This topic is one I feel particularly strong about. It is more or less the basis for all my training and I got the lesson behind it from a very small old man.
It was a Japanese Zen teacher with whom I got involved briefly a couple of years ago. He made this point one day very casually during one of his talks, but it immediately stuck with me as something very important.
He pointed out that we are not born as humans.
What does that mean? The moment we decide to reincarnate into this strange realm of existence we are given this weird body of ours as a vehicle to carry us around. It is a four dimensional representative for our mind to interact with others in what we call >conventional reality<. It is a body that could be described as a crazy naked monkey with incredible potential. Potential to become wise or evil, depending alone on our choices.
The point is: Getting born as a crazy monkey is a given. Becoming human is an accomplishment.
If we make an effort, there is a chance for us to become human, if we want to.
That what defines us as humans is what we do, how we act, what we say and how we treat us and others. Becoming human is therefore an endless work in progress which requires a lot of effort. It involves cultivating our mind, our body and our speech.
Sadly and rather obvious to anyone following the news, a lot of people choose to become something rather questionable. Questionable enough for me to sometimes wonder why the whole system of conscious development even makes sense at all.
It is very hard for us to evolve past our evolutionary monkey heritage. It takes great effort, dedication, determination and faith. However, I strongly believe that this is what we are here for. Our sole purpose to reincarnate into this strange and absurd place in the universe. Also, becoming human is just one more bus stop on the way up the consciousness ladder.
But that is a different story.