Is it possible that the death of our physical bodies was never part of a divine plan? Is it possible that the key to unlocking our immortality lies not so much in the realm of science as it does in our own hearts and minds? In Life Unlimited, author Edward Franco examines the attitudes and beliefs surrounding aging, death, and physical immortality.
An interactive exploration of self, Life Unlimited raises questions that may seem blasphemous to some, but which may be necessary for awakening our true potential. This guide explores how you can accomplish the following:
- Recognize the powerful value of the mind/body connection
- Enhance well-being through regular spiritual practices
- Realize the impact of self-concept on aging, health, and wellness
- Learn to say no to cultural conditioning and stereotypes around aging
- Understand how our egos can undermine the lofty intentions of our higher spiritual selves
- Celebrate the gifts of adulthood and maturity
Life Unlimited considers the doubts, fears, and perplexities humans experience in various life situations and illustrates how to find new understanding and guidance. It provides a unique perspective on the subject of aging and longevity.
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LIFE UNLIMITEDA Timeless Approach to Aging and Longevity
By Edward Franco
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Edward Franco
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNew Game, New Rules
To ponder the idea of unlimited life—of living a joyous, disease-free existence, one in which even death has been conquered—is to test the very fabric of our being, our soul, our sanity. Until recently, such thoughts would have been universally condemned as folly or madness and, to this day, are still regarded as such by just about everyone.
And yet, one of the very exciting aspects of life on this planet at this time is the degree to which there are open minds willing to embrace new paradigms. All around the globe, people are realizing that we have more influence over our personal destinies than we had ever dreamed possible. We are powerful beings, no denying that. But equally true is the fact that many of us have covered up or hidden our power for fear of shining too brightly, or worse, actively misused or misdirected it and created suffering for ourselves through our very belief in its necessity. As our consciousness as humans expands, it makes sense that we would increasingly explore the heart of our convictions. What do we truly believe about God, about life, and about death? Maybe the New Age should more aptly be called the New Aging, as it is so swiftly redefining how we view the process of growing older. The old paradigm lies prostrate in awe of and in service to sickness, aging, and death. Ironically, that model itself is now aged and dying.
We stand at the threshold of discovery. We live in a time far more rich and exciting than any other in history. Everything that has been taken for granted for aeons, from the origin of the universe up to and including the inevitability of death, is now being questioned. In return, it seems we are being asked to adopt change and alter our notions in ways that have not been asked of us previously. Although in some cases as daunting and challenging as they are novel, these demands are not without their rewards. Over the last hundred years, we have seen mind-boggling advances in science, medicine, and technology. Consider how outlandish the idea of in vitro fertilization, cloning, or stem cell therapy would have been a century ago. Indeed, that which is accepted as science today was not even in the realm of science fiction a hundred years ago. On the sociocultural and humanistic fronts, the whole self-help movement (spawning books by Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, and the like) was an unforeseen entity. There has no doubt been a change in consciousness. People want to know, more than ever before, what their lives and life itself are about. No longer silent pioneers, we are speaking up and talking back.
We have also witnessed a major breakthrough in the attitudes of the general public and the medical profession toward holistic modalities. Can you imagine a Harvard-educated physician a mere generation ago writing books such as those Andrew Weil now pens? Probably not. Clearly life is going through its own metamorphosis, with most of us rarely stopping to consider just how rapidly things are changing. But changing they are.
During this present period of evolution, some spiritualists are saying that time itself is speeding up—that is, things are manifesting more quickly. Put plainly, there is no time left for sitting on the fence. And there's no better time than now to play an active role in manifesting the true beauty of life, much of which currently exists only as potential. It requires only our commitment to doing so.
A key underlying principle running throughout this book is that our thoughts are a potent source of creation and manifestation. Although they cannot be seen or heard outside our heads, our thoughts have as much power and pull as anything physical we might create. The mind/body connection, as it is commonly called, has reached a level of acceptance to the point where even many traditional doctors will concede that positive, life-affirming thoughts in the face of physical illness can do no harm and could possibly even do some good. Put in the simplest way, the essential tenet behind mind/body medicine is that our thoughts have a real and actual impact on our bodies. For the physicians who spearheaded mind/body medicine, this has long been a well-established fact used to patients' advantages (see Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra or Love, Medicine & Miracles by Bernie Siegel on the suggested reading list).
Your experience of reading this book will be greatly enhanced if you keep your personal vision of life in the years ahead close at hand. What do you see? Is it a world without sickness, without famine, without war? It is all possible. As our conscious awareness grows, we cannot help but manifest unprecedented change. And that change begins with the recognition of the power of our thoughts.
