Death Denial and the Immortality Project
Death denial and immortality projects are what Ken Wilber describes in his early book The Atman Project. “I spent probably the first third of my career looking really deeply into death denial, death substitutes and immortality projects,” Ken says. “We are obsessed with death”.
An immortality project, says Ken, is searching in the world of time for that which is timeless. We are constantly looking to plant a flag in the temporal world that will not blanch or tatter, whether it’s a physical structure or a belief system that promises an afterlife, or denies our fundamental impermanence.
In this community call we hear from Ken about how to stop confusing our relative, grasping desires for things in the temporal realm, with the experience of a real infinity, a genuine eternity. According to Ken we have a correct intuition of infinity (or Spirit, or oneness), but we apply it in a way that prevents us from realizing it. This changes at each stage of development. We’ll reach for food, sex, power, love, etc. on and on in attempts to gain wholeness. But these are substitute gratifications, and everything this desperate fear-of-death touches, it distorts.
Our liberation is to give up our immortality and embrace a real eternity. In other words, to wake up. –Ken Wilber
We can practice facing this fear and awaken to true timelessness in the embodied experience of letting go. This means feeling into your own immortality project and also exploring practices that touch on death.
In the call, Diane talks about relaxing and trusting your death, and fostering an openness to the great transition. She quotes Rumi’s poem “The Tavern”:
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way
Whoever brought me here must take me home
Diane, Terry and Jeff all share very personal stories about their own experiences with death (and death denial), and why the topic of death and dying, which is the theme of the next Integral Living Room gathering, attracts them. And of course, many callers also weigh in with observations and stories from their lives.
We hope you enjoy listening to the recording of last week’s community call, and join us for the next one on May 26th. If you haven’t signed up you can do that here.