Saturday, January 26, 2013

Intimations of Immortality

One of my classmates at Columbia Journalism School died recently after a long illness. He was the second to go in the space of a few weeks.

Although we are still in our sixties (“the new 40s”), our cohort is at a stage when it must begin to face the fact that death has become a personal rather than a philosophical interest.

Shored up as I am by the Indian expectation that the soul will go from one discarded body to another, this issue is somewhat easier for me than for most Westerners who, if they believe in the reality set out by their religions, face Judgment Day. If they do not believe, death can only be a final extinction, an equally imponderable end.

But how real is my expectation of many more lives to come (my spiritual status being far from the dispassionate stillness required for moksha)?

It’s very real, and not because I have blind faith in what the Bhagavad Gita says: Science has crept in all around the concept of an eternal soul and now makes it impossible to believe in anything else.

Two scientific advances in particular have validated the concept of the soul. One is the recognition of the matter-energy continuum set out in Einstein’s E=MC2. Matter and Energy are indestructible; they can only be converted into each other.

The discovery of the genetic code is the other major step Science took towards the soul. Its importance lies in the recognition that each of us is a piece of code: complex and only dimly understood as yet, but essentially, each individual is a piece of software that takes material form at the moment of conception.

Put the two concepts together, and we have an individualized code destructible in its material manifestation as DNA but not in its Energy persona. When the material body dies, our individual wave pattern survives, and as with the human voice carried by radio waves, it can vibrate another receptor: a new body at the moment of conception.

As with the radio wave, our individualized genetic pattern will only vibrate a receptor tuned to the right frequency. That’s where the concept of karma comes in. Every action, every thought we have affects our DNA, which contains information coded at the molecular level. At death, the code that floats free of the body is a permanent record of the sum total of our actions. It can only take a new material form consonant with that code.

So, those with good karma find bodies that resonate with virtue, others degenerate into lower forms of life.


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