2009-09-27

Immortality

Throughout history, human beings have aspired to immortality.

In prehistoric times, humans buried the dead, showing respect for the body and for the soul of the person whom they loved.

In ancient Egypt, the body was carefully preserved so the soul could be preserved and live forever.

In ancient China, it was believed that some human beings, called the xian, were able to achieve immortality, and exhibited many other superhuman traits.

In ancient India, it was believed that those who attained enlightenment were liberated from death.

The ancient Israelites wrote of their rejection of death and hope of life after death. In the book Job, the main character says,

"If the only home I hope for is the grave,
       if I spread out my bed in darkness,
if I say to corruption, 'You are my father,'
       and to the worm, 'My mother' or 'My sister,'
where then is my hope?
       Who can see any hope for me?
Will it go down to the gates of death?
       Will we descend together into the dust? . . .

 (NIV Job 17:13-16)

And a later Israelite said,

"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory'. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

What all these testimonies of all the old religions tell us is, not how to live forever, since all people continue to die, but rather, these testimonies tell us that human beings have always wanted to live forever, and that death has not been considered a normal or good thing.

There is wisdom in this love of life. We must not try to talk ourselves into believing that death is a good thing, or that it is a 'part of life' or a 'part of nature' that we should accept. Instead, we should continue to aspire to eternal life.

 


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