What is a human? What am I?!
When I was a kid, that question would pop into my head again and again and cause a mild panic. I needed to know what I was. School taught me that I was a mammal, a big-brained primate that walks upright and uses advanced tools and complex language. Primates evolved from fish that crawled out of the sea. Fish evolved from single-cell organisms, and I can’t remember where they came from; they appeared on planet Earth, which is a ball of land and water spinning through the universe. It was formed by gravity pulling gas and dust together to create the third planet from the Sun. The Sun travels across the sky in a flying chariot ridden by Apollo and everything came from the Big Bang; but I don’t think we covered what that was or what had been before.
Despite my schooling, I knew there was something fundamental about my being – about life, the universe and everything – that I didn’t know. I thought I must have missed a vital class. I didn’t ask anyone, of course – an existential crisis is best kept to yourself – and soon realised that no one around me knew what I needed to know, everybody was mad and struggling in their own way. And then, after a good dose of suffering, I found myself wandering the aisles of a library in search of something that could help me. I pulled out a book in the Eastern Philosophy section and discovered that I am not what I had taken myself to be. In life, the universe and everything, there is no separation, no difference, no otherness. I am consciousness only. Everything is consciousness only – the awareness of being present, the knowledge that says ‘I am’ – I am and I know that I am, and the ‘I’ that I am, is that which knows.
I Am That.
The human, the person I took myself to be, is beyond oneness; and hey, I got it – I was enlightened! I popped down the pub to meet friends, declared to all that I had somehow attained that which everything never ceases to be, and my epic state of self-realisation was laughed out of me within seconds.
What is a human?
A human is an inseparable part of the totality, which is the known – the present moment, the awareness of being present – and all that appears within that is one and the same – and that which is known is nothing but the knowing of it, the knowing ‘I’ that you are, the Ultimate Reality: the unborn, undying, eternal Absolute.