ability to live forever, or eternal life
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Immortality is eternal life, being exempt from death; unending existence.

Only the feeble resign themselves to final death and substitute some other desire for the longing for personal immortality. In the strong the zeal for perpetuity overrides the doubt of realizing it, and their superabundance of life overflows upon the other side of death. ~ Miguel de Unamuno
I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment. ~ Woody Allen

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  • The soul secured in her existence, smiles
    At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
    The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
    Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years,
    But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
    Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
    The wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds.
  • It must be so—Plato, thou reasonest well!—
    Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
    This longing after immortality?
    Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
    Of falling into nought? Why shrinks the soul
    Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
    'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
    'Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
    And intimates eternity to man.
  • The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
    Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years,
    But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
    Unhurt amidst the wars of elements,
    The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.
  • I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.
    • Woody Allen, The Illustrated Woody Allen Reader (1993)
    • The joke about immortality also appears in On Being Funny (1975)
    • In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine from April 9, 1987, Allen said "Someone once asked me if my dream was to live on in the hearts of people, and I said I would prefer to live on in my apartment."
  • The next two hundred years will see the abolition of death, as we now understand that great transition, and the establishing of the soul's existence. The soul will be known as an entity, as the motivating impulse, and the spiritual centre back of all manifested forms. . . . Our essential immortality will be demonstrated and realised to be a fact in nature.
    • Alice Bailey, Esoteric Psychology II, p. 96 (1936), Esoteric Healing, p. 412 (1953)
  • With that inner conviction (of immortality), we face death, and we know that we shall live again, that we come and we go, and that we persist because we are divine and the controllers of our own destiny... The spirit in man is undying; it forever endures, progressing from point to point, and stage to stage upon the Path of Evolution, unfolding steadily and sequentially the divine attributes and aspects... The immortality of the human soul, and the innate ability of the spiritual, inner man to work out his own salvation under the Law of Rebirth, in response to the Law of Cause and Effect, are the underlying factors governing all human conduct and all human aspiration.
    • Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 146/147, (1947)
  • There is no death. There is... entrance into fuller life. There is freedom from the handicaps of the fleshly vehicle. The rending process so much dreaded does not exist, except in the cases of violent and of sudden death, and then the only true disagreeables are an instant and overwhelming sense of imminent peril and destruction, and something closely approaching an electric shock... For the average good citizen, death is a continuance of the living process in his consciousness and a carrying forward of the interests and tendencies of the life.
  • Clov: Do you believe in the life to come? Hamm: Mine was always that.
  • A toy which people cry for,
    And on their knees apply for,
    Dispute, contend and lie for,
    And if allowed
    Would be right proud
    Eternally to die for.
  • The doctrine of Metempsychosis has been abundantly ridiculed by men of science and rejected by theologians, yet if it had been properly understood in its application to the indestructibility of matter and the immortality of spirit, it would have been perceived that it is a sublime conception. Should we not first regard the subject from the stand-point of the ancients before venturing to disparage its teachers? The solution of the great problem of eternity belongs neither to religious superstition nor to gross materialism. The harmony and mathematical equiformity of the double evolution — spiritual and physical — are elucidated only in the universal numerals of Pythagoras, who built his system entirely upon the so-called "metrical speech" of the Hindu Vedas.
  • Nothing is lasting but change; nothing perpetual but death.
    • Attributed to Karl Ludwig Börne, in his Denkrede auf Jean Paul; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • That which is the foundation of all our hopes and of all our fears; all our hopes and fears which are of any consideration: I mean a Future Life.
  • I will have nothing to do with your immortality; we are miserable enough in this life, without the absurdity of speculating upon another.
    • Lord Byron, letter to Francis Hodgson, 3 September 1811.
  • All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom,
    The sun himself must die,
    Before this mortal shall assume
    Its immortality.
  • [E]nergy is conserved, or is indestructible. This form of speech might be applied to other cases of alternate immortality, where one of two things comes into existence on disappearance of the other.
