Hafiz is one of my favorite poets. In a poem called “Becoming Human” Hafiz recounts that a man who was having what he thought were inspired visions came to Hafiz asking for confirmation that his visions were, in fact, inspired. Hafiz responds by asking the man some questions. The man is confused by how mundane the questions seem to be. "How many goats do you have? How many wives? How many children? How many rose bushes? Do you feed the birds in winter?"
With each question, the man grows more anxious, wondering why in the world he brought his visions to Hafiz. Finally, Hafiz says to the man:
“You asked me if I thought your visions were true,
I would say that they are if they make you become
More kind to every creature and plant
That you know.”
This is the kind of daily birth, daily new beginning that is available to any of us who will open ourselves to what makes us more human. It’s generally understood that medical patients feel safer with warm and attentive nurses, doctors and therapists. Students are drawn to go to the classes of teachers who speak from the heart, who link the personal and the profound to the topic of the lesson. All of us are attracted to friends or neighbors who are at ease in their skin, accepting of themselves and others.
Thinking about how our activities, gestures, words, habits, might make us more human, I ask . . . How do we become more human? Is it as simple as opening our hearts? Yes. That has to be an element of the “how”. But what does that mean, really? How do each of us do that? Do we do it differently? Or do we all know what we mean, and are we all doing the same thing?
Going down a few octaves deeper in my reflection, I come once more to the paradox of being human . . . That intersection of the physical experience of humanness with the non-physical vibrational essence or frequency that is always moving through the physical. Increasingly my experience of being a heartful, accessible, attractive human that others want to be around or are drawn to is rooted in an abiding awareness that the doorway to my heart is where this interface of physical and non-physical occurs.
When I am in my heart, balancing my attention to what is infinite and finite simultaneously, it can allow the shameless expression of pain and sadness, love and joy . . . emptying the heart-chambers that have housed long-held wounds and also allowing the flow of peaceful and easy acceptance. This focus opens me up to receive the other one out there who grieves as well and suffers with a broken, grieving, frightened heart, or who is ecstatic and happy. Heart recognizes heart . . . as we each acknowledge, meet and blend our inner experience of non-physical and physical - we optimize the human opportunity; and perhaps, in so doing, we become, as Hafiz says, “more human.“