Why are you using?

Our way could be the Way-of-Gods (神道) or something else entirely

Our way could be the Way-of-Gods (神道) or something else entirely

Dialogue with James on how we use our lives.
Here’s an idea for your kaizen to ponder…
The idea of value in life.
If you accept the reality of the age of the universe and the size of our population on Earth, and get beyond yourself, you realize that your life is quite short and insignificant.  So, within this short amount of time, what would be a valuable life?  It seems to be what you leave behind.  A contribution to mankind, small or large.  Most people spend their entire lives focusing on what they can take out of life, or Earth.  In other words, what they can get.  But a more enlightened perspective would see more value in what one can leave behind, and/or give to others.  Shouldn’t this then be an overarching goal of one’s life then?

In a world and culture which has shifted focus more and more to “Me first” and “What can I get?” many seem blind to this reality.  You literally cannot take it with you.  However, so many seem happy on their merry way down a path of self indulgence.  The excitement one feels when they skydive, or the enjoyment of taking that trip around the world, or spending a night partying and drinking with their friends.  Such enjoyable experiences have no longer become the reward after accomplishing something, but rather the focus of what one aims to accomplish in life itself.

It’s interesting if you think about the meaning of “partying”.  At a party, you celebrate something.  Sometimes we should ask ourselves…what are we celebrating exactly?  It seems like many are celebrating celebrating. Should one spend time on more valuable activities, such as reading?  Well, it depends.  Many people read fiction.  Is that in itself an accomplishment?  You have to ask yourself, did I just read these stories to entertain myself and pass the time?  Was the author’s goal to simply entertain me?  Even if not, did I take whatever message they conveyed through their story and actually change the way I live my life?

It’s like eating food.  You can take in food, and then do something with that energy, such as exercise or build something, or you can just sit on the couch and let that energy turn to fat. But what is the overarching describer of all of these actions?  Consumption.  What do these actions leave behind?  What improvements to the world did they accomplish?

Consumption alone in a place which has limited resources almost guarantees the place will become a barren wasteland.  You have to not only consume, but then do something positive with what you’ve consumed.  If not, the resource you consumed is just wasted, and these resources are limited on our planet. On one’s deathbed, one realizes the shortness of life, and suddenly, such trivial things become unimportant.  One begins to worry about one’s legacy, or what one will leave behind.  When we live in a way which focuses on making a contribution, we can avoid this folly.

Earth has limited resources, and we will eventually use these resources.  Our little lives pop-up and then disappear on it.  During that short time, we can simply consume and give nothing back, but this does not bode well for future generations.  The reality of that is actually more depressing than criticizing everyone having their “fun”.  And also, in reality, it is quite childish and simplistic…almost animal-like.  But aren’t we more than mere animals?

Don’t we not have the seemingly limitless brain power in comparison to make this world we live on an amazing place?  To cure diseases and possibly live for 150 or even 200 years?  To travel farther and discover more about our universe.  To invent.  To develop ways to maintain peace. Therefore, people should ask themselves the following questions in relation to how they spend the majority of their time:

Am I contributing something or just consuming?  Am I giving or only taking?  What will I leave behind?

And most importantly, does my life matter?  So, in fact, with this last question in mind, we have come full circle to view this issue in a self-centered way, which is in fact not a bad thing at all.  By not focusing on ourselves, we can in the end feel better about ourselves.

The Japanese word for mission is 使命 “Using-one’s-Life”.

I guess from this perspective it’s much easier to derive meaning:

My mission (life-goal) is to create something = I use my life to give/create something.

If you take the Western perspective you mentioned (“My mission (life-goal) is to enjoy myself”) and translate it using the above perspective you get something nearly tautological:

I use my life to enjoy myself = I use my life to enjoy using myself…?!?

Chapter 2 The value of our existence as human beings
我が人生の存在価値
Let us be thankful like children, who receive this gift of life from the Ki of Sky-Earth.
Let us honour our privilege of being given consciousness, of being an extension of the Spirit of animals, Grass and Trees.
我が生命は天地のより氣生じたのである。
草木動物としてではなく、万物の霊長としてこの世に生を享けた事を感謝しよう。
Let us join in the great wheel of life-generating development.
Let us participate in this project of generating and developing life, and let us pledge to live our lives to that end.
天地の生成発展の大経綸に参画し、我が使命を完遂することを誓おう。

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