What is Consciousness

IN GOD WE TRUST – BHAVANAJAGAT – 2013 IN REVIEW

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

BhavanaJagat is inspired by Goddess Sarasvati who personifies Pure Knowledge and Perfect Wisdom.
BhavanaJagat is inspired by Goddess Sarasvati who personifies Pure Knowledge and Perfect Wisdom.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it. My blog post titled “What is Life – Life is Knowledge in Action” has attracted the most number of views.

http://BhavanaJagat.com/2010/08/05/What-is-Life-Life-is-Knowledge-in-Action/

Click here to see the complete report.

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SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – WHOLE REASON

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VITRUVIAN MAN, BY LEONARDO DA VINCI(c. 1492). This picture is used as the cover page for Best & Taylor’s Text Book of Human Physiology. Medical Science and Medical Education is knowledge built upon the foundations of understanding and knowing Human Anatomy ( Structure ) and Human Physiology ( Function).

  

SPIRITUALISM : MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY – THE INQUIRY ABOUT SELF, SPIRIT, AND SOUL :

I would submit that we have to arrive at an understanding of ‘self’, spirit, and soul by knowing the structure and functional organization of the being that exists.    

THE IDENTITY OF MULTICELLULAR HUMAN ORGANISM :

                  

“ManO buddhyaHamkaara, chittani na aHam, Na karnam, na jihvaa, na cha ghraana neytrey, Na cha vyoma, bhuumir na TejO, na vaayuH; Chidaananda Ruupah, Shivo aHam, Shivo aHam.” Adi Shankaracharya has described that his Identity does not pertain to his mind, intellect, the intellectual pride/ego, mental functions, his organs of sense, the five primordial elements of Nature. His Identity could only be stated as SAT+CHIT+ANANDA, the Identity of Ultimate Reality. However, the human organism has an Identity described by Human Anatomy and the organism’s functions(Physiology) establish and defend this Identity of the Human person in Nature.

      

Dr. Daniel John Cunningham( 1850-1909 ), Chair of Anatomy, University of Cambridge has provided this Manual of Practical Anatomy to help medical students dissect human cadavers and learn Human Anatomy. Whether humans know and understand Human Anatomy and Physiology or not, they come into existence with full functional knowledge of every constituent cell in the body. The Human Body has Innate Knowledge of its own Structure and Function. I had acquired this Knowledge from Uneducated individuals who had gifted their bodies to promote Medical Education.

 I learned about human body while dissecting the body in a systematic manner. The Manual of Practical Anatomy which guides us through this entire process was published in England. The author Dr. Daniel John Cunningham prepared the Manual while dissecting cadavers of British or Irish citizens. He had never encountered cadavers of Indian citizens. At Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India, where I was a student, the Department of Anatomy obtains dead bodies from  Government General Hospital Kurnool and most of the deceased are the poor, illiterate, and uneducated people of that region. None of the deceased had a chance to know this man called Cunningham and Cunningham had no knowledge about the existence of these people who had arrived on our dissection tables. But, as the dissection of the human body proceeded, inch, by inch, we recognized the anatomical parts as described by Cunningham. The manual also lists some anatomical variations and we very often exchanged information between various dissection tables and recognized the variations mentioned. The dissections also involves slicing the organs and studying them, both macroscopically, and microscopically. We did not miss any part of the human body. So what is the Identity of this Human person or Human subject? How does the living Human organism maintain its Identity and Individuality? Apart from the Cultural Traditions of India, several Schools of Religious Thought claim that the Human Individual and its Identity is represented by Human Soul. Where does this soul exist in the human body? What is the location if soul is present in the living person? Does man have a soul?

                     

THE KNOWLEDGE OF FIELD AND THE FIELD OF ACTIVITY :’KSHETRA AND KSHETRA JNANA’ :                      

 

The term soul has to be carefully defined if I have to find it by exploring the human body. In the Indian tradition, the human body is described as ‘KSHETRA’ or Field. The individual who knows and enjoys this body, kshetra, or field is often described as ‘PURUSHA’. The knowledge of the body is called ‘KSHETRA JNANA’. The person called Purusha could explore his body called ‘kshetra’ and acquire knowledge called ‘Kshetra Jnana’. So,  I had explored my body to find out if I have a soul and as to where it exists.  I can explore my body while I am alive. If I am dead, only a different living person may get the opportunity to explore my dead body, but he may not be able to discover the soul which may have already departed from the body. If soul exists in the cadaver, Cunningham would not have missed it, and we the diligent students dissecting human cadavers would not have missed it. By definition, soul does not exist in dead bodies. It has something to do with life and the characteristics of a living person or organism. With the intellectual insight I had gained by studying human anatomy, I can explore my living body without placing it on a dissection table.    

