What you have now is your gift from HIM. What you do with what you have, is your gift back to HIM. – Swami Chinmayananda
With the holiday season around the corner, many of us are busy buying gifts for the people in our lives. It is a time to express our love, appreciation and gratitude to them.
Here’s something my Guru, Swami Tejomayananda once said about this, “If someone gave you a beautiful diamond ring, you would happily thank the giver of the ring. But what are the chances you would remember to thank God, who gave you the finger to wear the ring in the first place?”
Have you stopped to think about the greatest gift that you have – the gift of a human life?
Human Life – A Rare Gift
For all living creatures, a human birth is indeed rare. – Adi Shankarcharya, Master of Vedanta, 788 – 820 AD
The spiritual traditions of the world tell us that our human life is sacred and precious. We are the most evolved species on the planet. It is not happenstance or a random act of nature that we are now human beings. *
Vedanta, the spiritual science of life, tells us that having a human body is precious because it is extremely rare. It teaches us that we only get a human body after acquiring merits of countless previous lives.
I know you may not be impressed with this fact, let alone believe it. But, maybe if I list all the gifts that you have, you may begin to open up to this idea.
Our Human Gifts
As a human, you have the capacity and freedom to live your life the way you envision. You can do this because you have the most advanced brain of all the species on the planet.
Your intellect can think rationally, analyze, judge, discern, reflect on subtle matters and make intelligent decisions.
You can feel the full range of emotions possible from the very low, cruel and vicious to the highest and most noble emotions. More importantly, you can consciously develop the emotions that you want through your own self-effort. For instance, you can cultivate love for others, forgiveness, compassion and humilty.
Your imagination can take you to places you have never gone before .You can visualize outcomes and futures for yourself. You can strategize how you will do this and willingly amplify your feelings of excitement and enthusiasm to manifest your goals in your life.
You can choose how you see life and the attitude with which you see it. You have the unique capacity to disassociate from negative thoughts and adopt positive ones. At any given moment, you can slow down, breathe and become aware of what you are thinking, feeling and doing.
If you are thinking a negative or fearful thought, you can transmute it to a high, loving and positive thought. If you are feeling impatient or angry, you can choose not to respond in those ways.
You can make better choices, overcome negative habits and re-pattern your life. Animals cannot change their deep-seated tendencies. They are pre-programmed by nature. A tiger cannot choose to become vegetarian and bees cannot make better beehives.
Animals cannot pray, develop devotion or perform any actions dedicated to the Divine. You can contemplate on, and worship God. You can use your faith and love to overcome great challenges.
As you can see, the key to your happiness is in your own hands. This is indeed a wonderful freedom.
Your human body is an amazing creation of nature. It has an innate intelligence that controls innumerable actions simultaneously. You can drive and talk, while your heart beats, stomach digests food, lungs breathe, nails grow and immune cells fight viruses to keep you healthy.
Human hands are a natural marvel. They can perform thousands of tasks, both menial and intricate. Your faculty of speech allows you to articulate words in different languages.
Only humans have the ability to meditate. No matter how intelligent an ape, elephant or dolphin, it cannot quiet its thoughts to meditate. Even if you worry that you can’t quiet your thoughts, just remember that it’s a skill that you can learn. Animals don’t even know they have a mind, let alone quiet it.
The Most Unique Gift
The spiritual masters tell us at the innermost core of all things and beings lies an exquisite spiritual essence. Only we, as human beings have the intelligence, free will and resolve to put in the right efforts to uncover it. No other species can do it.
When we acquire the right knowledge of life, make the right choices, maintain noble emotions, and wholeheartedly give and serve others, we can prepare our mind to realize our innate divinity. Achievement of this goal happens in meditation.
This is the ultimate goal of life. Realization of this divine potential within will bring us absolute happiness and total fulfillment in life. This is why being a human is the greatest gift.
*In my article, Finding the purpose of our rare human life, I describe how science demonstrates just how rare the human species is.
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