I would like to make clear from the outset that I have no special talent, gift, or connection to the divine, nor am I one of a chosen few. You do not have to do any particular thing in form to walk toward physical immortality. It's not so much about behavior as it is about perception and belief.
I'd also like to introduce you, right at the start, to two words that are likely not a part of your present vocabulary: "deathist" and "immortalist," representing opposite ends of a life philosophy. One whose beliefs are deathist is one who believes in the inevitability of death, with each passing day bringing them closer to the void of nonexistence or the gates of heaven, depending on their faith orientation. By way of contrast, one whose beliefs are immortalist believes that life can lead to a greater expression of itself and ultimately become ongoing in any way one desires—in spirit, if they choose to leave the physical body, or in form, if they choose to remain incarnate.
Let's acknowledge that we live, by and large, in a deathist society. Walk into any greeting card store, and you will find a variety of cards subliminally proclaiming the inevitability of death through their ostensibly humorous portrayal of birthdays as dreaded, horrible things. Certainly no one would deny that our "number" increases with the passing years. But what says that this number must also dictate how we look, feel, or act? Nothing. No thing. We alone decide the effect time will have on us. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
As a people, we operate on a mostly unconscious level where the issue of death is concerned. We tend to avoid discussing it at all costs. Perhaps upon accumulating a certain amount of wealth or reaching an age we perceive as a milestone, we may, in the spirit of being dutiful citizens, go about the business of preparing a will. And some of us, particularly those with families, might purchase life insurance as a means of protecting our loved ones in the event of our untimely demise. With the exception of these two fleeting examples, death is not something we are usually willing to look at. But such denial comes at a very substantial price.
Several prominent persons on the forefront of the immortalist movement, most notably Sondra Ray, the mother of the rebirthing community, have theorized that the single most significant cause of aging and death is the unconscious thought that death is inevitable. From a very young age, we are indoctrinated with this idea. Even a commonplace bedtime prayer for children, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, includes the line, "Should I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." If our thoughts directly affect our wellness, what is the sweeping consequence of the fact that virtually all of us walk around holding the thought, "Death is inevitable," as one of our core beliefs? Perhaps the biggest leap of faith I will ask you to make while reading this book is the idea that this thought may be killing us, if for no other reason than because it is so widely and uniformly accepted as an inviolate fact, and so very few individuals have questioned its hold on us for fear of appearing foolish, stupid, or just plain nuts. If we allow for a moment that aging or death could be hastened as a result of this unconscious thought, then keeping it hidden in darkness won't serve us. What it does is fuel the aging process as an unconscious act.
Think, now, of the typical image of an average 90-year-old man or woman. It's likely you'll envision someone with physical limitations, wrinkled skin, low energy, and poor flexibility. But if I asked you to visualize that same person at eighteen years of age, you probably wouldn't see any of that. I would like to propose that all or most of those dramatic signs of aging could be prevented if two things were different: (1) if the belief that death is inevitable were removed from the collective unconscious, and (2) if we remained consciously aware of the external factors that influence our aging process. You don't just wake up one morning and find yourself old and bent over. It happens slowly, over time. But it happens that way for a reason. And that reason is the lack of conscious awareness around matters related to aging. If we greet each morning thinking, "I am a greater expression of myself today than I have ever been before," the transition into an aged being need not occur. This brings us to a central point in immortalist ideology.
We need to heal our relationship with death before we can heal our relationship with life. If, after careful soul-searching, we reach the conclusion that death is inevitable, then our assignment is to make peace with that fact and to follow our inner guidance as to the steps involved in doing so. A decision made consciously would yield a related life philosophy as a natural consequence. Similarly, if we come to the decision that we can live as long as we choose, that would dictate a mode of living congruent with that belief. It probably goes without saying that the latter choice is the more difficult road, at least at this time, as there is still very little social support for this way of thinking. The bottom line is that we need to be at peace with the decision we make. Either decision made consciously and with intention will serve us better than one made by default.
The old worldview of an anthropomorphic God (i.e., the old man with the white beard sitting in the heavens) is basically viewed through the eyes of the enlightened as a creation of the male ego. God is not male or female and does not have genitals. God is the animating force for good that moves in and through us, fueling our spiritual essence. It is an integral part of each and every one of us. The new model of eternal life posits that we can be one with God without having to die. For if God also lives within us, destroying the body is akin to destroying a living manifestation of God.
