What is life?

   The apex of evolved life on our Earth is manifested in human being and its bottom – the least evolved and primitive form – is found in virus. At the lowest rung of life-ladder, these microscopic organisms are sometimes found existing and thriving in the extreme climate and difficult conditions.  They are also found in human body. Sometimes disease-causing bacteria get entry through infection into human body. To kill them, doctors fill human body with bacteria-killing drugs – antibiotics – in sufficient quantity and for sufficient duration. If the quantity or the duration is not sufficient enough to kill them completely, then bacteria mutate their genetic life-code to evolve themselves  – sometimes even in hours – into a new form of life to become drug-resistant. What it takes millions of years for higher life-species like human beings or monkeys to mutate their life-code to evolve themselves in new forms to overcome Nature’s hurdles on the path of life,  only days or even hours are taken at the virus or bacteria level.

  Life’s properties at the apex and the bottom are essentially the same. In the kingdom of life man and bacteria share the common basic properties. We know that life has the tendency and capacity to meet and overcome the challenges to its forward movement. We also discover this rule of the forward movement (that is seen) in the Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest. The rule of forward movement is nothing but the process of mutation aimed at – not the evolution of the best form of life but – surmounting the difficult conditions that put hurdles in its continuing existence in the present form. Life, difficulties posed to this life, this life’s tendency to overcome such difficulties by way of bringing a change to make itself more efficient (or better) is the device for achieving a forward movement of life.

  In understanding life, the real question is not how, but why, life does so. How do we explain the life’s this basic urge to go ahead, to sense the hurdle, to find the way to surmount the hurdle, to find a forward direction and to evolve into new form? Why does life have the tendency to overcome the difficulty on its path?

  To understand this amazing property of life, let us take another phenomenon of Nature. Rivers flow from higher to lower level of ground. If you put boulders in the way of its flow, the water gets collected in sufficient quantity to break the barrier created by these boulders. We may plainly discover the rule (the work of gravity) explaining how the water does so. This rule – action of gravity – explains not only ‘how’ but also’why’ the water-flow does so.  Today we know that this is all done so due to the universal force of gravity that pulls water from the higher to the lower level of ground, that is, towards the center of gravity located within the center of earth. If you put a boulder sufficiently high in the course of river’s water-flow, the flow gets stopped. But that does not mean that there is no force of gravity acting on it or there is no natural tendency of water to flow from the higher to the lower level. We also know today that there is potential (gravitational) energy stored in the accumulated water at the higher level of ground. If we weaken the boulder that is put in the path of flowing water or add some more quantity of water to the already stored pool, the force of gravity would increase and overcome the barrier of boulder and the choked water would again start flowing towards the lower level. Today we know not only how but also why water flows from the higher to the lower level of ground.

  We also know that mountains, high-rise buildings, stones put on the ground all have potential gravitational energy or tendency to fall to the center of gravity within the Earth and the moment we remove the intervening barriers between these objects and the acting force, all these objects would fall towards their center of gravity.

  We also know that all planets of our solar system – including our Earth – and all solar systems within our galaxy have the potential (gravitational) energy stored in them that has the tendency to fall towards their respective centers of gravity – all planets towards our sun and all solar systems towards the center of our Milky Way galaxy – that is, its Black Hole.

  But they all do not fall towards their respective centers of gravity because there is an intervening barrier of (elliptical motion’s) centrifugal force that stops them from crashing into their respective centers of gravity.

  As we all know, Black Hole is formed by the process of collapsing of the super dense matter it is made of into itself under the force of its own gravity. It has super gravitational force and acts on the surrounding galaxies by pulling them towards its center of gravity and the galaxies do not fall into it because they are kept from collapsing by the centrifugal force of their elliptical motion.

  Every particle in the universe has potential energy stored in it that tends to act on it in a certain direction but this direction-oriented tendency is obstructed from happening by natural barriers. The moment the potential energy stored in an object exceeds the counterbalancing force and the barrier is overcome by it, it starts moving towards its destination – planets towards stars and stars towards Black Hole.

  Let us look at the universal natural forces. There is a scientific dream of understanding the grand unified force acting in the universe. Einstein proposed that all the known forces – gravity, electromagnetic, two nuclear forces – are in fact only the one force manifesting differently under different conditions. Today some of these forces have been unified by understanding their inter relations but the dream of final grand single unified force is yet not achieved. It may be achieved tomorrow.

