The value of our life doesn’t require anyone’s recognition, not even our own
Some countries have declared suicide to be a fundamental right. If people desire to kill themselves, the government has to facilitate them.
This bizarre development results from the mainstreaming of the cult of the self in modern times. What is the cult of the self? It is the self-centered worldview that enthrones the individual as the measure of all things. If humans decide that the embryo in the womb is just an unwanted lump of flesh, they legalize abortion. If humans feel that they (or their caregivers) don’t want the travails of old age or terminal sickness, they legalize euthanasia. And now the irony that taxpayers’ money will be used for two opposite purposes: in counseling centers to deter suicide and in extended euthanasia centers to facilitate it.
The Bhagavad-gita foresees such tragic absurdity when it declares that if we believe that life has no purpose other than sensual indulgence (16.08), we end up doing activities that destroy ourselves and the world (16.09). Gita wisdom explains that our life is sacred because we are parts of the divine and our present human life is an opportunity for spiritual evolution toward life and love eternal. Our life’s value doesn’t change with changing governmental policies or changing personal moods.
But when sensual indulgence replaces spiritual evolution as life’s defining purpose, life becomes devalued to the extent such indulgence becomes unavailable or improbable: “If I can’t eat, drink, mate and enjoy, what is the point of living?” Even if we can’t do any of these, we can still evolve spiritually, by perceiving and pursuing the eternal.
Thus, understanding that we are meant for things far grander than fleeting bodily pleasures, we can appreciate our life’s intrinsic value and confidently face external reversals that seem to temporarily devalue our life.
Think it over:
- How does the cult of the self end up justifying the destruction of life?
- How does a materialistic worldview devalue life?
- Why is our life valuable? How is this value independent of external events?
16.09: Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.
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