The idea of self-realization and how it relates to aging and longevity will be closely examined in subsequent chapters. As we go forward, I ask you to allow that there exists at least the possibility of a new world order that far exceeds our current one. Do not let the objective nature of science keep you from an idea that your heart might otherwise embrace. Science is a relative discipline that would once have told us the world is flat and the sun revolves around the earth. I like to think of it this way: The mind can blind, but the heart is smart. So let's begin an exploration of the heart, one which, it is my sincere wish, will illustrate that you have a far greater say in your own aging process than you might have previously thought possible.
We'll start by looking at the things we've been told about life and death, things you might not have consciously looked at before.
Chapter TwoInvisible Monsters
Because we have been relentlessly taught that death is inevitable, and because no one has yet scientifically proven what happens after one dies, many of us live with the fear of its looming presence. This is not a fear we usually address directly, but rather one we let silently brew and fester. Instead of contemplating the significance of death as a force in our lives, we sidestep the issue altogether. It's almost as if we've been brainwashed into avoiding the idea through subservient passivity. No wonder death is sometimes called the big sleep.
But our unconscious thoughts are as impactful as our conscious ones and should not be disregarded. We may profess to be excited about the life we're living and our prospects for the future, but if we believe in the inevitability of death, then, just as certainly, a shadow hangs over that future. That is to say, if we view each new day as another day closer to the grave, how could we ever believe in the promise of what lies ahead? Conversely, if we know, feel, and believe that we are loved and cherished by a God whose will it is that we live, the future becomes something to welcome and celebrate.
Ask someone if they would like to live forever, and you will quickly uncover their core concept as to what life is, or must eventually become. Invariably, the responses received will be peppered with thoughts like, "There's too much pain and misery in the world," or "Life isn't fair," or "Why would I want to live forever when I don't even know why I'm here in the first place?"
For most of us, just contemplating the idea of unlimited life prompts overwhelming feelings and debilitating anxiety. Our mind starts to race with questions: What would I do with all that time? What would I feel like? What will I look like? Will I have enough money? We all know that life involves work and the idea of it continuing without end seems daunting. "Don't I deserve a rest?" we might ask. These are exactly the kinds of questions that must be contemplated—and answered—if we are to have lasting joy in our lives.
Again, if we are to heal our relationship with life, we first must heal our relationship with death. But healing is always a conscious choice. Many of us were spoon fed dogma from a very early age and have been conditioned to look outside ourselves for the causes of—or maybe more accurately, the blame for—the things we don't understand. We also do an excellent job of suppressing joy much of the time. Even loving parents willingly impart the "facts" of mortality to their children, lest they grow up delusional and unaware that they too are doomed to certain death. In our incessant urge to rationalize our mistakes, we have taken something we've created (death), designated it preordained, and—since appearances imply we are unable to do anything about it—concocted reasons why it must be God's will. But what God that loved its children would decree that they fall prey to aging, sickness, and death? Perhaps Voltaire said it best when he said, "God created man in His image, and then man returned the compliment." For just as surely as wars and famines exist and are not God's will, so it is with death.
As you begin to attune your ear to the societal message, "You have to die," you'll notice that the voices are numerous, varied, often well hidden, and sometimes well buried. Who was the first person to tell you that you wouldn't live forever? Was it a clergy member? A teacher? A parent? Realize that they were telling you what they themselves had been taught many years prior. As human consciousness evolves, what was once accurate and valid may no longer be so. We can consciously choose to reject outdated ideas. It's a choice we have to make—and will make—one way or the other. You decide if you stay alive or not, even though the voice of the world says you are powerless over that decision.
Take some time now to think about the ways in which death has played a role in your life. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What were you taught about death while you were growing up? For example, I can recall being nine years old and being told by a friend that after we die, we go to a place called purgatory, which he described as "like hell, but only for a little while." Make a list of the things you were told about death while still a child. Include seemingly innocuous expressions like "buy the farm," "kick the bucket," "cash in your chips," et cetera.
Excerpted from LIFE UNLIMITED by Edward Franco Copyright © 2011 by Edward Franco. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 New Game, New Rules....................1
Chapter 2 Invisible Monsters....................7
Chapter 3 Breaking the Chain....................11
Chapter 4 Establishing the Connection....................16
Chapter 5 TRUTH: The Realization Underlying Temporal Healing....................30
Chapter 6 Mirror, Mirror....................36
Chapter 7 Tapping the Universal Mind....................40
Chapter 8 The Palace of the Ego....................44
Chapter 9 The Higher the Thought....................52
Chapter 10 Single, Whole, Complete....................67
Chapter 11 Celebrating Adulthood....................71
Chapter 12 Working Matters....................76
Chapter 13 Sex and Spirit....................82
Chapter 14 Idols Away....................88
Chapter 15 Choosing to Choose....................94
Chapter 16 Living in Paradox....................99
Chapter 17 Let It Shine....................105