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Here's a fun musing that settles on my thought pond from time to time.  It arose again rather insistently this morning and I felt like sharing the process with words.

 

Nothing serious in it, though it is sincere.

 

I'm endlessly curious... what makes me human?  Where exactly 'in me' is the 'human bit'?  This usually plays out about the same, and I've shared it before, but da Bums has shifted and so I feel like sharing again and seeing what comes of it. 

 

so: what is human?

 

 

 

I'm re-minded that while seemingly being human, no where inside this body, do I encounter the human element.  Not even in my very human DNA, not even in that which is unique only to humans do I find the human element, for even my DNA forms of the same elements as the rest of the manifest universe.

 

I'm re-minded that what I used to think of as my solid human body.  Seems a fluid, ever-shifting collection of several trillion independently identifiable small life forms, each themselves comprised of the same elements as the rest of the universe.  These life forms arise naturally and self arrange without thought, or command, (indeed often in spite of thought and command), into various patterns that results in what I refer to as my human body.

 

and yet...

human is what?

when does the human bit come into it?

 

I'm re-minded that, that which seems to distinguish me from all else in the universe, my body, seems to be a pattern of elements.  One pattern among myriad.  A pattern comprised and arranged in the shape of what my mind refers to as human, comprised of many other patterns called organs, limbs, etc.  The same elements arranged into another form, in varying amounts, is recognizable as not human.

 

I'm re-minded that, that which comprises the body, which is similar to the rest of the universe, is all of it; while that in the body which is different from the rest of the universe, is none.

 

That seems really significant.

 

No where is body comprised of that which the rest of the universe is not.  So when is a pattern of elements human?  Human city, human art, human music, human politics, human clothing.

 

I'm re-minded that the core of all manifest elements seemingly so solid and permanent... are temporary and comprised of vibration, resonance and emptiness.

 

Thus it seems my human body, is an expression of the vibration of inherent emptiness, resonating as elements arranging in layers of patterns distinguishable as a human typing figures on a screen, with far more in common with distant black holes than is dissimilar. 

 

how bout that?  whew.  it's rather staggering at times... like now.

funny too, how it's always been now, I've never been me in the past, or the future.

 

i am only now.

 

every human experience now.

each human experience memory, re-membered now.

each fantasy of the future, in mind now.

 

and all the while, awareness underlying

each individual cell, aware

 

to sit as this, body in a chair and simply be...  such a miracle is this?!

how many miracles in a yard of common earth?

in a 'human' eye?

in a thought?

 

What a miracle to just sit here and be, as this moist spec of dust I sit upon, simultaneously spins about itself, orbiting a rather common yellow ball of light, itself corkscrewing through the galaxy...  one pattern amid myriad... ever unfolding... fluid, never static, inherently empty, yet expressing form so generously.

 

I'm reminded of the arms of galaxies, in the spiral of my son's ear.

 

and i'm re-minded of that in mind.

where is this mind?

what is mind?

 

what is human?

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2 hours ago, silent thunder said:

Here's a fun musing that settles on my thought pond from time to time.  It arose again rather insistently this morning and I felt like sharing the process with words.

 

Nothing serious in it, though it is sincere.

 

I'm endlessly curious... what makes me human?  Where exactly 'in me' is the 'human bit'?  This usually plays out about the same, and I've shared it before, but da Bums has shifted and so I feel like sharing again and seeing what comes of it. 

 

so: what is human?

 

I am so much less poetic.  What makes me human, idk, I think I was grandfathered in by my parents, ie a legacy. 

What keeps me human?  hmnn, some modicum of sympathy, empathy, respect for others and the world. 

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Posted (edited)

What makes you human is that quality that humans posses that no other animal does . During the long time I have studied anthropology, those qualities have changed, eg. we used to call Man 'the toolmaker' , but we have discovered other animals can do that too.  We might get less accurate and say ;  animals dont feel or imagine or have emotions ... or any other postulation we can not actually prove, actually the 'proof' if valid, seems to suggest otherwise . It used to be 'man the fire maker'  , that might be correct to. Not just the ability to spread fire ( birds can do that * )  but to kindle it  from 'scratch' .

