A GREAT OBJECTIVE
Thanks to this human body, we have the ability to achieve complete
Buddhahood: this is its great objective. Up to now, we have not valued
it very highly, but spent it in vain. Worldly men, concerned with their
well·being, can deal with hardships they encounter in business, etc. But
when u·e encounter hardships in our struggle for life's ultimate goal---
liberation---we are completely lacking in energy. We are degenerate,
dissipated, and beguiled by Mara. From this day on, meditate repeatedly
on the thought, "I must exert myself exclusively in the practice of religion!
I must accomplish life's objective!"
Generally speaking, one who is inclined to do particular types of
deeds is called a "karma-carrier." A "karma-carrier" who practiced
Dharma in his previous life is now inclined to place his confidence in
the Dharma and the guru. This is a sign of the reawakening of his [past]
"white" deeds. But one who acts harmfully in this life will, at rebirth,
be "carried" to the lower realms, not to a human body.
From the Kshitigarbha sutra:
There are ten kinds of samsaric beings for whom true human birth is
difficult to obtain. Who are they? They are: (1.} those who have not cultivated
the sources of wholesome action;15 (2.) who have not accumulated
a quantity of merit; (3.) who follow the ways of corrupting companions;
(4.) for whom conflicting emotions persist; (5.) who do not fear suffering
in future lives; (6.) who are very disturbed by conflicting emotions; (7.)
who are lazy and careless about Dharma practice; (8.) who embrace
Buddha's teachings but do not follow them; (9.) who adhere to perverted
views, or ( 10.) who thoroughly believe in them.
Beware of these! To say, "Since I understand the great importance
of this human body, I am great! I am learned! I am nobly born! I am
good!," constitutes contempt for others. Take notice and stop! Since all
living beings possess the Buddha-potential,11 it is wrong to despise even
a mere insect.
It is said that when the tendency to condemn others has fully matured,
in this life you will lose what you cherish. In the next, you will
either be born among the spirits or as an enslaved human being. Since
ordinary beings (like ourselves) lack the supersensible cognitions
[of spiritually advanced beings], we do not know who may be an Arhat
and who a Bodhisattva, how such beings may be teaching Dharma,
or what special methods they may be using to help sentient beings.
Being ignorant yourself, do not judge others! Since it is said that
one who despises a Bodhisattva will suffer the agonies of hell for many
kalpas, do not discount the seriousness of even one unpleasant joke at
The type of person whose faith vacillates, whose insight is limited,
who is easily led astray by companions and is frightened by profound
teachings will develop gradually, trained in a gradual path closely
guided by a guru of skillful methods. Before he may be instructed in
"seeing" and "meditating"11 he must amass and integrate the Two
But the type of person capable of instantaneous illumination---whose
insight is expansive, whose compassion is great, who is filled with
unbending faith and devotion, who lacks desire and attachment, who
thinks only of the Dharma and especially delights in profound doctrine---
such a person merely requires a teaching which immediately
points out the ultimate nature of reality, and dispenses with the
visualizationsand other practices employed by the "path of means."
So it has been said!