Global Priors Council 7/24/77
In these lectures that we are trying to build together
over the next five or six days, we are dealing with the power
beyond our own power that we've experienced inour engagement
this year. It's far beyond what can be accounted for by the simple
expenditure of our lives. We are trying to describe what we have
discovered about profound humanness.
These talks are really for us who are here, but in
the second instance they are not for us. A man in India comes
tomymind in terms of these talks. Some months ago,
someone visited his village and said if they sent ten people to
a school in Maliwada that their village could be renewed. He went
to the school and when he finished, he went home, got his wife
and three children, closed up his house and left the village.
He turned his farm over to the auxiliary to use as a demonstration
farm and went to another village, Tasgaon, to work as an auxiliary
to two years. He has been in Tasgaon for five months now and he
is one of the auxiliary priorship. He speaks a little English
? but not enough so you can talk to him. He is literate, but his
wife is not. He has never been out of Maharastra and his wife
has not been to the Human Development Training School. Now, he
hadn't been through the last thirteen years of the religious mode,
the Other World, and everything else, but, this past year he had
happen to him exactly what we have had happen to us. He hasn't
even had RSI where he could take the poetry he has in his
head and learn how to get hold of that in terms of his own experience.
So these talks are for this Indian who is one of us and yet is
These lectures are about an invention in our age
called profound humanness. If you took all of history and all
the wisdom of the globe and brought it to bear on what at this
moment people talk about as profound humanness, then you would
come up with what's in this chart. This is not an attempt to gestalt
all the charts of the spirit dimension that we've built over the
years. This is not an attempt to secularize any categories. It's
an initial attempt to name the twelve arenas or twelve categories
by which our time is able to grasp profound humanness. Once that
is done, the profound humanness present in this moment of history
has to be held in tension with and called into question by the
experience and thinking of humanness throughout the ages, whereby
it doesn't simply get trapped in our age but relates us to all
This chart of twelve categories is called "Qualities
of Profound Humanness." The most helpful image we have used
for that is the image of a touchstone. A touchstone looks like
an ordinary rock or piece of dirt, but there is a difference.
If you take your spoon and touch it to a touchstone, your spoon
is no longer iron, but gold. Now, these twelve things are touchstones.
That is, if you take a hunk of protoplasm ant you touch it to
integrity, then it begins to become a profound human being. If
you took the coffee pot in front of you and touched it with one
of these touchstones, then it would become a profound human being.
That's what these are. These are not qualities, in the first instance,
that you or I have. They're parts of life which, insofar as you
participate in those, you find yourself participating in or being
a profound human being.
Another image we've used is that of a twelve faceted
diamond where looking through one facet finally, all you see is
the sparkling of the other eleven facets from behind. You can't
pull Event and separate it from these twelve. These twelve serve
as one Jewel, one diamond, with twelve facets.
This also represents a web. Profound humanness, when
you participate in it, is like a web; a fishing net. It's so intermeshed,
interrelated and intertangled in your day to day and minute by
minute experiences, there's no way to fall out of it. Once you
fall into profound humanness, you're trapped and cannot get out.
I feel as though I never knew profound humanness
before this past year. I don't know why profound humanness has
come into being at our time in history or where it has come from.
I do not know how profound humanness works, and I do not know
what the appearance of profound humanness means for the future
of this nation or any nation, for the future of the globe and
for history. But I do know what I have seen. What I have seen
is profound humanness. Or, what I have seen is what I call profound
humanness, and it's something I never believed existed until I
Profound humanness is itself an event. It's an event
in time and space. It's not my qualities. It is something that
has happened to me and as something that has happened it is available
to any human being. It is an objective reality. Profound humanness
ls something humans participate in when they practically find
themselves at the apex of history where they are engaged in concrete
service to mankind that is objective to their own life. There
is where profound humanness is to be found.
Maliwada was such an objective reality this past
year. The Nava Gram Prayas in India was that this past year. The
situation in India is obvious to anyone there. To alter the life
in the villages is to alter the shape of that nation's future
and to change its history. The auxiliaries in India are standing
at the apex of history and they are engaged in concrete service.
