Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Humans Having a Human Experience: On Finding Meaning & Beauty from a Remix of Chardin's Famous Quote
Humans Having a Human Experience: On Finding Meaning & Beauty from a Remix of Chardin's Famous Quote
By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org

There's a popular quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that says, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

But I think of myself as a human being having a human experience. It's true: We come from the everythingness of the universe and will one day return to the everythingness of the universe. 

But I think our spiritual thinking may be going astray to say that our 'true' identity is this ethereal spirit or soul encased in human form. 

Chardin's quote is based on the idea that we have some intangibly defined soul-consciousness which exists prior to and after our human life. But I do not think this is how it works. 

The notion of an eternal soul is a fairly common idea among many religions such as Christianity. So it is interesting to see this same idea appear in a non-religious, new age form, though the idea isn't new. 

Many Western religions share in common an adoration for the angelic and a less favorable view of the material. 

In Christianity, heaven is our true home, not the Earth. Our spirit/angel form is our true self, whereas our human form is born of sin and in need of salvation. 

In the new age version, our human beingness isn't sinful; it just isn't as 'real' or as 'true' as our spirit form.

That for me is the problem with both new age and old versions of this idea. They both place greater value in something which in my opinion isn't real, and devalues that which actually exists.

The kind of spirituality that I can vibe with is a spirituality that sees the sacredness and beauty of our existence as humans. We're human beings having a human experience. And that's enough! That's beautiful and sacred and meaningful just on its own.

It's true that we humans do long to feel a part of something more, be a part of something more, and I think that's why we have so many stories about eternal souls and other realms like heaven and gods to meet this need.

But wouldn't it be wonderful if we could meet this need with a narrative that was for sure, for sure, definitely real? 

The good news is, there is! 

The greater something that we feel like we are a part of is called The Universe. And that's scientifically true. To rephrase Chardin's quote one more time: "We are the universe having a human experience."

We are a part of the universe that is having a very uniquely human experience for a short time. Atoms from all over the world, recycled endlessly, coalesced into the food, water and air our mothers received before we were born, which turned into us. And when we die, our atoms will disperse once again into the infinite universe, become the life and non-life of countless other forms through the cycle of existence. 

Our human form may be a few decades old, but the stuff we're all made of is 13 billion years old. Our 'soul' *IS* ancient and eternal. It's the universe, and we are always it, in this human form and every form before and after.

That's amazing! That's beautiful! 

The suns and stars of distant galaxies are inside us, and have manifested into human consciousness for a short while. And on we go, into the everythingness of the universe forever.

I think that's a beautiful story to belong to. And no 'separate' souls are necessary. No other far away realms or unknown spiritual dimensions are needed. The Earth is our home. And our human beingness is as sacred a part of the universe as the whole. 

But the Earth isn't just our home. The Earth is also us. We are walking manifestations of the Earth. So in a wonderful sense, where ever we go, we're always home, because home is always within us and is us.

It's all connected. There really is no separation between our small self and our big self. Even during our existence as humans, we are constantly breathing in the outside universe, taking it in and breathing it out.

This is a scientific way of understanding the idea that 'we're all one.'

And I just really, really love that.

----------------------------------------

There's just one last thought I'd like to add to this midnight scrawl. 

It's true that 'everything is one,' but it's also true that everything has its own separate existence. And I think the big trick is to hold both of these truths equally in our mind.

When I was younger, I believed that this idea of the unity of all things, or oneness, was the 'more true' way of seeing reality. I was encouraged by many spiritual books to believe our separation was an illusion.

This fits with the new age dichotomy that our 'spiritual self' or universal self is somehow more real than our human, separate self.

Now, I think that one vantage point isn't more real than the other. Our physical reality isn't an illusion, but it is just one way of looking at our existence. It reminds me of those optical illusion images. Look once and you see a vase. Shift your eyes a bit and you see two faces looking at each other. It's the same image, seen in different ways.

4.0 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 14,284 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 11,578 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 7,879 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 5,577 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 4,755 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 4,289 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 3,472 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 3,287 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 2,903 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
13 Crises That We All Must Face
George Monbiot · 2,888 views today · We face (at least) 13 major crises, some of which are immediate. It’s time for some hard thinking about how we confront them.
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 2,492 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 2,167 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
Andy Goes In - Working Undercover in a Factory Farm
10 min · 2,019 views today · He's a $10/hr farmhand, and his name isn't Andy. Andy Goes In is a compelling 10-minute documentary short about a Mercy For Animals undercover investigator. The vast majority...
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 1,983 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
15 Films Inspiring and Illuminating the 'New Story' Revolution
Tim Hjersted · 1,917 views today · Charles Eisenstein is one of the first people I heard talk about the "new story," synthesizing a diverse movement that has been emerging for the last several decades. When I go...
Sky Roosevelt-Morris: The Secret of Indigenous Resiliency
2 min · 1,461 views today · Activist Sky Roosevelt-Morris is of the Shawnee and White Mountain Apache Nations. She is a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In...
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,364 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Satish Kumar on "What Is a Sacred Place?"
3 min · 1,285 views today · Satish Kumar brings a Hindu, Buddhist and Jain perspective to the definition of "sacred place." We found his explanation so compelling that we edited a three-minute piece...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,187 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
Embracing 'Radical Hope' in Our Fight to Save the Earth
Paul Hoggett · 1,012 views today · Radical hope is not just about determination and courage in the face of darkness, writes Paul Hoggett - it is also about love and a re-finding of all that is benign in the...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Humans Having a Human Experience: On Finding Meaning & Beauty from a Remix of Chardin's Famous Quote