“When you consider the relative numbers of different kinds of beings, you can appreciate that to be born a human is hardly possible at all… we can see for ourselves at any time how few human beings there are compared to animals. Think how many bugs live in a clod of earth in summertime, or ants in a single anthill – there are hardly that many humans in the whole world. But even within mankind, we can see that, compared to all those people born in outlying regions where the teachings have never appeared, those born in places where the Dharma has spread are exceedingly rare. And even among these, there are only very few who have all the freedoms and advantages.”
~ Words of My Perfect Teacher, Patrul Rinpoche
After my morning yoga class yesterday, I went into the infrared sauna to sweat some toxins out. Normally, it’s nice and quiet in there – a time to just sit and relax. But this time there was a woman there who was quite the Chatty Cathy. Next thing I knew, there was a group discussion going on in the sauna. One of the things that we talked about was the Caste System in India. In brief, with the Caste System, the social class that you are born into defines “who you are” and the “opportunities available to you.” There isn’t much opportunity to cross-classes. You are where you are as defined by birth. This discussion was closely related to a conversation that my friend and I had earlier this week. During dinner, my friend told me about what it was like growing up in Northern Ireland, and about the socio-political structure of Ireland in general. The North sounded full of conflict and the south full of religious tyranny – literally a fascist Catholic state; again, a place where your freedom to be, or at least to believe in whatever you want to believe in, is seriously restricted. According to Thomas Jefferson, all men are created equal, but discussions like these highlight how being born equal, and having equal opportunities, are two very different things.
We are so lucky to be born as humans, living in a place like Canada where we are free to believe what we want to believe, do [within reason] what we want to do, and become whatever it is that we are willing to work for. On top of that, to be able-bodied and of sound mind is such a blessing in and of itself. And I think that we often forget just how special having these opportunities is. I know that I do, because my freedoms and innate abilities have become my reference point – just another part of my “regular” life. That’s why traveling and just opening yourself up to interacting with different people from all walks of life is so important. It’s this beautiful reminder of how blessed we are – and how those of us who don’t have to struggle for basic needs like food and shelter are in a place to reach out and help those who do. That’s part of the re-love-ution. It’s part of being thankful for what we have and quite frankly, it just makes sense. If every [single] person who has their basic needs met (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) just reached out a little to help those who weren’t as fortunate – just cared a little, be it through a daily random act of kindness; simple thoughtfulness like stopping to hold the door for the person walking behind you; acts of compassion and connectedness like donating an hour of your time at a food bank or validating the existence of a stranger crying in the street – just a single, even weekly, act of love, wouldn’t that send ripples throughout the world that we can’t even begin to fathom? If everyone cared a little, wouldn’t that mean together, we all cared a lot?!? Alone, you’ll struggle to move a mole hill… but if we work together, we can move mountains. Waves of revolution and change (including re-love-utions) are formed one ripple [of action] at a time.
To be here now, alive in the twenty-first century and smart enough to know it, you also had to be the beneficiary of an extraordinary string of biological good fortune. Survival on Earth is a surprisingly tricky business. Of the billions and billions of species of living thing that have existed since the dawn of time, most -99.99 percent- are no longer around. Life on Earth, you see, is not only brief but dismayingly tenuous. It is a curious feature of our existence that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.
I love this post… goes completely with my sense of life …
Thanks for sharing that awesome quote! Nice to get a scientific spin in the mix. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how many organisms there are on this Earth… and then to think beyond that in terms of how many cells there are … and then to reflect on the fact that each cell is a living entity in and of itself… a mini Universe… then to break those cells down in terms of atoms… an then to reflect on the fact that the amount of atoms on earth is practically infinite… then to think about how atoms are 99% empty space… but if atoms make up all that “exists” around us and yet what they are is mostly nothing … what on earth?!?! 🙂
Food for thought for the re-love-ution…
It’s so important to make connections and spread the love.
Thanks for sharing Meg! It sure is… although it’d be interesting to go back to the actual peer-reviewed article and read it’s methods and findings first-hand. I am leery of reporters’ interpretations of scientific articles. Xoxoxox