 

THE FUNCTIONAL UNITY OF MULTICELLULAR HUMAN ORGANISM :    

 

Humans are multicellular organisms. Who or what is the Subject who lives because of the functions of the trillions of cells? Multicellularity found in complex organisms like humans is accompanied by definite capabilities of cells for differentiation. The design of cells has been modified to serve specialized functions of tissues and organs. To achieve proper numerical balance between functionally related cell groups, the death of many cells is necessary for others to reach maturity. This programmed cell death plays an important role during embryological growth and development of human fetus. Waves of genetically driven cell deaths are critical to the proper modeling of organs, and organ systems. Such programmed cell death events are essential if the organism as a whole is to develop its normal final form by which its Identity as an Individual is established. The constituent cells of the organism do not display functional individuality while living as individuals. The cell in a complex organism is not truly an independently functioning unit. The cell exists and functions to achieve Unity of the Organism as a Whole. The one very important part of the environment of a cell is other cells. The Consciousness, the Awareness of individual cells in multicellular organism functions to achieve the Functional Unity of the Whole Organism. Consciousness brings Functional Unity by providing the abilities of recognition, association, and cooperation between all the cells of the multicellular organism. Multicellular organisms are characterized by the ‘Adaptive Subordination’ of the constituent cells to the requirements of the organism as a Whole. For example, mature Red Blood Cells or RBCs have no nuclei and they cannot divide or replicate. They are exclusively adapted to transport Oxygen and serve the whole human organism. The RBCs have short lives as individual cells. The human organism has a life span of its own. During the life time of a human person, RBCs live for short periods of time and are constantly replaced by new RBCs. Thus it may be stated that the purpose of Consciousness at cellular level is to foster Functional Unity of the multicellular organism and establish it as an Individual. If the term ‘Soul’ represents the Identity of this Individual, the Soul is a Functional Attribute of Consciousness at cellular level.  

  

 

Adaptive Subordination of Red Blood cells to the requirements of the whole Human Organism. The mature RBCs have no nuclei and they cannot divide. They are exclusively adapted to transport Oxygen and serve the Human Organism. During the life span of Human Organism, the RBCs live for short periods of time and are constantly replaced by new RBCs.

     

THE BIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF HUMAN SOUL :

Reticular Formation is shown as a single ‘red’ bar in this figure. It consists of numerous Brain Stem nuclei. It is a network of nerve pathways and nuclei throughout the Brain Stem. A single neuron in this network may have synapses/connections with as many as 25,000 other neurons/nerve cells.

                 

    

Capacity for consciousness is an upper Brain-Stem Function and the Content of consciousness is a Function of the Cerebral Cortex. The Reticular Formation which is located in the central Brain Stem helps to coordinate and integrate actions of different parts of the Central Nervous System such as regulation of muscle and reflex activity;central transmission and composition of sensory impulses; respiration; cardiovascular responses; behavioral arousal; and sleep.

              

I had explored my body called Kshetra. The Kshetra Jnana, or Knowledge of my body is as follows:
My soul is  represented by an anatomical structure described as Reticular Formation in the Brain Stem.  Just like my body is composed of trillions of individual cells which collectively represent and establish my physical identity in this world, my soul derives its existence and identity from trillions of these individual units or cells that comprise my body. My soul is actually a composite of trillions of units of consciousness of trillions of individual cells that comprise my human body. The Functional Unity in relation to Consciousness is achieved in the Reticular Formation, the site where Consciousness of the Whole human organism is composed and then is relayed to the Cerebral hemispheres. It is just like a picture or a photo which represents trillions of spots of varying degrees of light intensity or brightness. The term soul has to be defined as the manifestation of “Consciousness”. If there is no “Consciousness”, there is no soul. The existence of soul is witnessed by the presence of “Consciousness”. This biological characteristic described as “Consciousness” exists in every single living cell. If a living organism is made up of one single cell, it has a soul as manifested by its “Consciousness”. For the human person, when identified as an Individual, the anatomical location of his Soul is the Reticular Formation of the Brain Stem which receives input from the rest of the body and shapes the information and sends it to Thalamus and to Cortical Areas of the Brain which provide the awareness, the functional knowledge with which the human organism exists as a living entity. Man enjoys an existence characterized by Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility, as the Soul, or the Life Principle operates most of the vital functions of the complex organism without relaying all the information to the cortical areas where it would be then known to the Man who exists because of these vital functions. Thereby, Man is protected from a huge information overload that is not compatible with mental peace and equilibrium.

