Yes indeed, Life is Complicated. The Complexities of Life cannot be resolved without making the fundamental distinction between the Living and the Non-Living Matter.
SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE: MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY – THE INQUIRY ABOUT SELF, SPIRIT, AND SOUL:
I would submit that we have to arrive at an understanding of ‘self’, spirit, and soul by knowing the structure and functional organization of the Living Thing or Being that exists.
THE IDENTITY OF MULTICELLULAR HUMAN ORGANISM:
Daniel John Cunningham was born on 15 April 1850 in Scotland. After his initial schooling at his home town, Crieff, he took up the study of medicine at the University of Edinburgh and passed with honours. He is best known for the excellent series of dissection manuals, namely Cunningham’s Dissection Manuals.
I learned about the human body while dissecting the body in a systematic manner. The Manual of Practical Anatomy which guides us through this entire process was published in England. The author Dr. Daniel John Cunningham prepared the Manual while dissecting cadavers of British or Irish citizens. He had never encountered cadavers of Indian citizens. At Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India, where I was a student, the Department of Anatomy obtains dead bodies from Government General Hospital Kurnool and most of the deceased are the poor, illiterate, and uneducated people of that region. None of the deceased had the chance to know this man called Cunningham and Cunningham had no knowledge about the existence of these people who arrive on our dissection tables. But, as the dissection of the human body proceeds, inch, by inch, we recognize the anatomical parts as described by Cunningham. The manual also lists some anatomical variations and we very often exchange information between various dissection tables and recognize the variations mentioned. The dissections also involve slicing the organs and studying them, both macroscopically, and microscopically. We did not miss any part of the human body. So what is the Identity of this Human person or Human subject? How does the living Human organism maintain its Identity and Individuality? Apart from the Cultural Traditions of India, several Schools of Religious Thought claim that the Human Individual and its Identity is represented by Human Soul. Where does this soul exist in the human body? What is the location if the soul is present in the living person? Does man have a soul?
THE KNOWLEDGE OF FIELD AND THE FIELD OF ACTIVITY: ‘KSHETRA AND KSHETRA JNANA’:
The term soul has to be carefully defined if I have to find it by exploring the human body. In the Indian tradition, the human body is described as ‘KSHETRA’ or Field. The individual who knows and enjoys this body, Kshetra, or field is often described as ‘PURUSHA’. The knowledge of the body is called ‘KSHETRA JNANA’. The person called Purusha could explore his body called ‘Kshetra’ and acquire knowledge called ‘Kshetra Jnana’. So, I explored my body to find out if I have a soul and as to where it exists. I can explore my body while I am alive. If I am dead, only a different living person may get the opportunity to explore my dead body, but he may not be able to discover the soul which may have already departed from the body. If the soul exists in the cadaver, Cunningham would not have missed it, and we the diligent students dissecting human cadavers would not have missed it. By definition, the soul does not exist in dead bodies. It has something to do with life and the characteristics of a living person or organism. With the intellectual insight I had gained by studying Human Anatomy, I can explore my living body without placing it on a dissection table.
THE FUNCTIONAL UNITY OF MULTICELLULAR HUMAN ORGANISM:
Humans are multicellular organisms. Who or what is the Subject who lives because of the functions of the trillions of cells? Multicellularity found in complex organisms like humans is accompanied by definite capabilities of cells for differentiation. The design of cells has been modified to serve specialized functions of tissues and organs. To achieve a proper numerical balance between functionally related cell groups, the death of many cells is necessary for others to reach maturity. This programmed cell death plays an important role during embryological growth and development of the human fetus. Waves of genetically driven cell deaths are critical to the proper modeling of organs, and organ systems. Such programmed cell death events are essential if the organism as a whole is to develop its normal final form by which its Identity as an Individual is established. The constituent cells of the organism do not display functional individuality while living as individuals. The cell in a complex organism is not truly an independently functioning unit. The cell exists and functions to achieve Unity of the Organism as a Whole. The one very important part of the environment of a cell is other cells. The Consciousness, the Awareness of individual cells in multicellular organism functions to achieve the Functional Unity of the Whole Organism. Consciousness brings Functional Unity by providing the abilities of recognition, association, and cooperation between all the cells of the multicellular organism. Multicellular organisms are characterized by the ‘Adaptive Subordination’ of the constituent cells to the requirements of the organism as a Whole. For example, mature Red Blood Cells or RBCs have no nuclei and they cannot divide or replicate. They are exclusively adapted to transport Oxygen and serve the whole human organism. The RBCs have short lives as individual cells. The human organism has a life span of its own. During the lifetime of a human person, RBCs live for short periods of time and are constantly replaced by new RBCs. Thus it may be stated that the purpose of Consciousness at the cellular level is to foster Functional Unity of the multicellular organism and establish it as an Individual. If the term ‘Soul’ represents the Identity of this Individual, the Soul is a Functional Attribute of Consciousness at the cellular level.
