A Student Asks: Why are we here? What is the point of all this life?

A Student writes:

I am going through a stage of wondering what the point of all this life is? Is it, from the Buddhist point of view, just a practice towards enlightenment or not? We live, we die. Some people leave some kind of mark on the world… I am thinking a beneficial effect rather than some evil action, and many just live almost without a ripple and are gone and I think what for? Why?”

Lama Shenpen replies:

From the Buddhist point of view the answer is that there is no point to a life that is not set on the path to Awakening. It is just a whole lot of suffering. The puzzling thing is that we are here at all and while here, we find happiness and value in life, in between the sufferings. That is the clue to how our experience could be.

Our experience is essentially Openness, Clarity and Sensitivity expressing itself in a joyous display, but we lose track of that. It all becomes sticky and heavy. Pain and loss seem to overwhelm us; our emotions are all out of control; our thoughts hop about and worry about the past and future. It feels like being a fly caught in a bottle just buzzing round and round. That is because we cannot see and experience our true nature properly.

Our life is the opportunity to practise, to discover and learn to trust our true nature. That would be liberation. So there is hope in life if we are on the path to Awakening. If others find that ultimately there is no hope in life, they are right. The only hope is liberation.