January 1 - Precious Human Birth - Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
Of all things that exist, we breathe and wake and turn it into song.
There is a Buddhist precept that asks us to be mindful of how rare it is to find ourselves in human form on Earth. It is really a beautiful view of life that offers us the chance to feel enormous appreciation for the fact that we are here as individual spirits filled with consciousness, drinking water and chopping wood.
It asks us to look about at the ant and the antelope, at the worm and the butterfly, at the dog and the castrated bull, at the hawk and the wild lonely tiger, at the hundred year old oak and the thousand-year-old patch of ocean. It asks us to understand that no other life form has the consciousness of being that we are privilege to. It asks us to recognize that of all the endless species of plants and animals and minerals that make up the Earth, a very small portion of life has the wakefulness of spirit that we call “being human.”
That I can rise from some depth of awareness to express this to you and that you can receive me in this instant a part of our precious human birth. You could have been an ant. I could have been an anteater. You could have been rain. I could have been a lick of salt. But we were blessed – in this time, in this place - to be human beings, alive in rare ways we often take for granted.
All of this to say, this precious human birth is unrepeatable. So what will you do today, knowing that you are one of the rarest forms of life to ever walk the Earth? How will you carry yourself? What will you do with your hands? What will you ask and of whom?
Tomorrow you could die and become an ant, and someone will be setting traps for you. But today, you are precious and rare and awake. It ushers us into grateful living. It makes hesitation useless. Grateful and awake, ask what you need to know now. Say what you feel now. Love what you love now.
* Sit outside, if possible, or near a window, and note the other life forms around you.