There was once a woman who abandoned the religion in which she had been brought up. She left the ranks of the atheists too, and joined another faith. Then she became convinced of the truth of yet another. Each time she changed her beliefs, she imagined that she had gained something, but not quite enough. Each time she entered a new fold she was welcomed, and her recruitment was regarded as a good thing, and a sign of her sanity and enlightenment.
Her inward state, however, was one of confusion.
Man is a paradox. And man is the only animal, the only being, that is paradoxical – that is man’s uniqueness. Man’s special being is his innermost paradox. All other animals are non-paradoxical.
A tree is a tree, and a dog is a dog, but man is never in a state of isness. He is always becoming, growing. Man is always surpassing himself; that is his paradox. And it is at his very core of being. It is not accidental, it is very fundamental. Once you understand this paradox you have your first glimpse about human-ness – what man is.
Man is always a project, a becoming. His being consists of becoming – this is the paradox. He is always between that which he was and that which he is going to be. He is always between his past and future – a bridge hanging between two eternities, the past and the future. He is a surpassing, a continuous surpassing. Man is never content with that which he is; he is trying to go beyond, always trying to go beyond. Whatsoever he is doing, all his effort is basically how to become something more, something higher, something better.
Man is a progress, a wayfarer, a pilgrim – and his life is a pilgrimage, a non-ending pilgrimage, that goes on and on. A dog is born, a tree is born…. The tree is born with all its tree-ness and the dog is born with all its dog-ness. Man is not a given fact; man is born only with a possibility, with a potential. Man is born as a blank, as a nothingness; nothing is written.
All other beings have a certain essence, a certain soul. In man it is just the reverse. His existence comes first and then he starts seeking for his essence. In other animals essence comes first, then existence. They already bring a built-in program; they never grow, they remain the same. That’s why they look so innocent, so unworried, so non-tense. Look into the eyes of a cow – how peaceful, calm, tranquil she is. There is no anxiety no anguish, no clouds. Look into the eyes of a man. They are always cloudy. They always have anguish, there is always trembling: the trembling of. “Whether I am going to make it or not?” – the trembling of, “Whether I will be able to find myself or not?” – the trembling of, “Whether I will be fulfilled or remain unfulfilled?”
The animals are at ease, relaxed; man is a tension. This is his glory and this is his anguish too. This is his dignity and this is his problem too. It is his glory because he is capable of creating himself – he is a god. And it is his anguish because the possibility is always there that he may fail, he may not be able to create himself. Who knows? It is glory because of freedom – he has not been programmed. He is the only animal who remains without a program. He has not been given a map, he has not been ordered.