THE BIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF HUMAN SOUL:
I explore my body called Kshetra. The Kshetra Jnana or Knowledge of my body is as follows:
My soul is represented by an anatomical structure described as Reticular Formation in the Brain Stem. Just like my body is composed of trillions of individual cells which collectively represent and establish my physical identity in this world, my soul derives its existence and identity from trillions of these individual units or cells that comprise my body. My soul is actually a composite of trillions of units of consciousness of trillions of individual cells that comprise my human body. The Functional Unity in relation to Consciousness is achieved in the Reticular Formation, the site where Consciousness of the Whole human organism is composed and then is relayed to the Cerebral hemispheres. It is just like a picture or a photo which represents trillions of spots of varying degrees of light intensity or brightness. The term soul has to be defined as the manifestation of “Consciousness.” If there is no “Consciousness,” there is no soul. The existence of the soul is witnessed by the presence of “Consciousness.” This biological characteristic described as “Consciousness” exists in every single living cell. If a living organism is made up of one single cell, it has a soul as manifested by its “Consciousness.” For the human person, when identified as an Individual, the anatomical location of his Soul is the Reticular Formation of the Brain Stem which receives input from the rest of the body and shapes the information and sends it to Thalamus and to Cortical Areas of the Brain which provide the awareness, the functional knowledge with which the human organism exists as a living entity. The man enjoys an existence characterized by Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility, for the Soul, or the Life Principle operates most of the vital functions of the complex organism. Further, the soul does not relay all this enormous amount of information to the cortical areas where it would be then known to the Man who exists because of these vital functions. For the soul does not relay, Man is protected from a huge information overload that is not compatible with mental peace and equilibrium.
I AM CONSCIOUSNESS, THEREFORE I AM:
Could we extend the scientific methodology of an investigation into every field of inquiry? Could we find Truth, and Reality as an external experience? Is it possible to visualize Truth and Reality in the realm of Intuition and Conscience? Jean Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher suggested that man has to find his way to his pure nature, and this through feelings. Man’s duty is to look for his most deep interior feelings and follow them. Rene Descartes advances a philosophy based on certitude. He seeks to devise a method of inquiry for reaching the Truth. He proposes a method for guaranteeing Knowledge. He argues that in order to provide a secure foundation for Knowledge it is necessary to discover “clear and distinct ideas” that could not be doubted and could serve as a basis for deriving further truths. He finds such an idea in the proposition “I think, therefore I am” (“Cogito, ergo sum”). Descartes stresses a world of metaphysical truths that could be discovered by pure reason. He subjects his beliefs to a series of skeptical hypotheses. He invokes skepticism as a means of reaching certainty. As per his conclusion, “I think, therefore I am” is beyond skeptical doubt.
CARTESIAN PHILOSOPHY – THE VALUE OF “SYSTEMATIC DOUBT”
I truly admire Descartes for adopting a strategy of withholding his belief from anything that is not entirely certain and indubitable. Skepticism is an attitude that rejects claims to certainty. Its basic philosophical contention is that the possibility of knowledge is limited by the limitations of the mind itself or by the inaccessibility of the object.
Descartes is known as the Father of the Mind-Body Problem. He claims that human beings are composites of two kinds of substances, mind, and body. A mind is conscious or thinking being, that is, it understands, wills, senses, and imagines. A body is being extended in length, width, and breadth. He thinks that minds are indivisible, whereas bodies are infinitely divisible. The “I” of the “I think, therefore I am” is the mind that he claims could exist without being extended so that it can in principle survive the death of the body. Descartes argues that colors, sounds, tastes, heat, cold, and pain are merely sensations existing in mind/thought and that there is nothing in bodies that resembles the sensation. He thinks that all complex functioning of living organisms including human bodies could be explained solely by mechanistic physics. He even denies that consciousness could be attributed to animals in order to explain their behavior. Descartes influences the whole course of the philosophical inquiry. Using the same Cartesian Philosophy, I find Descartes proposition to be invalid and incorrect based upon my understanding of the human body, mind, and consciousness. The proposition which I would use is, “I am Consciousness, therefore I am.” This clear, and distinct idea, which is beyond doubt would help me to discover man’s awareness of God or what I describe as the “GOD CONNECTION”. This “Connection” is the foundation for man’s existence in the natural world.
