The True Value Of Life


If life becomes more beautiful and miraculous because it is so short, and I decide to end my life tomorrow … then after making this decision, life should seem overwhelmingly beautiful and miraculous. In such a case, how could someone commit suicide? The beauty and miracle, therefore, are independent of life itself.

 

I wanted to share with you some philosophical thoughts that I wrote to a friend. Some speak about the false show of courage of the materialists who claim that the world is beautiful and “miraculous”, and that the brevity of life does not detract from it, but in fact it makes it more interesting, therefore they have no interest in an eternal soul or God.

 

When we lose something that has a positive value and our loss does not bring in itself an even more valuable awakening, nor is it replaced by anything else of equal or greater value, then such a loss must have a negative value that corresponds precisely to the positive value that was lost. A simple example: if I lose ten dollars, I lose precisely that positive value, in this case ten dollars. If I invest ten dollars and turn them into twenty, that is not a loss. Similarly, if I give ten dollars in charity, the reward can easily outweigh the “loss.” Or as Krishna explains in the Gita, when a passionate person gives charity, he or she is really purchasing recognition and fame. A more virtuous person would enjoy the happiness of virtue itself. If we simply lose ten dollars (fall out of our pocket) and we do not care, that means those ten dollars just are not that important to us.

 

So, the more we value this miraculous world, the more the unredeemed loss of life must constitute a negative value. One can argue that the very temporariness of life, its brevity, increases its value. We appreciate every moment of life, just as people value great diamonds, precisely because they are scarce. I think that this argument ultimately fails to reach the highest sense of the “valuable”. For some, the value of a huge diamond lies in its rarity. But that is more a social vanity, a marketing influence; for example, the pleasure of owning, or possessing, that which so few possess. The true value of the diamond must lie in its intrinsic beauty, which is splendid, and not in the vanity of having what so few possess. The authentic, wonderful beauty of a diamond can not depend on the price of such objects on earth. Here there are innumerable snowflakes, however each of them is beautiful, regardless of whether they have a low “market price”.

 

Similarly, the true enjoyment of a diamond can not depend on knowing that one is going to lose it soon. Such foresight can inspire one to “enjoy while one can,” but one who truly appreciates nature does not depend on such factors. True appreciation will not depend on the amount available to us of the appreciate object.

 

Such true appreciation is not dependent on, nor is it subject to, permanent loss, nor is it based on rarity or preponderance.

 

Conclusion: knowledge of the eventual death of the body can lead one to appreciate and value life more, but one who truly appreciates life will not stop there, but will diligently seek a way to continue personal, conscious existence beyond the temporary body. In other words, the miracle of life should guide us to deepen our awareness of our eternal nature.