Bioethics in India: Proceedings of the International Bioethics Workshop in Madras: Biomanagement of Biogeoresources, 16-19 Jan. 1997, University of Madras; Editors: Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah, & Darryl R.J. Macer, Copyright Eubios Ethics Institute 1997.

68. Stereotypical Analytical Concept of Life and Nature

R.D. Francis, E.R. Martin & A.G. Bansode
Department of Zoology, Ahmednagar College, Ahmednagar 414 001, Maharashtra


Life can be divided into two levels, biological and spiritual life. The biological life is definable but spiritual life is not. Life is an undiminishing force throughout the living organisms (viruses to man). It is immortal neither destroyed nor created. Death is the cessation of this form. The spiritual life has no definable death. Humans have been occupying the top of the ladder of the evolution by virtue of reasoning ability, but according to faith, we are an image of God-himself at the top. We consider everything surrounding us as our own. This selfish thinking is our identity. This attitude has resulted in severe environmental problems. Science looks under and beyond this thin skin of Universe is still unfolding mystery of the universe of which earth is a subset.

Spiritual life is something lived only by human beings. "To kill, eat and live" is a biological thought . But "Live and let live is a Spiritual being". Most of the religions sprang up in Asia and are based upon live and let live concept. Thus the Asian practical philosophy is "love thy neighbour as thyself. " The neighbour can be animal or plants the Biota!


Every living organism must have life and without Jiva, life is possible. Jiva or spirit is conscious substance which is a real doer. Jivas or living organism survive by their senses in the environment. The senses tell them to leave or adapt and stay in their habitat. Two Jivas cannot occupy and control the same body like two physical objects cannot occupy the same space. Living or Jivas have some basic properties such as instinct nature, intelligent nature, power, energy, movement, growth, reproduction etc. But different Jivas have different degree of above properties. Reproduction of flies in more than elephants and growth of Banyan tree is more than Chemeli B. Some Jivas are ruled by instinct and some by environment factors such as temperature and rainfall. When we look at the living organisms, viruses or human, we think about organic evolution. In simple language, evolution is a process of integration and differentiation . Integration means combination or organization of parts into a whole or further and further combination or organization. Differentiation means development of distinct parts and functions. Evolution is gradual and orderly management from indefinite to more and more defined form, organized to more organized or systematic, from homogenous to heterogeneous (diversity) from simple to complex. Process of evolution is followed by process dissolution. Dissolution is against evolution. (A day will come when our sun will die). Evolution and dissolution proceed in cyclical order. Evolution is not a line but a ladder.

However the most important question is what makes lower levels rise to higher and newer level, what makes the emergent to emerge. What force controls the upward march of nature? According to Lloyd Morgan this fundamental power is God. But Bergson says it is Elanivital or life urge. There starts the spirituality of Jiva. Jivas an organic identify linked with mind and soul, and human becomes human being, a thinking animal. We top the ladder organically as well as philosophically. Cosmological and biological evolution can be explained in mechanical terms with some exception but functioning mind or the mental process can only the experienced. In short (humans, the thinking animal is an animal who leads very distinct lives - one biological life and other spiritual life (Further spiritual life is an undimishing force. It shows spontaneity, freedom of choice, purpose and intelligence). According to Plato, the soul has three parts. The highest is reason, middle is noble emotion such as courage, honour and lower part is sensuous appetites or the three parts reasons, will and feelings. The soul reason is eternal and immortal the other two parts are mortal and die with the body. Humans alone possess all the three parts animal have the lower two and plants only the appetite soul, Descartes correctly stated that "I think therefore I am.

This thinking "Aham" (self). Aham took science as a tool to acquire knowledge. Science is not omniscient but it stands firmly by the claim to know. According to Bertrand Russell, science has two purposes "On the one hand there is a desire to know as much as possible of the facts in the region concerned and on the other hand there is an attempt to embrace all the known facts". Scientific knowledge is the result of observation, experiment, reflection, selection and coordination. Now this human started dominating all other animal and plants. He started interfering in different ecosystems and finally nature. His greed became his identity. Science, like atomic energy and sexual urge is both a blessing and curse. It depends upon the user how he uses it. They can generate happiness but can destroy you within seconds (e.g. Atomic bomb, AIDS). The selfish thinking became his identity. Now thinking animal turned into selfish animal. He has become the main pollutant. He has polluted all the spheres of Earth. Nowadays we are more interested to find what is burning at the sun then to see what is burning near our feet. Nature pardons nobody. If you play with it, it will pay you in the same coin. You deforest the area and suffer by starvation. You pollute the air and suffer by all allergies and respiratory diseases. You grow in size and number (population ) and nature cuts you to your size.

Nature is a good equalizer it balances the biotic factors with abiotic factors. This is a war declared between selfish animal, man and very mother nature and the sufferers are other lower animals, plants and abiota. To kill, eat and live is a primary law of the jungle of green trees but to kill, store waste and encroach has become a law of cement concrete forests. Asia a brooding pouch of world religions is comparatively less advanced and less developed than Western continents materialistically. The ancient Asians believed in "Live and let Live", principles. All Asian religions have this base or this concept. Christianity went one step further and when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment. He without hesitation stated that you should love your neighbour as yourself. Your neighbour can be abiota or biota. In short if you love, a hill near your home, a tree planted in your compound a rhinoceros who is on the verge of extinction or beautiful sparrow hiding under your window shades as yourself then you are following all religions at the same time because that it the greatest command of them all directly coming from God.

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