Real Meaning of Being a Human
To find an answer to anything, we first search for all available literature and then we converge our focus to a specific set of literature, that in our opinion closely relevant to our question. The same was the process of our course, we had been studying many point of views and theories to inform us about the real meaning of our humanness. At the end I have personally, selected the point of view proposed by Buddha to the real meaning of life as I believe that possess the power to address the question of the meaning of life. Though we cannot, in a few sentences define our own purpose of life with its help, it certainly provides us with a guidance in the right path.
“Human life is a collection of suffering and attachments to material things” according to Buddha. This is the first part of the teachings about the meaning of life. What I have observed in my personal life is that when as a human being we start to value the material world like money, cars, houses, expensive food and other luxuries of life, we start to believe that is what actually being a human means. We forget to realize that being a human is a lot more than just these things. In his “Theory of Hierarchy of Needs”, Abraham Maslow has placed the biological need at the bottom. According this is just the beginning of our travel up the ladder of humanity. Abraham Maslow has placed Self-Actualization on the top of the Hierarchy. Self-Actualization is the ultimate goal where a person is above physical and biological needs and reaches a state where he/she can utilize the full potential of the human abilities. If we look at second part of the teachings of Buddha, it exactly points in the direction of Self-Actualization. It tells us to “overcome the attachment to the material needs in order to overcome the suffering”. What is suffering here? In my opinion, suffering is a feeling caused by an unsatisfied state of mind about the desires directed at the material world. If two thousand dollars are enough for me for a month but I desire ten thousand, what would happen? I will be stressed and might work than my capacity that will cause mental and physical issues in the short and long run.
The Buddhist doctrine is attractive to me in many ways. Firstly it focuses on self-control rather than controlling the world. The concept of internal locus of control is very necessary to lead a happy life people with an external locus of control always blame other for their personal issues. The teachings of Buddha suggest kindness and compassion rather than being power oriented and always in a rush to get things done. Buddha was also against any cruelty towards non-human things. If we are able to apply this rule to the modern world, we would be able to stop abusing the environment. Buddha says that there is nothing without consequences, but we, in the modern world take many things for granted. For example we are abusing the ecosystem and the global temperature is rising as a result of it.
Buddhist teachings provide us with guidelines to run a smooth society. He advocated the need to provide our resources to rid the sufferings of others. This is the basic foundation of the modern world. The only difference is that Buddha believed in giving up everything to the charity that was more than the needs but in we today give only a little for charity. We should give more to help others. This will help our own self in finding our meaning of life.
Kant Perspective on being a human
In our course we studied about Kant’s philosophy. Kant has his own opinion on providing a meaning to life. According to Kant’s’ Metaphysics of Morals, one should treat himself and others as an end and never as a mean. This means that human beings are superior to non-human things. They deserve a treatment based on the fact that they are conscious and they can carve their goals. Human are rational agents so they have a thought process. For Kant it is enough to be a human with rational mind to be treated with dignity. The ides where he differentiates with Buddha is when Kant suggest that non-human things are a mean and not an end. This signifies that they can be used in whatever way human likes to benefit them. Buddha is kind to each and everything while for Kant only human is important. In my opinion humans not be considered as superior based on the only fact their humanness. There is a long way to achieve greatness or should I say self-actualization. This luxury is not available to just everyone it requires a long straddle in which not only humans but non-human entities are also considered as ends and nor merely means.
Religious Perspectives of Being a Human
Here I would like to talk about the three religions i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism. These religions provide a narrow passage to finding yourself and the meaning of being a human. Everything is presuppose in the holy books and it demands obedience. According to these religions, the meaning of life is to serve the orders of God that are present in the holy books. In contrast, Buddhism stresses on finding everyone own meaning of life through Dharma and meditation. It is open for everyone in all directions. The motivation behind the three religions is punishment while in Buddhist ideology the motivation is compassion and love.