What sets us apart
A jewish friend of mine who is a professional counselor told me about a swami whom he recently heard speak. He said to his audience that humans are unique- they smile. Other forms of life don’t. “Animals don’t smile- only in cartoons, otherwise they don’t smile.”
My friend said that the swami was implying that humans have some obligations. Smiling is one of them.
And here is another obligation, rather exclusive to humans. Time and time again our guru, Srila Prabhupada , would speak and write about the sojourn of the soul through different species until reaching the summit- the human platform.
A verse from the Vedanta- sutra refers to this- “Athato Brahman-jijnasa”. “Now is the time to inquire about Brahman.” The word atha means that one who is intelligent, who has come to the point of realizing the basic frustrations of material life, is capable of making inquiry. It is stated that one should inquire from a spiritual master about subjects that are “beyond this darkness”. Our inquires should be about the transcendental worlds which lie beyond this universe. “(quote from the King of Knowledge).
We humans run the same track when it comes to doing as other forms of life –eat, sleep, mate, defend. Now it is identified what puts us apart from these other species. We go beyond. It’s a good enough reason to smile and feel some good fortune being a human. This does not give us license to over-power other humble species. If anything, we are then in a more protective situation.
Let inquiry lead to answers, answers to actions, actions to solutions. Improve the world and ourselves.