In 1965, while I was a student of Human Anatomy at Kurnool Medical College, I had the opportunity to know about Dr. J. C. B. Grant (1886-1973), the author of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy. The 5th Edition of his Atlas was published in 1962 and was available in India in our Medical College Library.
Born in Loanhead (south of Edinburgh) in 1886, Grant studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and graduated with an M.B., Ch.B. degree in 1908. While at Edinburgh, he worked under the renowned anatomist Daniel John Cunningham. Grant became a decorated serviceman of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War before moving to Canada. He established himself as an ‘anatomist extraordinary’ at the University of Toronto, publishing three textbooks that form the basis of Grant’s Anatomy. The textbooks are still used in anatomy classes today, and made unforgettable memories for those who found themselves in his classes nearly a century ago. One of Grant’s many accomplishments was establishing a division of histology within the department.
As a medical student, I used Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, the seminal work of Scottish-born Dr. John Charles Boileau Grant, who would become the chair of Anatomy at the University of Toronto in 1930 and retired in 1965.
John Charles Boileau Grant (1886–1973)
The author of Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy (1943), Grant used to train thousands of medical students around the world. He came to University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine from University of Manitoba (and previously Edinburgh), and was Chair of the Department of Anatomy there from 1930 to 1965. Although he is best known for this famous atlas, his research and teaching also included biological anthropology, as evidenced by such work as Anthropometry of the Cree and Saulteaux Indians in Northeastern Manitoba (Archaeological Survey of Canada 1929). The human skeletal collection he formed, the “J.C.B. Grant Collection,” is still a core collection for human osteology in the Department of Anthropology at University of Toronto. He is also remembered in the Grant’s Museum at the Medical Sciences Building at the University of Toronto. This museum, with its displays of anatomical specimens, many of which were dissected by Grant himself, continues to be used in an active learning environment by more than 1000 students each year.
Students continue to use Grant’s textbooks today, and for the more artistic anatomist there’s even a Grant’s Anatomy Coloring Book, published in 2018.
At the University of Toronto, Dr.McMurrich, Chair of Anatomy was succeeded as chairman in 1930 by Dr. John Charles Boileau Grant. Dr. Grant wrote three text books, of which “An Atlas of Anatomy” (published in 1943) rapidly gained international prominence and is still, one of the most widely used anatomical atlases in the world. It is now known as “Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy” and is in its tenth edition. The atlas was based on a series of elegant dissections done either by Grant or by others under his supervision. Many of these dissections are currently housed in Grant’s Museum at the University of Toronto.
The Rudi-Grant Connection is about knowing the man, the building blocks and the structural units and organization of the human body. To defend the human existence, the Rudi-Grant Connection lays the emphasis on knowing the person who is at risk apart from knowing the agent posing the risk.
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. Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy has provided me the learning tools to know and understand Man’s External and Internal Reality and its Identity as described by Cells, Tissues, Organs,and Organ Systems.
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?
National Cancer Act of 1971:
On December 23, 1971 President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act to direct efforts to conquer the problem of cancer through investment in cancer research and biomedical science. After about 50 years of the signing of the National Cancer Act, we need to reflect upon the problem of cancer. The study of cancerous cell will help us to give our attention to the spiritual substance of the cell whose composition resists the changes caused by cancer which disrupts all other living functions of the cell.
Cancer begins with a single mishap or mutation within the nucleus where 23 pairs of chromosomes on which 20,000 to 25,000 genes are scattered. Genes hold the instructions for regulating a variety of cell functions, and proteins carry out the instructions to perform these cell functions.
Cancer is a problem associated with abnormal cell proliferation or cell divisions. Cancer study helps us to understand normal functions of cells and to learn about the instructions that tell the cells to grow or to stop growing to make new cells. Normally, cell division begins in response to a signal or instruction received. Cells have circuits or pathways to send instructions. Genes send signals to each other along pathways. When a cancerous cell divides, the new cells receive signals to continue proliferation or cell divisions with the characteristics of immortality. The immune surveillance system may detect the presence of cancerous cells by detecting unique surface marker proteins present on the surface of the cancerous cells and the cells of the immune system neutralize or kill the cancerous cells. The study of cancer provides insight into individual signaling pathways and mutations that are characteristic of cancer.