Rudolf is reborn as Rudi to describe the spiritual connection between the Cell and its Energy Provider
Rudi acknowledges his German heritage at Whole Foods for he discovered the spiritual connection between man, food, and Providence. Whole Foods, Whole People, and Whole Planet are connected by a material substance called Protoplasm or Cytoplasm, a divine plan to provide nourishment to Life.
The Rudolf and Rudi Connection at Whole Foods, Ann Arbor can be best described as the concept of Whole Spirituality, the three dimensional spiritual relationship between the multicellular human organism, food, and the Divine Providence.
SPIRITUALISM – THE CELL THEORY OF SPIRITUALITY:
In Biology, cell is the basic or fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things or it is the building block of life. Let me begin with my respectful tribute to some of the people who contributed to ‘The Cell Theory’, one of the foundations of Biological Sciences. Cells were first observed in the 17th century shortly after the discovery of the microscope. Robert Hooke, british curator of instruments at The Royal Society of London, during 1665 coined the word cell. Dutch microscopist Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) made over 247 microscopes and examined microorganisms and tissue samples. He gave the first complete descriptions of bacteria, protozoa (which he called animalcules), spermatozoa, and striped muscle. He also studied capillary circulation and observed Red Blood Cells.
Improvements in microscopy during early 19th century permitted closer observation and the significance of cells had received better understanding. Matthias Jakob Schleiden (1838), german botanist, Theodor Schwann (1839), german physiologist, and Rudolf Virchow (1855), german pathologist, and others made important contributions to the Cell Theory that describes cell as the building block of all Life.
The Cell is the smallest unit in the living organism that is capable of carrying on the essential life processes of sustaining metabolism for producing energy and reproducing. Many simple, small, single-celled organisms like Protozoa perform all life functions. In higher, complex, bigger, multicellular organisms, groups of cells are structurally and functionally differentiated into specialized tissues and organ systems. Thus, the Cell Theory includes the following foundational principles of the Biological Sciences:
1. All living things are made up of cells. Cell is the most elementary or basic unit of Life.
2. Cell is a fundamental unit of structure, function, and organization in all living things including plants and animals.
3. Cells only rise from division of previously existing cells.
4. All cells are similar in composition, form, and function. All cells are basically the same in chemical composition (in spite of variations) in organisms of similar species. For example, all the solid tissues in the human body can be shown to consist largely of similar cells; differing it is true, but that are essentially similar to an Ovum.
5. The cells exhibit functional autonomy. The activity of an organism depends on the total activity of ‘INDEPENDENT’ cells.
6. Energy flow (metabolism and biochemistry) occurs within cells.
7. Cells contain hereditary, biological information (DNA) which is passed from cell to cell during cell division.
THE CELL THEORY OF SPIRITUALITY:
The basic or fundamental unit of life in the human organism is derived from the fertilized egg cell that eventually develops into a complete organism. The most significant feature of similarity between the cells of the human body is the presence of a soft, gelatinous, semi-fluid, granular material inside the cell. This substance known as Protoplasm or Cytoplasm, or Cytosol is similar to the ground substance found in the Ovum or the Egg Cell.
This viscous, translucent, colloidal substance is enclosed in a membrane called Cell Membrane, Plasma Membrane or Biological Membrane. A small spherical body called nucleus is embedded in the Protoplasm of the cell. The three essential features of any living cell in the human body are that of the presence of protoplasm, the nucleus, and the cell membrane.
PROTOPLASM – THE GROUND SUBSTANCE OF SPIRITUALISM AND SPIRITUALITY:
I seek the existence of Soul or Spirit in a substance that is basic to life activities, and in a material that is responsible for all living processes. I, therefore, propose that the understanding of the true or real nature of this ground substance of all living matter will help man to discover peace, harmony, and tranquility in all of his internal and external relationships while man exists in a physical environment as a member of a social group, social community, and Society. In this blog post, I would like to pay my respectful tribute to Jan Evangelista Purkinje and Hugo Von Mohl for their great contribution to the scientific understanding of the living substance, living material, and living matter.
Purkinje conducted his research on human vision at the University of Prague and later on, he served there as a Professor of Physiology (1850-69). He went to Germany and was appointed the Chair of Physiology and Pathology (1823-50) at the University of Breslau, Prussia. There Purkinje created the world’s first independent Department of Physiology (1839) and the first Physiological Laboratory (Physiological Institute, 1842). He is best known for his discovery of large nerve cells with many branching extensions found in the cortex of Cerebellum of the brain (Purkinje Cells, 1837). He discovered the fibrous tissue that conducts electrical impulses from the ‘pacemaker’ called Atrioventricular node or A-V node along the inside walls of the ventricles to all parts of the heart to help in Cardiac contractile function (Purkinje Fibers, 1839). In 1835, he invented and introduced the scientific term ‘Protoplasm’ to describe the ground substance found inside young animal embryo cells. He discovered the sweat glands of the skin (1833); he discovered the nine configuration groups of Fingerprints used in biometric identification of man (1823); he described the germinal vesicle or nucleus of the unripe ovum that now bears his name (1825), and he noted the protein digesting power of pancreatic extracts (1836).
