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An Ageless Vision
Abortion - Nothing heard, nothing seen, nothing said...
License to kill: 50,000,000 annually

There is much confusion regarding the abortion question throughout the world. This confusion stems from a lack of knowledge about the nature of matter and the nature of spirit, or put another way, about the difference between the material body and the actual self.

Anyone can understand that we are all conscious living beings. As such we are observers of the perceivable world. We don't think about it much but this world of observable things not only includes our external environment, but also our own body, as when we perceive it working; our mind, as when we observe our own thoughts or the mental images that we dream at night; and our intelligence, as when we utilize it to help us make discriminations. And we are aware of ourselves as unique and individual persons. In all conditions of life there is always someone within, who is the observer.

Individual consciousness or awareness is the most fundamental element of our experience. And yet no one in any of the various branches of modern science, psychology or philosophy can properly explain its essential nature and origin. This is due to the fact that the very seat of conscious life remains mysterious and inaccesible even to the most gifted modern empiricists. At the same time we should know that there must be a seat, or self, which exists at the core of our being. Otherwise who or what is doing all of this is observing?

Who accurately follows this line of thought, will understand that the question of abortion is not a moral question. Everyone on all sides agrees that it is immoral to take another person's life. What they don't agree about is just who or what a person is. Thus the question is one of knowledge: What is life? What is its point of origin? When is a living thing considered a person who's right to life should be protected, and when, if at any time, is it not? These are the questions that surround the abortion issue and these are questions of knowledge, not morality. But who can provide definitive answers to such questions? In the most countries the burden has been placed upon some court, or national or regional legislatures. Unfortunately, just being appointed judge or elected legislator does not automatically endow one with the insight or wisdom to solve life's ultimate questions....

Without exception, all material phenomena have a beginning and an end. One of the most prominent ideas of modern culture is that consciousness is another such material phenomenon. Therefore it is believed that consciousness (or the self) also ends with the death of the material body. This point of view, however, is merely an assumption. It has not been proven true by any scientific observation or experiment.

Nonetheless, the idea that the self ends with the body remains one of the great articles of faith of modern materialistic thought, and we have all been educated from early childhood to think of ourselves in terms of such beliefs. Few of us, however, have thought through the philosophical implications of this type of thinking, which compels us to unconsciously embrace voidistic and nihilistic styles of life.

The most basic teaching of the Vedic literature stands in direct opposition to the modern scientific view of consciousness and life. According to Vedic teachings, individual consciousness is not at all dependent upon neurobiological functions but permanently exists as an independent reality.

The presence within the material body of a conscious observer who remains ever present throughout changing bodily and mental states indicates the existence of two energies -- the spiritual energy (represented by the conscious self) and the material energy (represented by the temporary body). The Vedas explain that this spiritual energy, symptomized by consciousness, continues to exist even after the material body is finished.

Given this understanding, the conclusion about the question of personhood which stands at the heart of the abortion debate is obvious. Since each of us is an eternal individual -- soul -- with an eternal individual identity, which has never been, is not now, and never will be dependent on the material body, or the laws that govern the phenomenal world, our personhood is a fact at conception.

According to the Vedic scriptures, the soul enters the ovum upon fertilization. Thereafter the child's senses develop within the mother's womb for the term of pregnancy. Birth is just the appearance of the fully developed human form. It is not the beginning of human life. That begins with conception. The personality existed before.

Therefore it is certainly an act of cruel violence to end the life of such a person simply because that life has become a source of inconvenience. This should have been thought about before the act. Not when it is too late and one feels compelled to destroy another life because of one's own irresponsibility. That is what it is: irresponsibility. And the laws of material nature react heavily to this kind of irresponsibility. The result is intens suffering, be it instantaneously or delayed (even over a number of lives).

Some people propose conditions under which abortion is justified, like rape, but all these things -- the rape, the idea that rape justifies abortion -- are bad karma. Aborting the child conceived by rape is not some kind of good karma that erases the bad karma. It is more bad karma. It simply compounds the sin.

And all so that we can think we're making life a little better for ourselves in this temporary material body. Like Tim Leary's dying words: "Why not? Why not? Why not?"

If life was a question without an answer, this attitude would be valid. Unfortunately, life is a question without an answer only for people who choose to remain in ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for criminality. If I accidently run over a child while backing up my car in the driveway, it's not an excuse to say, "Oh, I didn't know she was there." If you drive a car, you have a responsibility to check whether there's a child behind you or not. Similarly, if you drive a human body, you have a responsibility to know what life is for.

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