1.2.5 Together Forever
At the opposite end of the spectrum stand Paul and Gemma Massey, the British co-ordinators of Together Forever, an affiliation of the Flame Foundation, a group of self-proclaimed physically immortal people in Arizona. The Foundation began some 30 years ago after an Evangelical minister, Charles Paul Brown, claimed to have had a ‘cellular awakening’ in which Christ told him that physical immortality was the true Christian message.
The group claims to have about 2,000 members world-wide. Its basic philosophy is that death isn't natural. Life is based on ‘cellular unity’, and by fostering this through group intimacy life can go on for ever. Gemma Massey explains:
Death is a withdrawal of energy. In being together we continually keep each other energised. We believe that by creating a network of people around the world strong enough and powerful enough, we can keep each other alive. … There is no reason that is obvious to me why cells that have been happily replicating for years have to stop doing so. The only difference I can see is whether that process continues to be energised by my choice, my lifestyle. In a sense we are taking psychic healing to the ultimate conclusion. If you can do it once, why not over and over again?
The crucial factor is group commitment. Members of Together Forever meet twice a week to ‘energize and inspire one another’. At these meetings, explains Paul Massey, ‘there is a personal warmth, a passion for each other – that passion for the flesh, the physical human being that makes the difference’ (Massey, 1991).
Draw a line with Buddhism at one end and Together Forever at the other. Try to mark where you are on the line at the moment, in your everyday life. Is your life shaped more by consciousness of death or by attempts to secure physical immortality?
Most people find they tend to move around in relation to the line rather than occupy a consistent position. Sometimes such movement is prompted by a particular experience which acts as a sharp reminder of our own mortality, as when a friend unexpectedly dies or when we ourselves become seriously ill.