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What Is The Essence Of A Human Being? : Center for Human Awakening BLOG
The Center for Human Awakening
The Center for Human Awakening
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Blogs contained here emanate from questions or responses to themes that arose in psychological and spiritual settings – sessions, groups, training workshops, etc. Please note that blog entries 64-166 are drawn from Richard Harvey’s articles page. This retrospective series of blogs spanned over 25 years; please remember when reading them that some of Richard’s thought and practice have evolved since. We hope you enjoy this blog and that you will carry on submitting your psycho-spiritual questions for Richard’s response, either through the form on our Contact Us page or in the ongoing video blog series. Thank you.

What Is The Essence Of A Human Being?

by Richard Harvey on 08/04/20

Photo Credit: - Brett Sayles

Let us start by looking at life in a very basic way, by dismantling all that we have thought or believed, and by considering things as they are without adornment, without being partisan or prejudiced. To be clear and aware we must be non-judgmental. What is the human state and condition? What do we really know? How did we get here? Where are we going? Is there anything beyond what we think, hear, see, and feel and what, if anything, is ultimately real?

By the time we get to where we are at present, we have learned much. We have suffered. We have experienced elation and misery and many stations in between. We have been born and in time we will die. In between we live and chase happiness and feel miserable sometimes and fear and desire things. We experience changing conditions. We can be many different beings all within one day, one hour, even change extremely within one minute, seconds even. What is the essence of a human being? What, if anything, is real or unchanging? When you notice how varied and diverse you are and how changeable, it looks like you and I are merely conventions, just a convenience, a label for an amalgamation of characteristics, patterns, habits, and reactions.

Who am I?

Who am I? Who am I really? What is reality and if I have to ask that question does it mean that this—where I am now—is less than real or unreal? Should I even seek an answer to these questions? Maybe I should simply live with the questions or embrace the mystery.

Is there anything that I am absolutely certain of—I, you, they, love, the other, heart, beyond, the numinous? What is experience beyond words, beyond language and concepts, labels and knowledge, and prejudice and wisdom? What is wisdom? Un-knowing? What is anything? Does any of it matter?

I came into this world or did I? Could this have been the start of the fiction of my life, of my struggle and suffering, of my becoming? Maybe no one truly is here? Is this cause for despair or cause for joy? If there is no one here, no one can suffer and feel pain, and in time die. But if no death then no life and if none of these, what then? I cannot truly conceive of the Truth. The Truth is illusive. The Truth is another concept. The Truth is really not a label, or a convention—or rather if it is then I have returned, I am back again in a sort of nothingness, a place from which there may be no escape.

And I am so busy with life and its habits, responsibilities, and chores to keep the body alive—the body which I am so attached to and continuous with, my body, the body that is me, isn’t it? I have to indulge it and be responsible for its upkeep.

I am… I am not…

It seems the basics absorb me and account for my time. I have looked into a mirror and seen myself as a basic organism of fears, needs, and desires. Now, when will these needs be set aside, seen to, satisfied? That time has never come, may never come, will never come. I will probably spend my whole life in a basic concern with self, self, self, self. I will see self all around me. It appears as others, as events and circumstances, moods and hues, swells and troughs, inclement weather or pleasant surroundings. I am what this is all about; that much is clear. But what this I is, I have no idea.

A blind man searches in the dark, a deaf man searches in the silence, a mute man cries out to the void, a limbless man reaches out in delusion. I am a blind, deaf, mute, limbless man. I have no sense and no reference points, no ways out and no ways in, no means to go ahead and no ways to return or go back. I know not from where I came, nor to where I am going. I don’t know up from down, disaster from success, euphoria from ennui. I am… not I am… I am not….


Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected].

Blog entry #194

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