On every level of the teachings, from the Hinayana up to and including Dzogchen, Buddha Shakyamuni, Guru Padmasambhava, and other great masters say that if we want to attain enlightenment it is important to recognize, appreciate, and treasure what we have and what we are. This is the first renunciation thought; it is called the precious human life.
To be born as a human being is very precious and as rare as a star in the daytime. Even if we cannot always see them with our eyes, there are far more beings in the hell, hungry ghost, god, and asura realms than there are in the human realm.
In modern times the human population is growing, but the number of humans is still quite small compared to the number of these other beings. This means that simply to be a human being is unique and special.
The Buddha’s teaching also says that within the human realm, those who treasure genuine love, compassion, and wisdom and truly want to help others are very rare. Such persons possess the eighteen qualities of the precious human birth. They are the rarest of the rare.
Everyone in this room has these eighteen precious qualities. We are among the rarest of the rare. We also have a considerable degree of freedom and leisure. At this moment we are here, together, in this beautiful retreat place, studying and meditating on the Dzogchen teachings. This is not accidental and it is not random—it has manifested due to many beautiful causes and conditions.
We should use this opportunity wisely to bring even more beautiful things to ourselves and others, and fulfill the meaning and purpose of our lives. That is what the teachings say that we should do. But it is not enough that the teachings say it.
We must see and experience it for ourselves. We must take the time to really reflect on our lives and circumstances. We have so many reasons to be happy and grateful. We are beautiful, intelligent beings; we have compassion in our hearts; we have the teachings and teachers; and we have the time and resources to practice. We can become buddhas and help others to become enlightened as well. This is cause for tremendous joy.
Source: Sherab, Khenchen. The Nature of Mind (p. 119). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.