The diagnosis of cancer involves the identification of the cells involved, and their location in the body. For each type of cancer disease, there are many genetic variants. Each cancer has to be defined by knowing the genetic mutation that has affected the individual cell. For example, currently, cancer researchers have identified about 56 sub-types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Each sub-type has its own genetic signature. Cancer treatment involves the killing of cancer cells and the therapy may often cause damage or death of healthy cells and tissues. Cancer research is developing targeted therapies that specifically address cellular flaws and spare the normal, and healthy cells, and tissues.
Cancer and the theory of human nature:
The understanding of the problem of cancer would help us to answer the question: “What is Man?” We need to know and understand man if we have to fight the problem of cancer. Man is an organism represented by a biotic community of about 100 trillion individual living cells and ten times more of other living organisms that inhabit his gastrointestinal tract. The problem of cancer involves the study of the nature of biotic interactions among members of this biological community. If the members, the individual living cells interact in a manner that show characteristics such as mutual assistance, cooperation, sympathy, understanding, devotion, and functional subservience, man will keep his biological existence and the quality of this existence becomes an attribute of his health and well-being.
In this context, I define the word ‘Spiritualism’ as mutually beneficial interactions between individual living cells of the human organism and the Whole Organism represented by the singularity called man. For example, the Red Blood Cells deliver Oxygen and remove waste products from other cells in the human body displaying the characteristics of a spiritual relationship or partnership. In the problem of cancer, we encounter cancerous cells that fail to display the chracteristics that I have mentioned. The cancer cells behave like an internal enemy; they invade the territory or space of normal and healthy cells and tissues. Cancer grows and causes both structural and functional changes in the tissues and organs where it is located. The cancer cells show the propensity to spread or invade the local and distant parts and sites of the body apart from occupying the place of their origin. Most of our medical interventions aim at destroying these enemy cells that threaten the biological existence of the cancer victim. The cancer variants describe the genetic variations found in the nuclei of cancerous cells and not that of any variation in the cytoplasm of these cells. This corporeal substance found inside the living cells is ‘spiritual’ in its nature where the word ‘spirit’ means the potential for immortality, imperishability, and immutability. This spiritual substance remains unchanged while the cancer disease affects the genes altering the structure and function of genes to deliver normal instructions. Man always comes into existence from a previously existing egg cell and inherits the maternal cytoplasm. Man survives because of the spiritual nature of this inherited maternal cytoplasm. Hence cancer research must explore the spiritual nature of man that has the potential to survive from generation to generation.
Joy in Life, Love and Compassion in Heart:
The spiritual well-being of man is reflected as joy in life, love, and compassion in heart. In health care, the term ‘comprehensive care’ describes the preventive, the diagnostic, the curative, the rehabilitative, and the restorative care of the entire person and not merely treating the symptoms of the disease. Cancer like several other disease entities imposes stress upon the human organism. The fear of premature death, the fear of disability or disfigurement, the risks imposed by chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery, the medical costs, and the loss of employment or of employability contribute to psychogenic stress. The human body is further exposed to physical and chemical stress because of the nature of medical interventions. Cancer as a disease causes ‘biotic stress’. The cells of the immune defense mechanism may detect the presence of cancerous cells and initiate a battle to destroy them. This immune response causes internal stress and very often there is no cortical awareness of this inner battle to defend life. The hostile biotic interactions between cancer cells and healthy cells produces a stress reaction which is mediated by the same stress pathways; the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal pathway. A cancer victim would have a better chance to become a cancer survivor if he is stress resistant and has greater stress tolerance. The restorative care in cancer patients must commence as soon as the diagnosis of cancer is made as the body has already experienced the stress reaction before the clinical diagnosis of cancer is made. The understanding of the spiritual nature of man will offer tools to promote stress tolerance and stress resistance.
