Ordinary people spend their time and energy in their lives pursuing money, personal relationship, fame and position. They think these things will bring about happiness, financial security and good living environments. Whenever they have achieved something, they are considered to be successful and have attained well-being. However, do they really feel the well-being and truly believe that they should be admired ?
Human beings have a lot of contradictions psychologically. Some people regard the goal in life is to pursue happiness unrelentingly. It is true that money, personal relationship and position are important in life. The question is how to handle them so that there will not be any counter-effect. In personal relationship, love can be turned into hatred by a twist of thought. It can also be changed by emotion or lost due to mistakes in handling. Such changes or loss will result in some psychological complex which is difficult to resolve.
When people come to money, they may be too miserly to spend what they have got. The result is the same as someone who is poor and wants to spend but without the money. Sometimes people worry all the time to keep the wealth or to get richer. For fame and position, some people may not enjoy the contentment of achievement but instead suffer from the fear of losing them one day. In all these situations, although the goal is to pursue happiness, the result is always troubles and worries. But even so, people are still pursuing unyieldingly. This is a big contradiction.
People are always at loss because they know that they have to die one day. Death is something equal to all forms of lives. Whether you are rich or poor, of high ranking or low ranking, you will die one day. Everyone has to go through such roadblock eventually. Everyone will see that whatever obtained in life are all vanities. What we have in this life cannot be brought to the future life. When one dies, everything will be reset to zero and will start all over again. When one encounters death, there is a sense of frustration, bewilderment and despair.
In other words, the external/worldly success is simply vanity. It is not realistic and cannot bring about real well-being.
Pointing out the unreality of the worldly success does not advocate living in depression, or giving up work and initiation. Understanding the impermanence of life does not teach people to be fearful, dispirited and passive. The real objective is to point out that the real well-being comes from the internal/spiritual achievement. The Buddha taught us to use wisdom to understand truth, to cultivate blessings in practice, and to use the blessings to accomplish internal and spiritual achievement.
Under the influence of Buddhism, people can understand the natural phenomena through internal wisdom and that time is just an endless flow. In the flow of a life, there is a past life, a present life and a future life. Everything has to be accomplished with the help of supplementary conditions, and everything will vanish in time. In particular, one has to understand that inter-personal relationship is determined by the law of cause and effect. Therefore one should not indulge in greediness or relentlessly pursue after endless desires. The most important thing is to clearly identify your goal in life and to properly handle your state of mind.
The goal in life is to develop one's potential to the fullest, to be faithful and responsible to the present life, to study, research, understand, work, and be nice to other people. According to the law of cause and effect, everything done will not end up in no effect. If there is an immediate good effect, one should feel good about it. But if there is no immediate effect, one should continue to work hard. Any success needs some form of supplementary conditions. However, not everyone has such supplementary conditions at all times because different people have different past. However, one should not be disappointed because of losses. When the present is over, there will be future. If we can look ahead, we will be more positive. We should cultivate the blessings and seize the opportunity to succeed in future.
One who has wisdom will not pursue something that is beyond his/her ability. If the outcome is not up to expectation, he/she will reflect on whether he/she has tried the best. He/she realizes that things are governed by the law of cause and effect and that one cannot ask for something that is beyond the result of the past causes. In this way, one will always feel good and follow whatever the supplementary conditions will allow.
Buddhism teaches people that the best method to cultivate blessings is to get rid of selfishness. Selfishness can damage blessing and make people lonely. A selfish person only expects others to be good to him/her, and is very parsimonious in being good to others. As a result, no one will be good to him/her. It is the case in the present life and will be the same in the future life.
Those who follow Buddhism always think of others' well-being when dealing with other people. They have the mentality of a Bodhisattva and always try to make others happy. An arrogant and selfish person will be abandoned by other people, while a humble and good-natured person will be respected.
If one feels satisfied, is happy with what he/she has, and understands what he/she has is the result of the hard work of his/her endeavor, then one is rich internally. If one can always work hard and be nice to others, then one will be respected, then one will have better future than any other person. If one can be benevolent and kind to others, then one will be well-regarded by the people around. This is the real internal/spiritual achievement.
Such achievement will not be constrained by time and can be brought to the future lives. It is the real achievement that can bring about real blessings. That is why we say that the external/worldly success is nothing close to the internal/spiritual achievement.