“Imagine a wide ocean with a golden yoke adrift upon it. In the depths of the ocean swims a single blind turtle, who surfaces for air once every hundred years. How rare would it be for the turtle to surface with its head through the hole in the yoke? The Buddha said that attaining a precious human rebirth is rarer than that.”

The Way to Freedom, the 14th Dalai Lama

This analogy seems exaggerated, hyperbolic even. Yet, in a very literal sense, there are billions and billions and billions of beings on earth. There are the big mammals, plants, insects, bacteria, and so many other types of beings, microscopic and visible. What are ten billion human beings? There is no need to believe in reincarnation to understand how improbable our lives are.

This slogan is not only about rarity, but also preciousness. In the cosmic economy, maybe rarity induces preciousness, like rubies are valuable because they are rare in our human realm. But the real point is that there is something singular about human life, something that gives substance to its value: the capacity of being self-aware, to transform itself and the world around it, the ability to do good.

Upon reading "Training in Compassion" by Norman Fischer

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