“I am not a human being; I am a human becoming…”
If a highly talented business entrepreneur works as a waiter in a small restaurant, how would he feel? He’d most likely choke because he’s capable of doing much more than clean the tables and serve food, for a paltry income. He could even own a series of hotels and have hundreds of servants working for him. If talent is suppressed, misery is a natural outcome.
This answers the question why human beings remain unhappy. We are like the talented businessman in the analogy. As compared to the animals, birds, aquatics or trees, humans have a much more advanced intelligence. We are capable of relishing a much higher level of happiness as compared to the animals. Yet, because we use our intelligence to simply make our animal propensities better, we remain miserable.
The animals can’t think beyond the four basic activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. If we too spend our time and energy making our apartments better, relish new varieties of foodstuff, or enhance sex life, how are we different from the animals? In fact, we’d be miserable, because we are acting like the ‘waiter’ in the analogy; we could be a billionaire when it comes to happiness, yet we have chosen to restrict our planning and thinking to the field of eating, sleeping, mating and defending.
Consciousness is at three levels; the covered, restricted and blossoming. The Vedas declare that trees have life, but their consciousness is covered. Hence the sensation of pain and pleasure they experience is lesser as compared to us. For example a tree could ungrudgingly stand through the frigid winters, blistering summers, and terrible downpours. However an animal, with more evolved, yet a restricted consciousness, would protect himself from danger, and seek enjoyment through the four basic activities.
Human consciousness is like a bud, it has the potential to blossom. We could explore nature, sing songs, connect to others, and feel rich emotional and spiritual experiences. If we however chose to remain trapped at the four basic activities, then our consciousness doesn’t blossom to experience higher pleasures. It slowly degrades downward; we too become desensitized and abandon societal and moral scruples, to pursue carnal pleasures, just like the animals do. Human societies, all over, have well-defined social systems to enable human beings to live a life beyond the animal activities.
The Vedas describe that if humans tap their potential and rise higher, then we could see our conscious reach the fourth stage of blossoming consciousness. Finally, at the fifth stage of fully blossomed consciousness, a person transcends the sufferings and happiness of this world, and lives on a spiritual plane. He is happy in all situations and sees divinity all the time.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the world wide ISKCON society was once with his students relaxing in a garden. A mild, cold breeze blew. Instantly a student brought a shawl for Prabhupada. Seeing the shawl, Srila Prabhupada, spontaneously dismissed it, smiled, and exclaimed, “Oh, I am feeling God’s embrace.” In an another instance, as Srila Prabhupada sat on the grass, a disciple arranged a mat, and again instantly, almost as a reflex action, Srila Prabhupada said he’s sitting on God’s lap. He lived at the fifth level of consciousness; he connected to God and saw things and people of this world in relation to God. Once while in Paris, he was on a morning walk with his disciples, and he exclaimed, he felt he was in Vrindavan, India. Vrindavan is the holiest of all places for Vaishnava devotees of God. And Srila Prabhupada felt reconnected to God and His abode while physically being thousands of miles away.
The journey to achieve a fully blossomed state of consciousness begins with a small step; let’s now look at our lives beyond the four basic activities. Lets’ tap our innate spiritual existence. The French philosopher Pierre Chardin said it perfectly, “We are not human beings with a spiritual experience but spiritual beings with a human experience”