 

I think I have worked it out, and written a fair bit about it before ; its connected to our imagination and it is a 'temporal imaginative visualisation process that has a material output '   That is, we can imagine a future usage of a tool, even a better example, a multiple usage tool, and make that tool ( for a task NOT immediately at hand )  and keep it or store it until the occasion for its usages arise .

 

I dont think any other animal can do that .

 

Its a process of imagining different possible outcomes that branch out of situations that have not happened yet and the different possible ways we might be able to address, change or modify those outcomes .

 

A complex , active and problem solving imagination .

 

I know I am always referring to this as a good book  ....   but here it is again .

 

664216.jpg

 

( I have much more writings on this, but they are mostly  from a Cultural Anthropological perspective and related to the preservation, degradation and collapse of socio-cultural  systems.   And from other perspectives where this function defines the nature of 'soul' .

 

But they be long raves  :)    )

 

*

 

Aussie Aboriginals have been telling  us this for 200 years   !   ;) 

Edited by Nungali
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What makes you human is calling yourself human.

 

(there are more aspects to this statement than just the obvious one :) )

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16 hours ago, silent thunder said:

what is human?

 

It seems to me that precisely the need and capacity to ask these very questions is what makes us human.

 

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The words are men,

are like the songs of birds ,

and scent of ants.

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Posted (edited)

This reminds me of my mirage brother, Alan Watts, speaking of Man and Nature. While it leans more toward the subject of morality in that man is in essence the highest of virtues, personified, I believe it's worth a mention... I paraphrase a bit.

 

Quote

"The cardinal word in the whole system of Confucian morality, Romanised as "JEN", pronounced "REN", is usually translated: "human-heartedness, or human-ness."

But when Confucius was asked to give a precise definition of it, he refused. He said, "You must feel the meaning of this virtue. You must never put it into words."

 

The wisdom of his attitude in not defining "REN", is simply this; That the human being is always greater than anything he can say about himself, and anything he can think about himself. If we formulate ideas about our own nature, about how our minds and emotions work, those ideas will always be qualitatively inferior. That is to say, far less complex and far less alive than the actual Author of the ideas themselves, that is Us.


So, there is something about ourselves, which we'll never be able to get at, which we'll never be able to define. In just the same way that you can't bite your own teeth, you can't without the aid of a mirror look into your own eyes, you can't hear your own ears, and you can't make your hand catch hold of itself. So that you must basically just trust this, "human-ness or human-heartedness." "

 

I share this not in the spirit of discouraging our wonderous capacity to self-examine or even speculatively imagine the deepest possible meanings of what it means to be... human. But in the spirit of being content to fearlessly trust and unabashedly love all of oneself despite the irksome sense of... not-knowingness.

Edited by neti neti
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Posted (edited)

Your sharing of words are treasure my friends!

Thank you!

 

Layers upon layers it seems, to this human process.

So many layers.  A repeated experience of pulling at threads and peeling back layers.

for decades now, pulling and allowing layers to fall away.

to find what resides at the core.

 

an onion is an onion.

even as i peel the layers.

all of them, to the last, spread out along the table

and in the center lies only

emptiness.

 

can i prove that an onion is an onion?

when I eat it, is it still an onion?

or then human?

 

where does human end and the universe begin?

 

The Druids considered a human was always three, simultaneously.

They are who they think they are.

They are who others think they are.

They are, who they are.

 

is one most true?

is it dependent upon thinking, feeling?

is a human with no mind, still human?

 

Lately, the experience of non separation rings through most others.

Where does my humanness begin and the universe end?

My parents and many friends are decaying now.

Are they still human, while they decay?

 

Or must they move about, talking, eating and thinking to remain human?

 

It used to seem that my skin was the barrier that separated me from the rest of all of it.

Now, the unshakable experience that my skin is the very bridge, intimately linking me to the all in all.

 

The forest seems comprised of trees.

Each individual tree is not the environment.

Yet each tree comprises the environment.

 

The universe seems comprised of us.

While I, seem comprised of universe.

 

Edited by silent thunder
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the distinction of where I begin and end grows foggier of late.