  • IMMORTAL is an ample word
    When what we need is by,
    but when it leaves us for a time,
    ’T is a necessity.
  • With my assumption... life need never end. There is no decisive argument for deciding between [certain] assumptions. I prefer the one that allows the possibility of endless life. One may hope that some day the question will be decided by direct observation.
    • Paul Dirac, Untitled, Nature (1961) Vol. 192, p. 441, as quoted by Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality (1994) p. 11. Described as Dirac's Postulate of Eternal Life
  • Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
  • Immortality is the privilege of the few, and, according to the Aryan conception, specifically the privilege of heroes. Continuing to live – not as a shadow, but as a demigod – is reserved to those which a special spiritual action has elevated from the one nature to the other.
  • No young man believes he shall ever die.
    • William Hazlitt, "On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth", Monthly Magazine, March 1827.
  • He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.
  • Why was I born if it wasn't forever?
  • No, no, I'm sure,
    My restless spirit never could endure
    To brood so long upon one luxury,
    Unless it did, though fearfully, espy
    A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
  • He ne'er is crowned with immortality
    Who fears to follow where airy voices lead.
  • I long to believe in immortality. I shall never be able to bid you an entire farewell. If I am destined to be happy with you here — how short is the longest life. I wish to believe in immortality — I wish to live with you forever.
    • John Keats, letter to Fanny Brawne, July 1820. H. Buxton Foreman (ed.), The Complete Works of John Keats Vol. V (1901), Letter CCII.
  • Most men live in order to make a living; when they have that, they live in order to make a good living; when they have that, they die. … This comment can be developed into a demonstration of human immortality. This demonstration could be stated as follows: It is the destiny of every human being to make a good living. If he dies before he does that, he has not fulfilled his destiny. … But if he makes a good living, then he has achieved his destiny, but the destiny of making a good living cannot be that he is supposed to die, but, on the contrary, that he is supposed to live well on his good living—ergo, man is immortal.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, Judge William ridiculing the bourgeois view of life, Either-Or, H. Hong, trans. (1987), part 2, p. 279.
  • What is it that has given rise to this whole error about immortality? Is it that the placement of the issue has been shifted, that immortality has been turned into a question, that what is a task has been turned into a question, what is a task for action has been turned into a question for thought. Would not the most corrupt of all ages be one that managed to have “duty” completely changed into problem of thought? What is duty? Duty is what one ought to do. There ought not to be a question about duty, but there ought to be only the question about whether I am doing my duty. There ought not to be a question about immortality, but the question ought to be whether I am living in such a way as my immortality requires of me. There ought not to be a discussion about immortality, whether there is an immortality, but about what my immortality requires of me, about my enormous responsibility in my being immortal.
  • Soren Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses 1848 Hong 1997 p. 205
  • Immortality is the only thing which doesn't tolerate being postponed.
  • 'Tis this which makes
    The best assurance of our promised heaven:
    This triumph intellect has over death—
    Our words yet live on others' lips; our thoughts
    Actuate others. Can that man be dead
    Whose spiritual influence is upon his kind?
  • And in the wreck of noble lives
    Something immortal still survives.
  • The fame of the brave outlives him; his portion is immortality. What more flattering homage could we pay to the manes of Paul Jones, than to swear on his tomb to live or to die free? It is the vow, it is the watch-word of every Frenchman.
    • Paul Henri Marron, officiating Protestant clergyman, discourse at the funeral of John Paul Jones, Paris, France (July 20, 1792); reported in Life and Correspondence of John Paul Jones (1830), p. 68.
  • For who would lose,
    Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
    Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
    To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
    In the wide womb of uncreated night,
    Devoid of sense and motion?
  • They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet
    Quaff immortality and joy.
  • For spirits that live throughout
    Vital in every part, not as frail man,
    In entrails, heart or head, liver or reins,
    Cannot but by annihilating die.
