What is Life
SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – THE ART OF KNOWING :
When I write about Man as a Spiritual Being, the concern is not about glorifying people as saints. The issue is about man’s true or real nature. My theory of Spirituality is about “The Art of Knowing” that can provide tools to all people to know themselves in an objective manner. This is a simple challenge that can be accomplished without forcing people to attend Church or any other place of worship. The Art of Knowing does not involve what most people tend to recognize as spiritual practices such as Prayer, Meditation, Yoga, or Mysticism. The Art of Knowing simply involves training people to know what they know about others or about themselves. It must be noted that Life is essentially a state, a condition, or an act of knowing.
WHOLE INTUITION VS WHOLE MYSTICISM :
Henri Bergson, French philosopher, Professor at the College de France, was awarded the 1927 Nobel Prize in Literature. His famous works include Time and Free Will(1889) and The Creative Mind(1934). Bergson’s dualistic philosophy holds that the world contains two opposing tendencies, the life force and the resistance of matter against that life force. The individual knows matter through intellect but through intuition perceives the life force and the reality of time, which is not a unit of measurement but duration in terms of life experience. Bergson considered intuition to be the highest state of human knowing and held that mysticism is the perfection of intuition. Bergson emphasized the value of intuition in scientific thinking and argued that reality is beyond rational understanding. He formulated a Theory of Knowledge in which intuition plays a central role. He contended that the expansive and creative thrust of Life explained by Darwinian mechanism. Bergson claimed that ‘Evolution’ is creative and is not based upon mechanistic principles. For similar reasons, I shared my arguments to oppose Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. I formulated my theory of ‘The Law of Creation and Individuality’ for all known living things primarily exist as Individuals with Individuality and they have no choice other than that of existing as Individuals. In this article, I would like to recognize knowing as a basic cognitive function and this biological characteristic can be attributed to a popular term called ‘Spirit’ or ‘Soul’. In this context, I would like to interpret Bergson’s views about Knowing, Intuition, Mysticism, and the Reality of Time.
Intuition provides immediate understanding and it describes the ability to perceive or know things without conscious reasoning. Intuition is about direct knowing or learning of something without using the faculties of mind such as Intellect. The doctrine of Intuitionism claims that things and principles are truly apprehended by Intuition. The doctrine called Ethics describes that fundamental moral principles or the rightness of acts is apprehended by Intuition. In Biology, I would like to use the term Intuition to things apprehended by ‘Innate Knowledge’, the Knowledge that is inherent and not acquired, the Knowledge that is implanted in the Substance or Material called Living Matter. Plants know Light not because of intellectual ability but on account of an innate ability or intuitive power.
To learn the Art of Knowing, man has to know that the physiological basis for existence is dependent upon Innate Knowledge with which the human organism recognizes matter( such as molecules of Oxygen, or energy-yielding molecules of food substances) and further exploits matter and energy to support and maintain its living functions. To the same extent, the human organism defends its own existence by recognizing the molecules as Self or Non-Self. The immune defense mechanisms that the human body uses to recognize viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other foreign antigens involve the recognition of molecules.
What is the Mystery of Life ??? Can Mysticism help to know the hidden truths about Life ??? Mysticism is the doctrine about knowing reality through intense contemplation and other secret practices that involve mental concentration. Mysticism is found in several religions of the world. The criteria and conditions for mystical experience vary depending on the cultural traditions, but there are three common attributes of Mysticism : 1. The experience is immediate and overwhelming, divorced from the common experience of reality, 2. The experience or the knowledge imparted by it is self-authenticating, without need of further evidence or justification, and 3. The experience is ineffable, its essence incapable of being expressed or understood outside the experience itself. The focus of Mysticism is not about the physical reality called existence but it is about a direct and immediate experience of the sacred, or the knowledge derived from such an experience. Mysticism is about the practices of those who are initiated into the mysteries, the practice of putting oneself into direct relation with God, the Absolute or any Unifying Principle of Life. Mystics believe that it is possible to achieve communion with God through their mystic practices. There are two general tendencies in the practice of Mysticism; 1. To regard God as outside the ‘Soul’ which rises to God by successive stages, and 2. To regard God as dwelling within the ‘Soul’ to be found by delving deeper into one’s own reality. Mysticism is extended to Magic, Occultism, and the Esoteric. Magic may involve the use of charms, spells, and rituals in seeking or pretending to cause or control events or govern certain natural and supernatural forces. Occultism is about hidden, concealed, and secret information that could be beyond human understanding. The Esoteric is about confidential, private, or withheld information that is intended for or understood by only a chosen few and as such the knowledge or information is beyond the understanding of most people. The rituals of Mysticism include meditation, prayer, and a variety of ascetic disciplines. If Mysticism is about Knowing the Secrets of Life, it does not demand the learning of Human Anatomy or Human Physiology, or any of the principles of Biology.
