Navigation Menu

Introduction to the 12 Talks on Profound Humanness

Intro to the 12 Talks on Profound Humanness 

“Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself—be it meaning to fulfill, or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve, or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself…. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.” Victor Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning

I. Profound Humanness as Event 


“I don’t know who– or what put the question. But at some moment I did answer Yes to someone — or something– and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful”    from the Red Journal  


PH as Event is: 

  1. Unexpected intrusion 
  2. Altered situation 
  3. Immediate response 
  4. Decisional appropriation 


      (Excerpts from the talk on 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 happenings that make up your existence .. It is through events which human beings comes to consciousness as a human being… Profound humanness doesn’t happen once in a man’s life which makes him different; he must forever after deal with that event which wakes him to be a profound human being. The eventfulness of life creates profound humanness ever and again. For 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…. Eventfulness transforms your life, gives you a new consciousness, calIs forth a new kind of decision and demands that ever after, that you operate differently in life…. 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. It is also the mundane, ordinary day by day happenings that relate you to the Mystery and calls you to consciousness. Event gives the opportunity to action, calls forth totality and relatedness to others….It is event that demands your creativity and calls forth from within you the presence that changes the situation.” 

(from talk on “Profound Humannes as Event” Global Priors Meeting July 1977) 

II. Profound Humanness as Mystery 


“The sight of reality in its naked form would be too dazzling and piercing to be born.. It is the 

awareness of the oneness of all creation.. ”   from the Red Journal 


PH as Mystery: 

  1. Mundane Transparency 2. Disclosed unknownness 
  2. Nameless fear 
  3. Dreadful fascination 


        (Excerpt from the talk on Mystery)When you are awake, the mystery is seen at any time, in any place. Mystery as profound humanness is the awareness of oneness of all creation, for you see that all of life is one series of interrelatedness. It happens when you least expect it, it is acknowledging the existence of the radically unknown… Mystery is inexplicable fear. It can either sneak up on you unaware or drop from the sky… Mystery is the experience of a propelling, driving fascination with all of life. Has it ever dawned on you that everything you do lately has a powerful effect on those around you and happens in spite of you? Not only are you not in charge of your limits or the mundane breaking through between your eyes, but you are not in charge of your wins either…. There are events where the Mystery is so overwhelming that reality itself is thrown into shadow. That is the most profound… It has to do with engagement, with risk, with impossibility, with expenditure. If we don’t get out and risk and involve ourselves radically, profound humanness does not occur. 

–talk given at the Global Priors Council 7/25/77 Chicago 


“The sacred is a mysterious power that both frightens and fascinates at the same time. It is experienced as a mysterious sense of dread, awe, majesty and wrath as well as love, pity, mercy, joy, peace and a blessedness… the mysterium tremendum (the tremendous mystery) summarizes the main components of the experience of sacred power.” 

                                                       -The Sacred and the Holy on Rudolf Otto 


III. Profound Humanness as Consciousness 

“We die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond reason.” from the  Red Journal 


PH as Consciousness: 

  1. Illuminated relationship 
  2. Impactful imagery 
  3. Paradigmatic insight 
  4. Transrational interpretation


        (from the talk on Consciousness)  “… Without consciousness, life would not be what it is… Consciousness is given, it is a very objective happening. It is given in the simplest, most mundane experiences of our lives. It is given in the most spectacular, dramatic experiences of our lives. It is given every single moment of our lives. It is given to every single person. The fascinating thing about consciousness is that you never know when it is going to be given….. Any object or person or happening in the midst of life can be the vehicle which occasions consciousness. When it happens, basic assumptions become all scrambled. Then they are revealed in a new light, and I am presented with a whole new operating picture of reality. …that in a split second, an “aha” can happen… For profound consciousness has to do with standing present to the breaking in of the painfully new upon your life… a paradigmatic insight which discloses the profound mystery of life… it enables you to stand outside yourself and see yourself watching yourself … and see through that which you never dreamed could come to be.” 


“How can a three-pound mass of jelly that you can hold in your palm imagine angels, contemplate the meaning of infinity, and even question its own place in the cosmos? Especially awe inspiring is the fact that any single brain, including yours, is made up of atoms that were forged in the hearts of countless, far-flung stars billions of years ago. These atoms now form a conglomerate- your brain- that can not only ponder the very stars that gave it birth but can also think about its own ability to think and wonder about its own ability to wonder. With the arrival of humans, it has been said, the universe has suddenly become conscious of itself. This, truly, it the greatest mystery of all.” 