Man is a Spiritual Being:
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE BANYAN TREE:
The Hindu Scripture of The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XV known as Purusottama Yoga speaks about the nature of the Supreme Person. It metaphorically compares the Supreme Being to the popularly known Fig Tree called Ficus benghalensis. The first verse reads as follows:
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 15, Verse 1
ऊर्ध्वमूलमध:शाखमश्वत्थं प्राहुरव्ययम् |
छन्दांसि यस्य पर्णानि यस्तं वेद स वेदवित् || 1||
ūrdhva-mūlam adhaḥ-śhākham aśhvatthaṁ prāhur avyayam
chhandānsi yasya parṇāni yas taṁ veda sa veda-vit
śhrī-bhagavān uvācha—the Supreme Divine Personality said; ūrdhva–mūlam—with roots above; adhaḥ—downward; śhākham—branches; aśhvattham—the sacred fig tree; prāhuḥ—they speak; avyayam—eternal; chhandānsi—Vedic mantras; yasya—of which; parṇāni—leaves; yaḥ—who; tam—that; veda—knows; saḥ—he; veda-vit—the knower of the Vedas
The Supreme Lord Krishna said: There is a Banyan Tree which has its roots upwards and its branches down and metaphorically it is imperishable; and the Vedic hymns are its leaves. One who knows this Tree is the Knower of the Vedas (the person attains the Knowledge of the Ultimate Reality or the Supreme being).
When we know the Banyan Tree and its apparent imperishable quality, we may understand the true nature of Man. Man is a spiritual being. The truth or falsity of this proposition depends on the fact of man’s having a substance that is of spiritual nature. Such a substance of spiritual kind is perceptible to the senses, is amenable to direct observation, and could be subjected to verification by experimental science. To establish the fact of man’s spiritual nature, it needs reasoning based upon scientific validity. The structure and the behavior of things contribute to their individual being and function. If man has a set of defining features based upon his structure (Human Anatomy), function (Human Physiology), and behavior (Human Behavioral Science), the spiritual nature of man could be proved on theoretical and practical grounds and could be verified by scientific experiments. I am not seeking to discover a soul or spirit that could have existence independent of man’s physical being. However, it will be important to note that it is not possible to conceive of a soul or spirit if it is never associated with its human body. My purpose is that of describing the spiritual nature of human organism and of other living beings. To understand the true nature of human being, we need to ascertain the validity of Knowledge that pertains to the Spiritual Self.
Man is a Mortal Being:
Man’s greatest need is not only to know the world around him but also to know himself better. Man must understand what it is to be a substance and what it is to exist. Man is a physical being or thing with matter and form. The corporeal body of man is composite of two principles; matter, and form. What is called matter is potentiality, and what is called form is actuality. The corporeal substance called protoplasm becomes actuality and is recognized as a living person because of the uniqueness of its genome that operates its living functions and defines its size, shape, color, and external form or morphological appearance. However, life comes into existence only when matter or substance has the ability to acquire energy from its external environment. The human being comes to life when his corporeal substance uses its potential ability and power called ‘Nutrition’ to acquire energy and material from its environment.
Life begins with fertilization, the union of sperm with egg cell, and this event called conception proceeds to develop a human being after an important event called implantation. The life journey after conception continues if there is a connection between the energy seeking embryo and its maternal energy provider. To exist means that the substance is maintaining a relationship, a partnership, a connection, or association with its source of energy. Man leads energy dependent existence deriving energy and material from nature which supports other living forms with a similar corporeal substance called protoplasm. The mortality of man must be understood as the dissolution of man’s physical form. The dissolution of living man into non-living molecules and physical elements would not alter that potentiality of protoplasm to acquire energy and material to create its own substance. Things in Nature change with Time; but what is called Nature remains unchanged even under the influence of Time. As per The Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy as described in classical Physics, mass or energy remain constant. The potentiality of living substance to acquire energy and material to form its own kind of substance has remained unchanged or unaffected by major natural calamities and other cataclysmic events. Life forms perish and yet life continues as new life forms. During the billions of years of existence, planet Earth has experienced several minor, and major Extinction Events described in its geological history. The Science of Paleontology offers scientific evidence to support an argument based upon theoretical and practical grounds to propose that the substance called protoplasm could be eternal, immovable, immutable, and indestructible. At a fundamental level, it could be stated that man is a mortal or materialistic being who derives his physical form because of its association with an imperishable substance. During any stage of his existence, the form called man cannot be separated from the eternal nature of its substance.
