I have written about this before but it is in my thoughts again so I am going to try and articulate it in a different way: there is nothing you need to do. You don't have to try and achieve merit in order to be rewarded in the next life. If your motivations are contingent upon a carrot then you are continuing on the hamster wheel of thinking you are not good enough and must earn your rewards, much like we have this impression that we all have to earn a living and that we are not entitled to anything.
If I take an extreme example it would be this: spiritually you are no better off in terms of being rewarded in the afterlife if you are the most enlightened sage of all time versus a mass murderer of vulnerable women and children.
What the hell man? Have you gone mad?
The whole catch to this game of life is it is a game. There is nothing I have to do. I don't have to give back or be of service or strive to be impeccable. I don't have to love others and I can sit in hatred and judgment of them all.
Why is there so much suffering in the world? It's because we have free will and we choose to allow the suffering. We are a smart and resourceful species. We could greatly reduce suffering but we choose not to and end up competing with each other for resources. Where there is profit, gain, and winners there has to be deficit, loss, and losers. It's transactional and a zero sum game. So you see you don't have to love and be of service unconditionally however by not choosing these paths we enable suffering and make the world hell for the downtrodden. The way out of the morass is to choose all those attributes that play well to the spiritual crowd such as love, sharing, and purity. You just have to be aware that this will not lead to any reward; I know now as a human with experience that the threat of eternal damnation or another go round on the wheel of reincarnation having to atone for your misdeeds is incredibly motivating and makes you want to be good. I want to be a good boy. My ego wants me to project into the world that I'm a nice person. Understand though that it is through your choices and actions now that the whole world will be lifted up. To love each other unconditionally and share resources will relieve us of the hell we have created. It's the way to beat the game and reconcile our divisive nature so we can once again reach unity.
I have talked a bit before about plant medicines classes being like the school of hard knocks. This school of life seems like the ultimate challenge where the hard knocks are the suffering. We don't seem to learn the lessons and keep repeating the same actions that divide us up into the have and have nots. When will it end? I don't know but in the meantime I will keep working on myself and trying to lift others up.
I'd also like to address the nagging question. So okay you eliminate suffering in your utopia but what about people who become sick with disease and the pains of aging? What about the child with cancer?
We have an attachment to the body due to cultural conditioning. We revile death due to our conditioning and cling to life at all costs. Chemotherapy is ghastly. Why not celebrate life and also death? When it is time to let the body go then culturally make that a great celebration. Clinging to the body is inviting suffering. How do I know this? Because of the billions of people, heck trillions of life forms, that have spontaneously appeared on this planet the opposite is true. Eventually we all die with no exceptions. Maybe it sounds like I am not being realistic and that death really sucks. Okay but death is an experience and an unavoidable casualty of being born. It's part of the process of life so let's celebrate it with those who are to transition to the next event on the journey of consciousness. In any event Ram Dass assures us that it's okay because dying is pretty safe.