I am typically fairly critical of New Age movements, but I must give credit where credit is due, as amidst the horible debate surrounding the death of Terry Schiavo, Deepak Chopra stands out in my mind as one of the most level headed voices to speak on the subject. From last Thursday's episode of Scarborough County:
CHOPRA: Well, life begins when your father has a gleam in his eye for your mother, goes for a picnic, and you come back. You know, today it all depends on our culture, it depends on our religious beliefs, it depends on the hypnosis of social conditioning, it depends on our mythology. There‘s no clear-cut answer. Biologically, life is always there, even in the sperm. You know, the sperm is a living structure, a living cell. It is moving. It takes in nutrition. Life is there when the ovum is fertilized. Life is there when the fetus is born. Ultimately, I think for practical purposes, we have to define life as consciousness, consciousness which is awareness, which is also perception, which is cognition, which is moods, feelings, emotions, social interactions, relationships, behavior, and biology. When you put all of that together, we have a living being that can express their consciousness through the five senses and respond to the world. And that‘s the only definition we can go by because otherwise we will be arguing forever.
I think we go into a deep self-examination. That‘s her legacy. Are we going to collectively, honestly examine these issues? What is life? What is quality of life? What is quality of death? What is dignity in living and dying?