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What's Life..?

This is a concept that I draw from analysis of our scriptures. We attribute effects like heat, light, sound, motion, mass etc to a common cause called 'Energy', because these can convert from one form to another. But beyond that we cannot define what Energy is, as we say even vacuum is filled with energy. Same way we attribute effects like signaling, metabolism, growth, death etc to a cause called Consciousness. But beyond that we cannot define what consciousness is.

In the ocean of energy, particles arise when expressed through different force-fields, and these particles interact with Higgs, condense energy and acquire mass. In the ocean of consciousness, under certain chemical combinations (say polymerase chains or RNA, DNA, organelles etc), consciousness gets expressed (like energy is expressed through different force-fields). This consciousness drives these combinations to acquire a 'self-identity' (aham). As these combinations interact and consciousness gets condensed, they develop a distinct manas that controls all these as one entity. Its like an atom acquiring a bonded identity though every sub-atomic particle has its own identify. It's like a cell acquiring a bonded identity though every cell organelle as their own identity. 

This expression of consciousness then drives the biological evolution, as expression of energy drives the matter evolution.

A human (or any living) being is a combination of millions of cells. Each cell has a self-identity or aham. But this entire combination of cells has a common 'manas' that controls this being as one entity.  Manas is the bonding of different self-identities making them function as one entity.  This manas is not just in our brain, but distributed in all parts of the body much like central nervous and peripheral nervous systems.

In this context what we call as life is the persistence of manas in our body.  Different parts of our body has different aham or self-identity. They have their own life. But as long as manas persists life exists, as manas makes the body as one entity.  In human context, though manas is distributed all over, brain and heart are 2 major pillars of manas. If brain which has its own identity, learns that heart cannot function, it stops working. If heart learns that brain cannot function it stops working. 

Sometimes there's a communication fault one way. heart may be working, but brain learns that heart cannot function and shuts down.  But heart learns brain is working and continues to function. This is like brain-dead. Reverse also can happen.

In summary, once manas that makes a body control as one entity is not persistent in the body, life ends. But different parts of the body may live for some time as they have their own self. This is explained a beautiful analogy story in chandogya upanishad.

Like a wave that rises and submerges in ocean, life rises and goes out. Once submerged back in the ocean of consciousness, wave does not have an existence of its own.  But the deeds that human or any living being created, exists on the surface, like when waves existed they would have added and subtracted to other waves, causing different patterns of waterflow. 

So our karma lives longer and not 'us' as an entity.  Krishna gives the analogy in bhagavad gita of person (atma) wearing a dress (life). Dress is the life that's discarded. Once discarded, dress (life) has no relevance. The person (atma) is not impacted by the dress at all.  The person wears another dress and all impact of previous dress is lost.

Once submerged back to ocean, wave is only water and no different from any other water.  From those mixed waters, another wave will rise and that is the punar-janma. But that punar-janma does not mean that identity of wave or dress is carried forever.

Due to lot of misinterpretations and human desire to see themselves as immortal in some ways, I think we have defined our own interpretations of us living forever in some form.