Living life to the fullest

I recently read a book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

The author, Amy Chau is Chinese-American. Her purpose in writing the book was, as she puts it, “supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising their kids than Western ones.” By the end of the book she faces a much different issue.

Chau is a very successful woman, achieved by hard work and determination. She worked as a lawyer on Wall Street before becoming a Yale University Law professor. She is also a New York Times bestselling author.

Chau tries, with enviable energy, to get the most out of each day. She is relentless in pushing herself and her children to do more and to do better. In between her job as a professor, she is constantly traveling for speaking engagements. She travels from her east coast home to California for a lunch time meeting and back home -- in the same day. She alone takes care of their two dogs, running with them at 6 in the morning; she supervises both her daughter's musical practice for at least 3 hours per day. Her weekends seem to be even busier, driving her daughters here and there.

However, over the course of her memoir, her perspective on life takes a turn. Maybe it was her youngest daughter's rebellion; or maybe it was her sister's battle with leukemia. But something changes in her. At the end of the book she says: “Given that life is so short and so fragile, surely each of us should be trying to get the most out of every breath, every fleeting moment. But what does it mean to live life to its fullest? We all have to die. But which way does that cut?*”

Has she realized that no matter how much effort one puts into life, without know why we live there is no complete satisfaction? What does it mean to live life to the fullest? As followers of Shinran Shonin's teaching we know what it means to live life to the fullest: to be saved into Absolute happiness by Amida's Vow and fulfill the purpose of being born human. Only then can we truly feel absolute peace of mind and satisfaction.

At that moment all our life's efforts will be rewarded. As it says in YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON, “once we achieve the true purpose of life, all suffering is repaid. Every tear shed comes back to us a pearl.” There has to be a point in life where our efforts are rewarded otherwise we are doomed to end our lives questioning life as Prof. Chau does. Anyone who knows Shinran Shonin's teachings will never have to ask again what it means to live life to the fullest.

*What does that mean?

by Frank Costelloe, Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #02 | 2011, Living life to the fullest

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