Immortality and the Call of the Beyond

When we reflect on the idea of immortality we tend to imagine some state of existence where we maintain our ego-personality and simply don’t die! Death is the enemy that must be overcome in order to be “immortal” and we associate this with a continuation of the awareness-sense that we maintain at our core. This is clearly not feasible in the material body which undergoes the process of death, although there are those who attempt to find ways to circumvent death of the body.

For those who have focused their efforts on the spiritual quest, refinement comes into the idea of immortality. For those individuals mostly look upon the status of silent, infinite awareness, which they associate with the abandonment of the life of the world, as providing the key to immortality. For these people, the disembodied awareness continues after the body falls. Death of the body is no longer seen as an obstacle if the appropriate status of consciousness has first been realised.

Sri Aurobindo elaborates on the issues: “Death is the king of the material world, for life seems to exist here only by submission to death, by a constant dying; immortality has to be conquered here with difficulty and seems to be in its nature a rejection of all death and therefore of all birth into the material world. The field of immortality must be in some immaterial plane, in some heaven where either the body does not exist or else is different and only a form of the soul or a secondary circumstance.”

“On the other hand, it is felt by those who would go beyond immortality even, that all planes and heavens are circumstances of the finite existence and the infinite self is void of all these things. They are dominated by a necessity to disappear into the impersonal and infinite and an inability to equate in any way the bliss of impersonal being with the soul’s delight in its becoming. Philosophies have been invented which justify to the intellect this need of immersion and disappearance; but what is really important and decisive is the call of the Beyond, the need of the soul, its delight–in this case–in a sort of impersonal existence or non-existence.”

As Sri Aurobindo observes, the importance here is not the intellectual framework that we build around one focus or another, but the relationship between the Soul and the Nature that provides the basis for the experience. What becomes quite clear is that the idea of immortality brings considerable confusion into the mind of man, and, to be properly understood, the light of the soul is required.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 18, The Soul and Its Liberation, pp. 420-421