Dr. Maureen L. Condic
What defines the beginning of human life? This question has been the topic of considerable legal and social debate over the years ….. debate that has only been intensified by the recent controversies over human embryonic stem cells and human cloning. Answers to this question run the full gamut from those who argue that life begins at conception (the view of more than one major world religion) to those arguing that babies are not to be considered fully human until a month after birth (the position of Princeton Professor of Bioethics Peter Singer)….
…..Death is something most people readily recognize when they see it. People express very little confusion about the difference between a living person and a corpse. Surprisingly, however, the distinction is not as clear from a medical and scientific perspective. There is very little biologic difference between a living person in the instant before death and the body of that person an instant after death. Yet some property has clearly departed from the body in death, and that property is precisely the element that defines “human life.” What, then, is the difference between live persons and dead ones? How is death defined medically and scientifically?....
….The question of when and under precisely what conditions people are viewed as “dead” has itself been the subject of considerable debate. Traditionally, the medical profession considered a person dead when his heart stopped beating, a condition that rapidly results in the death of the cells of the body due to loss of blood flow. As the life-saving potential of organ transplants became increasingly apparent in the 1960s, the medical community undertook a re-examination of the medical standards for death. Waiting until the heart stops beating results in considerable damage to otherwise transplantable organs. After a long and contentious debate, a new standard of death was proposed in 1968 that defined “brain death” as the critical difference between living persons and corpses, a standard that is now widely (although not universally) accepted throughout the world……
· We think of life as a measured movement in time; a movement which ends in death. Up to that point that is what we call continuity. Yet one observes a movement which is not of time, which is not a remembrance of something of the past going through the present and modifying the future and so continuing. There is a state of mind which is dying to everything that is happening; all that happens is coming in and flowing out - there is no retaining but always a flowing out. That state of mind has its own sense of beauty and ``continuity'' which is not of time.
· Every religion, from ancient times, has tried to find out if there is something beyond death. The Ancient Egyptians thought that, in a way, living is part of death, so you carried over your slaves, your cattle, as you died. To go over to the other side was to live as you have lived this side, in the past. That was a continuity.
· The beginning - is there a beginning? And if there is a beginning, there must be an ending. Right? That which has a cause must end. If I have cancer, the cause is the disease, I must be operated on, then that would be the end of it or it would kill me. Right? Wherever there is a cause there must be an end. That's a law, that's natural. So is there a causation at all for the creation of man, the creation of all this way of life? You understand my question? Is there a beginning of all this? How are we going to find out?
Religions have said there is god - god is the beginning and the end of all things. That's a very easy way of solving the problem. The Hindus have said it in one way, perhaps the Buddhists too, and Christianity said, god. Only the fundamental belief - man has been created four thousand five hundred years ago. Right? It seems rather absurd because four thousand five hundred years ago, the Egyptians invented the calendar, which means they must have been extraordinarily advanced, and so on. And if you are a fundamentalist, then you'll get angry with what is being said. And I hope none of us are any kind of fundamentalist.
So what is creation? Not the painter who creates the picture, not the poet, not the man who makes something out of marble. Those are all things manifested. Right? Is there something which is not manifest? Is there something, because it is not manifested, that thing has no beginning and no end? That which is manifested has a beginning, has an end. Right? We are the manifestations, aren't we? Not of divine something or other, we are the result. We are the result of thousands of years of so-called evolution, growth, development, and we also come to an end. That which is manifested can always be destroyed. But that which is not, has no time. Right?
Now we are asking is there such a thing as something beyond all time? This has been the enquiry of philosophers, scientists, and religious people - to find out that which is beyond the measure of man, which is beyond time. Because if one can find, come, discover that, or see that, that is immortality. Right? That's beyond death…. You see this man has really sought, in various ways, in different parts of the world, through different beliefs. Because when one's discovered that, or realised that, life then has no beginning and no end. Therefore it is beyond all concepts, beyond all hope. Do you follow? It is something immense.
· After the rise of the ‘I’-thought there is the false identification of the ‘I’ with the body, the senses, the mind, etc. ‘I’ is wrongly associated with them and the true ‘I’ is lost sight of. In order to sift the pure ‘I’ from the contaminated ‘I’, this discarding is mentioned. But it does not mean exactly discarding of the non-self, it means the finding of the real Self. The real Self is the infinite ‘I’. That ‘I’ is perfection. It is eternal. It has no origin and no end. The other ‘I’ is born and also dies. It is impermanent. See to whom the changing thoughts belong. They will be found to arise after the ‘I’-thought. Hold the ‘I’-thought and they subside. Trace back the source of the ‘I’-thought. The Self alone will remain.
3. Be As You Are – Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharishi.