Lawrence, KS - Events Local News Groups Contact
Hey there! If you stopped to read this, wow, you're awesome! And since you're that awesome, maybe you'd be willing to check out this super sweet, not-so-top-secret campaign to take Films For Action to the next level of awesome in our quest to change the world. All the details here. Cheers!
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 /
Jan 27, 2015

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 ·
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future (2018)
85 min Living the Change explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative...
Stare Into The Lights My Pretties (2017)
129 min We live in a world of screens. The average adult spends the majority of their waking hours in front of some sort of screen or device. We're enthralled, we're addicted to these machines. How did we get here? Who benefits? What are the cumulative impacts on people, society and...
Trending Today

Love Films For Action? Become a Patron.

Our Patreon campaign is now live. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. Would you be willing to make a monthly pledge? A few dollars per month times the power of a few thousand awesome people will get us to where we need to be. Click here to join.

If you'd prefer to make a one-time donation, you can do that here. Many thanks!

Join us on Facebook
Humans Having a Human Experience: On Finding Meaning & Beauty from a Remix of Chardin's Famous Quote