It is a fact that we are born, we live about 80 years typically, barring illness or accident, and we die. That’s undisputed.
But many have a deep sense that there is more than our brief blip on Earth, that we are part of something much greater than our mortal selves, something enduring, which doesn’t begin when we’re born, nor end when we die. And this tends to give deeper meaning to our lives here to know that what we are doing is not merely passing, but is all part of something greater.
Some people in history claim to have found this more enduring quality, whether they called it eternal life, or the fountain of youth, the elixir of life, the philosopher’s stone, re-incarnation, resurrection, immortality, heaven, nirvana, etc. Today, some have joked that all these “awakened” people eventually died, so they must not have actually found what they claimed they found. But surely they were all pointing to something similar, something perhaps beyond their mortal body-mind. What is that?
I suggest that it is the essence of Reality itself, that which preceded our mortal life, and that which survives the death of it. It is that which is, forever. That Reality is the source and essence of all our lives, and it is actually That which manifests itself as our mortal lives. We are not merely the individual finite person or body, but the Whole Reality manifesting as each and every body, the One in the many.
Inasmuch as we consciously awaken and realize ourselves as the Whole of Reality itself, as can be done through contemplative practices like meditation or contemplative prayer, then we have found that deepest enduring identity which transcends and includes our individual mortal life. But as I explained in another recent article, whether we consciously realize it or not while we live, we are it, and will always be it.
If we realize it while we live, with Jesus we can say, “Before Abraham was, I am.” It’s not our individual person that existed prior to our mortal life, nor will it exist after it dies, but rather, the person we often think we are is but a temporal expression of that greater holistic Reality that we fundamentally and ultimately are.
We are that One, that Reality, that Divine, that Spirit, that Nature, that Love, that Cosmos, that God.