I read about the new movie The Fountain, which has the quest for immortality as one of its themes. This has also come up recently for me in reading about alchemy.
A quest for what we already are
In alchemy, the quest for immortality has to do with finding ourselves as (a) awake emptiness, timeless, that which time and space unfolds within, and (b) as Spirit, awake emptiness and form, absent of I anywhere, beyond and including all polarities.
This is what we already are, this field of awake emptiness and form, so even if there is an attachment to an idea of "I" as a segment of this field, there will be an intuition about already being timeless. Timelessness is here, but since the "I" is placed on form, and on just the small part of form that makes up this human self, timelessness takes the appearance of "Other".
The field of awake emptiness and form experiences itself through the filter of I and Other, making this human self into I and awake emptiness, or timelessness, into Other.
And this is where the quest for immortality begins. It is a quest for what we already are, in our awake emptiness aspect.
An escape from what we take ourselves to be
The other side of this is that the quest for immortality is an escape from what we take ourselves to be. This side of the coin is more closely aligned with conventional views.
We take ourselves to be a human being, exclusively, find ourselves as finite in time and space, vulnerable to the wider world and the passage of time, so naturally want to escape this - and one way to escape it is immortality.
In theistic (Christian, Jewish, Islamic) cultures, immortality comes in the form of a soul. Our human shell falls away, yet our soul continues on. It is immortal. And the transition is still in the future, so the quest for immortality sometimes becomes a quest to be worthy enough for this immortal life, some time in the future.
In our more recent materialistic culture, the soul is a more questionable idea, so a quest for immortality then takes the form of medical advances, cryogenics and so on.
Right here now
In either case, whether we seek what we already are, or an escape from what we take ourselves to be, or both, we can find immortality right here now, closer than our own breath.
It is this awake emptiness within, to and as all this arises - the words, sensations, thoughts, sounds. This timeless, spaceless emptiness, allowing time and space to unfold within, to and as itself.