–V.S. Ramachandran, The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human 


IV. Profound Humanness as Action: 


“Plunge into the deed without fear, with the gladness of April in your heart.” 

from the  Red Journal 


“We are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” Emma Gonzalez March for Our Lives 


PH as Action is: 

  1. Appropriate deeds:
  2. Representational engagement: 3. Decisional victory: 
  3. Manifest intentionality: 

(need summarization of the talk

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”                                                     -Victor Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning

V. Profound Humanness as Totality: 


Some mornings I walked out into the courtyard and every living thing there, the seagulls and wagtails, the small trees, and even the stray blades of grass seemed to smile and shine in the sun. It was at such times, when I perceived the beauty of even this small, closed-in corner of the world, that I knew that someday my people and I would be free.” Nelson Mandela 

PH as Totality is: 

  1. Historical responsibility 2. Encompassing unity 
  2. Limitless commitment 
  3. Infinitesimal detail 

        (Except from talk on PH as Totality) The totality that is profound humanness is unreduced comprehensiveness… totality means space blown out to the infinite and given back as art. Totality that is profound humanness means time extended to the eternal and given back to you as drama. And totality that is profound humanness is selfhood intensified to the transparent and given back to you as anointment.” 

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loudI have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”           Thomas Merton


VI. Profound Humanness as Corporateness (need to complete!) 

PH as Corporateness is: 

  1. … 2. … 3. … 4. … 


        “During WW was one of the authors to the charter that founded the UNII, Afro-American Ralph Bunche. He believed blacks and whites could work together to resolve many of their differences, and that nations could discuss problems and work effectively toward peaceful solutions…He arranged 4 armistice agreements that halted the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which won him the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize… Ralph Bunche showed what the possibilities might be, and he was an inspiration to us all. You didn’t have to be an athlete; you could be somebody who could walk with giants on the face of the earth and represent your country, and the color of your skin made no difference.” – Secretary of State Colin Powell 

(need more examples of Corporateness here- shouldn’t be hard. 

VII. Profound Humanness as Declaration: (need to add selections from the talk) 


    “I was asked if I have the courage to go on to the end. I answered ‘yes’ without a second thought.” “What is in us to give light must endure burning.” Victor Frankl “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom 


PH as Declaration is: 

  1. Visible sign 
  2. Continual exposure 
  3. Constant interpretation 
  4. Public accountability 


“The most important thing is to make technology inclusive – make the world change. Next, pay attention to those people who are 30 years old, because those are the internet generation. They will change the world; they are the builders of the world.” –Jack Ma 


VIII. Profound Humanness as Creativity (need to add selections from the talk) 


“Let us create for the earth a brain and a heart, let us give a human meaning to the superhuman struggle.” from the  Red Journal  (?Tagore)


PH as Creativity is: 

  1. Universal relativity 
  2. Historical engagement 3. Decisional impact 
  3. Sociological creativity 

“…Ah no, I cannot tell you what it is, the new world I cannot tell you the mad, astounded rapture of its discovery. I shall be mad with delight before I have done, and whosoever comes after will find me in the new world a madman in rapture.” DH Lawrence From “New Heaven and Earth” 


IX. Profound Humanness as Presence 


“You are not the oil, you are not the air– you are merely the point of combustion, the flash-point where the light is born.” (from The Journal or little red book) 


PH as Presence is: 

  1. Inescapable selfhood 
  2. Enigmatic archetype 
  3. Internalized affirmation 4. Transparent signification 


     (Excerpts from the talk on Presence) “The element of profound humanness called presence is that which becomes a historical sign or demonstration for all human beings. It is presence that invites others to profound humanness. It is an awesome, revealing decision about life which always comes as an address or intrusion. Mahatma Gandhi was a vehicle for presence to his own people and the British when he declared that India would be a free country. He put his life on the line for freedom. He was a bearer of presence when he brought an Untouchable by his hand into Parliament, communicating that the lowest of human being also had a birthright to be fully human. He didn’t need to give a speech on untouchables as human beings for his presence conveyed the message… Another example of Profound Humanness is Suryabhan Devatkar who was a simple farmer and one of the village leaders in Maliwada. The ICA was invited to speak to the India Society of Training and Development, whose membership were the cream of the business world in Bombay. Suryabhan spoke in Marathi before this group and gave his testimony of human development, the hall was charged with electricity. After he finished speaking, it was decided there would be no further business. “Suryabhan was sheer presence to them. His life was a miracle which generated awe, which was nothing but the awe of mystery itself. That awe is presence.”             -talk on Profound Humanness as Presence Global Priors Council July 1977) 


X. Profound Humanness as Integrity: (need more excerpts from talk) 

“If it is necessary to die in order to live like men, what harm is dying?” 