  How these natural phenomena are relevant in understanding the life and its emergence out of matter?

  All these natural phenomena prompt us to think of life as some form of energy – a force – and to visualize it as stored in some potential form in matter all around us. Undoubtedly, life is energy. In the cycle of energy transformation, the life gets its power-supply through food and from Sun (in the ultimate analysis). But there is no equal balancing of the energy-input and the energy-output in the case of life. Life has ‘Will’ that is an additional quantity of (potential) energy on the side of output in the equation of the equivalence of input and output of energy.

  It is possible for mind today to conceive that there is life stored in the potential form in every particle of matter in the universe but some counterbalancing barrier stops its emergence or manifestation; and further, it is possible to conceive that the moment this counterbalancing barrier is removed or overcome under certain conditions, the life starts its forward movement towards its natural destination. Wherever and whenever, this barrier is removed (by whatever means and for whatever reason) the life comes out of its potential state and starts moving towards its natural destination, towards its center of gravity – that is not actually the gravity but in the context acts like gravity pushing all life-forms towards their center of gravity, which forward movement we see as evolution of life.

  Then, further it is also possible to conceive that this just released life-energy has the tendency to march – because now it is not blind movement of matter but conscious march  of life – towards her center of gravity, or better still, towards her destiny!

  As we just said, in our mental model the center of gravity is a symbol of equivalence of energy and has nothing to do with the natural – or real – force of gravity. Likewise, neither is this conceptualized stored potential life-energy in matter an amount of stored force of gravity. It is something qualitatively different, of a different dimension, a different reality; but reality nonetheless! We must admit that life is a force in the real sense of this word. This conceptualized center of gravity of the life force is yet to be discovered, detected and harnessed by modern science for our use and benefit!

  Moreover, it is also possible for human mind to conceive that such a center of life-gravity or life’s destination is nothing but part and parcel of the grand unified universal force, and that the same is felt differently in different circumstances, including as life (as we know it as existing in this material world on Earth) under certain conditions.

  Further more, what is required logically is to bestow on this conceptualized ‘center of gravity of the universal energy’ the property of consciousness. It does not seem illogical, at least today. This approach in understanding life also makes it probable that life may exist in abundant amount extra-terrestrially in this universe wherever barriers for life-emergence have been removed by making available the congenial conditions for such emergence!

  With the help of this model (of understanding life), it is also possible that we can create life in laboratory by providing conditions suitable for the emergence of life.

  Let modern science, a discipline of knowledge dependent on the tool of mind, make its toils and take its time to discover this secret of life in its own favorite way.

  Man is exploring the universe. He is able to get out of Earth and travel extraterrestrial places. He has touched moon with his hands and peeped into the interiors of universe. Everywhere man has found compounds made of atoms and atoms made of atomic particles. Basically, it is search of physical world and this physical world, so far as he has been able to know, is infinite.

  However, he is not going beyond material world in his search. He has no tools to go beyond material world. He is not capable with his mind to go beyond matter. Nature has set a limit to the capacity of human mind, as his mind is not the supreme tool produced by her. And, Nature has not yet finished her task of producing still better tools of knowledge and she is still at her work of evolution.

  When our mind – and science dependent on this mind – progresses sufficiently, we would come to know that beyond physical world, there are other worlds also and that men of intelligence – no lesser than our modern scientists – have since ages had known the the existence of some of these extra physical worlds and had made valiant efforts to study them.

  Even our scientists know that behind atomic particles, there is a world of subatomic particles or waves and this world must be having its own shape, rules and place in the scheme of things. Also there is a gravitational world behind all material particles that must be having its own symmetrical structure and rules in the universal scheme.

  We know that water is a compound of Hydrogen and Oxygen but it is basically different from these two gases. You look at the snowy mountains and compare them with Hydrogen and Oxygen, and you find that they are qualitatively different from each other, though ice is made of these two gases. There is a barrier of quality between the two. One can never experience the reality of ice, by simply having these two gases. Though we know that ice is but a compound of these two gases, these two gases are in themselves nothing but a certain atomic structure of atomic particles. And though these atomic particles are likewise a definite structure of subatomic particles or waves, yet ice, gases, atoms and subatomic particles or waves exist with their separate individual identities and rules.

