The Worth and Dignity of Being Human

Theme of the following quotations: The seeming trajectory of contemporary life may blind us to the innate worth and dignity of a human being. Yet Buddhists suggest that it is an exquisite and very rare privilege to be human. Humanists remind us of the magnificence of human nature. Personal authenticity expresses that innate value for what it is: the inexhaustible preciousness of Being displaying itself through each distinct human form.

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Beneath you and external to you lies the entire created universe. Yes, even the sun, the moon, and the stars. They are fixed above you, splendid in the firmament, yet they cannot compare to your exalted dignity as a human being.

~ Anonymous,
in The Cloud of Unkowing and the Book of Privy Counseling


What (a) piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable; in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals….

~ The character of Hamlet in Hamlet
by William Shakespeare (1564-1616),
English playwright


Do you know how beautiful you are?
I think not, my dear.
Yet Hafiz
Could set you upon a Stage
And workship you forever!

~ Hafiz (1315-1390)
Persian poet,
in “Saints Bowing in the Mountains”
of I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy


Man is the measure of all things.

~ Protagoras (490-420 BCE),
Greek Philosopher


I am human, so nothing human is foreign to me.

~ Terrence, (190-159 BCE)
Roman Playwright


“Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?”

“It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole.”

“It’s likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state…”

~ Guatama Buddha (563 BCE to 483 BCE),
in Chiggala Sutta: The Hole


Here paused Zarathustra awhile, and looked lovingly on his disciples. Then he continued to speak thus- and his voice had changed:

Remain true to the earth, my brethren, with the power of your virtue! Let your bestowing love and your knowledge be devoted to be the meaning of the earth! Thus do I pray and conjure you.

Let it not fly away from the earthly and beat against eternal walls with its wings! Ah, there hath always been so much flown-away virtue!

Lead, like me, the flown-away virtue back to the earth- yea, back to body and life: that it may give to the earth its meaning, a human meaning!

~ The character of Zarathustra in Thus Spake Zarathustra
by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
German philosopher
~ see also the post Is Spirituality a Matter of Becoming Less or More Human


Curse the mind
that mounts the clouds
in search of mythical kings
and only
mystical things
mystical things
cry for the soul
that will not face
the body as an equal place….

~ Dory Previn (1929-present),
American singer/songwriter,
lyrics from (click to listen) Mythical Kings and Iguanas


Ye look aloft when ye long for exaltation; and I look downward because I am exalted.

~ The character of Zarathustra in Thus Spake Zarathustra
by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
German philosopher


Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight,
Some are Born to Endless Night.

We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro’ the Eye
Which was Born in a Night, to perish in a Night,
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.

God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night.
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of Day.

~ William Blake (1757-1827),
British poet,
in Auguries of Innocence


~ Note: If you have found these quotes to be supportive, you may be interested in my book How to Be Yourself: A Guide to Living an Authentic Life which contains more than 300 quotations such as these which are organized into different topics related to authenticity. The book is available on Amazon in print and ebook format. (See top right cover image for a link to more info). ~

Return to the Markers on the Path of Personal Authenticity quotes collection



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