                      

“I AM CONSCIOUSNESS, THEREFORE I AM” :

 

DESCARTES, RENE (b. March 31, 1596, d. February 11, 1650 ), French Mathematician and Father of Modern Philosophy.

 

Could we extend scientific methodology of investigation into every field of inquiry? Could we find Truth, and Reality as an external experience? Is it possible to visualize Truth and Reality in the realm of Intuition and Conscience? Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher had suggested that man has to find his way to his pure nature, and this through feelings. Man’s duty is to look for his most deep interior feelings and follow them. Rene Descartes advanced a philosophy based on certitude. He sought to devise a method of inquiry for reaching the Truth. He proposed a method for guaranteeing Knowledge. He argued that in order to provide a secure foundation for Knowledge it was necessary to discover “clear and distinct ideas” that could not be doubted and could serve as a basis for deriving further truths. He found such an idea in the proposition “I think, therefore I am” ( “cogito, ergosum” ). Descartes stressed a world of metaphysical truths that could be discovered by pure reason. He had subjected his beliefs to a series of skeptical hypotheses. He had invoked skepticism as a means of reaching certainty. As per his conclusion, “I think, therefore I am” is beyond skeptical doubt.

                   

CARTESIAN PHILOSOPHY – THE VALUE OF “SYSTEMATIC DOUBT”   :

      

 
Human body is composed of cells and each of these cells is a conscious entity. Consciousness is a biological, cellular function which brings about Functional Unity of the Whole Organism. Cellular consciousness provides the abilities of recognition, association, and cooperation between cells. Cells are characterized by Adaptive Subordination to meet the requirements of the organism as a whole. Rene Descartes proposition to divide human body into two parts; a thinking part, and a mechanical part is incorrect.

                 

  I truly admire Descartes for adopting a strategy of withholding his belief from anything that was not entirely certain and indubitable. Skepticism is an attitude that rejects claims to certainty. Its basic philosophical contention is that the possibility of knowledge is limited by the limitations of the mind itself or by the inaccessibility of the object. Descartes is known as the Father of the Mind-Body Problem. He claimed that human beings are composites of two kinds of substances, mind and body. A mind is a conscious or thinking being, that is, it understands, wills, senses, and imagines. A body is a being extended in length, width, and breadth. He thought that minds are indivisible, whereas bodies are infinitely divisible. The “I” of the “I think, therefore I am” is the mind that he had claimed could exist without being extended, so that it can in principle survive the death of the body. Descartes argued that colors, sounds, tastes, heat, cold, and pain are merely sensations existing in mind/thought and that there is nothing in bodies that resembles the sensation. He thought that all complex functioning of living organisms including human bodies could be explained solely by mechanistic physics. He even denied that consciousness could be attributed to animals in order to explain their behavior. Descartes had influenced the whole course of philosophical enquiry. Using the same Cartesian Philosophy, I found Descartes proposition to be invalid and incorrect based upon my understanding of human body, mind, and consciousness. The proposition which I would use is, “I am Consciousness, therefore I am”. This clear, and distinct idea, which is beyond doubt would help me to discover man’s awareness of God or what I describe as the “GOD CONNECTION”. This “Connection” is the foundation for man’s existence in the natural world.       

Kindly also view a related blog post titled ‘A Squirrel Story to Explore Consciousness’.      

http://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/a-squirrel-story-to-explore-consciousness/      

 

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,      

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,      

M.B.B.S.,  Class  of  April,  1970.                  

 

Biographical Information :

1. Place of Birth : Mylapore, Madras City, Chenna Patnam, Chennai, Madras State, Tamil Nadu State, India. Born : Hindu(Brahmin-Niyogi,Smartha), Telugu-Speaking.