Hugo Von Mohl named the granular, colloidal material that made up the main substance of the plant cell as “Protoplasm” in 1846. Purkinje invented the word, but Hugo gave more clarity, understanding, and knowing the nature of this ground substance. He viewed cell as an “elementary organ” and in Physiology he explained Protoplasm as an organ of Motion or Movement, Nutrition, and Reproduction. It is the preliminary material in cellular generation. He was the first to propose that new cells are formed by division of preexisting cells and he had observed this process of Cell Division in the algal cells of Conferva glomerata. His observations are very important to understand the Cell Theory that explains cells as the basic building blocks of Life. He was the first to investigate the phenomenon of the stomatal openings in leaves.
Protoplasm is a complex, viscous, translucent solution of such materials as salts and simple sugars with other molecules, mostly proteins and fats, in a colloidal state, that is dispersed but not dissolved in one another. Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen constitute more than 90 percent of Protoplasm.
It exhibits properties such as Protoplasmic Streaming or Cytoplasmic Streaming or Motion that is called “Amoeboid Movement.” It has the intrinsic power to change its shape and position. It has the power of Nutrition by which it can attract and obtain the materials necessary for its growth and maintenance from surrounding matter/environment.
The living functions such as Nutrition, Cellular Respiration, and Reproduction performed by Cytoplasm involve acquiring, processing, retaining, and using information to perform tasks in a sequential manner for a predetermined purpose and hence describe Consciousness, Memory, and Intelligence.
The terms Soul and Spirit belong to the materialistic realm where the Physical Reality of man’s biological existence is established. I have not yet discovered any good reason to use the terms Soul and Spirit as a metaphysical or transcendental Reality.
The Inheritance of Cytoplasmic Membrane or Cell or Plasma Membrane:
The Functions of Cytoplasmic Membrane or Cell Membrane or Biological Membrane:
1. Protection: It protects the cell from its surroundings or extracellular environment. Plant cell possess wall over the plasma membrane for extra protection and support.
2. Holding cell contents: Plasma membranes hold the semi fluid protoplasmic contents of the cell intact; thus keeping the individuality of the cell.
3. Selective Permeability: Cell membrane allows only selected or specific substances to enter into the cell and are impermeable to others.
- Gases like O2 and CO2 can diffuse rapidly in solution through membranes.
- Small compounds like H2O and methane can easily pass through where as sugars, amino acids and charged ions are transported with the help of transport proteins.
- The size of the molecules which can pass through the plasma membrane is 1-15 A0. This property is responsible for keeping a cell ‘as a cell’, an individual unit.
4. Shape: It maintains form and shape of the cell. It serves as site of anchorage or attachment of the cytoskeleton; thus providing shape to the cell (especially in animal cells without cell wall).
5. Organelles: Cell membrane delimits or covers all sub-cellular structures or organelles like nucleus, mitochondria, plastids, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, microbodies etc. thus protecting them form the surroundings and also helps in maintaining a constant internal environment.
6. Compartmentalization: Cell membrane separate the cells from their external environment and cell organelle from cytosol. It help the cells and their organelles to have their own microenvironments, structural and functional individuality.
7. Cell Recognition: With the help of glycolipids and glycoproteins on its surface, cell membranes are able to differentiate similar cells from dissimilar ones, foreign substances and cells own materials. Cell recognition is useful for tissue formation and defence against microbes.
8. Antigens: Cell membranes possess antigens which determine blood grouping, immune response, acceptance or rejection of a transplant (graft rejection by MHC’s on plasma membrane).
9. Microvilli: They are microscopic finger like projections of plasma membrane present on some cells like intestinal epithelial cells, which are involved in a wide variety of functions, including increasing surface area for absorption, secretion, cellular adhesion etc.
10. Sheaths of cilia and flagella: Cilia and flagella are projections from the cell; made up of microtubules which are covered by an extension of the plasma membrane.
11. Cytoplasmic bridges in plasmodesmata and gap junctions: Plasmodesmata in plant cells and gap junctions in animal cells; meant for intercellular transport and communication, form cytoplasmic bridges between adjacent cells through plasma membrane.
