November 29, 2023

Human Being – A material organism or a grand ensemble of emotions?

Physically, man appears to be a moving structure of bones, flesh and blood.The modern scientific convictions and rational thinking based on perceivable realities also affirm it to be an organism evolved from specific combinations of different kinds of bio- chemicals. According to Darwinian Theory of Evolution, along with the formation of the earth there appeared certain chemicals by whose combination and reactions something like a living cell was produced, which eventually gave rise to the unicellular creatures like Amoeba. Many experiments were conducted to test the validity of this hypothesis. 

An American scientist named Stanley Miller had designed an experiment in which the conditions similar to what might have been the environment in the primordial days of the earth were created in the laboratory. At specific pressure and temperature, certain gaseous combinations of Ammonia, Methane, etc produced some amino acids in high electrical fields.

As amino acids are the building blocks of proteins the vital constituents of most organisms including the humans, the experiments of this kind supported the hypothesis of generation of life from (electro/bio)-chemical reactions. Experts of this theory of evolution argued that once an Amoeba was born, the other zoological and botanical species were generated through a natural process of adaptation, mutation and selection; in this process, gradually the highly evolved species the human being also came into existence after millions of years. Series of research in evolutionary theory also found some similarities in different species of monkeys, apes and man, and hypothesized the formers to be the early ancestors of human species. This is still a widely accepted theory in the scientific community. In other words, a human being is defined by them as some kind of a moving machine having a highly evolved bio-chemical functional system. But, howsoever complicated and sophisticated a machine be, it is after all a machine.

Even if the functional system is biochemical or bioelectrical, it is well known that these are only different forms of matter and physical energy. As an American scientist, Arthur J. Venura describes in his book on “Human Physiology”, it is generally accepted by many biologists and physicists that there is no need to describe a separate entity like life-force different from matter and energy as perceived in the physical world. If a human being is only an organism made up from bio-chemicals then the diseases and disorders in this system also must be arising from some disturbances or imbalances in these elements or their reactions. Therefore, the methods of treatments and medicines should also focus on adjusting or eliminating these with the help of some bio-chemicals only.

This belief is what largely formed the basis of modern medical and pharmaceutical sciences. But, there are major flaws in this simple and seemingly logical consideration. Firstly, it is often difficult to understand a disease completely under this hypothesis. As the specific properties and reactions of all elements (matter) follow the universal laws of Nature, where and why should there be any perturbation? For example, it is well known that two molecules of hydrogen chemically combined with one molecule of oxygen constitute a molecule of water; no one has seen any different outcome of this reaction so far. Under specific conditions, specific reactions of specific chemicals take place in a definite way. If all organisms including the humans are only different kinds of systems of such elements, from where and how will the disorder or disturbance occur? After all, chemicals or any material elements in this physical world are not free to behave randomly as per their will (like humans do!).

Thus, the occurrence of diseases and incurability of many of them puts a question mark on the universal validity of the above hypothesis. Most challenging and unresolved puzzle about the physics and chemistry of the human organism is the structure and functioning of the mind.

How and by which bio-electrical /bio-chemical processes of the brain the spontaneous flow of infinitely many thoughts, desires, resolutions, feelings, emotions, etc arise or are governed? Despite advanced research, very little is known about the structure and the neurological, neuro-physiological and neuro-chemical functions of the brain itself. In view of the above, it becomes important to reconsider and analyze the question whether a human being is really a system of matter and energy alone? If it is so, the total value of the minerals, salts, chemicals, etc in his body may turn out to be hardly a few hundred rupees. Is this what the value of a human being is? Further, an important doubt arises, if man is only a masterly combination of bio-chemicals, could one produce him in a laboratory using these substances?

The answer is obviously “No”. How could one produce a living person (or any living being for that matter) from the inanimate, inert elements? Where will the life-force come from in such a physico-chemical system? Where will the play of consciousness, the flow of sentiments and emotions come from? A human being is indeed something different from mere combination of bio-chemicals.

That, which is different in him in the living state, is what corresponds to the consciousness-force, which is also expressed in emotions and deeper sentiments. In fact, only the gross body is constituted of the material substances, but the power that governs their functioning in the living state is not generated from them.
The body is only like an instrument. The electrical appliances work and are useful only till there is electricity flowing in them. They are nothing but rigid pieces without electricity. Despite having the same material structure and shape, they are useless without the electrical power.

This way, it is the flow of electricity in these instruments, which is essential for whatever importance and utility they have. Similar is true of the existence of a human being. Although the material structure of the gross body has its own importance, the main source of its living existence and functioning is the consciousness-force. The body is inert and soon gets destroyed by biodegradation in the absence of this consciousness-force. Mental faculties and the emotional world are also creations and evolved expressions of this consciousness. Refined levels of the consciousness-force account for higher-level talents, intellectual abilities and deeper emotions of pure love, compassion, etc in humans. This is the key to all success and achievements in the materialistic and spiritual domains of human life.

