The 3rd Critical Step to Becoming a Human BeingAnja van Kralingen
In one sense, at least, life is quite simple. At any point in time you are either busy being born or you are busy dying.
In the world today this is usually understood in a physical sense- our identification with our bodies is absolute. This is the reason for the obsession with youth and youthful appearance that frequently endures long past when such a ‘youthful appearance’ is appropriate or attractive.
The inescapable truth though is that nature is a bitch. That beauty of yesteryear, that glow of youth and vitality, that body which your lovers couldn’t wait to get their hands on…well either it is already waning, will in the not too distant future or hit south a good while ago. And, I guess, you know where you are on that continuum.
Now you can go to gym 7 days a week, drink a chlorophyll shake for breakfast every morning and eat protein bars for lunch and supper. You can sleep early every night, not smoke or drink, take enough vitamin pills to sustain small village in Africa, and guess what…
Yip, you got it, you are still going to get old and not too long after that you’re going to die.
I’m seriously sorry to put it so bluntly, I know it not very nice to think about, especially death, that is usually referred to as ‘passing on’. Where the hell do you think you’re passing on to? The crematorium perhaps, the graveyard, well whichever it is trust me it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of difference. The point is you’ll be dead as the proverbial doornail-don’t let anyone tell you different. Or to put it more poetically,
Come with old Khayyam and leave the wise to talk,
Only one thing is true and the rest is lies,
The rose that once has blown forever dies.
From The Rubaiyat, by Omar Khayyam, try not to depart this mortal coil without having read it.
So where does that leave us you ask?
Well my friend despite this inescapable truth it is still possible to keep being born until death, and perhaps even beyond. But let us start our discussion from a point of honesty. Let us tear from our eyes the veil of illusion cast over them by Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan.
Let us burn the Longevity and Marie Claire magazines as a revolutionary act in service of truth.
Then, and only then, can our conversation begin in earnest.
3 stages towards growing up, becoming or individuating
Step 1: physiological maturity, instinctive consciousness, childlike being in the world.
Step 2: intellectual and emotional maturity, cultural consciousness, being an adult in the world.
Step 3: spiritual maturity, psychological consciousness, individuating in the world.
The third step
In this post we are concerned with this third step. If you would like to read more about the second step, becoming and adult, I highly recommend the book Soul Violence, by Wolfgang Giegerich, as a good starting point.
It is in taking this third step that immortality becomes possible. It is the impulse in all of us to take this step that is perverted in the obsession with eternal physical youth. We are not only physical beings. We have the ability to transcend ourselves, our physicality and our mortality. These are the given conditions, but within these we have the possibility of greatness, of grace and of becoming truly human.
Beyond the second step of growing up and putting the child behind you, is another critical step on the journey to individuation. This is the act of discovering your spiritual impulse, your raison d”tre, the reason you were born.
Discovering and living this impulse, bringing it to the world, is what in the final analysis justifies your very existence.
Through this act you bestow a grace upon us; you bring a small piece of heaven down to earth. In being your authentic self, in the world, we can forgive you your indiscretions, your human frailty, your consumption of our planets precious resources.
Not to reach this stage however means you are still-born.
This may not be your fault, circumstances undoubtedly play a huge role. Not everyone gets to grow up and even those that do are not given equal opportunity for self realisation. The idea of equality must be understood as something we aspire to, not something that has ever been realised.
Furthermore the absolute unadulterated rubbish that is suggested by the new age movement and positive thinking in the form of movies like The Secret and What the bleep do we know, should not be taken seriously. These are popcorn for the brain and anaesthesia for the soul, aimed strictly at the disenchanted western Bourgeois; for God’s sake don’t confuse them for reality.
With this qualification in place however if you do have the possibility of taking the next step towards becoming your destiny then take it. Not to take it is a great tragedy, a waste of a life. You should not think of your life as belonging solely to you- this is narcissistic and childish. Your life belongs to us, your community, your country, to your culture, to those who love you and even to those who don’t.
Your life is a gift, but the right to call yourself a human being you’re going to have to earn.
Still, make no mistake, you have been given a precious gift, it is the most precious gift imaginable- show some gratitude. And in no better way can you give thanks for this gift than becoming who you were born to be.
4 questions to consider towards realising your destiny
At the very least, just consider the possibility that you have a destiny, that you were born for a purpose, that your life means something, something beyond the obvious, something special and unique.
If this possibility seems even remotely possible then consider the following four questions:
- What could this destiny be?
- What would you need to put down (discard, leave behind) in order to realise this possibility?
- What would you need to take up (assume, own, step forward and be)?
- How would your overall frame need to change: friends, job, pastimes, lovers, passions, attitudes, beliefs, knowledge etc?
If you found this post worthwhile two others you may want to look at are:
Finally I leave you with a quote from Kierkegaard
There is nothing of which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.
Until we meet again,