Birth: Becoming Human

The 14th century Persian poet known as Hafiz  is one of my favorite poets.  Daniel Ladinsky has made these inspiring and wisdom laden jewels available to us in translation.  In a poem he calls “Becoming Human” Hafiz recounts that a man came to him who was having what he thought were inspired visions.  He wanted Hafiz to confirm that they were inspired visions.  Hafiz responds by asking him what seem to the man to be mundane questions:  how many goats do you have?  How many wives?  How many children?  How many rose bushes? Does he feed the birds in winter?

With each question, you can feel the man growing more anxious, wondering why in the world he brought his visions to this man.  Finally, Hafiz says to him:

“You asked me if I thought your visions were true,

I would say that they were if they make you become

More human,

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.  Patients feel safe with more human nurses, doctors and therapists.  Students love to go to the classes of more human teachers. All of us are quick to call anyone friend or neighbor who is simply more human.

How do we become more human?  I think we do it by opening our hearts.  In my experience, it’s a double hinged door that swings both ways.  When opened, it can allow to come out of the heart the pain and sadness that has once broken it and made it more tender without shame.  When it swings the other way, it opens up to the other one out there who currently grieves from a broken, grieving, frightened heart.  Heart recognizes heart, and we become more human.

That’s the vision that calls me to being more human.  It is the kind of vision that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the Beloved Community.”  What is it that brings you to becoming more human, today?  That’s your vision, and it’s inspired.  Thank you, Hafiz.

Bob Patrick

*”Becoming Human”, in The Gift, Daniel Ladinsky, translator

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