The relationship between Matter and Form:
WHAT IS SOUL OR SPIRIT ?
Traditionally, man has been divided into two parts; body, and soul. In common usage, the term soul represents the immaterial aspect of a human being. Soul is further defined as that part of the individual which is considered to survive the death of the body. The term spirit is often used to describe a disembodied soul. On separation from the human body, the soul or spirit has a life of its own, a capacity for independent existence or self-subsistence which describes its immortality.
The Conceptions of Soul:
There are a variety of conceptions about soul or spirit. Some of the traditional conceptions of soul are the following:
1. Soul is the immaterial substance, form, or principle of self-motion, vitality, life force, or life in living things. The insentient body is completely distinct from the sentient soul.
2. Soul describes the Doctrine of the Self, and is considered to be synonymous with the True-Self. In a human being, soul confers the Individuality and its nature of humanity.
3. Soul is often described as a thinking substance and is equated with mind. The soul has knowledge of itself by reflection of its acts. The soul is the knower and it knows the physical, and mental acts of the human body where it resides.
4. Soul is important to maintain, and to preserve life. Soul may not directly participate in the activities of the human body. However, the activities of the human body may have a polluting effect on soul. If the soul is tainted or contaminated by the sinful acts of the body, the soul may obtain purification by its release from the body. Some form of human effort, activity, attitude, and behavior is essential to keep the soul in its natural, pure, and perfect condition.
5. The soul that has experienced the polluting effects by its association with a human body would be forced to experience perpetual reincarnation by a process called transmigration. The soul continues to reside as a prisoner in different bodies until such time it attains its original state or condition of purity and perfection.
6. Soul is a transcendental or noumenal object that is real but not visible and could not be detected by human sensory perception. The human body that is visible is in fact unreal or is a product of sensory illusion.
The relationship between Soul and human body:
Most religions and cultures speak about soul and describe it as some incorporeal or immaterial substance/principle of human life that is distinct from the body. Despite the frequent acceptance of the existence of a soul, different religions and philosophers have developed a variety of theories as to the nature of the soul and its relationship to the human body. There are divergent views about the origin of the soul, when and how it gets implanted into the human body, and the mortality or when and if the soul dies. I would like to share the view that is attributed to Lord Krishna, the avatar or reincarnation of Hindu God Lord Vishnu.
Adhyatma Vidya – The Knowledge of Spiritual Self – The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita
The word ‘vidya’ relates to acquired knowledge or learned experience derived from studies and teachings imparted by an instructor. The term ‘adhyatma’ pertains to the individual soul, atma, or atman which describes the Spiritual Self. The phrase ‘Adhyatma Vidya’ could be described as the Knowledge of the Spiritual Self.
The legendary IndianSage Veda Vyasa also known as Krishna Dvaipayana was the author of the epic poem The Mahabharata (Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty). Veda Vyasa is recognized as the compiler of ancient Hindu texts known as Vedas. In the Book VI of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna converses with Prince Arjuna while the warring parties of Pandavas, and Kauravas face off each other at the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Lord Krishna reveals His views about soul, human body and their relationship in “The Song of the Lord” known as ‘The Bhagavad Gita’. These poems of The Bhagavad Gita give a synopsis of the religious thought and experience of India through the ages.
The Chapter X of The Bhagavad Gita is titled ‘Vibhuti-Vistara Yoga’ and it describes the divine or transcendental attributes of the Supreme Lord. In verse 39, the Lord claims, “I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being, moving or unmoving (Chara-acharam) that can exist without Me.”
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 10, Verse 32
सर्गाणामादिरन्तश्च मध्यं चैवाहमर्जुन |
अध्यात्मविद्या विद्यानां वाद: प्रवदतामहम् || 32||
sargāṇām ādir antaśh cha madhyaṁ chaivāham arjuna
adhyātma-vidyā vidyānāṁ vādaḥ pravadatām aham
O Arjun, know Me to be the beginning, middle, and end of all creation. Amongst sciences I am the science of spirituality, and in debates I am the logical conclusion.
In verse 32, the Lord proclaims, “….of all the branches of Learning and Knowledge, I am the Knowledge of the Spiritual Self (Adhyatma Vidya).
