In our modern times, if people are asked what the essence of life is, we often hear, "To go to school, to get a job, to buy a house, to get married, to have children, and to have a long, healthy, and prosperous life."
Even though these aspirations are usually motivated by the desire for constant happiness, we instead often experience transitory happiness, and unsatisfactoriness.
Knowing that we can't take any family, friends, or possessions with us when we die, and given the rare opportunity that we have, is this all that we would like to achieve while we still have our precious human life?
Knowing that we've experienced problems and suffering before, can we be certain that we won't experience something similar, or something even worse after we die?
If we really contemplate all of this, we begin to look for something that we can put into practice which will prevent us from experiencing future suffering - and that is exactly what the Dharma is intended for.
We all have to recognize the tremendous opportunity that we have. As humans we have this rare intelligence, but there is a real danger that we will waste it. Death is certain, but when we will die is totally unpredictable. We could lose our precious human existence at any moment.
With such reflections, we must motivate ourselves to do something meaningful right now. The best way to make your human existence meaningful is to really engage in the practice of Dharma. During formal sitting meditation and in between sessions, in different ways, be mindful and introspectively vigilant. Keep constant watch on your mind.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Even the most erudite of teachers with vast scriptural learning,
Can repeat words like a parrot, without taking them to heart,
But when death suddenly arrives, this will bring only pangs of regret,
So rely on the essential meaning of the teachings, my heart-friends!
All the countless teachings of the Buddhas, so vast in number,
Are imparted purely as a means to subdue our own minds.
Don't put your faith in words alone! I urge you once again:
Let the key points of the deeper meaning seep into your hearts!
His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche