Napoleon Bonaparte, known as a champion of the French who conquered Europe, managed to rise all the way up to the rank of Emperor. However, he is reported to have said the following:
“Life is a worthless dream. It will disappear someday…”
Though he gained so much prosperity that he said “The word impossible is not French,” his campaign to Russia was a failure, and in the end he was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena. There he died a lonesome death, calling out the name of his ex-wife, Josephine.
In the 1960s, British band The Beatles gained huge popularity all over the world. They are said to have been the most successful band of the twentieth century. Yet John Lennon, one of the members of the band, said something shocking.
“The Beatles made all the money we could want and gained all the fame we could want, but I realized it meant nothing.”
In life we seek out various things in order to be happy, such as money, possessions, prestige, glory, marriage, and familial peace and harmony. But no matter how much happiness we gain from these things, we do not feel true joy. Many people would say that the construction of the Shinkansen, Napoleon’s campaigns, and The Beatles’ huge success would constitute the “great task of life.” However, these are all of a different nature to what Buddhism teaches to be the great task of life.