You express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others -Miguel Ruiz-
Who and what we are today is to a great extend the result of the positive affirmation we received from certain people in our lives. If we look back on our lives we will remember some people who had a major positive influence on our lives. Leo Buscaglia was one of those in my life. I never had the privilege of meeting him, but I’ve read most of his books, articles etc. He was a Joy-germ and his trademark was his hugging. He literally hugged every person he came in contact with. I usually tell people, some people hug with their arms and others with their hearts. He was a heart-hugger and you could sense his honesty and realness in a tangible way.
The following excerpt is out of a speech he gave with the title; The art of being fully human and fully alive. Open your heart and mind and allow yourself to be surprised by love.
It was about twelve or thirteen years ago when I first started at the University of South California, and I had one of these mandatory classes, you know, that everybody has to take. And I was an assistant professor at the time, and I had to teach it. And so I got before – this was a big –they used Bovard Auditorium, a big barny place that some of you know. And I got in front of the audience, and I thought, “How will I ever reach them, how will I ever touch them?.”
And it was really a kind of traumatic situation to be put into for your first class. Bat that’s what happens, you know. Anyway, I stood before the class – and I have things that I really feel very strongly about, and one is that the first thing I do when I get before an audience, is to look for eyeballs. When the audience is in blackrooms I’m lost. Talking to myself is not one of my passions. But when I can see eyeballs, I know that I’m safe. And to me, kind eyeballs are the kind of eyeballs that stay there, and when you get lost or you say something stupid or you don’t remember what you said before, you look at them, and they say, “Come on, Buscaglia, you can do it,” you know. And I’m amazed at how many such eyeballs there are.
And in this class, I looked frantically for eyeballs, and since it was a class that was in there because they didn’t want to be, mostly, I didn’t see too many eyeballs; I was seeing this. (He rests his head on one hand). Or they were looking at their pencil ready to write down anything I said. That’s something – we’ve conditioned you. You write everything down. I can say, “Drop dead!” Everybody writes it down. It’s going to be a trick question on the exam. Anyway, I did find these eyeballs, and I found them in a very exiting young lady about five rows back. And I knew they were my eyeballs because whatever I said, she lit up and had a response. She may not have agreed, but I could tell that she was feeling something, and I knew there was at least one alive person in this class of something like six hundred people.
And about five weeks into semester, this beautiful young girl was not in her seat, and when Monday- Wednesday-Friday-Monday-Wednesday came, I became curious, and I went down to where she sat and asked people around her what happened to her. And do you know, in something like six weeks of school, they didn’t even know her name! It’s no wonder Schweitzer says, you know, we’re all so much together in our world and yet we’re all dying of loneliness. And I truly believe it. We neither know how to express it nor even if we feel it, we’re intimidated by it. We don’t know how to reach out and say, “Look lonely person, take my lonely hand. We can be stronger this way.”
And so, I went to the Dean of Woman and I asked about her. And Joan is a very lovely girl, and said, “Oh Leo, I’m sorry, haven’t I told you?” This girl went to Pacific Palisades, which is an area in Los Angeles that many of you know, where sheer cliffs fall into the sea. And there were people there having a picnic on the grass. And they saw her drive her car up. She left the ignition running, and zombie-like, she walked across the grass, and without a moment’s hesitation, threw herself off onto the rocks below. She was 22.
It was a good thing that happened to me in tragedy, because all in a sudden I asked myself, “What does it matter that we’ve taught this girl to read and to write and to spell and to do all the things that we think are essential – if no one along the line taught this girl the dignity and the wonder of her own personal self, so that she could easily take it.”
And I remember being terribly moved by something that I read in a book of Haim Ginnott’s, probably his last book, and it read like this. And some of you I’ve shared this with, but bear with me, because it will lead us down the path that I hope we can take together tonight. It’s a very poignant thing and it’s written by a school principal who gave this to Ginnott. She said:
“I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no other person should witness. Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated Physicians, infants killed by trained nurses. Woman and babies shot and killed by high school graduates. So, I’m suspicious of education. My request is: help your students to be human. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, or educated Eichmanns. Reading and writing and spelling and history and arithmetic are only important if they serve to make our students human.”
And you know what occurred to me? We teach everything in the world to people, exept the most essential thing. And that is life! Nobody teaches you about life. You’re supposed to know about it. Nobody teaches you how to be a human being and what it means to be a human being, and the dignity that it means when you say, “I am a human being”. Everybody assumes this is something you have, or you should have gotten this by osmosis. And you know, it’s not working by osmosis.
Be blessed and embark on your journey to become fully human and fully alive because you only live once!