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The essence of being human


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Andreas Pluddemann
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The essence of being human 19 January 2017, 14:34
I’ve been reading “The Book of Joy” by Douglas Abrams from interviews with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. It is fascinating how much light and wisdom radiates from these two individuals. Both have spent many hours in thought, meditation and prayer. They have spent a lifetime looking inward and outward, and what they have concluded about cultivating joy is actually mostly quite simple. The more I listen to what they are trying to say, the clearer it becomes that in essence they are talking mostly about embracing the essence of being human.
Their life experience has brought them to a few conclusions as to what the essence of being human is:
· Humans are social animals. We need each other to survive and thrive. The more we care for and support each other the more light and joy will come into our lives. Our friendships will become stronger and multiply as we embrace compassion and trust among friends.
· Humans are compassionate from birth. Both science and religion have proven this over and over again. At peace (or at rest) the human soul and spirit is one of compassion with a natural instinct to help others, be kind to them – basically embrace love in all its forms.
· Love is the invisible force that has carried humanity through milleniums of hardships and challenges and has survived throughout.
· The more we embrace love the more we will thrive as humans – in other words the more we cultivate compassion, kindness, friendship and peace the more we will thrive as a species.
· Embracing love also means embracing our emotional nature. Allowing ourselves to feel our natural emotions is key to our own happiness as people. Archbishop Tutu repeatedly stresses the importance of not chastising oneself for the emotions one has. They are part of our humanity and serve an important purpose.
· The range of our emotions and our capacity for compassionate behaviour is probably what distinguishes us most from other species on the planet. Our instincts are highly advanced and go well beyond the need for food and safety.
These are only a few key thoughts they express. Another thing that both radiate throughout is their sense of humour – about almost everything. The ability for humans to laugh and experience joy in this way is a powerful force. In most instances laughing together creates and strengthens bonds between humans – and these two are a prime example of this!
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