  • Without a belief in personal immortality, religion surely is like an arch resting on one pillar, like a bridge ending in an abyss.
    • Max Müller, Chips from a German Workshop, Volume I: Essays on the Science of Religion (1867), p. 45.
  • What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
    • Attributed to Albert Pike; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • If what I assume is true, it is still excellent to be convinced of it, but if there is nothing after death, I will at least during the time before my death be less burdensome to my companions because of complaints, and furthermore this folly of mine will not last long—for that would indeed be an evil—but in a short time will vanish.
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 91a, translated in Kierkegaard, The Concept of Irony, p. 79.
  • Whatever is always in motion is immortal.
  • Death must be an evil—and the gods agree;
    for why else would they live for ever?
    • Sappho (c. 600 B.C.). Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta, ed. Edgar Lobel and Denys Page. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955, no. 201.
  • Look, here's the warrant, Claudio, for thy death:
    'Tis now dead midnight, and by eight tomorrow
    Thou must be made immortal.
  • I hold it ever,
    Virtue and cunning were endowments greater
    Than nobleness and riches: careless heirs
    May the two latter darken and expend;
    But immortality attends the former,
    Making a man a god.
  • And now I think about it, I never really wanted to live forever. I just want to live well.
  • All ends in one eclipse,
    Sunshine or snows,
    We gain a grave, and afterwards—God knows.
  • The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but something of it remains which is eternal.... We feel and know by experience that we are eternal.
  • The anxiety about death is met in two ways. The reality of death is excluded from daily life to the highest possible degree. The dead are not allowed to show that they are dead; they are transformed into a mask of the living. The other and more important way of dealing with death is the belief in a continuation of life after death, called the immortality of the soul. This is not a Christian and hardly a Platonic doctrine. Christianity speaks of resurrection and eternal life, Platonism of a participation of the soul in the transtemporal sphere of essences. But the modern idea of immortality means a continuous participation in the productive process.
    • Paul Tillich, describing the American response to anxiety about death, The Courage To Be (1952), p. 110.
  • Only the feeble resign themselves to final death and substitute some other desire for the longing for personal immortality. In the strong the zeal for perpetuity overrides the doubt of realizing it, and their superabundance of life overflows upon the other side of death.
    • Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life (1913), translated by Anthony Kerrigan, Princeton University Press, 1972.
  • They ask us who are we, vile earthworms, to pretend to immortality; in virtue of what? wherefore? by what right? "In virtue of what?" you ask; and I reply, In virtue of what do we now live? "Wherefore?"—and wherefore do we now exist? "By what right?"—and by what right are we? To exist is just as gratuitous as to go on existing for ever.
  • If it is necessary that each sentient being must have the possibility of achieving an overwhelming good, then it is clear that there must be some form of life after earthly death. Despite the many pointers to the existence of God, theism would be falsified if physical death was the end, for then there could be no justification for the existence of this world. However, if one supposes that every sentient being has an endless existence, which offers the prospect of supreme happiness, it is surely true that the sorrows and troubles of this life will seem very small by comparison. Immortality, for animals as well as humans, is a necessary condition of any acceptable theodicy; that necessity, together with all the other arguments for God, is one of the main reasons for believing in immortality.
    • Keith Ward, Rational Theology and the Creativity of God (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1982), pp. 201-202.
  • A man really and practically looking onwards to an immortal life, on whatever grounds, exhibits to us the human soul in an enobled attitude.
    • William Whewell, "Remarks on the Phaedo", Platonic Dialogues for English Readers Volume I (1859), pp. 441-2.
  • Immortal, my arse. That’s just an error of parallax.
  • An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
    Legions of angels can't confine me there.
  • 'Tis immortality, 'tis that alone,
    Amid life's pains, abasements, emptiness,
    The soul can comfort, elevate, and fill.
    That only, and that amply this performs.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VI, line 573.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 388-90.