2. Date and Place of Marriage : January 29, 1973, Congregational Town Church, Cuddapah, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.

 

LORD KRISHNA IN THE HINDU SCRIPTURE OF BHAGAVAD GITA, Chapter 10, The Opulence of the Absolute, verse 22 claimed that “…in living beings I am Consciousness.” Similarly, in Chapter 7, verses 9 and 10, Lord Krishna claims that “I am the life of all that lives”, “I am the Original seed of all existences.”

        

WHOLE DUDE – WHOLE EXPLORATION

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Neural Correlates Of Consciousness
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A SQUIRREL’S CONSCIOUSNESS AND DISPLAY OF MATERNAL INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR LEADS ME TO EXPLORE CONSCIOUSNESS.     

IRATE MOTHER SQUIRREL ATTACKED A VISITING TEACHER ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS :     

The Ann Arbor News has reported this story about a mother squirrel’s angry attack. A 52-year-old Detroit Public School teacher was with a group of students touring the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Thursday, April 23. She had spotted some baby squirrels that were outside of their nest. The teacher had tried to alert the mother squirrel that was at a distance about a baby squirrel that was left behind. The mother squirrel could instantly recognize that the teacher was giving unwanted attention to her baby. The mother squirrel was instinctively aroused, turned on the teacher. The teacher tried to run away from the angry mother squirrel. She slipped and fell on the ground and injured her ankle. Seizing the opportunity, the mother squirrel bit the teacher on her leg. The teacher managed to escape and went to the Hospital Emergency for treatment.     

PARENTAL CARE IS AN INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR :     

Parental care is an aspect of social behavior exhibited by all animals. This is a complex unlearned or innate behavior that is influenced by heredity(genetic basis) as well as by experience. The study of behavior provides valuable information about relationships among animals. No animal is ever completely isolated from some kind of environment. Animals exhibit social behaviors and form parental societies to care for their offspring. This parental care/maternal instinctive behavior is highly organized amongst mammals. The young are part of the mother while growing inside the mother and are nourished before birth by the ‘placenta’ of the mother. After birth, the young still seek nourishment from the mother and suck or lap milk produced by the mammary glands of the mother. This ensures that there is a strong family association between mother and the offspring.     

BEHAVIOR AND CONSCIOUSNESS :     

The mother squirrel while displaying its maternal instinctive behavior has demonstrated that it is a ‘CONSCIOUS’ entity. Consciousness is defined as the state of being ‘conscious’ which has two components. 1. Being ‘conscious’ means being aware or recognizing the fact of one’s own existence. 2. Being ‘conscious’ also means being aware of our natural environment and it represents the state of knowing what goes on around one. Being conscious gives us the ability to interact with our environment and display an appropriate behavior. In higher animals this consciousness or awareness is also characterized by the presence of mental activity which includes an awareness of our own thoughts and emotions. A living entity is always conscious of its own existence. A living entity always exists in a state of consciousness. We identify a person as ‘UNCONSCIOUS‘ if the person is not spontaneously interacting with his environment. There are several medical conditions that alter and affect our state of consciousness. Several drugs and intoxicants such as alcohol and poisonous agents like carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide cause drowsiness, stupor, and various levels of semiconscious to deep unconsciousness. Consciousness is very important in evaluating people with head injuries and neurovascular accidents such as ‘stroke’. While a person is unconscious of his environment, he is still aware of his existence. This fact could be easily demonstrated by conducting tests. A living organism or a living cell responds when exposed to a stimulus. For example, an unconscious individual is evaluated by testing to see the response of the pupil of the eye which reacts by constriction of its size on exposure to a light beam.     

