A common conception about immortality is that this personality, this individuality that we identify with, will somehow survive intact, maintain its existence and continuity of existence and thus, have a continuous line of memory stretching endlessly into the future. This is not, however, a realistic viewpoint, nor is it the meaning of immortality in the sense that Sri Aurobindo describes it.
For most people when life departs from the body, the body begins to deteriorate and return to its basic material elements. With a somewhat loosely organised vital nature and mental being, it soon follows that these disperse into their respective realms and become part of the amorphous vital nature or mental nature, not any longer identified with a specific individual. 

It is true that individuals may, during a specific lifetime, create a body of work in the external world that extends their mental or vital longevity in the collective sense beyond the life in which they created those materials. Artists, composers, writers, teachers, all leave behind them an impact that they have on those around them, and which can extend many centuries into the future as long as their ideas, artistic or musical creations or writings continue to exist. This is an approximation of ‘immortality’ in the external world. If the vital or mental nature is highly developed and organised, it may also persist, partly or wholly intact, in the vital or mental realm, and may actually be taken up and brought into a future lifetime by a psychic being who is conscious enough and able to wield this kind of conscious focus and power on these occult levels.

If we want to look at the question of immortality in an ultimate sense, we need to look at the growth of the soul, the psychic being, which by its relation to the Divine partakes of the immortality of the universal being and existence. The Mother provides additional insight into the true nature of immortality.

Sri Aurobindo writes in his Thoughts and Aphorisms: ”Immortality is not the survival of the mental personality after death, though that also is true, but the waking possession of the unborn and deathless Self of which body is only an instrument and a shadow.”

The Mother notes: ”There are three statements here which have raised questions. First, ‘What is the mental personality?’ “

“In each human being the body is animated by the vital being, and governed, or partially governed, by a mental being. This is a general rule, but the extent to which the mental being is formed and individualised varies greatly from one individual to the next. In the great mass of human beings the mind is something fluid which has no organisation of its own, and therefore it is not a personality. And as long as the mind is like that, fluid, unorganised, with no cohesive life of its own and without personality, it cannot survive. What made up the mental being dissolves in the mental region when the body, the substance which made up the body, dissolves in the physical substance.”

“But as soon as the mental being is formed, organised, individualised, and has become a personality, it does not depend, it no longer depends on the body for its existence, and it therefore survives the body. The earth’s mental atmosphere is filled with beings, mental personalities which lead an entirely independent existence, even after the disappearance of the body; they can reincarnate in a new body when the soul, that is to say, the true Self, reincarnates, thus carrying with it the memory of its previous lives.”

“But this is not what Sri Aurobindo calls Immortality. Immortality is a life without beginning or end, without birth or death, which is altogether independent of the body. It is the life of the Self, the essential being of each individual, and it is not separate from the universal Self. And this essential being has a sense of oneness with the universal Self; it is in fact a personified, individualised expression of the universal Self and has neither beginning nor end, neither life nor death, it exists eternally and that is what is immortal. When we are fully conscious of this Self we participate in its eternal life, and we therefore become immortal.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 6, Some Answers and Explanations, pp. 223-224

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at http://www.sri-aurobindo.com
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at http://www.lotuspress.com