P: We are here today to have a conversation. It doesn’t matter what religion you have. What is the truth? Let’s focus our attention on that question alone. Also, let’s talk about suffering in our lives. It’s up to all of you here to choose the topic of our conversation. Let’s open the floor for questions.
Q: I’m 34 years old, and for the first half of my life, I tried really hard to be successful. Then about 6 years ago, I got really sick. Now I’m all better. I spent the last 6 years just trying to get better, and now, I’m trying to figure out what my next step is. I don’t want to go into business. I did a lot of that before. I was just wondering if you just could give me some advice on how to take the next step and figure out what to do.
P: You were ill for six years. How was it to be really sick? Did you want to live?
Q: Not really.
P: You didn’t want to live?
Q: I lived. I want to live now, but at the time it was pretty difficult.
P: What I am trying to get at is that you wanted to live so you underwent treatment, right?
P: You say you’ve gotten progressively better over the last 6 years?
P: Becoming fully recovered is going back to the state as you were before you became sick, right? Therefore, to you being alive and healthy is the biggest success. If you think about it, you were already successful before because you had your full health, and even though you were successful you were trying too hard to get some other measures of success. That’s why you became sick. After losing your health, you are spending a lot of time and effort to get it back. So, being alive is the biggest success. It’s not that easy to remain alive, so being alive is success. If you are greedy for more than that, you are likely to lose what you already have. What do you think?
Q: Good, I like it.
P: But, you have to do something while you are alive, right? So, while you are alive, you can work, you can earn money, you can help others, and you can eat good food. All these things you can do while you are alive. However, it is foolish to ruin your health to pursue some other measures of success. You have already succeeded so don’t try to be more successful. Just see yourself as already successful.
P: What’s your religion?
P: Then, you should offer a prayer of gratitude to the Buddha. You should pray that you are thankful that you are alive and healthy. Since you are grateful, you need to give something back to the Buddha. The Buddha doesn’t need anything, but he does have something he wants to do. The Buddha wishes to help those in need. You can repay the Buddha by helping him with what he wants to do. So, while you are alive, you should make an effort to help those in need. Then, you will have big sense of worth about yourself. It will be very rewarding. It will make you very happy. I hope that you will live with such sense of happiness. It’s not really important what you do. You can work as a janitor, carry boxes at a supermarket, or work in a large company. No matter what you do, you should do it with a sense of happiness and gratitude, then you will soon become healthy. So, don’t try to succeed. Always remind yourself that you are already successful.