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 Is There A Difference Between
Human Beings and Animals?



veryone knows that human beings do not have this sense of loyalty which a dog has. In this quality of loyalty I can never be considered inferior to man. Man often resolves to give trouble to the one who has most lovingly taken care of him and guided him, whether it be his master or his own parents. Man will think nothing of doing bad in return for the good which is given to him. He will criticize and concoct schemes to deceive and hurt the very one who has looked after him so carefully. Man does not have any gratitude at all. He does not have any loyalty. Only so long as his purpose is being served will he pretend to be obedient. The moment his own selfish interests have been taken care of he begins to give trouble to his own master. When mankind is like that how can we be considered inferior to them?"

   In this way, one by one, others got up and had their say. Appropriate to their status and experience, they gave speeches, extolling the many fine qualities practiced by the animals but which were being ignored by man., Finally, there was the speech of the president. The Rishi addressed the gathering, "Dear animals. All that you have just spoken of is true. Whenever a great teacher does something or says something to us, it is meant for our own good. It is intended to promote understanding and friendship with all of life. But as soon as this understanding flowers and friendship blossoms forth, people become suspicious and think that something bad is being done to them. In front they will offer salutations but behind they will criticize. In front they will use words of praise but behind they will use words of derisions and criticism. Filling themselves with opposites like that and low forms of cleverness, people waste their intelligence and their very life. All the defects that have been pointed out here are certainly true and present in mankind. As for food, sleep, breathing and such things there is absolutely no difference between human beings and animals."

   The Rishi continued, "I do want to point out, however, that there is one speciality in human beings that is unique, in which they cannot be compared with the animals. Animals may inherit a streak of cruelty; once they have acquired that they cannot change it. A tiger, however hungry he may be, will not eat rice and curry. He only aspires to have mutton. He will not settle for just a little tea and cookies. However much he may try to change his habits, he will not succeed. On the other hand, if sufficient efforts are made by humans, they can change their cruelty and they can change any of their bad habits. The most important difference between humans and animals is that with effort, humans can bring about a complete transformation in themselves, whereas animals will not be able to accomplish that. These special capacities and skills for transforming themselves are only available to human beings."

   The fox got up and said, "Swami, we will concede that human beings have these special capacities for changing themselves, but if they do not make use of these capacities, do they deserve the high status that they now enjoy?" The president declared, "If anyone has the capacity to change himself but does not use it, then he is much worse than an animal." At this all the animals burst into loud applause. The Maharshi repeated the principal point he had just made...that any human being who had the capacity for doing good, but who didn't use this quality to improve his own behavior and develop the good within himself, was, without a doubt, worse than an animal. The Rishi added, "What is the use of all the learning that man accumulates? Will it change his faith? As soon as bad thoughts enter his head, his thinking becomes dull and he becomes an idiot. In learning and skills, humans have attained a high status. But all this learning is only for the sake of getting some bread: they use it only to fill their bellies and eke out a livelihood."

   At this point the fox got up and added to what the president had just said, "In the process of eking out his livelihood, man uses all kinds of unethical means. In taking care of our daily needs we animals are clearly much better than human beings." The fox got all excited and carried way by his own rhetoric; he continued for some time on the same theme. "We are always fair in gaining our livelihood. In all respects, when compared to man, we are far better. Really, we are the best!" He got an enthusiastic ovation from the whole four-footed assembly. But now the fox had exceeded his limits and the president pounded the gavel and called for order. At this point, the Rishi explained the second major difference that make human beings unique. He said, "Man has been able to conquer Maya; that is, he has the capacity to completely dispel illusion. Once he has done that he is able to experience Atma, and then he can reach the state of Nirvana. This is a vital difference between human beings and animals.

   To emphasize his point, the Maharshi repeated, "Human beings have the power and also the authority to conquer Maya. If man takes the trouble and makes the effort, he will be able to directly experience the Atma. With the help of spiritual exercises he can reach Nirvana. All these you animals do not have." Then he added, "Dear children! In the English language, human beings have been collectively called mankind, using the generic term, M-A-N. The same is given in Sanskrit as 'Manava'. The inner significance of M-A-N is that human beings can separate out and remove this illusion, [M]aya; they can get the vision of [A]tma, and immerse themselves in wisdom and joy and enter the state of [N]irvana. This, then, is the meaning conveyed by these letter MAN. 'M' stands for 'Maya removed', 'A' stands for 'Atma seen', and 'N' stands for 'Nirvana attained'. Attaining Nirvana means that man becomes one with joy and bliss. So, a true human being, a true man, is one who has removed the ignorance of Maya, who has had a vision of Atma, and who has merged himself in the supreme state of bliss."

