When I was growing up in my parent’s very conservative Christian home, I remember there was always an emphasis on how we needed to reject the human nature because of all the awful things it contained: greed, hatred, selfishness, and all other things terrible and rotten. Instead, we must look outwardly to God to have him cover us for our sins.
But as I sit in here quiet contemplation this morning (after reading a couple chapters in Essential Spirituality by Roger Walsh), I think about everything that is pure and lovely in a child–a tiny human just experiencing this thing called life. The wide open lips smashing into your cheek or nose as they attempt to give kisses for the first time. The clumsy hugs to another toddler when they are crying and sad. The jagged scribbles that they proudly proclaim say “I love you mommy!”. And every other sweet and pure moment that causes the sleepless nights, missed parties, and dirty hair to melt away.
This is why I cannot bring myself to embrace this complete dismissal of the human nature. Rather than believing that our core is horrible and we must cover it up with Godly goodness taken from outside of ourselves, I believe that our core is actually pure and sweet and infinitely divine, and we must look inward to wash off the layers of worldly grime in order to restore ourselves to our true glory.
If we strip away all of the outside influences, the sculpture of pure marble that is left is breathtaking. I believe that we are born with everything that we need to make wonderful, spiritually and mentally and emotionally fulfilling, unique life.
Humans have compassion. If you watch children play together, there will often be conflict. After all, even at 3 years old we can have a pretty set idea of what we want out of life, even if what we want is more time with a certain Tonka Truck. However, more often than not, if the conflict results in another child’s sadness, comforting gestures are set into motion, and at times the object in question is even given back or shared.
There is an innate magnanimity that humans are born with that unfortunately is covered up by the dirty side of life, whether that is personal experience or ridicule or some other unfortunate happenstance. But yet even under that grime, our spark of compassion still glows, waiting for us to scrape off the influence of the outside world.
Humans have love. We are a species that is born to be connected. In fact, our mere survival depends on having someone care for us for the first several years of our life. There is nothing quite as pure as the love of a child for their mother. Even in cases of severe neglect or a mother who is not fit, there is almost always a quiet longing for connection that still pulses in that child, even though everything else tells them to give it up.
Love, in its purest form, is the most refreshing and awe-inspiring emotion you can feel. We crave this feeling because we have it innately within us and we cannot wait to pour out our love into something that fills us up equally in return. It is only when the world warps our abilities to give our love that dark side rears its ugly head. Again, we need to shed the influence of the outside in order to reconnect with the love that has always been inside of us.
Humans have passion. There is nothing more beautiful to see than a normally quiet, shy, introverted child become animated and excited over something that they are passionate about. The object of passion could be anything from restoring trucks to baking cakes to making music to helping others—the list goes on.
This capability for passion is not something that can be taught or that we learn from watching others. It is a flame that is lit internally and must be stoked the same way. When we are younger, our passion burns bright and hot, but the world often has a cruel way of spilling cold water onto even the most dazzling dancing blaze. We must protect our own lanterns with fierceness, and if it ever goes out, remember it is within our power to light it again.
Humans have joy. The gleeful chortle of a wobbling baby is one of the most pure sounds on earth. What is even more amazing are the simplistic causes of this pure joy when we are younger: playing peek-a-boo, getting a raspberry popsicle on a summer’s day, watching a bug crawl across the floor…every single thing in this life has the capacity to spark joy, and somehow our child-like self knew this instinctively.
This joy is, really, the secret of life. How on earth can you have any bad experiences when the capacity for joy is literally never-ending? Yet we humans get so caught up looking outward that we forget to dive inward and discover the source of joy that lives within us.
I believe that a big part of the current human condition is due to feeling helpless and powerless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every single one of us is connected to the divine, which is like having a bottomless well through which constantly flows the most pure, crisp, refreshing water that you have ever tasted. Yet so many of us are holding out our cups in the thunderstorm of life and drinking from the runoff of other people’s struggles.
“Ugh–humans” has become a catchphrase for the disillusioned, a justification for closing off and becoming guarded. I say that we need to dust off our own eyes and start embracing the fact that we and others are humans, delighting in our capacity for love and sacrifice, reveling in our passion and strength. Instead of looking outwards for a divine savior, we must recognize that we do not need to be saved, rather, we simply need to dig around in our own basement to discover the divine connection that has been there all along.
In order to uplift humanity, we must not doubt it or shake our heads mournfully at a lost cause. Instead, we must live our lives as a testament to our inner spark and fan it into a flame that is so big it cannot be ignored. Do not feed the wolf that wants to tear others down; instead, cater to the wolf who recognizes the divine within. It is only when we marvel at our own spiritual prowess that we can recognize and honor the divine in others.