Being Human

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Last night I went to see Pandit Rajmani Tigunait speak on the Essence of Living Tantra.

He spent a good bit of time explaining what tantra is not. If you live in India, according to Panditji, you think tantra is black magic. And if you live in the West, for the last 20 years you’ve considered it to be the 5-hour tantric sex Sting claims as an extracurricular activity with his wife (who, by the way, debunked the myth of her husband’s stamina two years ago).

It is neither of those things, and the majority of the lecture was spent simply talking about how damn cool it is to get to be a human being (in so few words).

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He talked a lot about the characteristics that make us uniquely human–our anatomy and our intellect and what we do with those things.

Panditji marveled at the efficiency of our cells citing the perfect production of ATP and conversion to ADP. He waxed on about the physical design on the human body, how we are able to sit at all, let alone sit still for two hours and pay attention to a lecture. He talked about how human beings are the only animals on the planet able to lay completely flat on our backs and fully relax.

Clearly he has never met Ralphie Levans. Species: cat.

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I also think that apes are pretty good at straight chilling. But they’re our cousins and other than that, I think he’s right. And while Ralph can get onto her back, she can’t get all four limbs down at the same time like we can. I’ve been trying really hard to prove him wrong (why, I do not know) and can’t think of some other animal that does what we do. There aren’t any.

Birds have to stay half awake so they don’t fall from the trees. Dolphins do the same under water. Snakes can’t lay on their backs. Horses and cows certainly can’t lie flat.

So with this smart anatomical design of the human body comes the evolutionary advantage of total relaxation. Because with the ability to chill the F out, we can further expand our intelligence and our essence and our being.

He talked about how we expand upon even the food we eat–that eating cookies and chai isn’t just the consumption of flour and sugar and milk and spices. It’s the consumption of the memories you associate with that act. It triggers emotions. It’s often a social act. It’s not just a cookie. Or an apple. Or a… pancake. It’s everything that cookie or apple or pancake means.

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I totally believe that about food. And I can’t think of another creature that expands food the way we humans do.

I don’t know. The further I stumble down this post the more I realize I can’t even verbalize what he was talking about, which I suppose makes sense considering he’s a master and a doctor and, let’s say, enlightened beyond anything I can really even grasp.

So I’ll just leave this in simple celebration of being human.

This weekend I celebrated being human with a trip to my grandparents’ house for my mom’s birthday, a reunion with one of my very best friends, a few steps forward on the (very long and slooooow) PlateShare road (it’s coming it’s coming it’s coming), and, you know, trying on display-only vintage clothes in the middle of the bar. Life, man.

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4 thoughts on “Being Human

  1. “He talked about how we expand upon even the food we eat–that eating cookies and chai isn’t just the consumption of flour and sugar and milk and spices. It’s the consumption of the memories you associate with that act. It triggers emotions. It’s often a social act. It’s not just a cookie. Or an apple. Or a… pancake. It’s everything that cookie or apple or pancake means.”

    I’ve always found this fascinating. There are so many foods that bring back such vivid memories and people and experiences and emotions for me, both good and bad. The social (and emotional) components of eating are what make eating so damn enjoyable in the first place.

  2. So much of this post rang true to me. It’s always important to remind ourselves that food isn’t just the food. I think that this knowledge can help stop us obsessing about it. Also, I didn’t know that humans were the only creature that can lie completely flat on our backs and relax. But it was a much needed reminded to do what only humans can do, and relax. So thanks :)

  3. This is really interesting, especially since I’ve spent the last few weeks reading/writing about the ways humans and animals are more alike than different. I do like the ideas about how humans view and experience food. I don’t know that my dogs associate anything with their daily meals, except that they want it desperately, eat it in less than two seconds, and then move on with their day. This is definitely a way in which we differ, and in this case, I consider myself lucky to be a human!

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