   When the Rishi had finished, all the animals bent down their heads and agreed that these three are things which they could not achieve. But then the question was raised, "Have all human beings been able to attain this?" "No!" came back the answer. "Only very, very few." "Those people who do not make any effort at all in these directions are just like us and there is absolutely no reason for distinguishing them from the animals", they decided. The Maharshi agreed. He said, "Although humans have this great capacity for wisdom and bliss, they have not developed themselves in this direction and, therefore, they have not been able to derive much joy from their lives."

   Then, on a personal note, the president explained the reasons why he had come into the forest to live. He said, "Men do not care much about these noble qualities. Animals give trouble only to those who give them trouble; otherwise they will live in peace with each other. But man harms people who do not harm him at all. Without any reason he begins to blame and foment trouble, harming people who are unblemished and who have given him no cause for provocation. Man also enters into all kinds of improper work which he has no right to be engaged in." He concluded, "It is for these reasons that the Rishis have given up the company of men and have gone into the forest to live. Man is becoming increasingly selfish. whatever he says, whatever he does, whatever he thinks, is full of selfishness. Animals do not have such selfishness. Animals are not harming other animals and accumulating wealth. Therefore can man even be compared to an animal?"

   It is in this context that Krishna said, "Arjuna! Be a true human being, not one who is even worse than an animal. Rise above the animal nature to your true human nature. There are two qualities of animals that you should never have. You are neither a sheep, which is always timid and fearful, nor are you a tiger which is always cruel to others. You are a man. You are worthy of higher things. Be fearless! Do not ever allow yourself to be subject to fear." Then Arjuna folded his hands and said, "Dear Lord, I will obey your commands implicitly."

   There is infinite power inherent in the human heart. But despite such power, man does not have faith in himself. What is the reason for this? The reason is that he feels separate, and he believes that he is different from the divinity, which, in truth, is always inside him as his very core. This same divinity pervades the entire universe. When you develop a firm faith in God, you will never have any fear whatsoever; you will recognize that the God you worship is the One who is present everywhere in everyone and in everything, and also in yourself. That belief will remove all vestige of fear from your heart. But, if you don't have that faith then you will be ridden with fear. Every moment, every step, you will be frightened. When you have an examination you will be afraid. While going in an airplane, you will be afraid. When a truck comes in the opposite direction on the road, you will be afraid. Right from the very moment when you get up from bed until you again go to bed you will be afraid. And even in bed you will be afraid that thieves might break into the house and steal your belongings. You will be expending your entire time in fear. But this is not right. You should become fearless.

   Your faith in the omnipresent is the key to developing fearlessness. Only when you lose faith will you develop fear; only when you forget your true Self will fear arise. You have forgotten your own true nature; you have forgotten the Atma. You are considering yourself to be this little five-foot body, but the truth is that you are infinite in form and that your power is unlimited. When you make an effort to remove the delusions and get a vision of the Atma, you become merged in Nirvana; then you can call yourself a real human being. If you do not make any effort along this path you are not a man but a nam, a man in name only. When a person has self-confidence, in other words, when he is awake to the Self, he is called Sakshara. Such a person has complete control over the senses; that is the meaning of Sakshara. Sakshara is composed of the three Sanskrit syllables Sa-Ksha-Ra. Opposed to such a noble soul, there is the person who has no control over the senses; he is a Ra-Ksha-Sa, in other words, a demon, a Rakshasa.

   When you read these terms in reverse, you begin to see the two different types of human beings, those who are filled with Shanti (peace) and those who have nothing but A-shanti (turmoil), those who can truly call themselves man and those who are nam, artificial men who carry only the name of man. Therefore, you have to conduct your life so that you can truly call yourself a human being, and live up to the high ideal that accompanies this great gift, of having been given a sacred human birth.



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