Biologically, humans are weaker than any other beings big or small. Other animals are born armed with some sort of weapon for their own protection and survival. Humans, on the other hand, have their minds for everything but not as a weapon. Humans are regarded as cultured living beings because they are to harmonise with others but not to destroy them.
By Sanjoo Thangjam
Long ago, man had seen himself as being in the centre of the Universe, as its most important inhabitant. According to this point of view, the world was made for humans, for themselves to obtain from it what they wanted because they were the most favoured creatures on it and everything that existed on this planet was for their sole pleasure.
This so called ‘Humanistic’ view may be directly responsible for the terrible rape of our planet and our total disregard for the rights of other beings which co-exist with us. For example, there have been tragic cases where certain species of animals became extinct through needless slaughter by unsympathetic humans in pursuit of their sporting pleasure or business purposes. Even today the subjugation of nature by science and technology is being applauded. We must increase the number of those amongst us who have already realised the vast destruction that has been wrecked by the man in the name of ‘progress’. Up until now nature has been most forgiving and it has allowed man to continue to think that this planet was made for him to rape and plunder at will, to satisfy his insatiable greed for material possessions and sensual gratification. Today there are many warning signs to indicate that the comfortable times are about to end. Hopefully, if compassion and Right View will not save the world, then at least the same selfishness and desire for self-preservation and self-gratification will force man to give some sensible thought to our impoverished environment and our suffering fellow-creatures on this earth.
To understand the place of man in the universe from a Buddhist point of view, we must first of all look at the Buddha’s views on the cosmos. According to him, the Universe is to be understood in terms of a vast cosmic space. His teaching categorised the whole universe into three groups: planets with living beings, planets with elements and space itself.
We can see man as a specially favoured creature that had come into existence to enjoy the pleasures of a specially formed planet at the centre of the universe.
Buddhism views man as tiny beings not only in strength but also in life span. Man is no more than just another creature but with intelligence that inhabits the universe.
Biologically, humans are weaker than any other beings big or small. Other animals are born armed with some sort of weapon for their own protection and survival. Humans, on the other hand, have their minds for everything but not as a weapon. Humans are regarded as cultured living beings because they are to harmonise with others but not to destroy them. Religion was discovered by them for this purpose. Everything that lives shares the same time force which energizes man. They are part of the same cosmic energy which takes various forms during endless rebirths, passing from human to animal, to divine form and back again, motivated by the powerful craving for existence (the survival instinct) which takes them from birth to death and to rebirth again in a never-ending cycle called samsara. The three detrimental sources of man which bind him to samsara are Greed, Hatred and Delusion.
This cycle can only be broken irrevocably through the development of Wisdom which destroys these fetters and puts an end to craving. Our shared fate as beings who inhabit this planet is that we all want desperately to go on living.
All things depend on each other for existence. A man cannot see himself as different from (let alone being superior to) other beings because his body is solely dependent on food, which means he is dependent on plants, water, oxygen, etc. for his existence. At the same time his mind also exits dependently because the existence of thoughts relies on sense data which are derived from the external world of objects and persons. The whole universe must be seen as an immensenet: if only one knot in it is shaken, the whole net vibrates. Man owes allegiance to the world because he is dependent on it for his existence both physically and mentally.
(The writer is a journalist based in Imphal)