All clinically normal humans have the same anatomy and physiology of the gross body in general. However, as we all see, there is a great difference in their mental attitude, thoughts, intellect and emotional nature.

The number of truly successful persons is very small in this world. Those having mental and emotional purity and strength of the awakened force of consciousness in the inner cores of mind are still fewer; these are the ones who manifest spiritual effulgence and accomplish the true purpose of life. Our everyday experience also shows us so many examples in support of the crucial role of the emotional factor. Many a times, the reaction of different persons in (physically or worldly) the same situation or against the same action or incident is drastically different. Even, the same person takes up or reacts to the same or similar happenings quite differently at different times.

This is because of the variation in the moods, attitudes and emotional conditioning even in the same status (including health and surrounding atmosphere) of the physical body. The significance of mental and emotional status will become clear by the following example. Consider two cases of murder, which are under trial in a court of law. In one case it is proved that the accused has killed the victim intentionally in a sound state of mind while in another it is found that the accused accidentally committed the crime in ignorance or out of fear or in an imbalanced mental and emotional condition. Then, for the same crime, the first person will be awarded death-sentence or life-imprisonment.

The second person, despite having the same age, physical health etc as the first one, will get much milder punishment under a different section of the criminal law. In a third case of murder, let the incident be as follows: a man tries to assassinate a person but misses the target; but, in an instantaneous defensive act, the latter triggers his own pistol by which the first person (who intended to shoot the latter) is killed.

Here again the case will fall under an entirely different category and the concerned person will not be tried as a willful murderer. Thus, even law recognizes the greater importance of mental and emotional states over the physical actions. As described by the noted Child-Psychologist Dr. P. A. Gate, the fundamental difference between the psychologies of a child and an adult is that for children only the physical action matters; for them the intention or hidden feelings or emotions are not important; whereas it is just the opposite in case of the adults. Dr. Gate cites an example to explain this point further: Suppose one person breaks three glass plates purposely before a child and in other case, the plates are broken by mistake by a person before the same child.

The child will enjoy the first act as a fun-game while the second case might scare him and he may scream or cry. This way in the childs eyes the second fellow will be a bigger culprit. But, as adults we all know, whom we would regard more at fault in this example. In other words, recognizing the importance of the intention, thought and other mental and emotional factors and effects as against the gross physical perception or activities is naturally expected from matured psychology. Judging only by the gross physical activities is indicative of childish mentality or ignorance. So strong is the force of emotions that people even commit suicides or sacrifice their lives under its influence.

There are plentiful examples of lovers dying by the shock or sorrow of being rejected by or separated from their beloveds. The world history shines with the noble sacrifices of martyrs for their motherlands; it is the deep sentiment of patriotism that makes otherwise ordinary men and women perform such acts of supreme sacrifice.

We can find many examples of the above kind on all fronts of life; including our own experiences on what drives us do unimaginable acts of nobility or depravity, which demonstrate the predominance of thoughts, sentiments and feelings in our lives. Then how could we neglect their principal role or regard ourselves to be just the gross body or a combination of bio-chemicals? A deeper attempt to look into our reality will take us to the ever flourishing and fulfilling domain of the inner self, which is known as spirituality. The field of spirituality is not esoteric, abstract or mythological. Rather, it is as intimately and crucially linked with our consciousness, as are the material elements, physical comforts and joys with our body.

A fish is born in water and sustains its entire life on this source. Similar is true of the physical body of a human; it takes shape, grows and works mainly with the help of material substances, (bio)chemicals, their reactions and flow of (bio) physico-chemical, thermal, and (bio)electrical energies. But, in either case, the essential resources could be utilized for survival only till there is the existence of life force in the organic body. Consciousness-force is the vital source of the healthy existence and functioning of the mental and emotional bodies of a human being.

The field of knowledge pertaining to these aspects and the study of our inner self or rather the real-self remains largely untouched because we have focused all our scientific investigations only on the physical body and its functioning without touching the realm of consciousness.

The study of mind too is mostly confined to behavioral sciences. Most of us don’t even know the correct meaning of consciousness and spirituality. The real self, the supreme source of our existence is unknown and practically non-existent for us because of our negligence and ignorance.

The value of human life should be understood in terms of the nature of the inner self expressed in a persons virtues, conduct and deeds. This is what accounts for the development of personality and luminous success of life.

The more virtuous the level of ones personality, the happier, brighter, superior will be his life. The real beauty, strength, progress and joy of human life lie not in the physical body, rather in the purity and depth of emotions, because a human being is a grand living ensemble of emotions and not merely a gross system of bio-chemicals.

Pt. Shree Ram Sharma “Acharya”. [from Akhand Jyoti Sept-Oct 2003]

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