Bergson claimed that the Reality of Time is not a Unit of Measurement but duration in terms of life experience. How does the human organism knows about its own lifetime??? The human organism experiences the Aging Phenomenon which is related to man’s perception of Time. How is Time controlling or operating life experience ??? The physical reality called existence is controlled, is operated, or is directly influenced by events in man’s external environment, and the most important change in the environment is the alternating periods of light and darkness called Day and Night.
Bergson may have used the term life force to describe the vital, animating Principle called Spirit or Soul. In my view, Soul is an animating Principle for it is fundamentally related to the functional ability called Knowing. Soul is a vital Principle for it is fundamentally related to the functional ability called Nutrition, the power of a living organism to exploit matter found in its external environment. The functional attributes of Soul are related to Knowledge that is inherent or Innate and not acquired as learned experience. Soul describes man’s intuitive ability to know the fact of his own existence in a given environment and to maintain that existence while experiencing the aging process under the external influence called Time.
While writing about The Art of Knowing, I would like to remind my readers that certain things could be hidden from the human perception and man has no ability to know things even if he knows the reality of those things. Blaise Pascal, the French scientist who founded the modern Theory of Probability had claimed : “Man is a nothing in comparison with the Infinite, an All in comparison with the Nothing, a mean between Nothing and Everything. Since he is infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their beginnings are hopelessly hidden from him in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable of seeing the Nothing from which he was made, and the Infinite in which he swallowed up.”
Which came first, the Chick or the Egg ??? Spirituality Science is not about knowing the Beginning or the Ending of things. Spirituality is about things that exist in the ‘Present’. The Physical Reality of Man’s Subjective and Objective experience of his lifetime is a functional attribute of Soul or Spirit which gives Man the cognitive ability called Knowing . If Devotion is used as a scientific method of Inquiry, ‘The Art of Knowing’ is about Knowing Man as a Spiritual Being.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
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.
WHAT IS FOOD?
Food is a substance eaten for nourishment. Food serves functions other than nutrition. Food plays a vital role in the development, and the maintenance of social interactions, social relationships, and is the fundamental basis for man’s spiritual relationship with a source of energy and its provider which sustains life and existence.
Food describes any substance which a living organism can convert into energy and new tissue using the process of metabolism. The body fluids surrounding each cell are the immediate source of nutrients. The nutrients supplied by food are either used as building blocks in synthesizing large molecules or they are oxidized producing a form of energy that is further used for powering the activities of the cell. To maintain life, an organism not only repairs or replaces( or both ) its structures by a constant supply of the materials of which it is composed but also keeps its life processes in operation by a steady supply of energy. Living systems must be supplied energy for continual synthesis of new organic molecules and to replace or to repair broken organic molecules. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology, Dean of the Harvard Medical School( 1847 to 1882 ) had defined life; “To live is to function; and that is all there is in living.” At cellular level, the living functions include uptake and conversion of nutrients, synthesis of new molecules, production of energy, and regulation and coordination of metabolic sequences.
The processes of synthesis and breakdown of the organic molecules of the cell are termed metabolism. Metabolism is divided into two categories; 1. Anabolism- it describes the processes of maintenance and growth, and 2. Catabolism- it describes the processes of energy production. The Living Cell depends on a virtually uninterrupted supply of materials for its metabolism. The Living Cell is a thermodynamically unstable system. This means that without a continuous input of energy, a Cell will degrade spontaneously into a nonliving collection of molecules. Food supplies organic molecules and other substances as nourishment to sustain life. Life is characterized by the presence of complex transformation of organic molecules and by the organization of such molecules into successively larger units of protoplasm, cells, organs, and tissues.
WHAT IS NUTRITION?
