How to Live Forever

Take Back Time Part Eight: On The Precipice

So I travelled far and wide, all over the world: Africa, China, Europe, America, seeking out the most beautiful and desolate places on earth…

So I could ask them the question…

I walked naked through the Gobi desert alone, stood on mountaintops and sang to the peaks with not another soul as far as the eye could see…

Avalanches, lightning storms, hurricanes, all the most powerful and violent forms of nature…and the most beautiful…I saw them all…

And do you know what is there…?

Only what you take with you…

I did not find god or reach enlightenment, though I thought I came close…

I did not find some font of eternal youth, or some mythical wish granting fish…

I only found the self…not myself, I can already see some of you cringing at that statement, this is a far too overused phrase…

What I found was The Self

The Precipice

2 years into my travels I sit here staring out over a 1000ft drop down to a verdant jungle. This is one of the hundred secret places of Zhangjiajie, Hunnan province, China.

A towering sandstone obelisk sticks out of the ground in front of me, its base thinner than its top. And from a crack down its entire length, life spills out like a great wound…

I am all alone, and I am trying to overcome my fear by sitting on a precipice so thin and narrow I can’t even see stone beneath me…

At first the fear grips me and I cannot relax, my body tense, my breathing erratic. One false move and I could slip…

What if the rock breaks? What if the wind blows too strongly and I fall? What if I get dizzy and collapse? All these questions harrow me like crows circling around my head…

After what seems like an eternity, the fear slowly subsides, and at last I begin to relax…

The air moves around me every so softly, the warmth from the rising sun slowly bathes my body and the sound of absolutely nothing surrounds me…

As this feeling of relaxation spills over, I do the unthinkable: I fall asleep…

And in my sleep I have a dream…

The Dream

In this dream an ever changing figure traipses an endless plain of white. A shadow stretching on the ground without a body to create it, like a candle made of darkness…

Eventually the figure transforms into a white bird and flies off. The world becomes the scene in which I sit again and the white bird flies towards me and when it reaches me it becomes a winged horse and beckons me onto its back…

Suddenly I wake and realise that I had fallen asleep, that I’m sitting on a precipice and reaching out into the empty air in front of me, millimetres from death.

Fear strikes me in the heart once again, but it quickly fades and as I overcome it I smile deeply.

“I am here” I whisper “and I am not afraid.”

“I see you.” It says back.

Was this some kind of vision? A metaphor for my own life? A message from God? No. It was just a dream, and this is just a memory.

The Reason

You see I used to think I travelled the world looking for a place to call home.

Then I met someone I called the love of my life and thought that I had instead been looking for someone to share the whole world with.

But on that day I saw that, while both of those thoughts were true to me at the time, they were merely oversimplifications of a common truth.

And what is this truth you ask? Well, it is as different for me as it is for you.

Some people follow their favourite sports team religiously, some follow religion itself, some pour all their energy into their career, or family, or a noble cause such as justice or politics.

In truth, though people may appear to want very different things, they are all seeking the same thing:

Absolute happiness.

You can call this fulfilment, gratification, enlightenment, whatever you like…

The feeling is indescribably unique and yet universal to everyone.

So I ask myself: “I have none of these things. Does this make me lost?”

“While I may not have anything in particular to focus my attention on: no faith, no cause, no state; am I destitute?

On the contrary, in the last 2 years I have experienced happiness almost constantly and I know that because of my personality, I will always continue to do so.

I move from occupation to occupation, from place to place, I explore the world and experience great things, things others only dream of.

This is the life I have cultivated for myself, and as I sit here staring over this indescribable scene, I am beginning to realise this, or rather remember it.

You might call this a life of self-indulgence, and you may be right – by your standards – but what’s important to you is very different from what’s important to me.

I don’t care where I sleep, what tomorrow brings, or what troubles yesterday served, as long as I have this happiness, this freedom.

And I don’t judge others, or consider their lives less meaningful, or less fulfilling than my own. We barely understand ourselves, let alone those so different from us…

But all of this is essentially irrelevant.

I am happy in this life because, for the first time in my life…

I have the knowledge in my heart that when I die, I will become dust and nothing more.

Even if I leave behind a family, a legacy; within two generation my actions, no matter how great, will be forgotten.

Do you know the name of your great-grandmother? What did she do? I don’t.

This rock that I sit on was once a billion grains of sand, which were once a part of a billion other rocks, and in another billion years they will be sand once more.

We have been on this earth for such a short amount of time that we forget that the earth has barely noticed us at all.

We are but a breeze in eternity.

What does it matter what we do in our short lives? Who will it matter to a hundred, a thousand years from now?

We will be but dust and air…

If I were to pick up a stone and throw it from this cliff, would you miss it? So then, if I throw myself instead, will the world miss me?

I twist the stone in my fingers and ask it… “Are you afraid?”

It says nothing…

“Then why am I afraid?”

Six Seconds

“When you hit the ground you will smash into pieces, but those pieces will become a part of the forest floor, and one day they will become a part of this rock again…

“I will be long dead by then, but you’ll still be here…”

And what will have happened in between…?

I will have lived my life…and I will have died…and other people will have been born and died…

“So why am I afraid…?”

“I am afraid because I think that the end of my life is the end of everything.”

And why do you think this?

“Because I have been so afraid that I couldn’t let myself think about anything else.”

Why?

“Because I am afraid of living in fear…”

Why?

“I am afraid that this fear will stop me from truly living…”

Why?

“Because I want to live my life without fear!”

And How Will You Do This…?

I throw the stone over the edge of the precipice…

It is six seconds before the rock smashes into pieces and the echo of its existence travels up to my ears, and in that time I have overcome my fear of death…

“I will no longer be afraid, because I know that I am the same as the stone!”

I was once dust, and over millions of years this dust formed into the thing that is currently me

And when I die I will become dust again

And in millions of years this dust will once again form a person and they will be alive!

“I am an inseparable part of this universe…and the life of the universe is my life…and the universe is infinite…I am infinite…”

Six seconds…

Once I found out why I needed to rid myself of fear….it took me six seconds to figure out how

In Part 9…

So what did I do after I discovered the answer to my fundamental question…?

After I had learned the secret to finally conquering fear…?

Did I throw myself off the rock? No.

There’s an old Chinese proverb…

“Before enlightenment: chop wood, paint fence…

 After Enlightenment: chop wood, paint fence…”

Life, as it is, goes on…

In Part 9 I am going to tell you about The Great Separation, why people perceive themselves as separate from the rest of the universe.

Subscribe to find out how you can become one in Part Nine: The Great Separation.

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