Learn to die to yourself, so you can experience and share great things beyond yourself ~ Mom
Some hydrozoans are jellyfish-like marine animals that, after aging, return to their juvenile form and repeat their lifecycle, and, as the NY Times Article describes, the Hydrozoan refuses to die. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/can-a-jellyfish-unlock-the-secret-of-immortality.html?_r=0. Very much like the lobster ;), the hydrozoan is biologically immortal through a process akin to cellular transdifferentiation.
The article questions why we, as humans, have not invested great resources for the research of this creature and its phenomenal retro-cyclic life cycle, as it might hold the key for human immortality or rejuvenation, at the least.
I’m sure there are many technical and financial reasons why we have not invested more time and resources into the research of these animals. But in thinking about why, I thought more about the essence of people. I have explained in previous posts that people, although observed through anatomy and physiology, in essence, are not anatomical creatures, which explains why scientists struggle so much with the idea of when human life begins. When the hydrozoan returns to its juvenile state, it evolves from a simple form to a more complex form, changing cells and taking on a new likeness. The article said that it would be akin to a human shedding its old body and taking on a completely new body – new brain, new heart, new muscle tissue, etc.
Yet, the scientist still refers to the hydrozoan as the same individual creature, perhaps because there is a continuation of living cells occupying space and time continually, even though those cells are now completely new. But if the tentacle of the hydrozoan is eaten and digested by another creature, it is then considered to be a part of that creature and no longer a part of the hydrozoan. Likewise, if the tentacle of the hydrozoan is merely severed, it is no longer considered a part of the hydrozoan. If a hydrozoan is severed in two and each piece survives on its own, the one hydrozoan may be considered two individual hydrozoans.
But unlike the hydrozoan, even though a genetic human being, recognized at conception, may occupy both space and time in a continual fashion, we debate over when it is a person. Some say brain function if the essence – as long as it has brain function, it is a person. Some say a heart beat. Some say viability. As I have expressed in previous posts, a unique person is not identified by its involuntary bodily makeup but by the way in which it voluntarily uses its resources (i.e. body) – down to its own neurotransmitters. There are two ways of looking at it – ways in which the body controls the person and ways in which the person controls the body. If the body solely controls the person, our worlds are subject solely to hard determinism – in which we have no free will – and there is no distinction between person and body. If the person solely controls the body, our powers of observation are fallacies, as the person is observably granted powers and limited by the body.
Without going into a lengthy digression about free will (as I have talked about it in previous posts), the person, being only observable by its body and its actions, is more than body. Sometimes movies express this notion in body swap films like “Freaky Friday” and “Shaggy Dog”. More commonly, we express this notion in death – when cells of the deceased are still living but the person has passed on – or in the beginning of life, where we scientifically recognize a new living human being at conception but still, as a society, are undetermined to define when personhood begins. Of course, these are only a very few small ways in which we recognize persons as separate from their bodies.
As essentially a person, not a body, my person is much more in need of rebirth than my body. And so, as I continue to die – that is let go of friends and family, ideologies, experiences, loves, and transgressions (by force or by choice) – I must become reborn and die and become reborn again and so on, so as to attain personal immortality (and true immortality by rebirth in the way of creation). Looking upon nature with new eyes at age 80 may become the same joyful, new, and loving experience as looking upon nature at age 8.
Since returning to Illinois, I do not leave my wisdom gained from my life on the east coast, but I must never pose that I am so wise as to preclude myself from seeing life as a child – free from pain associated with experience and unneeded bias that will hinder great love and experience. There will be many more obstacles and painful experiences, but my limitations will not be set by them (Dye mon gen mon), as I leave them behind in rebirth. I do not know what is next in store – perhaps a timinaustralia blog or timinillinois blog or timinmicronesia blog or timinarabia blog or timinspain blog. But, my success, as always, will be set not merely by a will to be, in which I strive so life comes to me, but a will to go, in which I show life.