The most urgent matter,
upon attaining this precious but brief human rebirth,
is to safeguard one’s future rebirth.
From (1) Wikipedia and (2) The Phrase Finder: (1) ‘The Vulcan salute is a hand gesture consisting of a raised hand, palm forward with the fingers parted between the middle and ring finger, and the thumb extended. Often, the famous line “live long and prosper” was briefly said after it.’ (2) ‘”Live long and prosper” is an abbreviated version of a traditional Jewish religious blessing. It came to a wider public in the Star Trek TV series. It was used there by the character Mr. Spock (actor Leonard Nimoy, himself Jewish) as the greeting of the Vulcan people.’
A reason why this greeting became popular among Star Trek fans and beyond is because to ‘live long and prosper’ is really a universal wish of many. A life that is short is clearly inadequate for attaining happiness – unless it is spent meaningfully. Likewise, a life that is short of prosperity is inadequate too. Here, prosperity need not refer only to having material wealth. It can refer to having spiritual prosperity too – to have abundance of virtues helpful to one and all such as compassion and wisdom. In fact, to live long and have only material prosperity would be a hollow life indeed, since nothing material can be brought over to the next life, and since spirituality is essential for True Happiness.
Having a spiritually and materially prosperous and long life enables us to better help others as practising Bodhisattvas with our twin wealths as we advance steadily towards Buddhahood. This would be skilful use of longevity and prosperity. While it might seem an impossible ideal to live such a life, it is indeed possible in Pure Land, the most famous of which is Amitabha Buddha’s. Created with the immeasurable merits, compassion and wisdom of this Buddha of Infinite Light and Life to be the best Dharma school, this Pure Land offers indefinite longevity by the sharing of his merits with its inhabitants, while they also ‘top up’ their merits by the cultivation of good (e.g. by making offerings to countless Buddhas.)
A long life is invaluable for spiritual cultivation as it is hard for the Dharma learnt from life to life, that is not impressed deeply, to have strong transformative impact. The problems of not living long enough to master the Dharma, and not encountering a Buddha long enough to learn from him in person due to our limited merits are eliminated once we reach Pure Land.
It is a misconception that realisation of the Dharma is based on direct cumulative effects of learning from one life to the next. With boiling point representing a spiritual breakthrough, it is tough to hit it if there’s is not enough time, while we keep ‘reheating’ in many lifetimes. This is one of the repetitive horrors of rebirth. Unless one is already well established, the path to Buddhahood is not a smooth one. It is instead a rocky road with many valleys and hills, as one trudges through lower and higher realms of rebirth.
In Pure Land however, one can truly amass spiritual wealth in an ever-cumulative and non-retrogressive way. This is in sharp contrast with our situation now, where the opportunities to practise the Dharma are often intermittent, while we have many worldly obligations and distractions that urge us to digress. For those presently with attachment to material wealth and pleasure, Pure Land is also skilfully adorned with transcendental gems and comforts, though they are means for conveying the the pure Dharma via appealing to the senses! Being such an excellent destination of rebirth, it is no wonder that all Buddhas urge beings of their worlds to seek birth in Amituofo’s Pure Land via mindfulness of him with the right faith and aspiration!
Though we aspire to be with wonderful spiritual friends in Pure Land,
we can also aspire to be wonderful spiritual friends with one another in Samsara now,
who inspire one another to meet more wonderful spiritual friends in Pure Land.