“When does life begin?” – Simple answer – it doesn’t! There is no beginning to life – and no end!

Within the world as we know it, we are dealing with 2 distinct energies, the material energy or bahiraṅgā śakti (that energy which is external, unessential, or relating to the exterior) also known as dead matter, and a spiritual energy the jīva-śakti (life-energy)

Life does not arise from matter or the material energy. Life is spiritual.  Matter, in close proximity to (or under the influence of) life, can manifest symptoms of life. For example, living organisms undergo six changes—birth, growth, maturity, reproduction, then dwindling or old-age, and death.

From a scientific perspective this development in living organisms could be seen as contradicting the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which, according to Boston University, states that ”there is a natural tendency of any isolated system to degenerate into a more disordered state.”

We see this in humans for instance, when a single cell divides with increasing complexity, leading to the development of bones, hair, internal organs, a brain etc., all manifesting from that one original cell.  A clear manifestation of incredible complexity and order.

Then, at the moment of death, there is a monumental shift in the other direction – a breaking down of that order and complexity.

The yogis attributed this apparent contradiction to the fact that the body, and the living being within the body, are two distinct energies.

Just as fire, which burns and illuminates, is different from firewood, which is to be burned to give illumination, similarly the seer within the body, the self-enlightened spirit soul, is different from the material body, which is to be illuminated by consciousness. Thus the spirit soul and the body possess different characteristics and are separate things. – Bhāgavata Purāṇa 11.10.8

The soul within the body is self-luminous and is distinct from the visible gross body and invisible subtle body. It remains as the fixed basis of changing bodily existence, just as the ethereal sky is the unchanging background of material transformation. Therefore the soul is endless and without material comparison. – Bhāgavata Purāṇa 12.5.8

One of the characteristics of the jīva-śakti (life-energy) – it is eternal.

Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.  Bhagavad-gītā 2.12

For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. Bhagavad-gītā 2.20

So why does the spirit-soul/atma acquire this current body?

As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change. – Bhagavad-gītā 2.13

The caterpillar transports itself from one leaf to another by capturing one leaf before giving up the other. Similarly, according to one’s previous work, the living entity must capture another body before giving up the one they have. This is because the mind is the reservoir of all kinds of desires. – Bhāgavata Purāṇa 4.29.76-77

The living entity in the material world carries its different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas. Thus one takes one kind of body and again quits it to take another. –  Bhagavad-gītā 15.8

If you are interested in this topic and would like to explore further, I suggest a series I have done called “Finding Myself – The fundamentals of enlightenment” available here – LINK