All the tissues and organs of which the human body is composed, consists of building blocks called Cells. Each Living Cell contains soft, gelatinous, semi-fluid, viscous, clear or translucent, colloidal living substance or matter called Protoplasm or Cytoplasm or Cytosol. A most striking characteristic of protoplasm is its vital property of ‘Nutrition’. Nutrition is described as the ‘power’ which protoplasm has of attracting to itself the materials that provide the energy, and the substances for its growth and maintenance from surrounding matter/environment. Nutrition, as a biological function and activity, is the evidence for the operation of Consciousness at cellular level. The Living Cell is conscious or aware of its own existence in its given environment, it is conscious or aware of its energy dependent state of internal condition, and consciously uses its power of nutrition to attract substances from its immediate environment. The Living Cell displays its living functions while it exists as a conscious entity. The Cell Death is characterized by the absence of the power of nutrition, and in the absence of energy input or food intake, the Cell dies. Consciousness and Food are related to each other. Consciousness gives the power of attracting Food and Food provides the ability to live with Consciousness which is the most important characteristic of life. The human organism exists because of the functions of the trillions of cells. The purpose of consciousness is to foster functional unity of the multicellular organism and establish it as an individual. This conscious individual experiences hunger, and thirst which provide the drive or motivation to initiate his feeding behavior. Each individual cell uses its own power of Nutrition to attract the nutrients from the body fluids that are present in its immediate environment. Certain metabolic disorders and conditions like Diabetes are associated with problems of food intake at cellular level. The man may feed himself, and nutrients like glucose accumulate in the blood stream and fail to provide the nourishment needed by the cells. Similarly, there are several mental diseases that are associated with a variety of eating disorders, and bizarre disturbances of appetite, taste, and food preference.
The Biological Membrane or the Plasma Membrane separates the living cell from its environment and from other cells. It helps to maintain a constant ‘milieu’ in which intracellular reactions occur. The Plasma Membrane allows a highly controlled exchange of matter across the barrier it poses; some compounds are able to pass through the Membrane easily, others are completely blocked. Food must provide adequate amounts of all chemical elements needed by the Cells. Of the approximately 35 elements known to occur in cells, four( Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen ) make up about 95 percent of the cell weight. Nine elements( Calcium, Phosphorus, Chlorine, Sulfur, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Iodine, and iron ) contribute about 4 percent of the cell weight. The remaining 20+ elements together constitute less than 1 percent of cell weight and are called trace elements because they occur in minute quantities. However, many such as Copper, and Zinc fulfil vital functions. Animal cells do not have the ability to synthesize certain complex organic molecules from simple inorganic compounds. Certain large organic molecules that serve as building blocks that must be supplied by food are known as essential dietary components. They include Vitamins, Essential Amino Acids, and Essential Fatty Acids. Man has restricted synthetic powers as compared to the bacteria and hence needs greater number of essential foodstuffs. Man derives energy solely from the breakdown of complex organic molecules, mainly Carbohydrates and Fats. Fuel for the maintenance of life comes from other living organisms or their products. Human life ultimately depends on the existence of green plants that can use inorganic source of energy such as Solar radiation. Terrestrial life depends upon an extraterrestrial source of Energy. All terrestrial organisms live as energy dependent entities and live by establishing a relationship with a source of energy.
FOOD AND ENERGY – THE ‘GOD-CONNECTION’ :
Man exists because of a “Connection.” In nature, man exists as an energy seeker or heterotroph. Human existence becomes possible only when man is connected to an energy provider. This biological connection to a source of energy is made possible when biological information is implanted in the single cell which begins its journey to grow and develop into a new organism. If Sun is viewed as a source of energy for all life on this planet, man is not directly connected to that source of energy. Man exists as a multicellular organism and each cell derives its energy from powerhouses called mitochondria; the intracellular membrane bound organelles found in all living cells.
The mitochondria have the necessary biological information to transform oxidative energy into a form of chemical energy that the cell could further use for its living functions. In nature, man obtains food from other organisms. Only the green-celled plants known as autotrophs can directly convert light energy into chemical energy that they can further use.