 

and describing me

seems as dependent upon what seems not to be me

as to what I hold as my very own self.
 

how wonder filled!

 

 

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Posted (edited)

While it`s true that the elements of our body are on one level indistinguishable from the stuff of the broader universe, it`s hard to imagine the OP being written by a snail or a deer.  Perhaps the redwood trees think such thoughts though I don`t speak redwood (I do hope to learn!).  

 

Thinking about this question of humanity, my mind skips to the question of God: immanent or transcendent?  Is divinity suffused throughout the universe or apart from it?  I`ve always come down on the side of those who believe it`s both.  God is somehow both as close as my breath and infinitely distant, personally connected to me and utterly indifferent.  Perhaps the mystery of what it means to be human is not so different -- we´re inseparable from stardust and yet remain uniquely ourselves.

 

This makes no sense, I know, but don´t blame me -- it´s a nonsensical universe.

 

 

Edited by liminal_luke
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Posted (edited)

Well said Brother.

 

Descriptions of experience, are seem always but close aproximations.

 

Words.  Thoughts.  Concepts.  Ideas.  Paradox.

 

pictures on a menu, versus eating

descriptions of water, versus drinking and swimming

words describing experiential phenomena

a finger pointing to the moon

 

For me, any attempt to convey my experiential awareness of the moon in words always seems steeped, saturated and utterly imbued with paradox.  Though in spite of their inherent innacuracy, I still continually reach out with them in an effort to share, and read and listen to them when offered by others, for sometimes, the finger does point to a moon.  And such a Moon! 

 

Paradox seems one of the unavoidable, indeed perhaps the main product of philosophy.

Any longer, I take paradox as a sign that I'm perhaps at least near the ballpark of pointing to a moon that lies beyond words' ability to point to.
 

 

Edited by silent thunder
added a sentence for clarity
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21 hours ago, Nungali said:

 During the long time I have studied anthropology, those qualities have changed, eg. we used to call Man 'the toolmaker' , but we have discovered other animals can do that too. 

 

Nowadays what separates us from the animals is credit cards and cell phones. 

 

and yesterday i saw a pigeon pecking at someones iphone, so i don't know how long those advantages are gonna last. 

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21 hours ago, GSmaster said:

Human, is, basically, a monkey.

 

I call all my human friends monkeys.

 

You need to quit that office job !

 

5695da4a5c6ee.jpg

 

 

 

  Human and monkey are both basically primates .  One of our developmental cultural problem has been though, for some of us, to deny we are 'another animal' . Some of us think we think we are 'superior' .  To'  rule over '  , instead of being 'pat of'  .

 

 

We need to balance our 'spiritual nature' with the realisation that we ARE primates and look at what primates need ,  to  function well in their societies  .

 

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, thelerner said:

 

Nowadays what separates us from the animals is credit cards and cell phones. 

 

not any more  !

 

( see below)

 

 

39 minutes ago, thelerner said:

 

and yesterday i saw a pigeon pecking at someones iphone, so i don't know how long those advantages are gonna last. 

 

probably calling other pigeons

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Before the beginning of years

There came to the making of man

Time, with a gift of tears;

Grief, with a glass that ran;

Pleasure, with pain for leaven;

Summer, with flowers that fell;

Remembrance, fallen from heaven,

And madness risen from hell;

Strength without hands to smite;

Love that endures for a breath;

Night, the shadow of light,

And life, the shadow of death.

 

And the high gods took in hand

Fire, and the falling of tears,

And a measure of sliding sand

From under the feet of the years;

And froth and the drift of the sea;

And dust of the laboring earth;

And bodies of things to be

In the houses of death and of birth;

And wrought with weeping and laughter,

And fashioned with loathing and love,

With life before and after

And death beneath and above,

For a day and a night and a morrow,

That his strength might endure for a span

With travail and heavy sorrow,

The holy spirit of man.

 

From the winds of the north and the south,

They gathered as unto strife;

They breathed upon his mouth,

They filled his body with life;

Eyesight and speech they wrought

For the veils of the soul therein,

A time for labor and thought,

A time to serve and to sin;

They gave him light in his ways,

And love, and space for delight,

And beauty, and length of days,

And night, and sleep in the night.

