“Knowledge comes from learning.Wisdom comes from living.”-A.D.Williams
I had a dream where I was walking comfortably up Mount Everest in the Himalayas. I was wearing leather sandals, a dhoti cotton cloth wrapped around me, carrying a small wooden stick and looked like Gandhi in his late years.
It was a pleasant day; the sun was out, and no sign of snow, blizzards or dead mountaineers. The scenery, the surroundings, and the feeling were as if I was living in Shambala, the lost heavenly city of Tibetan Buddhism. However and more importantly, it was my birthday–My 500-year-old birthday, and all the cameras were there to witness the first ever recorded 500-year-old.
This dream was inspired by what I watched the night before, where a top Google executive, Bill Maris, said on Bloomberg that humans would live to be 500-years-old, and the company was investing millions of dollars in life sciences to ensure this vision became a reality. It had hired scientists as partners in order to identify start-ups that could cure cancer and make chemotherapy “seem primitive” within 20 years. Maris added that, “If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes.”
My dream and the thought of living to be five hundred got me thinking. I mean why not? There have been stranger happenings in our history; the abominable snowman or Yeti, UFO sightings and many unexplained phenomena. As advancements in technology keep changing our lives and diseases are being cured, the life expectancy keeps rising. It has now doubled from forty to eighty in the last hundred years.
There have been many mythical murmurs and mysterious stories that people have lived very long-LP Suwang, a Buddhist, died in 1995 was rumoured to be 444 years old.
How would we live if we knew we were going to reach 500? How would that impact our thinking and attitude, in living if we knew we had so much time? If we remove our greatest fear, that of death, how would we live?
As we grow older, we mature and become wiser and have richer experiences to recall that guide us in making the right decisions, and as such we understand ourselves and how to live better. And knowing that we have all that time, would mean many changes in the way we lived our lives.
- Live in the moment
Imagine living our lives, not at the frenetic speed we do now but in slow motion where every moment is slowed down and lived fully. When we know we have so much time, the pressure on us is reduced and living in the moment will take on a completely new meaning.
After 150 years or so of living, we would understand that the past is gone and can only provide memories while the future holds no fears as we’ve got another 350 years to go.
We would want to stay in the present and want our lives to be richer and all-knowing. From every kind of bird that lives, their migratory details and how their navigation system works, to every tree’s name and history– The tall oak trees in Boston, Harry Potter’s weeping willow trees of Northern China and the Bodhi Tree of Bodh Gaya, in India.
We would want to enrich our experiences and so watch every sunset from every ocean view and watch every new moon with its supporting cast of stars from every sky view.
2) Be compassionate
By now, we’ve seen many people die and know the suffering that people go through. We’ve seen many on their deathbeds full of regrets, in pain and not having lived a fulfilled life.
The need to serve and help becomes not just something we aim for but part of our being, and we would want to offer a word, a touch and a hug every time we can. We can’t but be compassionate, as most people are much younger than us.
We would feel around others, the way we feel around 4-year-olds now. We would laugh at their transgressions; our heart would beam when they are smiling, and we would cry when they are in pain because we know of their helplessness. We recognise that what humans long for most, is love and compassion.
3) Goals transcend to Dharma
Goals that take months or even years (less than 10) become trivial and as such we look at long-term objectives that define our ways of beings. The goal now takes on more importance and becomes our dharma-the reason we came into being and life.
Excellence is achieved in 20-30 years spans and not anything shorter and as such we now have the time to become great in any field that piques our interest. Losing 20 pounds in weight is a good goal, but if we have hundreds of years to live then, it’s better we change our whole approach to eating, exercising and sleeping. After all, we are going to need our bodies for hundreds of years.
All our goals now transcend to meaning and purpose–how can we grow and how can we serve mankind become our only questions. Nothing else matters as material wants and achievements slowly lose their shine.
4) Environmentally Friendly
Similarly, as we cared for our bodies, we would want to care for the environment, and every time a rain forest gets destroyed because of greed, we lose a part of us forever. The loss of many species of the animal, plant and other kingdoms, is akin to us losing one of our family members.
We would want to take over where other environmentalists stopped and try to convince everyone of the need for us to take more care and understand that the environment is just a bigger part of what we are all connected to. What happens in the skyline of Guangzhou will affect all of us whether we live in, the clay mud huts of the African sub-Sahara or an exclusive penthouse apartment in New York.
5) Detachment and letting go
With so many years under our belt, we’ve lost so many loved ones, friends, and people that we’ve known and so detachment becomes essential rather than a spiritual practice. We’ve learnt the hard way that attachment is suffering, and detachment means freedom. This doesn’t make us less compassionate but rather we see the bigger picture of life, death, and the afterlife.
We now realise that attachment is linked to the ego, and we understand why our earlier years were marked by anxiety and despair as we craved visible results, instead of focusing on the actual actions or the practice that leads to our inner joy.
The action of writing, rather than getting the book on the bestseller list becomes our objective, and we now appreciate that results don’t matter so much as it’s all about the candle that is lit in our hearts every time we practice what we love.
Our fear of death is one of the biggest reasons why we fail to live with freedom.
If we live, knowing that we can live till 500, then we can banish those deep-seated fears we carry with us from one generation to another, and maybe finally we can live the “Good life” our spiritual masters keep preaching to us.