Dating the metta sutta langru
The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould argued that evolution does not imply that we are a unique species: any perception of progress is a delusion based on human arrogance.
li Canon, to be born as a human is more rare than the chance that a blind turtle, rising to the surface of the sea only once every hundred years, would put its head through the hole in a wooden cattle-yoke floating on the waves.
If the universe is not a thing but an ongoing creative process, we have become its epicenters, in a way that none of its other forms are (so far as we know).
With us, new types of creativity and flourishing become possible. African termites construct complex mounds more than thirty feet high that include nursery chambers and fungal gardens.
That is why it is so important not to waste our precious human birth.
In this way the “two truths” doctrine of Buddhism can help to answer the question of whether human beings are special in some way (which does not necessarily mean that we have dominion over the rest of creation) or are no more special than any other species (as Gould and many others believe). In one way, we are creatures just like every other creature and of no more value.
Humans are not just one more manifestation of this process: we have become a unique and important contributor to its incessant creativity.
Unlike such instinctive behaviors, however, humans create something immeasurably more complex and interesting: culture, which in turn re-creates us and conditions the further possibilities we can envision and realize.
If we don’t assume the usual distinction between biological and cultural evolution, we can see civilization as a continuation of the same generative process.
Nevertheless, there is something that distinguishes human beings, as Buddhism also emphasizes.
One characteristic of that distinctiveness is that we are creatures that know we are creatures; moreover, we are creatures that create, and know that we create.