They are digging drains, teaching preschool, and putting on roofs.
It is at that point that profound humanness occurs.
The event of profound humanness picks you up, consumes you, chews you up and then spits you out, leaving you with the decision about your participation in history. It leaves you changed forever. In another time when you could talk about history as something substantial and didn't talk about life as dynamic and relative, the category of event would not freight the significant role it plays in our own grasp of humanness. But
to talk about human life is to talk about event. To talk about history is to talk about the events which change history. To grasp what your life is all about is to understand the happening in the happening in the
happenings that make up your existence. We've talked
about this for a long time.
Now, in the midst of the day by day events of history,
there is another kind of happening: the happening of profundity.
Kazantzakis begins his book by saying, "We come from a dark
abyss, we end in a dark abyss, we call the luminous interval life."
There are only three happenings in life for any human being. There's
the happening of his birth, the happening of his death, and then
there's the happening that profounds him. In this happening his
eyes are opened wide. He sees the depth of being a human being
and he grasps his participation in all of history. The event of
birth is filled with pain and wonder. The event of death is filled
with pain and wonder. The event of profundity is also filled with
pain and wonder. However, that event of profoundedness, of awakenment,
is the key, for without that event, the other two are meaningless.
Without that event in which a human being comes to consciousness
as a human being, the other two come and go.
It's interesting to listen to people in the school,
when they are given a chance to stand up in the morning and give
a witness at breakfast. They all pick some event. A young man
from Daulatabad stood up and said, "One day I was riding
in a bus. The bus ran into a truck, went off into a ravine, and
that's when I lost my arm. From that moment on, I knew I had to
be about something in life." Another fellow said, "I
remember one time in our village there was a huge crash. We found
two trucks had run into each other and one fell into a ravine.
It was the rainy season, the ravine was full of water and there
were people trapped in the cab. I could hear them screaming but
there was nothing I could do. From that moment on I knew that
my life was going to be different." Another said, I remember,
when I was six years old, sneaking out of school. The teacher,
who was a very mean man, caught me. He took a stick and he beat
me and beat me. From that moment on I've taken my life seriously."
They tell stories about a situation in which something beyond
themselves broke into their lives, making that happening unforgetable
in their experience.
Some people tell story after story about this happening
and it gives them a new consciousness, a new grasp of their own
humanness. Some of them talked about struggling for a year or
two years with hating the fact they had only one arm, or facing
the reality that they could not save those people in the truck
before they were able to make a decision to appropriate and to
operate. Several people talked about their experience on a trip
to Bombay during the school with that kind of passion.
Once this profounding event happens in history, you
can never go back before it. You have no home any more. A lot
of the women in the Human Development Training School, are widows,
or women whose husbands have left them. If you're a woman in the
village of Maharastra, you don't have much of a role to play,
once that happens to you. It's a traumatic experience, because
people's marriages are arranged by the time they are thirteen
or fourteen. The home is the only life that a woman knows and
the only security is in herself and her children. There is no
social security structure there. It is these restless people who
have had something happen to their lives, which they know that
forever after sets them apart from any other kind of human being
who comes to the school. Profound happening of humanness is once
and for all.
But, you have to say more to explain what you mean
by profound humanness as event. It is not just that profound humanness
has happened in our time. It's not just that there's a happening
that happens once in every man's life which makes a man different,
which he must forever after deal with that wakens him to be a
human being. The eventfulness of life creates profound humanness
and human beings ever and again. For once the profound happening
of humanness has happened, once you have awakened, then every
event that happens to you is a recreation of your profound humanness.
Every event brings with it unexpected intrusion.
Every time you do a talk, dig a ditch, or go on a devleopment
nail, the unexpected breaks in and squashes your decision again.
The anticipation ~hat you had is brutally thrust aside. You find
you either have to hold onto your models or deal with the situation.