CONSCIOUSNESS AND SURVIVAL :     

An organism uses its awareness to survive in the environment. I could illustrate this by narrating my personal experience. While I was camping in the Himalayas, We were using the quarters left by the British while they ruled India. On a cold winter night, I was sleeping in a small room that was not heated, and the room had no fire-place or a chimney. However, I had used a coal burner to heat the room. The coal burns very slowly giving heat and it lasts for several hours and needs no attention. On that particular night, I did not recognize, the coal was of poor quality and it was not burning as expected and was giving away smoke. The door and the windows were shut, and the smoke started filling up the room. The smoke is lighter than the room air, and it slowly went up filling the room from top. While I was fully asleep in a dark room, unaware as to what was going on around me, I was suddenly alerted when I experienced ‘palpitation’, a consciousness of my heart’s rapid beating. I awoke, but still could not see the smoke in the dark room. I had evaluated my condition to understand my rapid heart rate. I was in good health and there was no reason to experience an increased heart rate. I had decided to investigate my problem and walked up to the door to turn the light switch on. The moment I had turned the light on, I could immediately see the smoke-filled room and the fresh, clear layer of room air was below my bed level. I immediately left the room to get fresh air from outside and saved my life. Many people are not that fortunate, and we read about entire families losing their lives while sleeping in rooms that are heated by improper burners. I was not conscious of what was going on around me while I was sleeping. However, my body was aware and conscious all the time. The chemical sensors in my body worked alright, they sent signals to my brain centers, which in turn sent signals to increase my heart rate to improve the oxygen delivery. It fortunately worked like an alarm for me. Very often, people become more drowsy, become fully unconscious, and lose life while asleep in smoke-filled rooms.     

THE SQUIRREL IN THE STORY OF RAMAYANA :     

 

Three striped Indian Palm Squirrel, a native of India, and Sri Lanka is mentioned in the epic poem of Ramayana. All living entities are conscious.

Just like the mother squirrel in Ann Arbor which demonstrated its consciousness, in the epic poem of ‘RAMAYANA’, the awareness and the behavioral response of a squirrel is described. The story narrates the construction of what is popularly known as “SETHU” or a bridge across the sea from the southern shores of Indian peninsula to the island of LANKA. The squirrel was apparently conscious of its environment. It had observed the activities of thousands of monkeys throwing stones to build the ‘ADAM’S BRIDGE’, and recognized the presence of LORD Rama who had initiated the effort to build the bridge. The squirrel had volunteered to help and in its behavior it showed attributes of devoted service. The abilities of the squirrel are very small and yet it won the favor of the LORD and is blessed. The LORD is pleased with the squirrel’s conscious efforts to offer devoted service.     

CONSCIOUSNESS AND ENERGY :       

 
In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains the nature of Human Existence. Consciousness gives the ability to seek and establish a connection between an energy seeker and an energy provider and both are Conscious entities.

The living human entity or man is known as “NARA” in the Sanskrit language, and the superior energy is personified and is known by the name “NARAYANA”. The poem of ‘BHAGAVAD GITA'( The Divine Song) narrates the dialogue between ‘Nara’ known as prince ARJUNA and ‘Narayana’ known as LORD KRISHNA. The LORD describes the relationship between the human soul( ATMA) and the divine soul( PARAMATMA). In Chapter 7 which is called ‘PARAMAHAMSA VIJNANA YOGA'( The Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth), verse 5 describes the ‘energy’ relationships. The material nature which is composed of sky, earth, air , water, and fire are constituted of ‘inferior energy’ of the LORD. The superior energy of the LORD is manifested as the embodied soul of all living entities. This superior energy of the LORD which is in the living entities gives the ability to the living entities to exist in the world by exploiting the inferior material energy from nature.     

THE ENERGY PROVIDER AND THE ENERGY SEEKER :     

 
 
What is Consciousness? Consciousness is not a simple psychological function. It is a mental experience of thoughts, moods, feelings, and emotions; a sense experience provided by organs of Special Sense and also other sensory input; a body experience of its state of existence like temperature, oxygenation of blood, and hydration; a cellular experience of its motion, nutrition, and other metabolic and physiological functions. The Composition of Consciousness, and the content of Consciousness includes both body, and mind.

Humans like other living entities supports his existence by deriving energy from the environment. Living cells obtain nutrients such as sugars and use oxygen in their metabolism to generate energy to carry out their vital biological functions. The primary source of energy of all living entities on planet Earth is derived from Sun. The Sun provides energy by burning its hydrogen fuel. It is reasonable to assume that Sun has derived its energy from a higher source of energy or “Higher Power”. This is evidenced by the observation of stars in various stages of their natural cycles of birth , and death. We can observe the birth of stars, the stars that are existing for a long time, the dying stars, the spectacular supernovas, and the dead stars like the white dwarfs, and the brown dwarfs. Human consciousness brings us the awareness and sustains the connection between the energy provider and the energy seeker. We manifest our existence with this unique ability to gain energy from the environment. Just like the squirrel in the story of Ramayana, if we use our awareness, we will become ‘CONSCIOUS’ of LORD’s presence whose superior energy we manifest.       

