Albert Einstein once said that "The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self".
For years our traditional view of 'self' was restricted to our own bodies; composed of eukaryote cells encoded by our genome.
However, in the era of omics technologies and systems biology, this view now extends beyond the traditional limitations of our own core being to include our resident microbial communities.
These prokaryote cells outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten and contain at least ten times more DNA than our own genome.
In exchange for food and shelter, this symbiont provides us, the host, with metabolic functions far beyond the scope of our own physiological capabilities.
In this respect the human body can be considered a superorganism; a communal group of human and microbial cells all working for the benefit of the collective - a view which most certainly attains liberation from self.