That intrusion of the unexpected equashes your decision over and
over again. It chews you up and calls you to engage and participate
in the real world. It brings to people a sense of h'iliation,
the realization of their own contingency. Indeed, it throws them
over against their own contingency. People ask me, "What
did you do to lose 60 pounds in the past year?" I tell them,
"Nothing." They say, "Were you sick?" I say,
"No." They say, "Did you diet?" I say, "I
am incapable of dieting." I say to you that I have lived
the past ten months in profound humanness, and that experience
has taken 60 pounds off me, 40 pounds or more off some other colleagues,
and I ace it's put some weight on some of you.
Living in the eventfulness that is profound humanness
means that you are always living in the midst of changed reality.
It means the security of what worked yesterday is never appropriate
for today. It means you never repeat a maneuver. It means you
always have to look to the future, to undergo the suffering that
happens day by day when you win or lose in the real world.
Living in the eventfulness of profound humanness
means that each event demands your expenditure. Each event means
you must do something. If you have ever tried to hold an ITI or
a training school in a village, you know that in that situation
nothing is secure. If there is a roof on the building, it may
blow off and it may not. The food may come or it might not come.
The food may be eaten up by the first three people on the row
and not get to the next four people on the row, or it may not.
The person assigned to give the lecture may come to do the lecture
or may be down with dysentery. You just do not know. The students
may cheer when the lecture is over, or they may Just walk out.
You never know. None of your anticipations are true. You send
word for every village to send ten people to the Human Development
Training School. Some villages send ten people, and others do
not. You find that you have a bunch of people who thought they
were going to get a stipend to live on. Then you find that they
are not going to get a stipend. When you begin to deal with that
situation, you do not know whether the students are going to leave
or stay. Each one of those demands your concrete expenditure.
There is no telephone in the community center in Maliwada, so
when the toilets get dirty, there is no one to call. You have
to clean the toilets yourself. In fact, you have to build the
toilets in the first school before you begin Then you have to
build a new one because you have more students. The event that
happens in the midst of profound humanness demands depth expenditure
that reminds you of your weakness and your contingency.
Last, the eventfulness that creates profound humanness
leaves a hollowness in you being there you must fill, or have
it be filled with resentment. Living in the midst of the intense
engagement of profound humanness, standing at the apex of histery,
drains you. It leaves you empty time and time again. It shows
you up and spits you out every day.
It chewed up one student in the last school. He is
big and husky and has never done a days work in his life. The
third day of the school, which was a work day, we worked on the
bund. We were using picks and shovels to loose the hard dirt and
fill up baskets, then passing the baskets from one person in the
next up the hill and finally dumping it down a deep gulley at
your feet. You keep doing that for eight hours. Each one of those
baskets weighs 30 pounds or more.
I had never worked like that in my life. I had a
difficult time passing baskets hour after hour, minute after minute.
The guy next to you turns around and when you go to pass him the
basket, he's not there. The person behind you isn't looking either,
so as you are passing one basket the next one hits you in the
back. You get tired and the next is oppressive. It's over 100
degrees and the sun is straight down over you head, and you sweat.
You realize not that you are tired, but that you might die! You
know about sunstroke and overwork.
After the first two hours of the work day, this one
student snuck out and spent the rest of the day lying in bed moaning
with diarrhea, nausea, chills and fever. He 'had a vacant look
in his eyes that you could not describe. For the first time in
his life he had experienced profound humanness. For the first
time, he had the experience of taking: the sweat of his body end
contributing it directly to history. We were not filling the gully
with dirt; we were building a bund, a dam to store water in an
area of India which has been without water for a long time. This
was at a time when half the peopleat the school were sick
from drinking water that 'was unclean. All this was at the:foot
of Deogiri fort, which is a symbol that 900 years ago there was
glory in Maliwada.
This was what gave him the shakes and the vacant
look in his eyes. This drove people to be consumed with resentment.
You should have heard one of our staff after the first work day
of passing basket after basket, hollering and screaming that a
bulldozer could build that bund in one day, maybe a half a day.