  One can go deep down into the micro world and find independent structures in hierarchy ad infinitum. There is a barrier of quality difference between any two of levels of this hierarchy. Likewise, one can go out in the macro world and find similar independent structural hierarchy ad infinitum.

  Once some scientists thought that with the discovery of atomic particles, the physics will see its end and there will be left nothing more to discover in the material science for scientists. But Nature is not that simple. The beauty of Nature is its mystery. It is endless, in structure, in quality and in operation.

  It is not only the material plane but also the planes that are beyond it that can be descended into by man by suitable means, and they too are ad infinitum. Though none of them is primary, all have their independent identities and rules.

 Can we countenance the idea that there is a world of desires and impulses that is also real with its individual shape, quality and rules? Can we countenance the idea that also there is a world of thoughts with similar attributes? Can we countenance the idea that, then, there are many more worlds in the scheme of creation? No, we cannot suffer such ideas, not yet! Let the science toil and let us wait.

Eastern wisdom accepts the existence of these subtle worlds and its leading lights, like Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus Christ, Milarepa, Nizammuddin, Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo and countless many others, vouchsafe the truth of these worlds on the basis of their personal experiences, experiences that were validated by objective and verifiable results predicted in advance. These experiences of them were not subjective feelings that had no objective foundations. There are persons living on Earth even today, as ever, who live these experiences and prove their objective correctness by predicting future events. And, our science does not dare to confront them! Instead of confronting them, scientists simply dismiss them as being impossible.

  We live at three planes, or, we are conscious at three planes. These planes of consciousness are neither the inherent properties nor the bye-products of our biological life. However, for action of the consciousness at these planes in our material world, generally, it needs a physical body.

  • Firstly, at the lowest level, at the threshold of life, we ‘feel and sense’ our living existence. It is the world of consciousness at the gross physical level, the most elementary level of living being. It is the base of the pyramid of human structure and is formed of ‘sensations’ that may be occasioned by the end result of our pursuit of desires and thoughts or, by innocuous natural happenings to the physical body.

  • The second one is that of ‘our’ desires. This world is composed of cravings and impulses. A beauty inherent in the desires and cravings – ranging from love to hate and attachment to revulsion – provides this world its own rhythm.

  • The third plane is that of ‘our’ thoughts. It is a world of mind and its reason, and is composed of symmetry. It provides a congruity in the material world around us and creates a beauty and rhythm of logic,

   Who am ‘I’? The ‘I’ is the ever-shifting bundle of thoughts, desires and sensations. This ‘I’ remains in perpetual flex. Like a kaleidoscope, our ‘I’ is an ever-shifting illusion shaped by ‘our’ thoughts, desires and feelings, and this illusion lasts all our life span, till the death. That is ‘I’ and that is how we spend our life.

  With birth, man gets his physical body that develops over time by absorbing material nutrients from surrounding Nature. But, by indulging in desires, man absorbs these desires and forms an inner subtle body – body constituted of desires. Not only this, likewise, he, by dealing in thoughts, absorbs them and forms an inner subtle body – body composed of thoughts. These three subtle bodies – physical, vital and mental – sustain Para psychological human being from within, like a house is supported from within by a steel structure.

  At his death, man’s physical body disintegrates into its constitutional elements that are absorbed back by Nature for re-cycling. Some time after death, his three subtle bodies, too, are released into (or migrate to, which is the same thing) independently existing subtle worlds that are regulated by their own laws.

   After living their respective lives there for some time, these subtle bodies (or subtle beings) also die and disintegrate into their respective constituent elements and absorbed back by Nature for re-cycling. The ‘I’ that we know, being an illusion of something else, also disappears leaving no trace of its former egoistic existence. There are many cases of rebirth of persons belonging to all the religions and all the countries that have been carefully studied by persons with scientific training. To a scientific mind there is no scope to doubt the veracity of at least some of them.

We may remind the reader that here in this series of write-ups under Vision Document, we are dealing with the origin of life, and the history and future of mankind on Earth. It is a coherent story of cosmic evolution, which offers a logical explanation of the past, casts an obligation in the present on us to conduct ourselves with responsibility and provides an insight into    the future. This write-up is only a piece of the whole jigsaw and you are encouraged to read and understand the whole.

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