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 10, Verse 22
वेदानां सामवेदोऽस्मि देवानामस्मि वासव: |
इन्द्रियाणां मनश्चास्मि भूतानामस्मि चेतना || 22||
vedānāṁ sāma-vedo ’smi devānām asmi vāsavaḥ
indriyāṇāṁ manaśh chāsmi bhūtānām asmi chetanā
I am the Samaveda amongst the Vedas, and Indra amongst the celestial gods. Amongst the senses I am the mind; amongst the living beings I am consciousness.
In verse 22, the Lord describes the nature of His connection with the living beings that He creates, “…. and in living beings, I am Consciousness (Bhutanam asmi Chetana).” He also clarifies that Consciousness or Chetana is a different characteristic and separates consciousness from mental functions and mental activities such as thinking skills, intellectual abilities, and sense perception. Mind is traditionally viewed as the major organ of sense perception, seat of thoughts, intellect, emotions, feelings, and self-ego. Chetana is associated with the fundamental living characteristics of a living thing.
The Lord also cites The Vedanata Sutra to make the distinction between the body, the soul, and the Supersoul. The Vedanta, the insights from Vedic Scriptures describe three manifestations of the Supreme Lord’s Energy. These are 1. Annamoya or dependence upon Food for existence, 2. Pranamoya or the manifestation of the living symptoms and life forms, and 3. Jnanamoya or the Knowledge of the distinction between the body the field of activity and the Knower who resides in the body. If a living being needs food for its existence, and performs its living functions in a state or condition called awareness or consciousness, it could be described as the manifestation of the Supreme Lord’s Energy.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 9
पुण्यो गन्ध: पृथिव्यां च तेजश्चास्मि विभावसौ |
जीवनं सर्वभूतेषु तपश्चास्मि तपस्विषु || 9||
puṇyo gandhaḥ pṛithivyāṁ cha tejaśh chāsmi vibhāvasau
jīvanaṁ sarva-bhūteṣhu tapaśh chāsmi tapasviṣhu
I am the pure fragrance of the Earth, and the brilliance in fire. I am the life-force in all beings, and the penance of the ascetics.
In Chapter VII titled ‘Paramahamsa Vijnana Yoga’ or Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth, in verse 9 Lord Krishna claims: “I am the life force (Jivanam) of all that lives.” He demonstrates a connection between life and consciousness to describe the spiritual nature of Self.
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 13, Verse 3
क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि सर्वक्षेत्रेषु भारत |
क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोर्ज्ञानं यत्तज्ज्ञानं मतं मम || 3||
kṣhetra-jñaṁ chāpi māṁ viddhi sarva-kṣhetreṣhu bhārata
kṣhetra-kṣhetrajñayor jñānaṁ yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama
The Chapter XIII of The Bhagavad Gita titled ‘Kshetra – Kshetrajna Vibhaga Yoga’ deals with the dichotomy or distinction between the material body, immortal soul, and the Supersoul. It states the view that the material body is called the field of activity or Kshetra. One who knows this body, the field of activity is called the Knower of the Field or Kshetrajna. The Knower of the Field is the Owner of the body. The Supreme Lord is also the Knower of the field of activity in all bodies (verse 3).
In this human body, there is another indwelling obeserver, a sanctioner, a preserver, an enjoyer, and indeed ultimate Controller called ‘Paramatama’ or Supersoul. The Supreme Lord or Paramesvaram is residing equally in all living entities (verses 23, 27, and 28 ).
Just like the Sun who illuminates the entire living world, the soul within the body illuminates the entire field of activity of the physical body by Chetana or Consciousness (verse 34). This view as stated suggests that consciousness is the proof or the symptom of the presence of the soul.
A similar view is shared in Chapter II titled ‘Sankhya Yoga’. The imperishable or indestructible soul pervades or permeates (tatam) the entire physical body (verse 17). What is spread all over the body? Consciousness could be described as spread over the entire body and it leads to the interpretation that the symptom of the soul’s presence is perceived as individual consciousness.
