I believe in immortality, though not in the traditional sense. I have held this belief for many years, albeit in an abstract and unspecified manner. Only recently have I taken the time to concretize what my actual view is.
The earliest I remember developing my belief was when I was eight. We had a beautiful young mare named Espree with a freshly-weaned colt named Blue. She shattered her pastern in the field, destroying her leg. She had no chance of survival. Tragically, at the age of six and not even yet to her prime, she was euthanized. To lessen the number of horses slaughtered each year for dog food, we donated her body. My mother explained that she would become part of every dog that consumed her, that she would become the very essence of their cells. As they breathed, excreted, and simply loved, these atoms that had once been our Espree would become the atmosphere and the soil, and then reabsorbed into plants and animals. “Like in The Lion King,” she said. The Circle of Life. Chances were, she would eventually become a part of us and her son as well.
This completely satisfied my eight-year-old mind which probably comprehended it better than someone older, untainted as I was by ideas of heavens and souls. I found myself almost excited by the prospect of death, to return to the cycle of matter and life, to bloom as a flower, dash with deer, swim with dolphins, weave with spiders, to soar with eagles. I actually requested to be buried sans coffin so the process would not be delayed.
I have here my own little parable that fully illustrates this belief.
“There is a wave in the ocean, traveling towards the shore, filled with ecstasy. Then, as it nears land, it sees that the other waves are crashing against the rocks. Horrified, it turns to another larger wave. ‘Look what is happening to all the waves as they hit the beach! We are going to die!’ The larger wave, far wiser than the other, merely laughs. ‘Don’t worry, little friend. You’re not a wave; you’re a part of the ocean!”‘
What makes me “me” is the combination of neurons and chemical bonds in my brain. When I die, that will end, but that is not so great a loss. I will become a part of innumerable other such combinations in the future. There is no need to cling to this life with notions of everlasting souls when I know I will experience so many others.
There is the idea of both matter and spirit coexisting, two separate things, one palpable and corporeal, the other eternal and intangible. Others believe that there is only matter and no soul, only physical existence. But to me, matter *is* the soul. Call it athanasia, call it reincarnation, but it is our passage through infinite manifestations in the cycle of life that I believe in. *That* is true immortality.
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