Desire for immortality can stem from various motives. The lowest of these is out of fear of Death or the need to prolong one’s earthly personality that one is experiencing in one lifetime. Obviously such a desire is a non-starter since to even be a candidate for immortality one must be free of all fear. The Asuras seek immortality for these very reasons and therefore invariably fail since they mistake the body to be the true Self.
Quite naturally then the next question would be as to what is meant by immortality if not the personal survival of the physical body or the endless prolongation of one’s limited, transient and illusory personality. Behind the ever-changing field of nature including our physical body as well as what we term as personality, there is a true being, that which we truly are. This true person within us puts forth a new personality and assumes a new body from life to life. It is the indestructible element within us. What is of practical importance is that it is this indestructible element that holds the key to all our changing scenarios from life to life and even within this life. Without discovering and identifying with it we cannot hope to truly understand the workings of our complex nature or our destiny, let alone master it. Therefore it is our first task to find this immortal element us which holds the key to all our different lives. It contains the original blueprint for us. Therefore it is imperative that we find this immortal part in us.
The second immortality is the vast, limitless, in fact infinite consciousness that surrounds our limited finite life. To enter into his infinite consciousness and to dwell within it is to cross over the dark or grey zones of ignorance in which we presently labour and struggle giving rise to much unwanted suffering and pain. Quite naturally this too is very much desirable since who would want to remain forever in a state of ignorance mistaking appearances for reality and illusions for truth.
Then comes the question of physical immortality. Leaving aside for a moment the various possibilities with regard to the immortality of the body, there are three reasons why this too is helpful if it can be achieved.
Firstly, the body is a cloak or robe of the Divine who resides within us. But right now it is not a transparent robe but an obscure one subject to decay, prone to disease and deformations. But after all the robe too must be befitting the wearer. This is the first reason why the body should also be divinized so that it can be worthy of the Divine who inhabits it.
Secondly, since the body is the instrument of the soul and is meant to be used for a divine working in the world it must be completely at the disposal of its Master and not at the mercy of all kinds of forces of disease and suffering as it now is. From this point of view also it is important that the laws of the body presently governed by the forces of ignorance and lower nature must be changed and come directly under the control of the Divine Master. Without this divinization the dream of a perfect life upon earth, of a divine life in a divine body will remain unrealizable. It would mean that at least one portion of our life, in fact the pedestal or the base remains in the control of the forces of ignorance and death. It would mean that the king is sitting upon a shaky throne that can any day be pulled down and the ground on which the soul stands for its action and work simply taken away from below its feet.
Thirdly, the sadhana and progress is done in the body. Hence if the body is prone to disease and the journey is cut short abruptly it is truly a tragic thing not so much for the body itself but for the possibility of progress that was left unfinished. Why would one want to repeat the same lessons in another life. It is quite a loss to lose the connecting thread before it was spun and then find the broken knots again after so much struggle. Therefore even if not immortality there should be a mastery over death so that one can chose and decide when to leave the body.
As we can see none of these three reasons have any element of desire in it. In other words the seeking for physical immortality is not out of any personal desire but as part of the fulfillment of the grand design of the Divine for which the earth and body was made. Of course if the ideal of life is personal salvation or nirvana then none of it is needed and the first two types of immortality is enough. But if the ideal is terrestrial perfection and making life here something true and divine and beautiful then the body too must share the immortality and divinity of the soul within.
As to whether it is possible or not is a question that we can take up separately another time.