  • No, no! The energy of life may be
    Kept on after the grave, but not begun;
    And he who flagg'd not in the earthly strife,
    From strength to strength advancing—only he
    His soul well-knit, and all his battles won,
    Mounts, and that hardly, to eternal life.
  • On the cold cheek of Death smiles and roses are blending,
    And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.
  • Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
    But is there anything Beyond?
  • There is nothing strictly immortal, but immortality. Whatever hath no beginning may be confident of no end.
  • If I stoop
    Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud,
    It is but for a time; I press God's lamp
    Close to my breast; its splendor soon or late
    Will pierce the gloom; I shall emerge one day.
  • I have been dying for twenty years, now I am going to live.
  • 'Tis immortality to die aspiring,
    As if a man were taken quick to heaven.
  • Nemo unquam sine magna spe immortalitatatis se pro patria offerret ad mortem.
    • No one could ever meet death for his country without the hope of immortality.
    • Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum, I. 15.
  • For I never have seen, and never shall see, that the cessation of the evidence of existence is necessarily evidence of the cessation of existence.
  • Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
    • Ecclesiastes, XII. 7.
  • Thus God's children are immortall whiles their
    Father hath anything for them to do on earth.
    • Thomas Fuller, Church History, Book II. Century VIII. 18. On Bede's Death.
  • Yet spirit immortal, the tomb cannot bind thee,
    But like thine own eagle that soars to the sun
    Thou springest from bondage and leavest behind thee
    A name which before thee no mortal hath won.
  • 'Tis true; 'tis certain; man though dead retains
    Part of himself; the immortal mind remains.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XXIII, line 122. Pope's translation.
  • Exegi monumentum ære perennius
    Regalique situ pyramidum altius,
    Quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
    Possit diruere aut innumerabilis
    Annorum series et fuga temporum.
    Non omnis moriar, multaque pars mei
    Vitabit Libitinam.
    • I have reared a memorial more enduring than brass, and loftier than the regal structure of the pyramids, which neither the corroding shower nor the powerless north wind can destroy; no, not even unending years nor the flight of time itself. I shall not entirely die. The greater part of me shall escape oblivion.
    • Horace, Carmina, III. 30. 1.
  • Dignum laude virum Musa vetat mori;
    Cœlo Musa beat.
    • The muse does not allow the praise-deserving hero to die: she enthrones him in the heavens.
    • Horace, Carmina, IV. 8. 28.
  • But all lost things are in the angels' keeping, Love;
    No past is dead for us, but only sleeping, Love;
    The years of Heaven with all earth's little pain
    Make good,
    Together there we can begin again
    In babyhood.
  • Men are immortal till their work is done.
    • David Livingstone, letter describing the death of Bishop Mackenzie in Africa (March, 1862).
  • I came from God, and I'm going back to God, and I won't have any gaps of death in the middle of my life.
  • Of such as he was, there be few on earth;
    Of such as he is, there are few in Heaven:
    And life is all the sweeter that he lived,
    And all he loved more sacred for his sake:
    And Death is all the brighter that he died,
    And Heaven is all the happier that he's there.
  • When the good man yields his breath
    (For the good man never dies).
  • Immortality
    Alone could teach this mortal how to die.
  • Tamque opus exegi quod nec Jovis ira necignes
    Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas.
    Cum volet illa dies quæ nil nisi corporis hujus
    Jus habet, incerti spatium mihi siniut ævi;
    Parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennis
    Astra ferar, nomenque erit indelebile nostrum.
    • And now have I finished a work which neither the wrath of Jove, nor fire, nor steel, nor all-consuming time can destroy. Welcome the day which can destroy only my physical man in ending my uncertain life. In my better part I shall be raised to immortality above the lofty stars, and my name shall never die.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, XV. 871.
  • Sunt aliquid Manes; letum non omnia finit.
    Luridaque evictos effugit umbra rogos.
    • There is something beyond the grave; death does not put an end to everything, the dark shade escapes from the consumed pile.
