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5. Genetics, the Law of Karma and Reincarnation
Of all aspects of our existence as human beings, the most difficult thing to explain is the wide diversity in our fortunes and misfortunes, our physical features, our capacities to acquire skills and knowledge, our worldly desires, our emotions, health concerns about ourselves and our kith and kin, etc. Swami Vivekananda  emphatically says that no other theory except that of reincarnation accounts for this divergence. Buddhism and Platonism also endorse the theory of reincarnation with some minor variations. Furthermore, there is a measure of scientific support for this hypothesis by virtue of numerous reports of hypnotic regression, analysis, and hundreds of case studies, by the University of Virginia psychiatrist Ian Stevenson and his colleagues . The literature is also loaded with various type of near death experiences that seem to lend support to the notion that there is some sort of survival of the human personality after death."As you sow, so shall you reap. Dust thou art; into dust thou shall return." These quotations from the Bible and the writings of Sufi mystics like Rumi also echo the underpinnings of the Law of Karma and the theory of Reincarnation; but somewhere along the line, orthodox Islam and Christianity rejected the notion of return of the soul to Earth before what they refer to as the Judgment Day.Yet, it is difficult to incorporate these ideas into the current paradigms of genetics. That is because genetics primarily recognizes the influence of bottom up processes in the growth of an organism and its susceptibilities to malfunction. In reality however, both nature (Genetic predisposition) and nurture(Environmental influences) in a mutually interactive fashion are equally involved in the functioning of all life forms from the lowest to the highest. That means research in Genetics has a long way to go yet. If any sort of continuity of information is involved, it has to involve the soul, if we were to address that issue within the context of religious beliefs. But then what is the soul? Since neither the birth nor the death of an organism is an instantaneous process, if there is such a thing as the soul, it must be part and parcel of each and every cell that an organism has contained from the moment of its birth to its death.
In Hindu Advaita, this dilemma is resolved by maintaining that the universe of name, form and emotions into which we are born, in which we live and in which we eventually die, originates from and is sustained by That which is beyond time and within time at the same time. "I am That, Thou art That, All this is That (Aham Brahma, Tvam Brahma, Sarvam Brahma") implies that the Individual Soul (Jivatma) and the Divine Soul (Paramatma) are one and the same. It is a difficult concept to grasp by our finite minds. The clay is in the pot but the pot is in the clay only in terms of its potentially. This is an analogy used to convey what is meant.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, while recognizing the monotheism and the metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta emphasizes Bhakti as a vehicle for an interactive relationship with the Divine, as in I Islam, Christianity, Vaishnavism, ¦¦-Shaivism etc. Western Pantheism subscribed to by its originator Friedrich t Karuse (1781-1832) in Germany, American theologian Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000), British philosopher Alfred Whitehead (1861-1947) attempt to do justice both to divine transcendence and divine immanence in a similar manner.No matter by what name it is called, the notion of an Ultimate Source is not a farfetched idea within the context of recent advances in physics. For biologists to make contact, we must recognize that the Ultimate Source has also the potentiality for the emergence of the emotional factor in the material world. And that includes consciousness, intelligence, discrimination, free will and so on. To establish how that plays out into its dynamic or kinetic realization in the life forms - on Earth, in the spirit worlds and life forms elsewhere in the observable universe - in an interactive fashion between the Creator (the potentiality of the Ultimate Source) and the Creation (Its manifestation in kinetic forms) is a challenge for the life scientists of our time. There may well be information recycling processes (before the birth of an organism and after its death) that have yet to be identified.
Notion of an Ultimate Source is not a farfetched idea within the contex of recent advances in physics.