To tell you honestly, I wish there isn't a next life. One of my oldest students told me recently, "I don't care about the next life." At first I felt quite shocked, then I became quite sad. I think if this would be the real case, then nobody should be worried about the present life too. But unfortunately, this is not the reality. Because we have to be experiencing the cause and effect of our thoughts, speech and actions, we'd better be worried about the next life, so that we are better prepared.
I really wish next life is not there. If next life is not there, this means I can do everything for my own enjoyment. I can kill, I can misbehave, I can do all sorts of negative things to make my ego happy and to satisfy my desires, because there is no next life. This means whatever I do there won't be any results, good or bad. Even when I do good things, there won't be any good results. So there is no purpose in our life, no reasons to improve ourselves and no reasons for doing anything. We become like potatoes. Potatoes don't have to believe that there is a next life.
Sadly, no one is above karma. We can choose not to believe in karma and the next life, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. I am showing here a photo of myself taken 30 years ago, that tells a lot about next life too. My look has changed and it was not a sudden change, it has been a gradual change or you can call it evolution. Every minute “I" am dying and moving on to the next minute of "I", this tells me that there is a next life. Whatever I did then has been affecting my life even up until today. Whatever junk food I was eating when I was small, made me so sick when I was growing up. Obviously there is a cause and effect.
What is most important for a spiritual practitioner is that one should never be losing confidence in karma. Karma is the universal law that no one can run away from. Understanding the law of karma keeps us always on the right track, being mindful of ourselves and our direction. It's great actually to know that we have next life and many lives, because this is a positive possibility for us to encourage ourselves that it's okay to fall down and make mistakes once in a while, we have many chances. If we have no next life, then it's really a great pity for us, because if we are not doing well, there are no other chances. If we have no next life, then this world has no hope. It's better that we don't do anythng and just really become like potatoes.
Whatever it is, happily or unhappily, we need to have the experiential knowledge about karma, with this understanding, we'd know that everything is in our hands and we are our own boss, therefore we can change and improve our destiny. If we don't mind suffering, if we don't mind creating the causes of suffering, then it's perfectly fine to make ourselves believe that there is no next life, there is no tomorrow. Since it's not true, why do we need to give up? It's unnecessary to make ourselves feel grey and gloomy about our life. We have this great life because we have the opportunities to meet, understand and practise the Universal Truth, taught by the enlightened Buddha and his lineage of spiritual sons and daughters. Compared to the beings who have no chance to have a glimpse of the Truth, we are so much more fortunate.
Enlightenment is not a journey or a process that we have to go through with great pain, it is here, it is now. We are enlightenment, we are the Universal Truth. Because we don't realise this, we are stuck here, having all sorts of doubts and miseries. Once this is clear, we will understand and realise immediately that we are enlightenment. The process or journey is not enlightenment, it is the practise of experiential understanding or we can even call it discovering our primordial nature. This discovery process can be very confusing and it can also make you stuck with pains and regrets. It doesn't matter. We go through pains, growing pains. No pain, no gain. If we don't go through this, we will not appreciate life. Sometimes, I often tell myself that suffering is there to let us know that we are alive and we have a chance.
My dear friends and students, don't be despair. We are together hand in hand on this discovery journey. For lives we have been together, for many lives to come we will be together. It has been, it is and it will be sometimes a roller coaster ride, sometimes a smooth sailing journey, sometimes a sleepy and boring ride. Now, it's time to say "good night".