Sunday, August 31, 2014

An inquiry about Death and After That

Birth, ageing and death are the only universal truths of human life. Rest all in between is transient and varies with time in history, culture and various other factors. As a human, one can control all other aspects of human life be its natural tendencies and way of living, but one cannot escape ageing and death. In this article, we will try to inquire about death and what's possible after that.

The concept of death has been universally associated with concept of soul. So a living body (human or animal) is said to be composed of two ingredients.  A mortal essence and an immortal essence. The mortal essence is said to be the physical body and which does the biological functions. The immortal essence is considered to be the soul which is immortal. It keeps entering into mortal forms, resides in the mortal form till that mortal form is doing its physical and biological function. Once the mortal structure ceases to function the immortal or the soul leaves that and looks for new mortal structure.

In Hindu religion in Srimad Bhagvad Gita, soul or atman is said to be immortal

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ।। 
Soul cannot be destroyed by weapons, nor fire can burn it.
Water cannot melt it and wind cannot dry it.

Hindu religion also differentiates the human immortal essence to be of higher order than animals. The soul or atman has to be part of the immortal structure of many animals before one can again enter into human structure. Also a lot depends on the kind of activities one has done in his life. 

The other religions and many philosophical thoughts concur with the existence of soul and after life. 

Let's for a moment concentrate on the mechanics of death. What happens when death happens? Is is instantaneous or it's a sequential process where failure of a vital biological system leads to a chain reaction and everything fails. The whole process of failure happens so fast in a fraction of a second that the death looks instantaneous to us. For example, when a car crash happens, is it instantaneous? It looks so to the naked eyes, but if you put a high speed camera, one can clearly see that it's a sequential process. And why one of the biological system fails. It could be because of ageing or because of certain disease. In this context, can we define a death as a pure mechanical failure. So is there an essence also which leaves the body when the failure happens? or is it just a complex chemical structure which breaks down? 

If we consider the death to be a complex structure of chemicals then what is that which makes us to do cognitive and deductive thinking, for example thinking of death and thinking about it in various different ways? Is is just that with time our neurons have built the complex circuitry in our brain that we can do such things. For example, how you make a computer smart?  By putting more and more algorithms for it to process. May be with time humans have got such algorithms build in it. 

If we consider death to be a separation of mortal and immortal essence, then what happens to the immortal essence after it parts way with the mortal structure. Is it some form of energy only or it retains the intelligence with it? Does it have a choice to choose its next mortal structure or its again done by a giant Roulette wheel. If the intelligence is associated with immortal essence than why animals are not equally intelligent? Or the immortal essence of animals are different from humans? If we are judged by what we do and how we perform on earth, but than why we do not have a choice to decide that in what kind of ecosystem we have to live? If humans immortal essence is different, then is universe creating more such essence as the human population has been increasing in last century.

I am stopping here with a lot of questions as I guess at best we can have conjectures and hypothesis about what is the truth. As a human, we have a tendency to try to conclude everything but I guess these are things which are beyond the realms of human understanding. We can build religions and cults around a certain conclusions but at best they are conjectures which may or may not be the ultimate truth. Then what is the ultimate truth. I don't know if human race will ever know it, though one thing is sure there is only one ultimate truth and all living beings and for that matter non living beings has to follow it. Humans at best divide themselves by making their theory as the ultimate truth.  :) 

I would conclude it by saying that "Enjoy and let other enjoy". Who knows may be our this goodwill gesture will help us in the after life.

At the end, a quote from H.L. Mencken "Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient."

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