The final Chapter XVIII of The Bhagavad Gita titled ‘Moksha-Opadesa Yoga’ comes to an interesting conclusion about the Single Reality that pervades all existence that is divided into innumerable forms. Verse 20 reads as follows:
Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 18, Verse 20
सर्वभूतेषु येनैकं भावमव्ययमीक्षते |
अविभक्तं विभक्तेषु तज्ज्ञानं विद्धि सात्त्विकम् || 20||
sarva-bhūteṣhu yenaikaṁ bhāvam avyayam īkṣhate
avibhaktaṁ vibhakteṣhu taj jñānaṁ viddhi sāttvikam
“Understand that Knowledge by which one undivided, imperishable (Avyayam) reality is seen within all diverse living entities is in the nature of goodness (Sattvikam).”
What is that undivided reality that is imperishable that connects all the diverse, living entities?
The Body-Soul dichotomy:
In the Indian tradition, the individual soul is known as Atma or Atman. The Supreme Soul or the Supersoul is known as Paramatma, Paramesvaram, or Brahaman, the Ultimate Truth and the Reality. However, the concepts about Atma or individual soul vary and Hindus belong to different schools of thought. While the concepts about individual soul are different, there is general agreement among various Indian thinkers and philosophers about the distinction between the material, insentient, and perishable human body and the immaterial, sentient, and imperishable or immortal soul. Soul is independent, and is not attached and it still requires the substance of the corporeal body. However, I am not able to draw that distinction and make that separation from the substance and its function. To describe function, I need the substance. Man lives and functions with consciousness because of the fundamental nature of the corporeal substance called protoplasm, and this substance is apparently imperishable, indestructible, and immortal. We could destroy the physical form of man and of several other living forms, but man or nature and the influence of Time have not demonstrated an ability to destroy this living substance which has survived on planet Earth continuously over billions of years. Man cannot create life and man cannot destroy life. Man can only live or exist because of the spiritual nature of his corporeal substance with which he can not seek separation until the time of his death. The substance has a life of its own and continues to create new substance of its own kind and becomes visible as a living life form with a different identity or morphological appearance.
The basic characteristic of a Living Cell or organism is the presence of consciousness. I recognize a cell as a Living Cell if it displays functions that characterize the presence of awareness or consciousness. The Living Cell or Living Object need not be aware or conscious of the Subject who may be investigating or observing the properties of that Object. The Living Object need to be aware of its own existence and its condition called Living. Atoms and molecules display their properties and interact according to the Laws of Physics and Chemistry. Living organic molecules show individualistic behaviors under experimental conditions that could be repeated and be verified. The Living Cell is very selective and it responds in a variable manner to physical and chemical stimuli. It can communicate or send signals to other Living Cells present in its environment. It responds according to its internal condition in relation to the environment in which it exists. The interactions of non-living physical matter are not goal-oriented. The interactions of Living matter are goal-oriented and they specifically achieve the purpose of sustaining, preserving, defending, and continuing the Living functions.
LIFE AND DEATH IS A CONTINUOUS PROCESS:
When does Life begins? When does Life ends? Every Living Cell is derived from a previously existing Living Cell. Life has not experienced the final event called DEATH. Life continues its act of Living through a function called Reproduction. A given species is considered to be totally extinct only if there is no surviving member to represent that particular species. Death is a programmed event and it gives meaning to the Identity of a Living Object. The dissolution of a single Living Object should not obscure the fact that Life is a continuous process. Life continues as Living Objects get new Identities. It is very reasonable to expect that Life would continue after the death of a given Living Object. People all over the world are a witness to that simple and direct observation. During the Life-Death continuum, the connection between the Creator and the created Living Object is manifested by the biological function called awareness or consciousness. The presence of Soul is evidenced by the presence of consciousness. As long as the Soul is functioning and is united with the physical being, the presence of consciousness could be detected and could be verified.
