How to Be Immortal

Last night, at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center, I saw the theatrical premiere of Indestructible.  Not only did this documentary make my heart bigger, it also showed me the three secrets to being immortal.  Before I share them with you, please read the director’s statement, quoted from Indestructible’s website:

“In September of 2002, at 31 years of age, I was diagnosed with ALS, a neuro-degenerative disease that kills 90% of its victims within five years. At the time, I was working as a playwright and actor in Chicago, running a painting company and changing my son’s diapers. Nine months later I began to make a documentary film chronicling my new life, not one I had chosen and unlike anything I ever could have imagined. Traveling by myself and then with a small crew we filmed the isolated world of ALS; interviewing patients and their families, medical professionals, scientists, religious figures and almost anyone we could find. I wanted to know (perhaps naively), “What does it all mean?”

Indestructible is an attempt to understand and accept the reality of a mysterious and deadly disease that has brought science to its knees, an illness that is a paradigm for life’s ultimate challenges. My personal story in the film, and that of every ALS patient, follows this frightening path into an uncertain future. To show the broad and difficult landscape of medicine for ALS, or lack thereof, we have documented mainstream approaches, controversial stem cell surgeries, Chinese herbal treatments, vitamin supplements, vibrating beds, Yoga, and almost anything that might stop the progression of this horrific killer.

My initial purpose in making this film was to share the extraordinary moments, both dark and light, of a life with ALS, and there are many. I now believe Indestructible will be a catalyst, and mark a turning point for the millions who have and will suffer the wrath of this elusive beast, bringing us one step closer to what every sick person wants – a cure. Indestructiblehas at times provided answers to my questions, if only momentarily, and they are no substitute for my health. In the meantime, I will continue to search. When we unlock the secrets of ALS we will better understand not only neuro-degeneration, but also aging, environment, psychology, spirituality, and what it truly means to be both alive and facing mortality every day.”

-Ben Byer
March 2004

1.  The first secret to becoming immortal is to give up your desire to be immortal.  Longing for immortality burns up your energy, uselessly, because it makes you chase a vain and shallow impossibility you can never catch (think: dog’s tail).  The same senseless chase also keeps you from developing fully, so you end up pursuing frivolous goals… and immortality is the exact opposite of frivolity.  Accepting the fact that you will come to an end gives you a dose of humility and puts your ego in check.  It is ironic, but humility makes more room for greatness than egomania.

2.  The second secret to becoming immortal is to wildly and fearlessly explore The Thing that has attached itself to you in a life-altering way.  For some The Thing is an affliction of some kind.  For others, The Thing is an untiring fascination with something in particular.  And for many more, The Thing is a restless yearning or reaching for something beyond one’s ordinariness.  A thirst for life that is Fuller, Deeper, Wider, Bolder, Cleaner, Simpler, Saner, Kinder, Juicier, etc.  These Things (a.k.a. mission, obsession, burden, etc.) that make themselves unmistakably known to you must be investigated… with the passion of a lover, the discipline of an athlete, the curiosity of a scientist and the technique of a detective.  Unturn every stone.  Be unreasonably determined to know the Essence of your life-altering thing.  The unfolding process may take years.  Your ability to understand what the heck unfolded may take even longer.  But there’s no need to feel rushed about it, because this is the whole purpose of breath and blood and bones anyway… it is to figure out your piece of the puzzle, and then to…

3.  The third and final secret to becoming immortal is to share what you found with others.  When you give yourself to the task of figuring out your piece of the puzzle, you come across valuable insights and experiences that will make another person’s life better.  So, it is your responsibility to be very attentive to your discoveries, and then to be very generous with them.  That’s what Ben did with his documentary.  And it’s why he is immortal.

You and I can do the same.

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16 Responses to “How to Be Immortal”

  1. Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map Says:

    What an interesting post – on immortality! Because I see myself exploring so deeply into my mind, I relate to what you are saying on “passion of a lover, the discipline of an athlete, the curiosity of a scientist and the technique of a detective”. I may have started out my journey for the purposes of self discovery, but the answers that come from within subsequently, are meant to be shared.

    Thanks for sharing such a great article!

  2. dharmaraj Says:

    nice quote which tells “what is life and how we want to live it”

  3. shameron Says:

    why do we have to be born if we will die

  4. shameron Says:

    can you give me this answer

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  6. Elsa Says:

    where would all the meaning, and the mystery of life be, if we were all immortals? it wouldn’t be a journey then. and I think it also wouldnt be interesting. we are born, we live and then we die. it would be desperately annoying to be immortal. imagine you have enough of life, and you are immortal, you have no hope, you are in a prison where you cant get out. and as a consequence, earth would be hell, with all those people being frustrated and sad to be prisoners of life.
    as it is now that we are mortals, we sometimes hurry up, to catch things, to live things, to have great memories, to enjoy our youth, our desires…we want it now because we know that we don’t have an eternity to live in front of us :)
    Imagine that if you were immortal, you’d always say… I have time for this, I have time to repeat my school year, to marry, to have kids, to work…. and in the end you would have no motivation to do any of this, it would be a much more depressed world.

  7. marc legaspi Says:

    is it realy true?
    that you can become imortal?

  8. miguel Says:


  9. MortalisAwesome Says:

    being immortal would suck what if you fell off the edge or GOT ABANDONED IN SPACE. Forced to be tortured by low oxygen levels 4ever :( or if you fell off the universe or something in the future or if an alien planet took over you would be slave or if everyone died because of global warming and you had to be alone 4ever and it would be insanely hot. ouch…

  10. Didier Says:

    Dear Shameron, I’m afraid that only God would be able to answer your question. I too have wondered billions of times why must we suffer and die. I think that Earth is really HELL. Even with all of the beautiful things we know about our lives THIS IS HELL and JESUS CHRIST KNOWS about what a wonderful human being you are for caring about every single person on this planet even your enemies. We are very special people you and I. As long as you keep calling out to JESUS CHRIST he will hear your call even if he is at the very end of THE UNIVERSE and he might come save us all. KEEP CALLING OUT TO JESUS CHRIST ASK HIM TO PLEASE HELP ALL THE LITTLE STARVING BABIES, AND WAR TORN COUNTRIES. JESUS CHRIST PROMISED US THAT HE WOULD COME BACK FOR US AND I CAN FEEL HIM COMING, HE IS ALMOST HERE BUT WE MUST ALL KEEP ON CALLING HIM. WE WILL ALL BE SAVED FROM EVERYTHING BAD YOU HAVE KNOWN. WE WILL SEE YOU SOON JESUS.

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  12. the eternal Says:

    Immortality is not only a possibility but a reality. A true seeker would find it, its like a quest in your life. But without a burning desire in your heart to be an immortal would not help it. Because without desire you can’t have the will to be an immortal, only if you have the will to live you can live. How can you refer the will to be an ego unless it is affecting other persons or any beings . The fact is that immortality itself is an ego. Ego over self isn’t ego at all but a driving force to what you want to achieve. this terms and differentiations are created by humans and has no sense in a bigger space, we made a difference of light and dark, they where there from the begining and both are the aspects of nature, everything has a positive and negative aspect, if you want to be immortal stop making differences, you are not the creater to judge things just flow with your free will.

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