SPIRITUALISM – MATTER-ENERGY-LIFE-AND-SPIRITUALITY
Man is a Physical Being with matter and form. Materialism is a system of thought that explains the nature of the world as entirely dependent on matter, the final reality. Man must understand what it is to be a substance and what it is to exist. I use a method of investigation or inquiry called ‘Dialectic’ which deals with the nature and relation of things – what each is, how it differs from others, what common quality all have, to what kind each belongs, and in what rank each stands in its kind, and whether its being is real-being, and how many beings there are and how many non-beings to be distinguished from beings. Life is characterized by the presence of complex transformation of organic molecules and by the organization of such molecules into the successively larger units of protoplasm, cells, organs and tissues. Life comes into existence only when matter has the ability to acquire energy from its external environment. I would like to begin this dialectical inquiry by paying a tribute to people who have significantly contributed to the understanding of matter, and energy transformation in living matter.
THE FOUNDER OF MODERN CHEMISTRY:
Chemistry is the science that deals with the composition and properties of substances, and with the reactions by which substances are produced from or converted into other substances. The name Organic Chemistry originated to differentiate between those substances derived from plant and animal(organic) sources and those derived from inanimate(inorganic) materials. It refers to the Chemistry of compounds containing Carbon, or chains of connected Carbon atoms. The science called Biochemistry involves the study of the large organic molecules found in living systems and their reactions which make up the life processes. The science called Molecular Biology explains biological events by studying the molecules within cells.
The Living Cell is a thermodynamically unstable system. This means that without continuous input of energy, a Cell will degrade spontaneously into a non-living collection of molecules. However, we have to be careful in using the term ‘perishable’. The Law of Conservation of Mass or Matter states that matter may change its form or shape; its mass always remains the same. Mass is the quantity of matter in a body regardless of its volume or of any forces acting on it. The Conservation Laws of classical Physics apply to certain physical properties of an isolated system that remain constant with time. These basic Laws of Physics maintain that the total value of certain quantities like mass and energy remain unchanged during a physical process. Laws of Conservation signify that nature does not change with passage of time. Conservation of Mass implies that matter can be neither created nor destroyed; that is, processes that change the physical or chemical properties of substances leave the total mass unchanged. The Law of Conservation of Energy implies that energy can be neither created nor destroyed although it can be changed from one form into another. The Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy could apply to both living systems and non-living physical systems. To maintain life, a living system not only repairs or replaces( or both ) its structures by a constant supply of the materials of which it is composed but also keeps its life processes in operation by a steady supply of energy. Living systems must be supplied energy for continual synthesis of new organic molecules and to replace or to repair broken organic molecules. Life is a consequence of successive and coordinated chemical reactions – the most important being the Oxidation-Reduction or Redox Reactions.
OXIDATION-REDUCTION OR REDOX REACTIONS:
Oxidation-Reduction reactions are complementary chemical reactions characterized by the loss or gain, respectively, of one or more electrons by an atom or molecule. When an atom or molecule combines, or forms a chemical bond, with oxygen, it tends to give up electrons to oxygen. Similarly, when a molecule loses oxygen, it tends to gain electrons. Oxidation is a reaction involving loss of electrons, and Reduction is a reaction involving the gain of electrons. The two processes, Oxidation and Reduction, occur simultaneously and in chemically equivalent quantities; the number of electrons lost by one substance is equaled by the number of electron gained by another substance. The substance losing electrons or electron donor undergoes Oxidation and is called Reductant. The substance gaining electrons or electron acceptor undergoes Reduction and is called Oxidant. Common Reductant substances are Carbon and Hydrogen( readily oxidized ). Common Oxidant( substance readily reduced ) is Oxygen. Respiration is the process by which an organism exchanges gases with its environment. Organisms that utilize respiration to obtain energy are called aerobic, or Oxygen-dependent. In Biochemistry, respiration refers to the series of biochemical Oxidation-Reduction reactions in which organic molecules such as carbohydrates( sugars ), fatty acids( fats ), and amino acids( proteins ) are converted to carbon dioxide and water. The chemical energy thus obtained is trapped and stored for later use by the cells.
ENERGY TRANSFORMATION IN LIVING MATTER:
The process by which a living cell acquires energy to perform its living functions is called ‘Nutrition’, the power by which living matter attracts or obtains materials necessary for its growth and maintenance from surrounding matter or environment. The cell takes in nutrients and excrete waste products. The nutrients are either used as building blocks in synthesizing large molecules or they are oxidized producing energy for powering the cell’s activities. Life may be stated as a relationship between energy-yielding substance and energy-demanding substance.
SPIRITUALITY, CONSCIOUSNESS AND LIVING SYSTEM:
Irrespective of the size, shape, and external appearance, Consciousness is the fundamental characteristic of Living Matter. Consciousness has a set of defining features; it is the principle by which a Living System knows the fact of its own existence; it knows as to where it exists and knows as to how it is existing. Consciousness is the awareness of energy-dependent existence in a given environment and this characteristic is common to all living cells. The term ‘Spiritual’ describes the nature of a relationship, a partnership, an association, bonding, or connection between living molecules to provide some benefit to the existence of a living, individual entity. Hence, I describe Consciousness as a ‘spiritual’ function as it establishes a relationship between the energy-dependent and energy-yielding substances. Human Consciousness is fundamentally related to the Subject called “I AM” both at the level of the entire organism and at the level of individual living cells that constitute the organism displaying complex structural and functional organization of molecules which acquire, manipulate, transform, and utilize energy for the benefit of the existence of the Individual whom we recognize as a Human Person. Life has to be studied as structural and functional organization of matter in which knowledge is implanted, the presence of this knowledge is reflected in its living spiritual functions of consciousness, intelligence and use of information to manipulate and transform energy to support its own existence in its given environment.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.