Physical Immortality. A reality now?
Why is it that claiming to be physically immortal or pursuing physical immortality is still seen as at best misguided and on the whole either subversive, irrational or laughable?
Despite the recent scientific and medical advances and the much touted idea of negligible senescence, there is still this stigma attached to the phrase, "physical immortality".
Part of this is probably due to the varied dictionary definitions of what it means, and the fictional treatment of the subject, but I suspect most of the response is due to the fact that the concept strikes at the core of global culture.
It would seem that claiming ourselves and each other to be worthy enough to be physically immortal right now undermines the very foundation on which our beliefs, and the societies we have built around them, have been based - death.
Even the pursuit of physical immortality seems to be perceived as threatening. This I find particularly strange. If physical immortality or the pursuit of it is so misguided, and the outcome so obviously doomed to faiure, why do people get so upset by those of us who choose to spend our time focussed on bringing it about or living it?
From the anti-immortal point of view, it would seem that the worst that can happen is that a few people waste their lives on a misguided dream - which many people do anyway. And if physical immortality turns out to be possible, then the anti-immortals can still choose to die. So what's the problem?
For those of us who have a feeling to live forever, the worst that can happen by pursuing that desire is that we die anyway. But if we don't take the risk, we'll never know the freedom of an unlimited life.
For most people the idea of living longer than the supposedly alloted three-score-and-ten may be attractive, but they have a tough time stating just how much longer they would consider to be acceptable.
How do you decide how much life is "enough"? How much life do you think you deserve? How much life do you think you can handle? When do you think you should have more life? What are you willing to do to bring it about for yourself? Do you really want your kids to die? And if you don't, what makes you think that they want you to?
If we believe physical immortality or even indefinite life is possible or probable or even preferrable to dying, why wouldn't we want it for ourselves? And if we do, when do we think we should start living it? Does now seem too soon? As Leonard Orr, often referred to as "the father of rebirthing", has said, "everyone is physically immortal until they prove otherwise".
Life is now. However long we want to be here, we're already ahead of the game because we're alive - the issue is not being alive, it's being so alive that we can't die. Isn't that what physical immortality should be about - being so alive, having such a feeling for living, that death is not only not an option, but ceases to be possible?
And isn't it time we felt physical immortality as an experience rather than a possiblity? After all, life is physical, we feel what we experience - even if sometimes we'd rather not - so why not feel ourselves living forever rather than living for death?.
While most of the respected and not so respected members of the scientific and medical fraternity steer clear of using the term physical immortality, there are a few who broach the subject - albeit usually in the guise of life extension or living forever.
Dr. Ben Bova in his book, "Immortality: How science is extending your lifespan - and changing the world", writes: "The first immortals are already living among us. You might be one of them".
Terry Grossman, MD, in his book, "The Baby Boomers Guide to Living Forever" writes: "As an official member of the Baby Boomer Generation, I really and truly do not believe that it was intended for us to die. Death, if and when it occurs, clearly will represent a mistake of some kind. While I am no official spokesperson for the Boomers, I feel I do accurately express the hubris of my generation. According to my interpretation of the master plan, the Baby Boomers will be the first generation ever to have the option of immortality."
Aubrey de Grey's in his book"Ending Aging" writes: "Aging really is barbaric. It shouldn't be allowed. I don't need an ethical argument. I don't need any argument. It's visceral. To let people die is bad."
So, although physical immortality still raises hackles, eyebrows, scepticism and discomfort, there is an increasing desire in people to explore an alternative to death - because that's what physical immortality is. In fact physical immortality is the ONLY alternative to death. Anything else is merely a postponement or an outright lie.
Physical immortality means living forever as the person you are in the body you are. It means taking responsibility for your flesh and making your stand now to keep it forever.
However, most people who are truly interested in physical immortality still tend to see it as only being possible sometime in the future or when one reaches a particular state of grace or when science finds the answer.
Typically there are two approaches to achieving physical immortality. The first requires preparing ourselves to be immortal through ritual, purification and enlightenment. The second relies on scientific advances to bring about "indefinite" life extension, which is considered by many to be the same as physical immortality. With both approaches though, physical immortality is seen as a future state, they both include the caveat that death may still occur through accident, disease or violence, and they both assume that physical immortality as a lone identity is possible.
This is another reason why I think physical immortality is viewed with concern. Because most of the focus tends to be on finding a way for people to "do-it-themselves", or a way that anyone can "do-it-themself". Physical immortality is seen as a development of the individual - and we all know how unsavory some individuals can be. So, unless people are willing to make each other more important than their differences, whatever they may be, then these concerns will remain real.
To be physically immortal we have to stop death working in our own bodies - and to do that we have to eliminate any possibility from our cells. If we remain open to accidental or violent death, and continue to accept them as part of the human condition, then physical immortality will continue to elude us. It's not a question of living for as long as we can avoid death - physical immortality is living without end. It's not that we become invulnerable or unkillable, it's that we must have no place in ourselves for death in any form.
This is why physical immortality is not going to be achieved by any one individual alone. Even if science does come up with an answer it will be because of the efforts of many. We need to have such a feeling for each other to live that we're moving to stop death working in each other, not just in our own body.
We have to address not just the biomedical barriers to aliveness, but the behavioral and cultural barriers and the programming and patterns that reinforce our separation.
To my knowledge, the only people who are doing this, and have been doing this for over thirty years from the point of view of being physically immortal rather than striving to be, are James Strole, Bernadeane and Charles Brown of People Unlimited Inc. For them, and the people with them, being physically immortal is not only who they are now, but it requires that all of them move together as one to develop a human environment that nurtures each other and their physical immortality in the face of a world promoting death.
They have spoken about physical immortality for over thirty years, reaching thousands of people around the world. And during that time they have continued to express a passion for all people to end the death in their lives. They consistently encourage whoever will listen, to live to their full capacity without the limitations of disease, poverty, aging or death, and to join them in embracing the "joy unspeakable" of living physical immortality now.
You may not feel yourself to be physically immortal now, you may not even believe it's possible to feel that way, but while you're waiting for science to find the answer for you, why not find out what their vision is and how they are manifesting it?
The idea of physical immortality, of living forever, has intrigued people for thousands of years. Isn't it time we made it a reality by living it for ourselves?