Life is co-substantiated by LIFE but each are different entities. Life is only a single journey of LIFE in the Mortal World, but LIFE exists eternally; the former can end at any time but the later will continue on. A LIFE may appear as a horse in the Animal World in one life, then as a person in another, and then as a celestial being in the Ten-thousand-year World in a third. It is like a person changing their clothes to meet changing weather conditions or the fashions of the times; those different clothes are like different lives and the person’s body is like a LIFE.
“The wild grasses grow in the fields lushly; they flourish in the Spring and wither in the Autumn each year. The wild fire can never burn them out because they will thrive when Spring breeze blowing”. Flourishing once and withering once is the life of grass, but as that life ends and then Spring’s warmth looms, their next life begins in a never-ending cycle, while life and growth continue endlessly. Why is grass endless? Because grass LIFE exists eternally! People have many lives: this one, all the ones before, and all the ones still to come, just as grass grows in Spring and Summer, withers in Autumn and Winter, has done so for countless seasons, and will continue to do so for countless more.
The essence of LIFE is a nonmaterial structure with spirituality which is invisible, untouchable, and illustrates itself through life. This is like the essentialities, forms, and use of Dao; we cannot see Dao because it is a nonmaterial existence, but we can know that all things in the universe are its manifestations through the images of the world and the use of all things.
LIFE comes into view through material forms which are visible and palpable; all plants, animals, and people on earth are visible and touchable LIVES; LIFE can also exist in nonmaterial forms which are invisible, untouchable, and are in the nonmaterial world, such as ghosts in the underworld, gods and Buddhas in the Elysium World, and Super Celestial Beings from the Elysium Celestial Islands Continent; all these are spiritual forms. It is just like people who appear in the material world as flesh and blood, but also in the non-material world, such as dreamland, in the form of spirits.
Although the essence of LIFE is a nonmaterial structure with spirituality, it is difficult for people to understand it; we can view LIVES as souls and souls as LIVES. What are souls? They are consciousnesses wandering in the boundless ocean of psyche.
We can simplify LIVES as “consciousnesses” to make them easier to understand; that is to say, LIVES are consciousnesses since the states of consciousnesses determine the existence form of LIVES and living environments. When a state of consciousness of a LIFE is a pig, it lives in the livestock world in the form of a pig; when the state of consciousness of a LIFE is a person, it appears in the material world in the form of a human being; when the state of consciousness of a LIFE is a celestial, it appears in the form of a celestial being in the environment such as the Thousand-year World, the Ten-thousand-year World, or the Elysium Celestial Islands Continent; when the state of consciousness of a LIFE is a god, it appears in the nonmaterial world in the form of god. Why did Sun WuKong in “Journey to the West” have 72 changes in avatar? Because he had mastered the mystery of making consciousnesses change at will; as his consciousness changed, his form of LIFE changed with it.
After understanding this basic common sense, we know that higher levels of LIFE have absolute power of life and death over lower levels, that lower levels serve them, and that all of them serve the Greatest Creator.
We know that all LIVES serve higher levels of LIFE and the ultimate value is in serving the Greatest Creator. People raise chickens and pigs to serve people; if they did not, then they would lose their value for existence. Their loss of value for existence would surely result in their destruction. The value of the existence of people is to serve the Greatest Creator; if they do not, then they will lose their value of existence and will surely be made extinct. The so-called “ destruction” does not mean that our LIVES would cease to exist, but that they could not exist as humans, they would have to be transformed into other forms such as descending into the Animal World to serve humans.
So, what is the meaning of LIFE? The meaning of LIFE is to be an actor in the grand script of universal LIFE. The entire universe is a great dramatic performance in which each LIFE plays a role as required by the script.