But we didn't have a bulldozer; we had baskets, and those baskets
were the same thing that people 5,000 years ago used to build
earthen dams. There we were, going through that expenditure. It
produces a hollowness in you that can be filled only with an acknowledgement
of the wonder and the glory and the awesomeness of what has been
produced. Otherise, itis filled with resentment.
Living in the eventfulness of profound humanness
does things to people. It transforms their Iives, gives them a
new consciousness, calIs forth a new kind of decision and demands
that ever after, they operate a different way in life.' When the
students came out of the school, all they wanted was to participate
in history. Somone on the assignment commission asked, "Are
these 197 people who have been through the Human Development Schooi
globally assigned?" Well, I don't know, but 1 do know they
will go anywhere in the world. All they want is for someone to
tell them where to go. All they want is to participate in history.
I was working on the assignments for the last school.
Somebody brought a young man up who didn't speak any English.
He was having problems with his assignment and his family. I thought,
Oh, boy, you can really do short courses with these young innocent
students about what it means to really give your life, and be
a sign, and how you have to say 'no' to your family, etc. I asked
this man what the problem was with his family, and it turned out
that he wanted to be assigned nearer his own village because his
mother has leprosy and cannot work anymore because she cannot
hold anything in her hands. She lives in empty houses around the
village and does clean up work or takes care of children so she
can be fed. But he was concerned about being close enough to take
care of his mother when there is no work. He had no problem with
going to another village. His only problem was being able to meet
all the care that he had to face.
At the end of the second school we tried to keep
a balance between the people who returned to their own villages
and those who went to another village. We wanted to maintain good
public relations with the villages by not taking ten people out
who were never seen again by their own village. So we assembled
the people and recommended that half of them go back to their
own village. Their response was, "If we go back to our own
village, we will be lazy. We will be tied up with all kinds of
relationships we had with our families and our responsibilities,
and we don't want that. We want to give our whole life to this
The second result of participating in profound humanness
has to do with developing positive thinking. It means developing
the capacity to trust the events in life that happen. I've not
learned how to do that. Every time something happens that is not
according to the way I planned it, I am consumed with euxiety.
I am overwhelmed. I am negative. Nothing will do in those situations
except standing up and loudly voicing my protest that this is
not going according to plan. But, living in the midst of the eventfulness
of profound humanness means that you develop trust in the events
of life. One Gram Sabha was held in the school with the students
and some people from Maliwada participating. The next day we reflected.
Their two insights were: 1) we know that you can do nothing in
the village without unity and now we know how to get unity; and
2) after seeing this done once, we can now do it ourselves. So,
now we are ready to work in any village anywhere.
Participation in profound humanness requires that
you trust the events of your life. You trust those events to austain
you. What sustained me this past year in Maliwada? We didn't have
daily office. We had a morning ritual. Its main function was to
remind us that we weren't doing the daily office but a ritual
instead. The event of the first training school, the event of
the second school and the event of the third school sustained
me. There was no sophisticated reflection of those events but
rather those events themselves that kept me together as a human
being and sustained my efforts and energy.
Third, you learn to live with the awful tension and
anxiety that causes your blood pressure to shoot up and down.
You know that once you have lived in the eventfulness of profound
humanness, that nothing is as it seems. Every situation has the
capacity to bring forth the new. You live in the midst of the
tension, never knowing what might come next.
Fourth, it means that your life is concerned with
only one thing: the next event, the next situation you have to
deal with. Two years from now becomes unimportant. What might
or might not be happening somewhere else in the world becomes
unimportant. You see life in terms of the next event and its importance.
The past is used only to keep you going. We tried to reflect and
it didn't work.
Finally, in event is the totality of profound humanness.
Event is the mundane, ordinary, day by day happening that relates
you to the Mystery and calls you to consciousness. It is the event
which gives the opportunity to action and calls forth totality
and dramatizes ones relatedness to others. It is event that quickens
ones integrity and focuses ones care and overwhelms one with effulgence.
It is event that allows your declaration, demands your creativity
and calls forth from you the presence that changes the situation.
Event is the profound happening in humanness that once and for
all relates man to his profound humanity ant that ever and again
beckons him to profoundly human participation in history.