More than seven billion people live on this planet. Yet, this represents less than 10% of the total human population that has ever lived. This begs the question: Given this extraordinary number, how can my life – any individual life for that matter – be all that significant? Aren’t we all just individual specks on the universe’s windshield as it speeds through time and space?
Maybe not, as our planet is only one of many heavenly bodies that circulate through our solar system. And our solar system is only one of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is only one among 10 billion galaxies in the observable universe. And within those 10 billion galaxies, all have some 100 billion stars.
This results in a truly astronomical number (no pun intended) of suns, solar systems, and planets; but still, at least at the time of this writing, we have a monopoly on this thing called life. This is the only show in town – the only show in the universe – and as individual humans, we each get a moment on the stage.
But let’s go from the macro to the micro. Let’s leave space and concentrate just on this one planet and our place on it. Earth contains, again at the time of this writing, about 1.5 million different species of animals, plants, trees, bacteria, and sea life. That number is growing every day as more and more species are discovered, though the number will never be as high as it once was.
There is evidence that 70% of land species and more than 90% of sea creatures are extinct. So the huge mass of living organisms we have now, is only a slight fraction of what it used to be! And within this biodiversity, you aren’t a piece of floating algae, a tadpole, or a stalk of asparagus. Rather, you are the crowning achievement of God’s creation. You, one out of tens of billions of people and millions of different species. are a miracle of epic proportions, for the odds were never in your favor. So God must think a lot of you to give you this opportunity to live.
The Buddha said, “Suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water and a man were to toss a small hoop into the water. For a hundred years it floats on the surface; north, south, east, and west. At the end of the hundred years there is a single, blind, sea turtle living in the ocean. What are the chances for that blind sea turtle to come to the top of the water and stick his head through that one hoop?”
It’s rhetorical question with an obvious answer. It would be unusual – miraculous – no matter how many chances the blind turtle got. Thusly, the Buddha concludes, “And just so, it is very, very rare that one gets this chance to be a living, human being.” Let us all make the most of this chance we have.