 

Can man know God? How does man acquire knowledge of God? Does man come into existence with this fully developed organ called brain? How does human embryo, a mere clump of cells with no brain establish an anatomical connection with a host whose physical identity in the real world is not known or experienced by the embryo seeking its own growth and development.

 

Belief in God - Is it a matter of Faith or is it a matter of Pure Reason? What can be known? How it can be known? How certain man could be about his intuition, sense experience, or deductive reasoning? Is there an acceptable method to know God? Consciousness of Innate Knowledge with which man exists in the natural world would provide information and knowledge about God Connection.

 

Please also view related blog post titled ‘I am consciousness, therefore I am’.  

http://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/i-am-consciousness-therefore-i-am/  

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,   

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,   

M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.

WHOLE DUDE – WHOLE CONDEMNED

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Jean-Paul Sartre (um 1950)
Image via Wikipedia

 

   

SARTRE, JEAN-PAUL(b. JUNE 21, 1905, PARIS – d. APRIL 15, 1980, PARIS) FRENCH NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, AND EXPONENT OF EXISTENTIALISM  

MAN IS BORN FREE :  

The Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 27:"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

The Christian idea of freedom is based in the concept of man as the image of God. The Holy Bible, The Old Testament, The First Book of Moses called Genesis in chapter 1, verse 26 says : Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”  

Man is a person because God is a person. The real sign of God as personal being is freedom. When God created man according to His image, He also gave over to him this mark of nobility i.e ., freedom.  

FREEDOM IS BASED ON KNOWLEDGE :  

German philosopher, Friedrich Hegel(1770-1831) viewed the whole of human history as a vast dialectical movement toward the realization of freedom. All of history is the progress of mind or spirit along a logically necessary path that leads to freedom. Human beings are manifestations of this universal mind, although at first they do not realize this. Freedom can not be achieved until human beings do realize it, and so feel at home in the universe. Hence, Hagel claimed that freedom is based on knowledge.  

THE RADICAL FREEDOM OF ” BEING AND NOTHINGNESS” :  

Existentialism is the popular name of a philosophical focus on human freedom, personal responsibility, and the importance of the individual’s need to make choices. Sartre’s book “Being and Nothingness”(1943) is considered to be one of the best philosophical work of the 20th century. Sartre’s central thesis is that humans are essentially free, free to choose( though Not free Not to choose) and free to negate the given features of the world. Sartre’s driving belief was in human freedom, the ability to choose not only a course of action but also what one would become. If man is truly free, the world, whether material or social, can place no constraints on him, not even to the extent of determining what would or would not be good reasons for following a given course of action.  

Sartre focused on the opposition between objective things and human consciousness. Human consciousness is a non-thing as its reality consists in standing back from things and taking a point of view on them. Because consciousness is a non-thing(Sartre’s “neant” literally means “nothingness”), it does not have any of the causal involvements that things have with other things. This means that consciousness and thus humans themselves are essentially free. Ironically, the freedom of human consciousness is experienced by humans as a burden. “Man is condemned to be free”.  

The existentialist emphasis on the ultimacy of human freedom continues to represent an essential ingredient of philosophical thinking.  

INDIAN TRADITION AND HUMAN FREEDOM  :  

 Who or what is the subject who lives because of the functions of trillions of cells that comprise the human organism? How to describe the identity of this individual who is truly a multicellular organism? While describing man’s identity, Indian Tradition points out the problem of Subjective-Objective dualism. The man who is born is the Subject and the man who is unborn is the Object. Indian thinkers had proposed that man is an embodied soul; the physical body experiences birth, growth, old age, sickness, and death while the soul is eternal, it is unborn and it never dies. Man as a subjective individual exists as a physical being, mental being, social being, moral being, and a spiritual being. The subjective reality of man’s physical or material existence is conditioned by his physical, mental, social, moral, and spiritual well-being. Man can seek to exist with a total sense of freedom in his thoughts but the thoughts exist while they are supported by a material being with a physical body and mind. The fact that the man is born binds him into a state of conditioned existence and the experience of freedom is a subjective experience. 

