The continued existence of one’s self-awareness.
It’s a familiar and relatively simple concept; a basic tenet of many contemporary and archaic religions. It has been a key element in the quest for immortality that has dogged the human race for millennia; perhaps ever since self-awareness itself came into being as a side effect of the neurological activity within that mass of gray and white matter inside our skulls.
The concept is universal, but also personal; almost self-centered at its core. Everlasting self-awareness; the hope of escaping that ultimate obliteration. A desire so powerful that it drives humans to speak words and perform deeds ranging from unthinkable malevolence to extraordinary charitableness.
It’s also never a solitary endeavor. Unlike mastering a physical activity or developing a mental skill, no amount of self motivation, discipline, or sacrifice alone can control the outcome of receiving that ultimate reward. There’s always a contract with another who has the solitary, singular power to grant the gift, and who must be appeased in order to earn the reward.
Invariably, the pact is one-sided. There is a certain duplicity in the contract, as the beneficiary must play the part of both the mortgagor and mortgagee. The agreement is consummated with a one-handed handshake. The deception begins and the true nature of the beast is revealed in the name of fulfilling that promise.
Whether the blessed gift to the faithful believers, or the cursed reward of vampires and the undead, the path to resurrection was never, and still is not, free. It always came with a price, always will, and may never be a guarantee of immediate peace or everlasting happiness.