THE SOUL AND GOD CONNECTION:
There has been no clearly defined and universally accepted metaphysical conception of the term Soul. It is a term rarely used with precise definition in philosophy, religion, or common life. In this discussion we face the problem of using words to which no definitive meaning is attached. If I make an attempt to define the word ‘God’, you may even speculate that I may belong to a new religious order. We need to come to a consensus even if an entity called ‘God’ does not exist. We need to formulate a view, a hypothetical view about Soul and test that hypothesis by countering it with a skeptical hypothesis. The Science called Physics deals with the properties, changes, interactions, etc. of matter and energy in which energy is considered to be continuous. In the ultimate analysis, matter is a representation of its energy content. The Science called Biology deals with Life and Life processes. While Life is made up of physical matter, Life processes are not explained by simple mechanistic interactions. However, I am willing to use the principles, the methods, and the tools used by Physics. Molecular Biology explains biological events by studying the molecules within cells; the molecular basis of genetics – Nucleic Acids and its relationship to energy cycling and replication. If this universe is seen as matter and energy, I would define God as the Controller of Force/Power/Energy. All living things are essentially made up of the same kind of living matter and yet they appear to be different. Life could be attributed to ONE common principle which has the ability to be simultaneously different. Each living object comes into a state of existence as a new object, as an original object, one of its own kind, unique, and distinctive. This morphological variation is an attribute of the organic molecules that establish the phenotype or the physical identity of that living organism. Physics provides those powerful tools to see the molecules and to recognize their individualistic behavior. Life comes into existence using a creative principle, and creative mechanisms that need inspiration, and imagination apart from the use of simple mechanistic laws. If Life is governed by the Law of Individuality, I would define God as a Creative Force/Power/Energy.
A majority of these life forms that we know and have studied, have synchronized their state of existence with an event that produces alternating periods of light and darkness while that source of light is not being turned ‘on’ and ‘off’. Rather we are forced to experience the effects of an illusion. Sunrise and Sunset is the reality that governs a majority of Biological Rhythms that control the life processes. Illusion is the necessary condition for the biological existence of Life. If Earth’s rotational spin generates this illusion, God uses Force/Power/Energy to cause illusion. In the universe that exists today, to the extent we have verified; there are no two identical celestial objects that exhibit the same rotational spin. In this context, it may be said that the Force/Power/Energy called God has created Earth to provide a home to the life forms that He has created as Individuals. These life forms have the ability called reproduction and yet lack the ability of producing two identical new objects. Sexual or Asexual reproduction always results in the production of new Individuals which could be easily verified by using the Biometric Identification Technology. Even the clones, sharing identical genomes, in reality exist as individuals. This Individuality when investigated by the tools supplied by Physics, it is discovered that the organic molecules behave as Individuals and man is not able to modify that behavior. Under the same experimental conditions, the molecules behave as individuals. When we examine the nature of this biological existence, it indicates that life processes are supported by the provision of energy from an external source. The Living Cell is a thermodynamically unstable system. This means that without a continuous input of energy a Living Cell will degrade spontaneously into a nonliving collection of molecules. This lack of energy independence would direct us to define God as the Power/Force/Energy which delivers Compassion/Mercy/Grace which helps energy acquisition by energy dependent living organisms. Life forms on planet Earth exist depending upon an extraterrestrial source of energy or Cosmic Power/Force/Energy. Life exists because of its ability called ‘Association’. The act of associating, the state of being associated; the companionship, the fellowship, and the partnership is the defining feature of the State or Condition, or Act of Living. Association or patnership between energy seeker and energy provider could be described as God-Connection. Organisms that are single do not live as single cells but develop association with other single cells to form distinct Colonies. Organisms that are multicellular represent an organization of individual cells that are associated having common interests, purposes, sensations, etc., Since association has a purpose, in the context of biological existence, the association or connection, or partnership between the energy seeker, and the energy provider is a meaningful event and not a simple, mechanical, physical event governed by the Laws of Interactions between Matter and Energy. There are Four Fundamental Interactions and they do not regulate or define this Interaction between Living matter and the Cosmic Force/Power/Energy. Living matter uses and exploits energy in a creative manner to build organic molecules and to break down organic molecules. The life processes are very similar and yet the results are totally different. While using energy mostly following a similar metabolic pathway, each organism supports its identity and individuality.
