Circumstance and epistemology
Letters from Leopoldo Giordania to Arturo
What does it mean to be human, Arturo? Begin every day with that question. We are blessed with exceptional innate, acquired and mediated qualities, but in that we are not alone. All sentient beings have the common quality of awareness, and where there is awareness, there is the pursuit of God. That is what sentient means, to have awareness, perception, a sensory connection to the world around us. To be connected is to be present. To be present means we are in pursuit. What does it mean to be in pursuit?
Intrinsic with awareness is the impulse to act, and our first impulse is to survive, as individuals and as a species. The rooster crows at dawn. Dogs bark at intruders. Fish seek their depth. Birds migrate and build elaborate nests in accordance with their innate skills. What is your essential nature, Arturo? What does it mean to be human?
Is humanity defined by the opposing thumb, upright stance, brain size, spectral range of senses, the creation and use of tools, unbounded language, complicated social systems and command of technology? We are unique in all of that, but what is our innate essential wordless nature?
We use our senses to create information, recall and combine it into communication, and in communicating learn that all things are at once wonderful, impermanent and imperfect. As the master says, we live in a paradise of form, but what is taken as fact one day can be debunked tomorrow. That pattern of reassessing permeates the history of consciousness and leads us to happiness and misery, brilliance and idiocy. Accept all of it. Embrace life as an unfolding play. In the first order, use your gifts to overcome shortcomings.
Let information flow around and through you without clinging. The most honored one said, “Knowledge cleaves the mind and makes us dull.” The same is true in our religion, though many around us conflate the desire for certainty with truth. Don’t become so concerned with heavenly things that you are of no earthly good. Believe in process and test ideas. When what we believe turns out to be biased, short-sighted or inadequate, smile and move on. Be a willing player in the great project and you cannot ultimately fail to realize that skepticism and false truths are simply temporary impediments. Even God moves on.
Your father and I disagree on the final line of this section. “What we are aware of at any given moment is less important than that we are aware.” Why are you aware? What does it mean to be human?