It all depends upon how we define ‘life’. As far as I am concerned, life is eternal and there can be no such thing as totally ‘dead’. There can be only transformations of one form of life (energy) into another. Some forms of energy are generally categorized as ‘living’ and others as ‘dead’, depending upon the perspectives of observers.
Academicians have attempted to define life in several sophisticated ways, such as follows:
- “… the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”
- “… an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”
I have not found an universally acceptable definition of ‘living’ or ‘dead’. It is not very productive to compartmentalize life energy into ‘living’ or ‘dead’, unless it is so desired for particular purposes. Social manageability can be one such requirement.
Commonly speaking, as long as anyone or anything can breathe is considered to be ‘living’. Putting it another way, anyone who can consume and excrete is to be classified as ‘living’. However, in this thought process, is a seed non-living entity until it comes in contact with water and warmth? It would be difficult for many to look upon seed as a living being, even though it has life in it. It suggests, when it comes to life, there indeed are shades of grey.
This dilemma is easily resolved in Vedic view of life. While it is beyond the capacity of this brief to communicate Vedic philosophy, Veda would make it right to think in commonly acceptable terms of life, as long as one stays confined to our physical layers called bodies. Of course, our physical layer is very important.
An effective awareness of our higher non-physical layers is essential for long term solutions to problems facing our society. Then we may prefer to look upon life as process of dynamic renewal. Science would also accept this definition because a ‘living’ physical being is continuously shedding new cells and generating new ones.
The idea of continuous renewal holds even in our higher level spiritual layers. To the extent we keep renewing ourselves, we are living and failing that we are dying. How may we bring renewal into our religious practices? ….. MORE