Question: How to be immortal?
Acharya Prashant: Why must that be a subject? Why must that be something you want to talk about? Whenever we pick up anything to talk about, why do we do that? What is that thing, what is that subject, what is that topic? I want to ask you, would we pick up anything to talk about it, if it is in some sense not bothersome? Do we want to discuss something that does not bother us? Impermanence bothers us. Now, why does impermanence bother us?
Nothing that is synchronized with our basic nature can ever bother us. Our basic nature does not come to ask for its own fulfillment. Our basic nature is already there, hence settled; hence contented.
Impermanence bothers us because it is not really our nature. Impermanence means to come and go away in time. Whatever arises, whatever falls is impermanent. We do not really like this business of arrival and departure, of birth and death. We do not like it because neither is birth our nature, nor is death our nature.
But our senses, our mind, our habits, our entire system – the whole thing that we are – it tries to convince us that we are impermanent. Everything in the world is designed on the basis of an assumption of impermanence and hence keeps reminding us that we may be impermanent. Whatever exists in time is bound to be impermanent and when we open our eyes, all that we find existing, is in time.
There is nothing here that does not tell us that we will die one day. There is nothing here that does not tell us that we were born one day. And hence, there is nothing here that does not tell us that we are a body. We are continuously being told of our impermanence as a body, we do not like that. And hence, we continuously try to secure something, to make something permanent, to fortify something, to defend something so doggedly that it never ever goes away.
We try to express our nature of eternity, of immortality in various ways, in various unsuitable ways. I repeat, we do not like death precisely because we know that we cannot die. And yet, we are continuously being told that we would die or that we were born – both are the same. To be told that you were on a particular date is the same as telling you that you would die on a particular date. We like none of that.
There is something within us – very adamant, very absolute, very immovable, very obstinate, very uncompromising that likes no nonsense and we keep on presenting it with nonsense, hence, there is a lot of conflict. Our ways, our opinions, our view point, our whole personalities are not aligned with that which we really are. So, there is a continuous friction.
We live as if we are ephemeral; the heart knows it can never go away.
We live as if we are highly incomplete; the heart knows it is absolutely full and complete.
We pretend as if there is a need to reach somewhere and achieve; the heart knows it is alright as it is.
You talk of impermanence only because you dislike being told that you are impermanent. You would not have talked of impermanence, had you not been resisting it.
Now, here is some good news, that which we are is not even permanent, it is timeless. It is beyond time. It is not as if it extends to great lengths within time, it is not as if it extends to millions and billions years. The Truth is in a dimension other than time. Which means, that whatever happens in time cannot affect the timelessness of Truth. Which means, that you are free to be born and free to die and yet be eternal. So, you need not even seek permanence. You need not even talk of death and such things.
Even if you are dying, yet there is a timelessness to your essence. That timelessness is contained in the present. All immortality lies in the Present, which is not a part of time. I am not talking about that which we call as the ‘Now’. I am talking about Truth which is the ‘Present’. If one can go deeply into it, that is immortality.
If one can be, for example, be deeply present here, be fully connected to all this, that which is, he will not be thinking of birth or death. And to not think of birth or death is immortality. You are a mortal only as long as you are occupied with thoughts that concern you as a being, as a body in time. The moment your mind is free of these pre-occupations – that is immortality.
Do we get this?
Immortality is not about living great lengths of time. The only immortality possible is in the present. If you are fully present, fully present – that is immortality. And in that immortality, you are free to die and free to take a thousand births. To reach and live as, and live by your central, peaceful nature is immortality. In that peace, nothing bothers you, you are not worried about security. All questions on permanence are questions about one’s longevity, one’s security.
Do we get this?
It is very good to begin with death. We often try to begin with birth. So it’s a welcome thing to begin with death and to know that birth and death are one.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: How to be immortal?
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 2: On Upanishad: Me and Time
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