Let's recall our motivation in the morning and think that today, the most important thing I have to do is to guard my body, speech and mind so that I don't harm anybody through what I do with my body, through what I say, or even through what I think. That's the most important thing, more important than anything else today.
The second most important thing is, as much as possible, to be of benefit to others. Thoroughly cultivate that as your motivation simply for being alive today. Our purpose for being alive isn't just to keep this body alive, to eat and sleep, and have pleasure. We have a higher purpose, a higher meaning: to really work for the benefit of living beings. If the purpose of our life is simply to keep the body alive and have pleasure, then at the end of life, we have nothing to show for it. The body dies and all the pleasures, like last night's dream, have gone. But if we work for a higher motivation, a higher purpose, to really do what's beneficial for all living beings, then there's happiness and benefit now.
At the end of the life, the benefit that we've given to others continues, as do all the imprints of the attitude of kindness, the attitude of care towards others. All the imprints of having generated that positive mind go on with us into the next life. So even at the time of death, that kind heart brings incredible benefit and carries through into the next life.
And then let's also generate a third motivation--a really long-term motivation--to become fully enlightened. In other words, to have the wisdom, compassion, and skill so that in the long term, we'll be able to be of the greatest benefit to all living beings, even being able to lead them on the path to enlightenment. That's our really long-term purpose.
As we change and develop a kind heart, that influences every single living being we encounter in a positive way. Then, through the influence on them, it spreads out to all the people they know. So, just spending one day with a positive, long-term motivation may seem like a small thing, but when we think of the ripple effect it has now, and the benefit it has in future lives and for progressing along the path to liberation and enlightenment, we see that even one day spent with this motivation of kindness, directly and indirectly benefiting sentient beings, has tremendous outcomes--many, many good results.
Thubten Chodron is the author of many books, including her latest work, Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path, published by Snow Lion Publications