12. Endocytosis and Exocytosis: Bulk intake of materials or endocytosis occurs through development of membrane vesicles or invagination and engulfing by plasma membrane.
Exocytosis: It is reverse of endocytosis that provides for releasing waste products and secretory materials ot of the cells with the help of plasma membrane.
13. Impulse transmission in neurons: The transmission of a nerve impulse along a neuron from one end to the other occurs as a result of electrical changes across the plasma membrane of the neuron
14. Cell metabolism: Cell membranes control cell metabolism through selective permeability and retentivity of substances in a cell.
15. Electron transport chain in bacteria: In bacteria; Electron transport chain is located in cell membrane.
16. Osmosis through cell membrane: It is movement of solvent molecules (generally water) from the region of less concentrated solution to the region of high concentrated solution through a semi permeable membrane. Here the semi permeable membrane that helps in osmosis is the cell membrane. Eg: Root cells take up water from the soil by osmosis
17. Carrier proteins for active transport: They occur in the cell membranes and control active transport of substances. Example, GLUT1 is a named carrier protein found in almost all animal cell membranes that transports glucose across the bilayer or plasma membrane.
18. Plasma Membrane enzymes: Many enzymes are present on the plasma membrane with wide variety of catalytic activity. Example: Red blood cell plasma membranes contain a number of enzymes such as ATPases, anion transport protein, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, protein kinases, adenylate cyclase, acetylcholinesterase.
19. Cell Membrane Receptors: Receptor on the plasma membrane performs signal transduction, converting an extracellular signal into an intra-cellular signal. Membrane possess receptors for hormones, neurotransmitters, antibodies and several other biochemicals.
20. Plasma membrane assisted Cell movements: Undulation and pseudopodia are cell membrane phenomenon involved in cell movement. Amoeba, macrophages and WBCs move with the helps of temporary organelles like pseudopodia. Pseudopods are temporary cytoplasmic projections of the cell membrane in certain unicellular protists such as Amoeba. Some mammalian cells such as fibroblasts can move over a solid surface by wave like undulations of the plasma membrane.
The Ground Substance of Spiritualism and Spirituality. The vital characteristics, the animating principles of Protoplasm could be known by observing Amoeba proteus. The Living Substance works as an organ of Motion or Movement, as an organ of Nutrition, and as an organ of Reproduction to generate new cells which have a life span of their own. In these physiological functions, I describe the characteristics such as Cognition, Consciousness, Memory, and Intelligence as spiritual attributes of Life as they bring functional unity and harmony in the interactions between different parts of the same individual organism while it exists in an environment as a member of a biological community.
THE SPIRITUALITY OF SUBSTANCE, FUNCTION, ORGANIZATION, ACTION, AND INTERACTIONS:
To establish the biological existence of the human organism, I add the concept of Spiritualism and Spirituality to the Cell Theory.
The Single Fertilized Egg Cell has ground substance that is of Spiritual nature and the Spiritualism and Spirituality consists of the following functional, and organizational characteristics:
1. The Cell is Conscious of its own existence and knows its internal condition and knows it external environment.
2. The Cell is intelligent and it has the cognitive abilities like perception and memory to acquire information, to retain information, to recall information, and to use information in the performance of its complex tasks in a sequential manner.
3. The Cell has the ability to show characteristics such as mutual cooperation, mutual tolerance, and display functional subordination and subservience while being independent.
4. The Cell grows, divides, and develops into a complete organism while it acquires substances and energy from an external environment. The power of Protoplasm/Cytoplasm to attract matter found in its external environment is called Nutrition. The Cell continuously transforms matter to build matter of its own kind for its own benefit to sustain its existence with its own identity and individuality. The Organism represents a social group or a biological community of Cells. The Spiritual nature of Protoplasm/Cytoplasm brings this functional harmony and unity in the Social Group or Biotic Community of Cells by bringing together its Essence and Existence.
5. The Cell Theory is incomplete for it does not describe the conditioned nature of the Cell’s existence. The Cell represents a Living System that is thermodynamically unstable. It requires a constant supply of matter and energy from its external environment to sustain its living functions. The concept of Whole Spirituality formulates the connection between the Cell and its external source of matter and energy.
The theoretical claims about Spirit and Soul, the religious and philosophical doctrines of Spiritualism and Spirituality must be verified using the Cell Theory that defines the human organism. To describe Soul or Spirit as nonmaterial or immaterial Self will not help man to know the real or true man.
Whole Foods, Whole People, and Whole Planet come together in a Wholesome Relationship as God is the Energy Provider, the Original Source of Matter and Energy for Life.