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegiæ, IV. 7. 1.
  • What a world were this,
    How unendurable its weight, if they
    Whom Death hath sundered did not meet again!
  • Thy lord shall never die, the whiles this verse
    Shall live, and surely it shall live for ever:
    For ever it shall live, and shall rehearse
    His worthy praise, and vertues dying never,
    Though death his soule do from his bodie sever:
    And thou thyselfe herein shalt also live;
    Such grace the heavens doe to my verses give.
  • I am restless. I am athirst for faraway things.
    My soul goes out in a longing to touch the skirt of the dim distance.
    O Great Beyond, O the keen call of thy flute!
    I forget, I ever forget, that I have no wings to fly, that I am bound in this spot evermore.
  • Ah, Christ, that it were possible,
    For one short hour to see
    The souls we loved, that they might tell us
    What and where they be.
  • It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
  • But felt through all this fleshly dresse
    Bright shootes of everlastingnesse.
  • Facte nova virtute, puer; sic itur ad astra.
    • Go on and increase in valor, O boy! this is the path to immortality.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), IX. 641.
  • Happy he whose inward ear
    Angel comfortings can hear,
    O'er the rabble's laughter;
    And, while Hatred's fagots burn,
    Glimpses through the smoke discern
    Of the good hereafter.
  • Man is immortal till his work is done.
    • James Williams, Sonnet Ethandune. Claimed for Williams in the Guardian, Nov. 17, 1911; also Nov. 24.
  • Though inland far we be,
    Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
    Which brought us hither.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)


Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Immortality! We bow before the very term. Immortality! Before it reason staggers, calculation reclines her tired head, and imagination folds her weary pinions. Immortality! It throws open the portals of the vast forever; it puts the crown of deathless destiny upon every human brow; it cries to every uncrowned king of men, "Live forever, crowned for the empire of a deathless destiny!"
  • Earthly providence is a travesty of justice on any other theory than that it is a preliminary stage, which is to be followed by rectifications. Either there must be a future, or consummate injustice sits upon the throne of the universe. This is the verdict of humanity in all the ages.
  • Whence comes the powerful impression that is made upon us by the tomb? Are a few grains of dust deserving of our veneration? Certainly not; we respect the ashes of our ancestors for this reason only — because a secret voice whispers to us that all is not extinguished in them. It is this that confers a sacred character on the funeral ceremony among all the nations of the globe; all are alike persuaded that the sleep, even of the tomb, is not everlasting, and that death is but a glorious transfiguration.
  • See truth, love, and mercy in triumph descending,
    And nature all glowing in Eden's first bloom!
    On the cold cheek of death smiles and roses are blending,
    And beauty immortal awakes from the tomb.
  • Tell me why the caged bird nutters against its prison bars, and I will tell you why the soul sickens of earthliness. The bird has wings, and wings were made to cleave the air, and soar in freedom in the sun. The soul is immortal — it cannot feed upon husks.
  • I feel that I was made to complete things. To accomplish only a mass of beginnings and attempts would be to make a total failure of life. Perfection is the heritage with which my Creator has endowed me, and since this short life does not give completeness, I must have immortal life in which to find it.
  • It is our souls which are the everlastingness of God's purpose in this earth.
  • May we be satisfied with nothing that shall not have in it something of immortality.
  • Heaven begun is the living proof that makes the heaven to come credible. Christ in you is "the hope of glory." It is the eagle eye of faith which penetrates the grave, and sees far into the tranquil things of death. He alone can believe in immortality who feels the resurrection in him already.
  • The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.
  • No martyr ever went the way of duty, and felt the shadow of death upon it. The shadow of death is darkest in the valley, which men walk in easily, and is never felt at all on a steep place, like Calvary. Truth is everlasting, and so is every lover of it; and so he feels himself almost always.
  • Let a disciple live as Christ lived, and he will easily believe in living again as Christ does.

See also

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