By Sudhamahi Regunathan
A recent study has shown that in the present times, the maximum burden the earth is bearing is that of human beings. The study conducted in Weizmann’s Plant and Environmental Science Department, Israel, has found that the earth is weighed down by biomass 390 million tonnes… of human beings alone. That means there are more humans now on the earth than ever before.
Human birth in most Indic religions, is viewed as rare and itself a blessing.
We have grown up believing, ‘Jantunam narajanmam durlabham’ – that of all births, to be born human is most rare and that we should cherish our birth. Does that mean that there are more blessed people on earth now?
In such religions where rebirth andkarma figure prominently in any discourse on life, human birth is regarded as the most precious. It is true, say Jainas, that human beings who have good karmas are born as celestials, but even the celestials yearn to come back to earth for only on earth is improvement possible. Improvement holds the promise of even being able to take you to seventh heaven, the place where those who attain moksha reach. They have then escaped the cycle of life and death.
This thought, that life on earth alone provides scope for improvement, holds within it the possibility of deterioration too. The destination, if there is deterioration, is hell. There are seven hells.
The period of stay in each hell is very long. Then there is birth as ‘fixed livingbeings’ – plants and trees, which do not have the ability to move. In this category too, living beings spend an enormous number of years.
They are then born as animals. The same study reveals that the biomass of wild animals is just 20 tonnes. The biomass of marine animals is 40 tonnes. For every human being, there is only 6 pounds of weight of wild animals. However, the biomass of livestock is 420 million tonnes in which the biomass of pigs alone is double that of all land wild animals. To tell the story in full, it is believed that animals which show compassion, which are fortunate enough to hear sermons from monks, which do good deeds and live a good life are eventually born as humans. That does not mean they have exhausted all their badkarmas, but just that they have accumulated enough good karma to be born human.
Prof Milo, who led the study, says, “It lays bare the dominance of humanity and its livestock over the far smaller populations of remaining wild animals. ”
“A word of caution,” says Lama Doboom Tulku. “Humans are defined by their humaneness, not by the eyes or nose or other physical features. They are defined by their ability to go beyond themselves and think of others. The others are in the form of human beings, but lack the essential component of human beings, that is compassion. So, it is not true that there are more human beings on earth, it only means there is perhaps a new intermediate step in evolution wherein we have a human look-alike physically but lacking that finesse which makes them the rarest birth on earth. ”
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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