The following excerpt is from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Question (Q): What is Life? How do you call somebody alive?
Acharya Prashant (AP): A dewdrop vanishes in no time, does it have a life?
Talk about yourself. What do you call as ‘your life’, ‘your aliveness’? We have this instrument here. Anybody can push the buttons and get it to operate in the way they want to. You can record the noise of the marketplace in this, and you can record the most beautiful music in it. It’s all the same. It does something. It moves, it reacts. Would you call it alive?
Listeners (L): No.
AP: Why not?
L: Because it is just reacting, not responding.
AP: Then how is eating, moving, breathing, a sign of life?
L: Sir, the machine does not have consciousness.
AP: What do you mean by consciousness?
Why doesn’t it have consciousness? If I toss it up, it goes up to a certain point, and then it comes back. It seems it is making a decision to come back. How is it not conscious?
It is making a decision, something is happening. Just as you wake up, sleep, eat, speak, similarly, this too is doing something.
It has no real option, in front of the forces of nature, the forces of conditioning. It has no real option. It will only do, what it is dictated to do. It might appear to be doing something. But it really does not do anything. It only gets tossed about. It’s only a plaything.
You can really do something only when you understand what’s going on. So that’s one definition of Life. You are alive when you know. You are alive when you understand, and only when you understand. If you do not understand, then you are moving, thinking, performing activities, but are not really alive.
One has to be drawn towards understanding. One must have, an affinity for knowing, realizing. That affinity is called love. One is pulled towards something. That gives us another definition of Life — You are alive if you are pulled mysteriously towards realization, you are alive if you cannot do without understanding, you are alive if you cannot bear to…