PH as Integrity is: 

  1. Audacious creation 2. Destinal resolve 3. Incarnate freedom 4. Societal transvaluation– 


Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” Mahatma Gandhi 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; 

Where knowledge is free; 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; 

Where words come out from the depth of truth; 

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection; 

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; 

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action— 

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. 

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali 1861 – 1941 


  1. Profound Humanness as Care: 

“The saint always commits his whole self and is therefore never concerned about losses and gain so he is not conscious of making any sacrifice”    from the  Red Journal 


“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others, and expecting nothing in return”– Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom 


XI. PH as Care is: 

  1. Overwhelming reality 
  2. Impassioned detachment 3. Universal service
  3. Perpetual expenditure 


        (Excerpts from the talk on Care)  “ Profound humanness as Care is overwhelming reality. Man is care, period. Man is care and he participates in the care that flows from Being itself… Say to yourself, “Try not to care.” It’s impossible. Because not to care is not to be alive. It’s just pulling the curtains down and being dead… The suffering of mankind has sustained me because that is part of the totality of life. And that suffering is everywhere. It’s in Wichita, in Bombay, in Brussels and in Paducah. It is everywhere. It’s in the small towns and the large towns. You walk through the innocent suffering and suddenly care touches you and catches you unaware..


 Something happens to you and you make a decision…. One day I was walking down a path to the irrigation ditch. In the ditch was water about the color of brown tabletops, and there were three water buffalo and two kids on them. In the same irrigation ditch were two ladies. One was washing her hair and the other was washing the plates from her lunch. Something happened to me. I just stopped. Care happened. I was angry. I stopped and at that point, I declared war on the water system. When care focuses in and grabs you like that, something happens and your life is different. You decide self-consciously wherever you go, wherever you are that you are going to build structures to release humanness in others. 

                                                               -Kay Lush “Profound Humanness as Care” 


XII. Profound Humanness as Effulgence: 

There is at the back of human lives an abyss of light more blinding and more unfathomable than any abyss of darkness which human misery can discover.”from the  Red Journal 


“Awe is an overwhelming and life-altering blend of fright and fascination that leaves us in a state of puzzled apprehension and appreciative perplexed wonder …an overwhelming and bewildering sense of connection with a startling universe that is usually far beyond the narrow band of our consciousness.”                                                    -Dr. Paul Pearsal 


PH as Effulgence is: 

  1. Endless affirmation 
  2. Unlimited power 
  3. Paradoxical abundance 
  4. Restless tranquility  


It soared, a bird, it held its flight, a swift pure cry, soar silver orb it leaped serene, speeding, sustained, to come, don’t spin it out too long long breath he breath long life, soaring high, high resplendent, aflame, crowned, high in the effulgence symbolistic, high, of the ethereal bosom, high, of the high vast irradiation everywhere all soaring all around about the all, the endlessness…” — James Joyce in Ulysses (1922), Ch. 11: Sirens 


“…A million suns are ablaze with light, 

The sea of blue spreads in the sky, 

The fever of life is stilled, and all stains are washed away; 

when I sit in the midst of that world. 

Hark to the unstruck bells and drums! Take your delight in love! 

Rains pour down without water, and the rivers are streams of light. 

One Love it is that pervades the whole world, few there are who know it fully…” 

Kabir (translated by Robert Bly) 


Additional quotes for possible use on PH… 

“Awe is an overwhelming and life-altering blend of fright and fascination that leaves us in a state of puzzled apprehension and appreciative perplexed wonder …an overwhelming and bewildering sense of connection with a startling universe that is usually far beyond the narrow band of our consciousness.” — Dr. Paul Pearsall 

Paul Tillich describes religion as that which is of ultimate concern to an individual or society. According to Tillich, religion is the “depth dimension” to all human experiences; that is religion is what gives life meaning and embodies what humans value above all else. This ultimate concern does not necessarily require a separate realm of being known as the sacred. -The Idea and the Holy RudolfOtto 

The March for Our Lives was a student-led demonstration on March 24, 2018 in Washington, D.C., with over 800 demonstrations throughout the United States and around the world… The march was the largest student protest in American history, with millions of people estimated to have marched throughout the United States.”