His speech is a burning fire;

With his lips he travaileth;

In his heart is a blind desire,

In his eyes foreknowledge of death;

He weaves, and is clothed with derision;

Sows, and he shall not reap;

His life is a watch or a vision

Between a sleep and a sleep.

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12 minutes ago, Nungali said:

  Human and monkey are both basically primates .  One of our developmental cultural problem has been though, for some of us, to deny we are 'another animal' . Some of us think we think we are 'superior' .  To'  rule over '  , instead of being 'pat of' 

 

It is only a wishful thinking, human being thinking that he is superior to monkey, is actually exactly monkey's behaviour.

 

 

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20 hours ago, freeform said:

What makes you human is calling yourself human.

 

We only call ourselves human to distinguish ourselves from other living things. And I think in doing so we set oursleves above other life forms. Maybe that is a holdover concept from Abrahamic religions,  idk.

 

I learned differently from my relationship with my old dog ... yes, my namesake ... whom I knew to have strong emotions ... fear, anger, love and humor ... and ability to communicate across species. So, those things are not peculiar to humans. Many a night we sat and watched the moon rise together ... in commune with nature.

 

Nuff said.

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On 3/28/2019 at 8:18 AM, Stosh said:

The words are men,

are like the songs of birds ,

and scent of ants.

 

There’s truth there but I think it goes deeper. While I can’t say with complete certainty, humans seem to possess a self-reflective capacity that is expressed in words and thought which is not obvious in birds and ants. Does a bird stress over the clarity and beauty of its song or an ant its scent? Perhaps but I’ve not seen evidence of that.

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1 hour ago, steve said:

 

There’s truth there but I think it goes deeper. While I can’t say with complete certainty, humans seem to possess a self-reflective capacity that is expressed in words and thought which is not obvious in birds and ants. Does a bird stress over the clarity and beauty of its song or an ant its scent? Perhaps but I’ve not seen evidence of that.

 

Nicely put.  self awareness seems one of the key non-material virtues/aspects that factor in to what is human. 

 

That and our notion of time, seems particularly human, or perhaps just mechanical time is purely human.

 

While seasonal cycles may reconcile into a sense of time among the animal/plant and insect kingdoms, certainly mechanical time, which does not exist aside from collective human thought, seems unique to the human process.

 

Can't imagine a scenario where 9am on a Monday has any special relevance to a hawk, aside from, "it's early and the air currents may be warming up enough to glide out and look for a meal."

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The heart (xin) is the symbolic center of the human being. It is the residence of spirit (shen) and corresponds to the Northern Dipper in heaven. But just like Unity takes multiple forms in the cosmos, so does the center of the human being reappear in multiple locations. The most important ones are the three ☞ Cinnabar Fields (dantian, immaterial loci in the regions of the brain, the heart, and the abdomen) and the five viscera (wuzang, namely liver, heart, spleen, lungs, and kidneys). The three Cinnabar Fields and the five viscera respectively represent the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the cosmos within the human 

 

an individual's body is also the body of the world.  The world inside one's body, the world on earth, and the world of the heavenly realms are all interconnected.  What happens in one affects the others, and one can effect change in one by acting in another.  Thus the purpose of existence, for everyone, is to improve oneself — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually — for the benefit of all.

 

There are correlations or correspondences between every level of existence.  This includes all life forms and life without forms,shapes, color, gender, species or any scientific classification.

 

The scientific classification can be the problem it is a form of racism and superiority that has nothing to do with our true selves.

 

 

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I pretty much am in accordance with those who think that "humanity" is just wishful thinking...

 

However, a few years back a philosophy teacher opened my horizons with this line of thought: A man is something other than an animal because if you keep an animal away from individuals of its species, it will still develop the behaviour of that species. For example, if you keep a monkey away from other monkeys for let's say, its first three years, it may develop as a neurotic monkey but can however have a life among its species. That is just not possible with human beings. If you are not made a "human" in your first living years you will never become one. So, our species depends more on education than genetics to be what it is.

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