• The grain of wheat must die to bear fruit. The human being is always already beyond


    The ancient Filipinos have a saying: Madali maging tao, mahirap magpakatao – It is easy to be born, it is difficult to become human. To struggle to become oneself is the struggle to free oneself from various forms of alienation which seek to annihilate the self, make one conform to everybody else, to betray oneself, and to be destroyed spiritually.

    There is always the consciousness of incompleteness in us – we are not only what we are, we are also that which we are not, everything that we still lack. And so we strive to fill the realm of possibilities we find before ourselves.

    Karl Rahner, a German theologian, understood the human person as the being that is already beyond. The background for this reflection on humanity is a universe in process, an evolving cosmos, where the lower ascends to the higher. The evolving universe has given rise to human beings who always remain works in progress.

    With their self-transcendence, human beings question every aspect of reality, including themselves. God is implicitly present in their questioning as the horizon of their interrogation. They know the finite only because they implicitly know the Infinite as the condition of possibility.

    And so, we are always driven to ask: Why is there anything at all? How did the universe come to be? Who am I? How did I become what I am? Where do I belong? What can I choose to be? What do I value? What is my purpose for being in this evolving cosmos? Who is this center of personality, ambition and self-awareness that I call “I”? What are human beings like? How is knowledge possible? What is truth? Where do moral values come from?

    It is necessary to interpret human reality in terms of the future since the human being is an uninterrupted becoming, dynamic and self-transcendent in the converging dimensions of his or her existence – biological, affective, social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual. Life for a human being is a possibility of exploring, discovering, realizing.

    The human being yearns to be free
    We have to be free to initiate an action and to interrupt it once begun – we are responsible for its execution through the capacity of deliberation, judgment and choice. We have the freedom to choose, to opt for diverse solutions. The human intellect tends towards the truth and the human will tends towards the good.

    With our dreams, projects and idealistic visions, our imagination maintains that impulse of self-transcendence that continually moves us to go beyond all finite horizons already reached through thought or actions. This constant becoming is characteristic of the appearance of life and the development of consciousness and the rise of self-reflection.

    Self-transcendence in an evolving world is the foundation of human consciousness, intelligence and creativity. We always strive to be more and have more.

    The universe has a claim upon the full self-realization of every human being in the planet. We are condemned to be free and to bear the responsibility of our freedom to arrive at the convergence of heart, mind and spirit, the unity of consciousness, thought and life.

    As unfinished animals, we will never be totally at home in the universe because we always thirst for more. Our consciousness of our existence in a convergent universe lies in how we perceive and become consciously aware of our situation to become an integral human being.

    We are not only reason, thought, and ideas, but we are also fantasy, sentiment, will, freedom, passion and love. We are always dreaming to free ourselves from the slavery of ignorance, error and fear, liberated from personal misery and social injustice.

    We must thrive on hope and see failure as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Through our self-reflection, we find that we transcend matter, the world, the external. We exhibit, to a limitless degree, an openness to the world. We tend towards the infinite, the eternal the absolute.

    The human being is a being-unto-death
    The human being is also finite. Death is for the human being inescapable as the direct result of his psycho-physical constitution. Death is a biological necessity. And so we have to answer the question that the theologian John Dunne asked: “If I will die one day, what must I do with my desire to live?”

    We attain to wholeness by giving ourselves and receiving ourselves in the same act. We have to accept our finiteness. Death, like birth, is as much a part of our existence, of growth and development. It sets a limit on our time in this world, encouraging us to do something productive with the time remaining.

    In the act of knowing objects in the world, humans know themselves and God, hence all theological statements are anthropological statements. Since human freedom is a transcendental dynamism toward the Infinite, no finite object is ever able to fill up the dynamism that a human being is. As St. Augustine exclaimed: “Our hearts will always be restless until they rest in You, O Lord!”

    Human beings are in the depths of their humanity oriented toward ultimate value. Without this orientation to the Infinite, human beings cannot grasp their life as a totality. Gaudium et Spes states that “man can only find himself through a sincere gift of self.” Every time we become our true selves, we reclaim identity and self-transcendence, and new life can grow within, between and around us.


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    1. Venerando Desales on

      Your article Fr. seems to have the shade of new age movement teachings rooted in Buddhism, as you mentioned about self transcendence, evolution and the universe. This new age movement teachings are contradictory to christian teachings. They make God as mere energy upon which an enlightened individual can tap just like plugging a chord to an electrical outlet. I wish this is clarified. In today’s Gospel, the wheat symbolizes Christ while the soil symbolizes the human race as subjects of redemption. If we follow Christ’s teaching being the way, the truth, and the life, then we will also share in Christ’s resurrection. There is no such thing as self transcendence. The Holy Spirit guides us, as well as, our guardian angels who are our personal friends and teachers.

    2. Amnata Pundit on

      Indeed, do not state simply, if you can state it complicatedly. You said “with their transcendence, humans question every aspect of reality, including themselves.” So why is their questioning of the Church’s teachings an invitation to eternal damnation? In the old days of the Inquisition, these questions invited death by sadistic torture. You added the human intellect tends toward the truth and the human will tends towards the good. The human record belies this. History, since the days of Adam and Eve, exhibits the delicate balance between good and bad in keeping with the more realistic Oriental philosophy of yin and yang, except that today, for some reason it feels like the bad is gaining the upper hand overwhelmingly. What tends toward the good is the Holy Spirit that inhabits you, but is being over powered by your animal instincts which is the part of you that your WILL MUST DEFEAT. Will is a matter of the mind that is why spiritual quest is a mind over matter affair. Only suffering triggers spiritual thirst, it being the only path open to those who are powerless over their fate. Those who lead a good life like a privileged prince very rarely suffers from spiritual thirst. The spiritual thirst of the poor and powerless is vulnerable to hijacking by the diabolical to gain advantage for himself. Witness for example the religious demagogues.Thats why in the bible the armor of God which is your inborn capacity for critical thinking, the HELMET of SALVATION referred to in Ephesians 6:10-17 that must always be worn confirms the truth that salvation lies in the mind, not in sacraments. The sacrifice is in being always watchful of the words that come out of your mouth and your actions so that you can correct them to align yourself to the good to allow the Holy Spirit to come out of you. One who has been touched by the Holy Spirit can be seen by his words and actions, not by his vow of allegiance to an organized religion. Self restraint is a 24 hour exercise. The Ten commandments have only one command of Do, and that is Honor Thy Mother and Father. The rest, all nine of them, are Don’ts signaling that God wants sacrifice in self restraint but not severe asceticism as in celibacy. Without critical thinking or the Armor of God, the most malleable and weakest of your inborn faculties compared your sense of sight, hearing, tasting etc, you can be made to believe, for example, that its alright for one can meddle in the contentious world of politics using his self-acquired religious authority and create polarization that leads to strife. That is not a genuine quest for spiritual salvation but a thirst for power. Here are simple quotes to ponder: 1. “We are spiritual beings inhabiting a human body.” 2.”We cohabit with a monkey. You are the spark of divine consciousness housed in the body of an evolved ape, the reason why you have coarse and vulgar thoughts of an animal. Your job is to train the ape by training your shared mind.” Being always self-aware of your thoughts that lead to words, and words that lead to action and controlling them so that others around you may share in the blessings that you will exude if you are successful in this, is harder than climbing the highest mountain, but there is no other way to go up to heaven, is there?