Man is connected to these Chloroplasts of green plant cells that have the ability to trap Sun’s light energy. Sun’s energy is an extraterrestrial source of energy and it is provided to man by the intervention of Chloroplasts and the Mitochondria which man had directly acquired from his mother’s egg cell. These biological mechanisms are put in place and they operate outside the intellectual or physical abilities of man. In my blog post titled, ‘The Divine Mother of Life, Energy, and Knowledge, I have described the mother as the source of life and energy. Kindly read that post using the hyperlink :
FOOD AND SOCIAL BONDING :
Apart from nutrition, man consumes food for psychological satisfaction or to derive a sense of emotional contentment, and for the benefit of other individuals. A pregnant woman consumes food to provide a direct benefit to the baby growing in her womb. This placental connection between mother and her fetus establishes an anatomical relationship and a social relationship and social bonding between the two both during the duration of pregnancy and after the delivery of the baby. Man’s feeding behavior and feeding activities are influenced by social, and external environmental factors. Both, the timing of feeding, and the choice of food are affected by social facilitation. Food-directed activities in social situations demonstrate the ability of food to establish connection between food provider and the food consumer. Hunger and Satiety operate the physiological mechanisms related to food intake. The psychological, and emotional contentment derived from food is related to Social Bonding and Social Relationships that are fostered by Food. I describe spirituality as a relationship based upon sympathy, understanding, affection, feelings of care and Love. Food has the intrinsic ability to nurture a spiritual relationship between the provider of the food and its consumer. There is also a direct emotional relationship between man and the food he consumes. The causes for excessive or overeating are not yet fully understood. Overeating could be a symptom of boredom or emotional frustration. For many persons who indulge in overeating, the craving to eat is very strong and is similar to the craving for alcohol in the alcoholic and for a cigarette in a person addicted to tobacco smoke. The physiological mechanisms of hunger and thirst cannot fully account for the feeding behavior of man. Just like lust, and greed, man has psychological desire or craving for food and develops an intimate relationship with the food and drink he consumes. However, man can always express his craving for food in a spiritual context and seek the satisfaction provided by knowing the nature of God-Connection.
FOOD AND THE COVENANT OF SALT FOREVER :
Salt is universally used as a seasoning and as a preservative of food. Salt enjoys a special status among all food substances that man consumes. The status of salt as a life-giving and life-sustaining substance is well-founded. The intimate connection of salt with the idea of a “COVENANT” or binding relationship between man and God, and between man and man is recognized in all human cultures. The idea of “a covenant of salt forever” is found in The Fourth Book of Moses, The Old Testament Book of Numbers, Chapter 18, verse 19: “It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.” Similarly, The Third Book of Moses, The Old Testament Book of Leviticus, Chapter 2, verse 13 reads: “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings, add salt to all your offerings.” The special status enjoyed by salt is reflected in the phrases popularly used in the languages of different people; “Untrue to Salt”( Persian ), “Trespass not against the Salt”( Greek ), “There is Salt between Us”( Arabic ), “Injury or Harm to Salt”( “Namaq or Namak Haraam” – Indian ). Jesus had very effectively communicated the relationship between the status of salt and the nature of man. The nature of man is understood in terms of his behavior, character, and conduct. It is expected of man to display respect, faithfulness, and loyalty in his relationship with other persons where the relationship is established by the covenant of salt. Jesus had directly instructed people to reject any person who has lost the fundamental characteristics of character and integrity and had stated His view by comparing man to salt. By accepting food, by consuming food, and by deriving nourishment and sustenance from food, man has established a binding relationship forever with his food provider.
FOOD AND GOD :
Jesus Christ has described Himself as the Spiritual Food of man. In the Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 6, verse 35, Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Further, the Book of John, Chapter 6, verse 48 also reveals the purpose of Jesus, “I am the bread of life. I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” Virtually all Christian Churches celebrate the practice of Communion such as Mass, Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper in some form or the other. The First Epistle of Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 10, verse 31 instructs, “so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Apart from the satisfaction of hunger and thirst, man uses food and drink to derive a psychological satisfaction by establishing a spiritual connection with God who is the ultimate Food Provider.
In all religious traditions and cultures of this world, food is associated with God. Food is used in the ritualistic worship of God, food is offered to God, and food is consumed in the name of God. Most religious festivals involve the use of food in celebration of God’s Mercy, Grace and Compassion. Food is traditionally used as the medium for fomenting a spiritual relationship with God.
FOOD AND GOD IN INDIAN TRADITION :
The Indian tradition describes Food and Drink as God and man the consumer of Food and Drink is also God. Man must view food as a spiritual substance; spiritual nourishment provided by the LORD God, the Creator and that attitude towards food would provide nutrition, psychological satisfaction, and social bonding which is complete and wholesome. The creation of Earth, and the Status of Man in nature are fundamental attributes of the Divine Being and His Divine Powers. The physical, mental, and social well-being of man is nourished by food that establishes man’s spiritual relationship with food and the food provider.
- The Science of Consciousness (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)
- Life and Death – a Changing World and Unchanging Reality (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)
This blog post is dedicated to Goddess Sarasvati, the Goddess of Pure Knowledge and Perfect Wisdom :
WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE ?
