"He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)
These two verses of scripture were embedded into my soul from an early age. I first heard Mark 8:36 in Catholic primary school, and though a mere toddler at the time, it made as much sense to me then as it still does now. I later came across Matthew 10:39 while reading the Gospels in my mid teens. I built a wooden cross (because it was said that Jesus was a carpenter), typed out Matthew 10:39, and nailed it to my cross as a reminder that "no man is an Island":
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. (A poem by John Donne, 1624)
A worker bee is any female (eusocial) bee that lacks the full reproductive capacity of the colony's queen bee; under most circumstances, this is correlated to an increase in certain non-reproductive activities relative to a queen, as well. Worker bees occur in many bee species other than honey bees, but this is by far the most familiar colloquial use of the term.
Our sun is supposed to have been formed some 4.6 billion years ago, which is quite astounding considering the average human life span of some seventy years. The sun is estimated to have a life of about 10 billion years, so we are about halfway through that cycle, before it becomes a "red giant" and we will have been nothing more than a tiny speck in time in that enormous cycle. In a hypothetical life of seventy years, we are not even a tenth of the blink of an eye in cosmic terms, or as the Bible phrases it:
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: (1 Peter 1:24)
Each person, each physical object, from the perspective of eternity, is like a brief, disturbed drop of water from an unbounded ocean. The goal of enlightenment is to understand this—more precisely, to experience this: to see that the distinction between the self and the Universe is a false dichotomy.
So there's a lot more to life than basic sustenance and "animal instinct", and one thing I believe we've learned from history is that while individualism has flourished, it is never far from a "greater cause". We idolise our heroes and heroines because we see in them the virtures we cherish, and want to emulate. Life is far more than eating, drinking and being merry, and financial security won't necessarily bring peace of mind. We can horde riches and live in pompous style while ignoring the plight of the needy and the "less fortunate", which seems to be pretty much a rule rather than the exception in history. But one day, sometime in that 10 billion year sun cycle - our blink-of-an-eye existence will come to an end, and we ultimately be faced with the question:
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)