Man At The Brink Of Immortality

1921 words - 8 pages

Man at the Brink of Immortality

From the earliest civilizations arose an innate desire to survive in any given environment. Those that chose to fight death’s henchmen, famine and war, developed more advanced agricultural techniques and created complex social structures. The primal instinct to exist drove humanity to proliferate across the world, as many populations boomed, seemingly without bound. Throughout history, this fervent yearning for life was shared by the predominant masses, but the inevitable befell every person on earth. Accepting the natural process of life became the standard, when the multitudes that sought to find the fountain of youth and the elixir of life eventually ...view middle of the document...

Those that are dead usually do affect the social structures around them, but the time, place, and mode of death would be irrelevant to the dead, in the scenario where an afterlife is nonexistent.

The majority of the diverse plethora of religions and spiritual doctrines share the belief in some form of afterlife. The anthropologist would note that due to the inescapability from death, most cultures felt the need to address this imperative issue. The instinct to survive influences these societies to create afterlives, in which the departed maintain their distinctive characteristics. The Wari, a small group of Brazilian natives that became a case study due to their practicing of mortuary cannibalism, professed that in their afterlife, they are reborn into the Water Spirit community.1 They retain all physical attributes and are no longer susceptible to age, pestilence, and imperfection. Their faith in the Water Spirits gives meaning to their lives, since they essentially have a symbiotic relationship with the deceased. Their purpose in the pre-death phase is to consume the Water Spirits, while in the post-death phase, they must join the Water Spirits.2 Throughout the entire process, the core being remains intact and as a Water Spirit, it will live on forever.

Living on the other side of the world with most likely no knowledge of the Wari, Keang Omu Lama rests in her bed, old and waiting to die.3 A Tibetan Buddhist since birth, Kesang Omu constantly analyzes her situation and awaits her rebirth as a higher being. In her religion, the accumulation of karma from accomplishing good deeds aids in acquiring a higher state of being during the cycle of death and rebirth. In effect her devotion to her continually cycling being gives her life meaning, as she seeks to break out of the cycle, attain Nirvana, and become Buddha.4 Almost without a doubt, Tibetan Buddhism and the Wari religion developed separately, but the uniting principle is the purpose that it instills upon its followers. Since the nature of life affects the individual in the afterlife, the person is driven by their culture’s intrinsic values. In the absence of an afterlife, which provides immortality to the human being, such incentives are meaningless, in regards to the lack of repercussions to the individual following death.

Certain philosophers in the past have attempted to reason out the state of being after death logically, but their arguments in the end reflect their inborn association of immortality with the meaning of life. Arthur Schopenhauer, a flagrant pessimist, dramatically proposes that the will to live should be abolished in order for the human race to achieve a noble purpose and a charitable attitude in life.5 From observation, he notices the universal human will to exist pertains to every conscious being, be it human or animal. He concludes that there must be a life-force collective, from which everyone derives, and to which everyone goes. With his character...

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