On Life After Death
To whom it may concern,
This letter is in reply to an article by Dr. Abraham Kovoor published recently in the Colombo Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). In this article (a reaction to a lecture I had given a week earlier in Colombo’s Rama-Krishna Mission Hall) Dr. Kovoor argued against the existence of the soul, and against life after death. Surely Dr. Kovoor and other men of his stamp stand proudly on their platform of knowledge. But the innocent public, who are not so expert in sophistry and word jugglery, should know that these self-styled guardians of logic, reason, and the advancement of science are sailing on a sinking ship when they unceremoniously meddle in matters which lie beyond the purview of their limited senses—namely “life after death.”
The very first line of Dr. Kovoor’s article, “I do not hold the view that my life is located in a particular spot in my body,” betrays the flimsiness of the platform upon which he stands. Throughout the article Dr. Kovoor gives his views, beliefs, and opinions about a subject completely beyond his power of observation, and he tries to pass these imaginative speculations off as scientific truths.
With all due respect to Dr. Kovoor, I beg to point out that the process of direct sense perception, the basis for his many statements about “life after death,” is utterly limited and imperfect. Take, for example, our eyes. They function only under certain conditions. If there is no light, we cannot even see our hands in front of our face. We cannot see the nearest object, the eyelid; nor can we see what is farthest away, the outskirts of the universe. Clearly, the eyes are imperfect. And the senses of touch, taste, smell, and hearing are likewise limited. The mind is also imperfect. If one is asked to remember what he was doing fifteen years earlier on a given date, he will surely fail the test—most people would be hard-pressed to recall exactly what they were doing even fifteen minutes previously. Therefore, since our mind and senses are imperfect, any knowledge based on mental speculation and sensual perception must also be imperfect.
Now the reader may ask, “If knowledge of the soul is beyond the limited reach of our mind and senses, then how can we acquire this knowledge?” The answer is that we must look to the revealed Vedic scriptures, which are not the product of imperfect human minds, but which are spoken by either God Himself or by perfectly self-realized souls, who are transcendental to our limitations. For example, in the Bhagavad-gita, which learned men all over the world accept as the essence of Vedic knowledge, Lord Krishna declares that there is the soul, and the rebirth of the soul, and there is the supreme soul, God. Krishna also describes the spiritual science by which we can perceive the soul and God. Just as we have a material science, which deals with material phenomena, so there is a spiritual science, which allows the practitioner to penetrate the wall of gross and subtle matter and directly experience and realize the soul, its rebirth, and its relationship with God, the supreme soul.
A true scientist would never prematurely declare, “I do not believe that I have a soul or spirit that survives my death.” Rather, if he really wished to perceive the soul, or self, he would embrace the process of self-realization Lord Krishna outlines in the Bhagavad-gita—a process accepted as standard by men recognized in the field of spiritual science. Such a sincere seeker of truth (the true scientist) would then submit himself to that process, and only after perfectly applying all its techniques to himself, under the guidance of an authorized professor of spiritual science (the spiritual master), would he dare speak on the matter in question. Theory, practice, and observation—that is the true process of science, and it applies equally to both material and spiritual science.
We must know the right technique for probing into the subject matter. If I want to recognize diamonds, rubies, sapphires, or pearls, I have to be trained in the techniques for testing such gems; otherwise, I may accept glass for diamonds and be cheated. For want of the spiritual techniques described in the ancient Vedic scriptures, we are foolishly accepting the body as the self and missing the real point—the soul. Therefore, on the basis of revealed scriptures and under the guidance of an authorized teacher, anyone who wants to speak on spiritual subject matters should learn spiritual science and become qualified to distinguish matter from spirit.
All the Vedic scriptures teach that life is not generated from a combination of chemicals, as men like Dr. Kovoor would have us believe, but that life comes only from life. The living combination of man and woman in sexual intercourse generates a living child. A dead man and a dead woman have no power to generate a child. A living tree can bear fruit; a dead tree, however, has no such power. The difference between life and death is the soul, which the Bhagavad-gita describes as superior energy (para-prakrti). It is this superior energy which manifests all material phenomena within our experience.
If life were a product of chemical combination only, as material scientists suggest, then why don’t they inject the “life-giving chemical” into dead bodies and make men live forever? Or if we give the scientists the chemical ingredients of the material body, can they combine them and bring them to life? When confronted with these questions, material scientists can only answer, “We are trying, we will do it in the future.” But this is not science—this is bluffing.
So here is my challenge to Dr. Kovoor and his fellow scientists: Let them take a dead body and inject into it the appropriate chemical to bring it back to life. However, since they obviously find this task too difficult, perhaps they could just produce a simple form of life like a mosquito or a bedbug. Of course, it may well be that their so-called science is “not yet ready” to produce a finished product of life, so perhaps they could make a synthetic eggshell, inject yellow and white chemicals into it, incubate the whole business, and thereby produce a chicken. Still, this task may be a little too difficult for them. So, if they could just produce a drop of milk or a grain of rice by chemical combination, we could perhaps begin to take them a little seriously. But until they do, we must conclude that Dr. Kovoor and other men like him are simply ignorant bluffers, and that they are totally incompetent to speak on subjects like the nature of life, life after death, the soul, and God.