The Buddhist View on the Human Being

The Buddhist standpoint of the origin of human being is very much different from the common view of the ‘divine creation’ (Issaranimmanavada) claimed by many theistic religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam etc. Since the man is not a divine creation, he is given autonomy (freewill) in Buddhism to decide his destiny. This freewill is not an irresponsible one but it always should accompanied with responsibility. The man is capable of judging what is correct and what is not. According to Buddhism the supreme enlightenment is the highest state (nirvana), which can be attained only by human being but not by gods, brahmas and any other beings. Though the Buddha did not give any definition on human being but the Pali commentators did. In several commentaries the definition has been given as follows. “Manassa ussannataya manussa”, meaning: “They are called ‘human beings’ because of the higher sense of mind”.
To be born as a human being is very auspicious thing because it is a rare birth compare to many other beings in this world. In the Balapandita Sutta, the Buddha has given a simile of a blind turtle who lives in the deeper water in the sea. The story goes as follows. “Bhikkhus, a man would throw into the ocean a plough share with a single hole in it. Then with the eastern winds it would be carried west and with the western winds carried east. With the northern winds it would be carried south and with the southern winds carried north. Then there is a blind turtle in the depths of the ocean and it comes up to the surface after the lapse of a hundred years. Bhikkhus this turtle with one eye to see would he put his neck in the plough share and yoke it to the hole to see light? … Bhikkhus, it is more likely that the blind turtle would put his neck in the plough share and yoke the eye to the hole to see light rather than the fool once fallen to hell would gain humanity”. So, the people should understand how precious this human life is. According to the Buddhist kamma theory, it is the kamma which is the decisive factor regarding one’s rebirth in the lower or higher realm with varied degrees. In the Cullakamma Vibhanga Sutta, the Buddha explained that among the human beings there are people in both higher and lower status because of their past kamma. But one can transform his destiny if he acts diligently. The Buddha said that human being have three periods of times in their lifetime to transform their destiny, the youth (adolescence), the middle-age, and the old-age. If these three periods of time are wasted at the last stage of the life, people
suffer thinking that they didn’t earn or learn during the active time period of life. They are as same as the cranes who looking at the water from the bank of the lake where there is no fish.

Above mention advice of the Buddha emphasizes that as a human being must develop his life improving human qualities. The success and the qualities of life do not come to us by nature but they must be acquired through our effort. Human world is one of the happy states. Same as other beings all the human beings expect happiness and reject suffering or unhappiness. We do everything expecting happiness. Some people even do harm for others expecting their own happiness. The misery is that those who harm others do not understand that other people also love themselves and expect happiness. There are lots of teachings in Buddhism which conducive to happiness of human beings. Teaching alone can do nothing but the practice or its application is the way to success and peace. In many Suttas the Buddha has explained social ethics should be followed by people for their own benefits and also others’. Before we do something, we should reflect on it again and again whether that action brings any harm to us and others.
People should know their duties and responsibilities well. The Sigalovada Sutta, the Mangala Sutta, the Parabhava Sutta, the Dhammika Sutta, the Vasala Sutta and many other discourses can be quoted here as examples. Whenever the duties are performed well there won’t be any problems in the society. Various crimes and disasters caused by human beings are the main causes for loosing peace and harmony in the world. If each one understands his or her duties and responsibilities, then peace and harmony will remain on earth. The human world looks like a purgatory state when it is corrupted by people. According to the Metta Sutta, the highest living in this world is to live with loving-kindness.

The basic principles for a Buddhist are the Five Precepts. Through the five precepts harmony, peace and security can be assured. If people follow the Five precepts, no matter where they live, peace and harmony will be there. The Four Sublime qualities, which are highly recognized in Buddhism are loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). These qualities can be practiced by human beings and they can live here as brahmas who always live free from hatred and ill-will. The Four Heart-winning qualities giving (dana), pleasant words (priya vachana), meaningful life (attha chariya), and equanimity ( samanattata- equability, equalization) too very important practices, which should be developed by each individual.

The human being is unique considering his language skills. No any other being can communicate as he does. Because of this special ability the man has won the world in many ways. But unfortunately, it creates many problems too when it is used in a wrong way. The Buddha explained that any kind of sinful act is possible for lire. Telling lies, slandering, harsh words and frivolous talk can be spoken by only human being. One wrong word or a bad word can destroy the whole world and also one good word can bring peace and harmony and happiness to the world. Realizing this specialty of the language the Buddha taught that even the one word which is well spoken is better than thousand words which are useless.

Anything in this world is can be given a price but the life of human being is priceless. It becomes priceless when life is spent in a proper way. Therefore, the Buddha taught that the meaningful single day is greater than meaningless hundred years.


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