Those who live in the city also have a big opportunity to put in practice the lifestyle because—of course it’s not easy, a lot of stress, a lot of responsibilities involved in living in the city—but it’s always a good opportunity to have compassion, to talk to people, smile at people, ask them questions. When you are interacting with people who are at their jobs, just to ask them for example, “When did your shift start? When does your shift end? How are you today?” Things like that. It can really mean a lot to people—neighbors, people in the community, anything—you just say, “Good morning,” or “Good night.”
There’s a very funny story I wanted to start off with about a guy who was working, I think maybe it was in China or something like that; some place where there’s a big population and people don’t tend to really interact a lot with each other. They’re all a little bit like robots doing their own thing in a very hard-core way. I think it was a meat factory, a butchery, a big one, with many, many people working there, and somehow this guy ended up locking himself in one of the freezers accidentally at the end of his day, so everybody had left. He was alone and he could not turn off the freezer thing—somehow it was not there to turn off or to whatever, deactivate. He couldn’t get out the emergency button or the emergency lock didn’t exist or somehow, for some reason.
Anyway, the story goes that he couldn’t get out, so he was dying. He was freezing to death. Slowly, slowly, after being very nervous and really trying his best to survive, he decided he was going to die, and he was going to accept it. And, just as he was already kind of giving in, somebody suddenly opened the door, which was impossible because everybody had left. He couldn’t believe it. He was like, “Wow, it’s a miracle!” It turns out it was a guard at the door, and he asked the guard, “How come you opened the door?” And, he said, “Well, you’re the only person in the whole factory that ever says good morning to me and always says good night when you leave, and I was waiting for my good night. So, I started to look for you because I knew you were here and somehow, I found you.”
So, that’s a very funny story, it’s dangerous, but it shows you the power of just saying hello to people. It could save your life—that’s what I am trying to say—sometimes in very ironic ways. Basically, I think, personally, the purpose of life and what gives meaning to life is sharing. Even if we are happy or we have everything we want or we could have wished for, if we can’t share it, it’s not the same. If it’s just for ourselves, there’s something missing. I think even people who have no contact with Dharma or don’t really have the understanding or the wisdom or even the influence of having the empathy or the habit of non-cherishing themselves so much, even for them it’s a little bit—naturally, when they have joy or they’re enjoying something, somehow deep down inside of us, we want to share it. Then, if we share it, then it’s completely full. If we can’t share it, there’s something missing.