What Is the Purpose of Life? Is it not Enlightenment?
(The following material presents a Buddhist perspective on the question of: “What is Enlightenment?” Is this not the purpose of life?)
Human beings have such an attraction to complexity. We seem to think that if it’s so difficult just to earn the money for a square meal, enlightenment must be very difficult, mysterious, and complicated indeed.
When we enter a path of practice, we have to know where it goes. We have to enter the spiritual path with our eyes wide open.
From the ultimate point of view and from the very beginning, we’re talking about attaining enlightenment, which is very simply the innate nature of all sentient beings.
Enlightenment is not about becoming something or someone else.
It is the recognition of our intrinsic human nature, which is absolute truth. This absolute true nature is called buddha nature.
The term buddha, from the Sanskrit tathat or tathagata, means “gone beyond,” going beyond an ignorant state to become completely inseparable from absolute truth, which is our genuine ground. This is the essence of Buddhism and the main focus of our understanding and practice.
Enlightenment goes by many names:
(1) absolute truth,
(4) freedom from suffering,
(5) freedom from ignorance,
(6) buddha mind,
(7) true nature of mind,
(8) fundamental ground,
(11) nature of suchness,
(12) “as it is,”
(13) primordial wisdom,
(14) emptiness and luminosity,
(15) bliss and emptiness, and
(16) wisdom and compassion.
All of these terms refer to ultimate realization. This is the fruition that brings sentient beings from the state of ignorance to complete freedom. And this is our aspiration as we begin to practice.
Never lose touch with this: When the fruition is truly understood, the ground we stand on and the path we walk on must be maintained with the same understanding.
Buddha nature is the heart quality of all sentient beings.
It is necessary to recognize this core essence in ourselves as well as in others.
Our own basic nature is free from ignorance, grasping, and conceptual judgments. There is no room for illusion or falsity in absolute truth. Because it’s inseparable from wisdom and compassion, there is no room for evil, greed, selfishness, ignorance, anger, or attachment.
This intrinsic ground of goodness is undeniable. All beings appreciate qualities of goodness, wisdom, compassion, and kindness because this is our fundamental nature.
Being aware of this is one thing, however; maintaining that awareness is something else.
Source: Rinpoche, Khandro. This Precious Life. Shambhala. Kindle Edition.