Immortality Realized

by Christopher Lovejoy on August 11, 2013

To live forever … to be forever young.

With advances in science and technology appearing and rising at an exponential rate, it won’t be long before effective treatments for aging become available to one and all in a world of shared abundance.

Physical immortality, however, is but one of three forms of immortality.

If credible accounts of near-death experience are anything to go by (and I readily assume they are, having read a countless number of these accounts with a critical eye), then religious immortality (immortality of the soul) is a reality that puts the lie to oblivion in the event of so-called death.

But there’s a third form of immortality that’s even more interesting and much more accessible to a vital spirit in human form than physical or religious immortality.

I call it spiritual immortality and it just so happens to be the subject of verse 50 of the Tao Te Ching.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 50

In reading the Tao Te Ching, I’ve come to realize that it offers a way of being that is anything but passive.

If anything, it requires that we wield attention actively, alertly, assuredly, from a peaceful inner posture of presence, with a view towards being blissfully responsive to encounter and experience.

Between birth and death,
three in ten are followers of life;
three in ten are followers of death;
and those who merely pass
from birth to death
also number three in ten.

Why is this so?
Because they clutch to life
and cling to this passing world.

But there is one in ten, they say,
who are so full of life and so sure of life
that tigers and wild bulls stay clear.
Weapons turn from them on battlefields,
rhinoceroses have no place to horn them,
tigers find no place for claws, and soldiers
have no place to thrust their blades.

Why is this so?
Because they dwell in that place
where death cannot enter.

Realize your essence
and you’ll be a witness to
the end without ending.

Edited slightly to enhance flow and to reflect more inclusive language

Ref: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

This verse gives us a tantalizing glimpse of living as an immortal in a mortal world.

My Impressions of the Verse

This verse really makes me think.

As physical immortality remains elusive, and as religious immortality is favored by those who honour their soul agreements, spiritual immortality is accessible to the vital spirit in human form.

Between birth and death,
three in ten are followers of life;
three in ten are followers of death;
and those who merely pass
from birth to death
also number three in ten.

These statistics somehow feel right to me, expressing as they do a collective 3D balance of light and dark and gray, of positive and negative and neutral.

If followers of death, finding perverse excitement in dark places, lack the vitality to express innocence and joy in creativity, then followers of life, though on the side of light, lack the courage and the initiative to stand out, to speak their truth, to follow their bliss.

Those oblivious to life and death mark their days in a gray zone of neutrality.

Why is this so?
Because they clutch to life
and cling to this passing world.

I view this clutching and clinging as both effect and cause.

Alienated from the innocent, joyful, playful, creative, expressive child within, the bulk of humanity attempts to compensate for this alienation with clutching and clinging in forms both subtle and obvious, without awareness or appreciation of what it’s actually doing.

The followers of death indulge the passions without a context of appreciation, the followers of life conform to expectations that have nothing to do with them in a bid to feel safe and secure, and the gray ones bide their time in the neutral zone until they pass.

Such a sad and sorry state of affairs will remain in effect unless or until a privileged minority of humanity finds a way to go beyond fear-based protocols to a place where genuine caring and generous sharing replace ineffectual pools and pockets of charitable influence.

But there is one in ten, they say,
who are so full of life and so sure of life
that tigers and wild bulls keep clear.
Weapons turn from them on battlefields,
rhinoceroses have no place to horn them,
tigers find no place for claws, and soldiers
have no place to thrust their blades.

Are these relatively rare representatives of humanity invulnerable to hurt or harm? Relatively immune to hurt or harm, yes. Invulnerable to hurt or harm? No, at least not physically.

Exercising discernment with awareness and appreciation, they’re the most vulnerable among us.

They also happen to be the most trustworthy.

Those who choke off their vulnerability, thinking themselves invincible only, invariably pay a steep price for their arrogance.

Why is this so?
Because they dwell in that place
where death cannot enter.

In a mortal world, there’s only one place where death cannot enter.

Hint: it’s not physical.

Realize your essence
and you’ll be a witness to
the end without ending.

These sagacious words speak eloquently to the reality of spiritual immortality.

I invite you to take a few moments to contemplate their profound wisdom.

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

Are you afraid of death? If so, why?

Take a few moments to think about this.

No worries; you won’t die if you do.

If death is merely a passing, why be afraid? If death for you equals oblivion, with no memory of what you’re missing or what you missed, why be afraid? Why be anxious?

Why be anxious about standing up or standing out, about putting yourself out there, about speaking your truth and following your bliss? What’s the worst that could happen?

A living death is the worst that could happen.

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

What is your image of a living death?

  • Is it finding yourself in a homeless shelter, having lost everything you own and everyone you loved?
  • Is it finding yourself in a hospital room, feeling utterly incapacitated, paralyzed from the neck down?
  • Is it finding yourself in a hospice bed, biding your time and waiting to die from a terminal disease?
  • Is it finding yourself in a stretcher, waiting to be treated for third-degree burns to most of your body?
  • Is it finding yourself in a rocking chair, trying to ease acute or chronic physical or emotional pain?

This is but a small sample of scenarios that depict what for many could be a living death.

Verse 50 would have us believe that The Unknown is a field of potential that nine in ten people are just not ready, willing, or able to negotiate and navigate. I mean, who knows what lurks in the shadows when you make a leap, speak a truth, or take a stand?

But as I indicated earlier in this post, there’s only one place where death cannot enter – where a living death cannot enter.

Security is found in service to self and others, and it is only through love of self that service priorities (self or other?) can be realized without losing that place where life is so full and sure.

Realize your essence
and you’ll be a witness to
the end without ending.

Realizing your core essence through service will have you living on the edge, but it’s an edge where you can be a witness to the end without ending your service (as a wizard).

You see the end because you’re living on the edge, and because you’re appropriately sure of your essential nature, you know enough not to step over the edge and die a living death.

You come to inhabit a sacred place, divinely inspired, where your inner child (innocence), your inner mother (nurturance), and your inner father (guidance) operate in harmony as a tri-unity.

In light of verse 50 of the Tao Te Ching, personal fulfillment is ultimately about finding balance, harmony, and unity in and with the wholly trinity of innocence, nurturance, and guidance.

Spiritual immortality is yours to enjoy as and when you find them in that place where death cannot enter.

Next up: With Hidden Virtue (Living by Hidden Virtue)

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This post is one of many in an ongoing series that began here.

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