Reply To: Is Earth a living being?

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Ashish Dalela

A general comment — your tone is generally disrespectful toward Lord Shiva. It should not be. He is Sankarsana, a form of Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavas revere Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is also the original Acharya of one of the four Vaishnava sampradayas. So I request you to be respectful. He is not a demigod. These demigods are in their position temporarily. Lord Shiva is eternally in His position.

The term prana has a very specific meaning. It is a technical term. It is either there or not there. “Vestiges of prana” or whatever you mean by that is inventing a new type of usage. The presence of prana is established by the five types of symptoms namely ingestion, digestion, circulation, elimination, and expression. If these things are not happening, there is no prana.

Prana is the agency by which the free will of the soul is expressed. If there is no soul, there is no pranaPrana carries the soul from one body to another. This means prana is the connection between the gross and the subtle body. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, a triad called manasprana, and vak is described. The vak is the sound expression, manas is the meaning, and prana is the connection between the two. So, by the presence of prana the body is experienced as meaning, or we can say that experience is created. This experience is being something. For example, in the human body, you get the experience of being a human. There is no such thing as being a table. The table exists, but nobody can say “I am table”. A table is not a valid species of life. Prana exists only in certain forms because there are some fixed species of life. I can create a bottle, but I’m not creating a species of life, so no prana exists.

Prana is the cause and the table is an effect. From the effect, you can infer the cause. But the cause is not present in the effect. If you want to use the term ‘vestige of prana‘ all you need to say that there is an effect created by the presence of prana and hence the soul under whose control that prana was acting. Yes, the creator’s personality is embedded in the creation. The form of the creation is similar to the form of the personality of the creator. To that extent, if you read an author you can associate with their personality because they have a similar form.

Nobody is denying the existence of meaning in things. We are disputing the experience of meaning. A painting has meaning, but it doesn’t experience the meaning. Similarly, the dead body of a saint has a meaning, the form of the personality, but it is not being experienced.

There is a very old argument in Western philosophy regarding the reality of the world. It was advanced by Bishop Berkeley. He said something similar to Sāńkhya — namely, esse est percipi. The essence of something is to be perceived. So, the world exists to be perceived. Now that leads to the problem — what if something is not being perceived? Does it disappear? Berkeley argued that when something is not being perceived, God still perceives it. It exists because of God’s perception. We also say the same thing — when the body is sleeping, or the baby in a mother’s womb, God maintains the life. Some Western philosophers, like John Locke, did not like this argument. So they said that the world doesn’t exist to be perceived. It is primary properties, which can exist on their own, and then the atheistic roots of modern science were born in which first the world’s properties were divorced from the nature of perception. Now, if you want to bring back perception into science, you have to retrace the steps that have been lost.

So, when you say that once it gets out of my hand, it is being perceived by God, and that seems a problem to you — you need to go back to the reason why Berkeley’s position on esse est percepi led to the necessity of God perceiving the world. This is a really deep issue.

I’m trying to draw your attention to these issues, because I’m afraid we tend to go fast and loose with some ideas, and that does more damage than good. Your position is getting dangerously close to pantheism, and that may be unintentional, but still. Let’s make the conversation rigorous, precise, and technical. If that takes time we have to spend it. Otherwise, there are so many people running fast and loose with these ideas that how can we differentiate? There has to be some source of knowledge where the rare few serious people will come to seek. Let the masses run fast and loose with whatever they want to do. This is only for the rarest of rare.