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How are all life-forms similar?

They all seek the same goal. Happiness!

Lately, our country has been going through a challenging time. The pandemic has upended our lives; most of us know someone who died or was severely affected by the virus. It brings to mind a story about Gautama Buddha’s avatar, when a weeping mother brought her lifeless child to Buddha, hoping he would do something about it. He instructed her to get alms from a household where no one had ever died; the alms from such a house, fed to the child, would bring him back to life. The mother went from door to door, but death had visited every home, and she came back empty-handed. Buddha explained that death was inevitable, but it is up to us to save ourselves from anguish and anxiety.

But what is the way to be freed from sorrow? Or, at least, to find some relief from the terrible stress and anxiety that seems to rule our lives? There is a simple solution, but the tricky part is getting there. Submit your life to God; let His will prevail. How does one submit to God? The way is to align our lives with God and guru, realise their presence at all times, and serve them. The more we recognise their presence, the more we serve them, the more tranquil we will become.

The gateway to the divine, the first step, is spiritual knowledge.

So, regardless of what is happening in the world, we must be steady and steadfast in our spiritual quest. The topic for this article is–what is common to all life-forms?

There are the common threads through all jeevas, all living beings - we all want happiness, knowledge and we do not want to die. ‘Want’ is a weak word to describe this condition; perhaps anxious or thirsting is more appropriate. It does not matter if the jeeva is a human, animal, insect, or even plant; it will have these qualities.

It is easy to see these qualities in animals, a bit more obscure in insects. But plants? Do plants have feelings?

It is hard to think of plants having these characteristics. Yet, studies after scientific study have shown that plants are alive as any animal and exhibit behaviour like animals. A study carried out by the University of Missouri and published in 2014, has shown that plants understand and react when they are about to be eaten. For instance, by a caterpillar. And they do not like it.

This raises ethical questions: all the while, we had thought that an animal-flesh-based diet was not good for us spiritually (or even for our health), and a plant-based diet was good. Aren’t we sinning by eating