  

Ramayana narrates the life journey of Lord Rama as a mortal human being. Man is a physical being, a mental being, a social being, a moral being, and a spiritual being. Man can not express a sense of human freedom and he is not free to act as he pleases. All the central characters of the epic poem of Ramayana acted within the limitations imposed upon their existence by mental, social, moral, and spiritual factors. Hence, I would claim that Rama is not born FREE.

 

 In the epic poem of RAMAYANA, which describes the life journey of Prince Ramachandra of Ayodhya Kingdom, the Book of Ayodhya Kanda, chapters X IV to X VIII describe the anguish of King Dasaratha, the ruler of Ayodhya Kingdom. King Dasaratha was the father of Prince Ramachandra. He was in extreme agony as he had failed to act to express his natural affection to his son. The Emperor was tied down by the traditions of SATYA(Truth) and DHARMA(Right Conduct), was totally helpless and could not display any sense of freedom. King Dasaratha was a moral being and this identity of a moral being would not allow him the freedom to act as a social being and express love and affection to his son. King Dasaratha had ordered his son to live in a forest and then urged his son to disobey his order to fulfil his duty to show his sense of filial affection. Prince Ramachandra claimed that He was not free to act in disobedience of His father’s command and stated that He can not make any choice other than that of choosing a life in exile. Man who is experiencing the subjective reality of conditioned existence has no real freedom.  

This inexplicable and unexpected act that resulted in the banishment of Prince Ramachandra is described as a work of ‘FATE’. In Sanskrit literature, “DAIVAM” means fate. It conveys the sense of belief in God as the ‘PRIME CAUSE’. Since God is in control, man is not free to act as he pleases. Since man is tied down, he is born in shackles without freedom. The goal of man is to seek “RELEASE” which is described as “MUKTI” and the purpose of human life is described as “LIBERATION” which is named as “MOKSHA”.  

ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE  :  

Man describes as to who he is, his nature, and his essence, with the help of his thoughts, his intellect, his knowledge, his feelings, his sense of self-pride or self-ego, and his social status and social position. However, this essence is not the basis for man’s existence in nature. Man can not sustain his biological existence because of his essence. Man is not an independent entity. Man leads a dependent existence. The reality of man’s existence is a conditioned experience. Without this reality of conditioned state of existence, man can not describe his essence. Existence precedes essence. Existence is the prerequisite for essence to manifest. The essence is manifested by the being, the material body with mind, thoughts, intellect, knowledge, feelings, and self-pride or self-ego. This material being need to exist, and the state or condition of this physical existence is biologically manifested as alertness, wakefulness, awareness, and consciousness. Consciousness or Nothingness is the prerequisite for essence, and for the physical existence of the material Being. When consciousness departs, the essence also gets dissolved. If man enjoys a sense of freedom and expresses it as his essence, this freedom is subject to the reality of conditioned subjective existence. Man, and his essence is displayed if it is accompanied by Nothingness, the biological function called the capacity for consciousness. The contents of consciousness describe the nature of man’s essence. The contents of consciousness are known only when man has the capacity for consciousness. The anatomical structure that performs the function to provide the ability or the capacity for consciousness is in the Reticular Formation of the Brain Stem. Man is aware of his essence when the functions of his Brain Stem exist. Brain Stem functions in an autonomous manner and man is not truly free to govern the functions of his Brain Stem which is the prerequisite for his physical and mental being to maintain its living functions, the state and the condition called Living. 

THE OBJECTIVE REALITY OF MAN’S EXISTENCE  : 

In Chapter Four( Transcendental Knowledge ) of The Bhagavad Gita, in verse 6 Lord Krishna states that He is unborn and also in Chapter VII ( Knowledge of the Absolute ), in verse 24, He states "Unintelligent men, who do not know Me not, think that I have assumed this Form and Personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme."

 Indian Tradition suggests that the mind and body which represent the material human person is in reality an illusion named as ‘MAYA’. The real identity of man is described by an eternal and unchanging reality that is unborn and hence is not subject to birth or death. 

Please also view the page titled ‘I am Consciousness, therefore I am” 

http://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/i-am-consciousness-therefore-i-am/ 

Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,  

Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,  

M.B.B.S.,  Class of  April,  1970.