Knowledge is defined as the act, fact, or state of knowing a range of information. The act of knowing requires knowledge or information relevant to a particular act. The state of knowing describes the condition that characterizes an object in which such knowledge or information exists. If knowledge is defined as a fact of knowing some information, it describes a clear perception, or understanding, or awareness, or cognizance of information that pertains to that fact. Knowledge can only exist, can only be found in an object which has the abilities of perception, understanding, awareness, or cognition. In other words, knowledge is an attribute of the act, fact, or state of living. A living object is the seat of knowledge and the presence of knowledge could be verified or detected in any of the actions or activities of that living matter. The act of living requires a state or condition of knowing information relevant to sustaining life’s functions.
In common usage, the word knowledge is used to describe all that has been perceived or grasped by the human brain or mind. The learning, the body of facts, principles, etc., accumulated by man is stated as his knowledge. The state of knowing becomes evident only when knowledge is transformed into action. Man displays knowledge in the use of his hands and feet in the performance of his actions. Man can communicate his knowledge in his speech, in his writings, and in his use of a variety of tools, instruments, gadgets, and machines. If human brain, or mind is viewed as the seat of knowledge, hands and feet, or the muscles used in vocalization are the sites where knowledge is transformed into action. Knowledge involves receiving / storing information at one site and using that information in the performance of an action at a different site. The ability and the quality of a man’s function reflects upon his state of knowledge relative to that function. Knowledge is verified during its application to perform a function. This concept or understanding about knowledge in action could also be used in the context of describing functions at cellular level.
While information can be found in books, in writings, in speech/ speech recordings, and etc., it should not be described as knowledge. A robotic, mechanical arm could perform tasks with great precision while it has no knowledge of its own. Knowledge, awareness and ability to use information exists only as an attribute of life or as an act of living.
WHAT IS LIFE ? LIFE IS KNOWLEDGE IN ACTION :
Life is described as a state of an organism characterized by certain processes or abilities that include metabolism, nutrition, growth, motion, replication, reproduction, responsiveness to stimuli, and awareness of its own condition of existence or living in an environment. The act of living could be stated by describing the functions that characterize life. Functions depend upon use of information; the information that is stored at a particular site or location is transferred to a different site or location where it is transformed into action which constitutes the nature of functioning. Life is always associated with its living functions and these functions depend upon the use of energy. If Nucleus is viewed as the Seat of Knowledge of a Living Cell, it communicates its Knowledge to another Cell Structure known as Ribosome which is the Site of Action for the Knowledge transferred from the Nucleus. The Ribosome performs its action of Protein Synthesis drawing Energy provided by another Cell Structure known as Mitochondrion. So also the human brain provides information and sends signals to muscles to perform actions. Muscle cells perform actions drawing Energy from Mitochondria of their Cells. This process called Living depends upon the use of Energy. If Life is a manifestation of an Energy or Life Force, Life could be defined as Knowing the Connection between ‘energy-Seeker'( or energy-demanding molecules ) and an ‘Energy-Provider’ or Source of Energy( or energy-yielding molecules ). Life and its functions are the evidence of its State of Knowledge. Hence, Life could be defined as “Knowledge in Action.” Life comes into existence or into a state called Living, and Life begins with the establishment of Knowledge in an object or matter that gains the identity of a Living Organism.
Please also view a related blog post titled ‘Defining Indian Identity – The Pursuit of Pure and Perfect Knowledge.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Ex Personal Number MS-8466. Rank. Captain, AMC/SSC
Medical Officer, South Column Unit, Operation Eagle(1971-72)
Headquarters Establishment No. 22 C/O 56 APO.
Biographical Information :
1. Place of Birth : MYLAPORE, Madras City, Chenna Patnam, Chennai, Madras State, Tamil Nadu, India. Born Hindu( Brahmin, Niyogi, Smartha ), Telugu-Speaking.
2. Date and Place of Marriage : 29 January, 1973. Congregational Town Church, Cuddapah City, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
- Operation Eagle – Gallantry Award (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)
- Operation Eagle 1971 and Vietnam War (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)
- Operation Eagle – Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)
- The Battle Plan of Operation Eagle – Permission for Disclosure (bhavanajagat.wordpress.com)
- Spiritualism – the Truth About Soul or Spirit (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism and Entropy (bhavanajagat.com)
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 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.
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 :
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”
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.