SOUL AND DEATH:
The idea of ‘Soul’ always comes in the context of Death. If man is immortal, we will not be spending our time and energy discussing to verify the existence of an immortal principle. The human subject has a limited life span and it arouses a sense of curiosity about the existence of something that could defy Death. I am trying to define the word ‘Soul’ in a manner to promote an understanding that ‘Soul’ is immortal if we look at man as an Association of individual living cells. We need to establish the Identity of that Individual for whose purpose or interest this Association of Individual living cells exists. If we think of Death as a final event, it is not supported by factual evidence. In this Association, death is a daily event. We simply fail to acknowledge this daily event as there is an immortal principle that is escaping this death experience. The Individual thinks that he is alive and sustains his Individuality without getting overwhelmed by the dying process that is continuous. While the human organism is changing its external appearance and identity all the time, the Individuality survives if ‘Soul’ the vital, or operating immortal principle is functioning. The issue or question about ‘transmigration’ of Soul would not arise if every living organism exists strictly as an Individual with an Individuality. As stated before,man has no choice and he must always exist as an Individual even when we use Reproductive Genetic Engineering Technology to produce identical clones with the same genome. The dissolution of matter may not change the Law of Conservation of Energy. If Soul is defined as the God Connection that gives the ability of energy acquisition, the Soul when removed from a physical object to which it has given Individuality, would operate as per the commands of the Controller of Force/Power/Energy. It provides the possibility of carrying the impressions of a previous state of existence into a new state of existence with a new identity and Individuality. During the life span of a given Individual, an association of cells in which death is a daily event, Soul is a continuous principle as its purpose and interest is to maintain Individuality of that Individual.
In a Living Cell, consciousness reflects its external environment and its internal condition or internal environment. The Living Cell knows, it is aware of its state, fact, and act of its Living. The Living Cell makes contact with its environment by using a cell membrane, a biological membrane, or a bio-membrane. If you carefully look at some of the functions of this membrane, you would discern that the Living Cell has consciousness or awareness of these functions. The Biological Membrane behaves in a conscious manner and it is not a simple, physical barrier between the Protoplasm, the Living Substance and its environment. If the term ‘soul’ describes a vital principle, or a source of Knowledge, it provides the information with which these functions could be performed. Some molecules and ions can freely move across this Bio-membrane and some are actively pumped in or out of the Cell that involves expenditure of energy. The Living Cell has the ability to recognize the condition of its nucleus, if the DNA is damaged, the Cell can initiate a process and cause its own dissolution.
IDENTITY AND INDIVIDUALITY:
The issue of spirituality, the nature of Soul and consciousness must be explored in the context of arriving at an understanding of man’s Identity and Individuality. If man is viewed as an association of trillions of cells, we need to know the Identity of that Subject who lives because of the functions of the trillions of cells. The purpose of consciousness at cellular level is to foster functional unity of the multicellular organism and to establish it as an Individual. In a multicellular organism, cells have short lives as individuals. The Subject or the whole organism has a life span of its own and it has effects on individual cells. Multicellularity is accompanied by adaptive subordination of all cells to the requirements of the organism as a whole. To achieve proper numerical balance between functionally related cell groups, the death of many cells is necessary for other cells to reach maturity. This programmed cell death plays an important role in embryological development. Such programmed cell death events are essential if the organism as a whole is to develop its normal final form. Waves of genetically driven cell deaths are critical to the proper modeling of organs and organ systems. We need to know and understand that death of cells is a must to establish the Identity and to sustain the Individuality of the human being.
The dying process helps man to understand his Individuality. The Individuality is preserved while death is a daily event at the cellular level. The phenotype or the morphological appearance of the human Subject undergoes constant change during the Life journey and yet the Individuality remains unchanged.
We recognize the death of this human Subject when his Soul departs from his body. Soul may be stated as an entity which is regarded as being immortal or spiritual part of the person. The Spirit of a dead person generally refers to a principle separate from the body and leading an existence of its own. If Soul is viewed as a Non-thing or Nothingness, it comes into the world of existence by entering the physical being at its conception which becomes conscious or aware of its existence. This consciousness has also existed in a previously existing Living Egg Cell which is the Mother of Life, Energy, and Knowledge. Consciousness by its very nature is immortal, it is eternal, and it has no birth or death. We recognize the arrival and departure of the new product during the Life-Death continuum where the Individuality is unaffected by the changes that are caused by the powerful influence of Time.
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 when 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.
Protoplasm 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.