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SAND2018 Panel Appreciating the Human

SAND2018 Panel Appreciating the Human

with A.H. Almaas, Robert Sapolsky, and Kabir Helminski

Many teachings do not appreciate that the human being is important for realization and liberation. That there is no awakening without humans. But some do, and it is a different kind of appreciation than the scientific exploration of the mystery of being human. We discuss what is it to be a human being, both biologically and spiritually, and we come to value who and what we are, and the necessity for the world we experience and know. A discussion facilitated by Zaya Benazzo.

The Nature of Human Consciousness

  •  The highest purpose of human life may be to understand, experience, and perceive the generosity, beauty, and intelligence of reality, which extends beyond physicality and materiality.
  •  Humans possess a unique capacity for self-reflection and consciousness, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, make theories, and gain insights.
  •  Recognizing ourselves as consciousness opens up a whole other universe of reality and being, which is as vast as the physical universe but often goes unnoticed.
  •  Our most precious experiences in life are internal and invisible, such as love and caring, even if they may contradict our survival instincts.
  •  "You can't throw that many neurons together into a brain without coming out the other end of it with enough quantity you invent quality, you invent subjectivity."
  •  The most important knowledge is often received from something higher, transcending the limitations of the human brain and potentially lacking words to fully express it.
  •  The development of the human mind allows us to appreciate beauty, love selflessly, and be excited about discovery and insights.
  •  The potential of the human experience encompasses both consciousness and the physical body, which are intricately connected and intertwined.

Interconnectedness and Empathy

  •  The behavior of baboons showing empathy and comforting others indicates that spiritual attributes may exist in other creatures, challenging the idea that these qualities are unique to humans.
  •  Training people to have empathy and understand different perspectives is crucial for a better functioning planet.
  •  The Anthropocene era highlights the need for contemplative practices to overcome the "us versus them" mentality and realize the interconnectedness of all species on Earth.
  •  The finding that flashing up the face of someone from a different race activates the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with fear and aggression, is incredibly depressing and highlights the deep-rooted biases in our society.

Evolution of the Human Mind

  •  Hameed Almaas, a spiritual teacher, explores the question of what it means to be a human being from the perspective of Western psychology and mysticism.
  •  The neurobiology of our internal lives, shaped by experience and emotion, plays a crucial role in making sense of complex phenomena like empathy.
  •  Just like how a single ant on a table makes no sense, but thousands of ants together can create a complex colony, human brains function in a similar way, with individual neurons following simple rules to create complex behaviors and thoughts.
  •  The evolution of the human being is primarily the evolution of the inner side, accessing realms of experience that help us understand what it means to be a mature human being and custodian of the whole universe.

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