XXVIII - Page 280 Home | Index | Previous | Next

The vital Difference between Human Beings and Animals

"Human beings have the power and also the authority to conquer maya and totally free themselves from delusion. If man takes the trouble and makes the effort, he will be able to directly experience the atma and, thereby, know himself as the divinity that he truly is. With the help of spiritual exercises he can reach nirvana and be immersed in supreme bliss. In the interest of truth, I have to point out that you animals do not have these powers and potentialities with which human beings have been endowed." The sage added, "Dear children, in the English language, human beings have been collectively called mankind, using the generic term m-a-n. The same is given in Sanskrit as manava. The inner significance of m-a-n is that human beings can separate and remove this illusion, maya; they can get the vision of atma, and immerse themselves in wisdom and joy in the state that is called nirvana. This, then, is the meaning conveyed by these letters m-a-n, where 'm' stands for 'maya removed', 'a' stands for 'atma realized, and 'n' stands for 'nirvana attained'. Attaining nirvana means that man becomes one with joy and bliss. So, a true human being is one who has removed the ignorance of maya, who has had a vision of the atma and who has become merged in the supreme state of bliss."

When the sage had finished, all the animals bowed their heads and there was a deep reflective silence as they mulled over the words the president had spoken. They had to agree that these were three possibilities, which they, in their present forms, could never hope to achieve. But then a question was raised by one bold buck, "Have all human beings been able to attain this?" The sage responded with a resounding "No!" He said, "Only very, very few people care at all about these extraordinary treasures which are their birthright. Most people fritter away their lives, never pursuing these invaluable opportunities of human life. Their pursuits reek with selfishness and they treat each other much worse than animals. Although humans have this great capacity for wisdom and bliss, they do not develop themselves in this direction and, so, they have not been able to derive any real joy from their lives."