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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Levels of Awareness

One of the most difficult concepts to explain in introductory science is the concept of life. What's the difference between living and non living things? Most of us have no answer except some heuristics that make us decide if something has life or not. And the line really blurs when we start discussing viruses! They are somewhere between living and non livings. Isn't it strange that we don't know what life is?

Don't expect that I'll give you an answer in this post! I am just giving you another perspective which is sometimes neglected. Do animals have "more life" than plants? Do plants have "more life" than the minerals they consume?

I expect that you'll agree that animals have stronger form of life than plants and we have an even stronger form of life as compared to other animals. And in my opinion plants have stronger form of life than minerals (I somehow believe that there is life in everything...it's just the strength of the form which is so weak that we don't consider anything else as living being, though I don't have any strong argument in favor of this claim).

Talking of the fellow human beings, aren't some of us more lively than others? So, what we might consider as "form of life" is actually degree of awareness - of yourself and your environment, though it's extremely difficult to say where exactly I start from and where I finish but let's postpone that discussion for some other time. I'll like to give some examples regarding degrees of awareness.

Suppose a child is asleep and sees a dream in which he looses his favorite toy. Then he wakes up and becomes worried; and when somebody asks him the reason, he tells about his dream. There is no doubt that everyone will try to explain him that it was just a dream - in other words, a difference between the reality and dream world.

Consider another child who is playing his favorite fighting game on his computer, in which he looses and starts crying. His elders will surely try to sooth him by explaining that it's just a game. However, if an elder behaves the same way while playing a game (he might be a real addict of gaming), you will be surprised, because you expect a different level of "awareness" from him. Suppose, he is not able to separate his identity from the game character that just died; won't life be quite difficult for him?

Now consider yourself and this real world of yours. What if someone comes to you and tells that you have bound yourself too strongly with your identity in this temporary world (compare with the gaming example in the last para)? Perhaps, it would be too difficult to understand mainly because the effort to make you aware of your real existence is from within this temporary world (as opposed to the gaming example).

Have you ever seen a dream in which somebody has told you that it's just a dream? I have! And not just once, it has become quite frequent. When this happens, it has some indication with it that convinces me that it really is just a dream - usually an unexplainable phenomenon such as the hands of a clock moving in the opposite to usual direction, etc.

[to be continued...will write after learning more about life...]