To fully understand your purpose as a human being, it’s crucial to understand how rare human life is.

Of the billions upon billions of creatures on the planet, have you ever wondered why and how are you a human being and not a cat, dog or maybe even a fly?

Just how rare is a human birth compared to the millions of other species of life on the planet?

In 2006 I visited the Royal Ontario Museum in downtown Toronto with my son’s Grade 5 class. There, I came across a display with a huge wheel much like the kind we see on the program ‘Wheel of Fortune’.

It was called the Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life

It had pie-like segments that represented the proportion of different species on the planet

There was an intriguing question underneath the title: If you were born into a species entirely by chance, what chance would you have of being born a human?

Visitors were asked to spin the wheel and see on which segment they would land. There were nails on the periphery that stopped the wheel from spinning once the momentum of a spin was lost.

It was a fun game of chance, seeing which species you would likely be born in.

There were detailed scientific listings of the various species, most of which I didn’t understand. Here’s roughly what I did understand:-

Insects made up about 1/2 of the wheel, plants 1/4; fungi, mold, and algae about 1/8, and vertebrates, Invertebrates and arachnids represented the the last 1/8.

You would have a 50% chance of being born as an insect if the choice was as random as a spin in this wheel.

I looked for the segment representing human beings.

There was none.

Human beings represent such a tiny sliver that we could not even be represented on this wheel!

If you were to be born into a species entirely by chance, you would like never be a human being!

The Facts

To understand better just how rare we are, take a look at these facts.

  • There are about 8.7 million known species of life on the planet and in the seas. More and more are being discovered by scientists everyday.
  • Only approximately 60,000 of that number are vertebrates. Vertebrates are the species with a backbone such as reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians and mammals.
  • Of the vertebrates, there are over 5000 species of mammals.
  • Of those 5000 species, the homo sapiens (humans) is only one.
  • The human species is only one of over 8.7 million known species. Shocked-and-confused-man-150x150

Your chances of being born as a human being is a shocking 0.00001%!

Looking at all these facts, you may be wondering…How on earth were you born as a human being?

Vedanta, the spiritual science of life, tells us that human birth it is indeed very, very rare.

You attain a human birth only after having lived thousands of lifetimes in the lower species.

Being born as a human is indeed precious.

The spiritual teachings tell us to wake up to this and seek out the purpose of our human existence.

The Goal of Human Life

What is the goal of human life? The spiritual masters tell us that we are potentially divine. Underlying the gross physical body and subtler mind lies the truth of who we really are – pure and eternal Spirit expressing in human form.

Our true purpose lies in re-discovering our innate divinity and living as spiritual beings.

Vedanta states that it is only in the human body can the soul rediscover and reclaim its true divine nature.

All steps taken towards this goal are not in time and space but in consciousness.

We need to outgrow our identification with our limited human bodies and egocentric responses to life, and come to abide in our true spiritual nature. We can do this through the four R’s:

  • Right knowledge
  • Right thinking
  • Right choices
  • Right actions

This is the spiritual journey. This is the purpose of our rare human life.

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To read more about our spiritual journey according to Vedanta, please read my two other blog posts:

Our Spiritual Journey- Part 1: Understanding the Big Picture

Our Spiritual Journey- Part 2: Matter, Spirit and You’


Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "Your Spiritual Journey" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counseling sessions on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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