death is my favorite subject of contemplation, as i believe in celebrating death, not mourning it. death is becoming an ever increasing possibility as i grow older. which is quite amusing seeing how the probability was higher when i was younger and more reckless. or is it just that i think of it a lot more now than before?
The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. This is the substance of the way of the samurai.
why so negative?
we're conditioned to believe that thinking and talking about death is negative thinking and possibly even a bad omen. but isn't it a curiosity that all children have? one that goes unanswered and unexplored as they become adults. instead of developing a healthy understanding of death and demise, that curiosity grows into an unhealthy fear and paranoia.
and this is where the problem lies. not in death itself. but in the fear of it. we all overcome the loss of a loved one eventually. but the fear of that happening paralyses and prevents us from enjoying the moments we have left. both for the one actually dying and those around.
you probably want to stop reading this since it's not something you think is likely to happen to you or your loved ones. you dare not think so. the palpable fear that even thinking of it might become a self fulfilling prophecy makes you want to run away from the thought.
escape or embrace
what if you chased your fears instead? death isn't something we can escape, avoid or even delay as much as modern systems attempt to convince us. the present pandemic has proven that we're no better than we were hundreds of years ago. even if we have managed to increase the average lifespan, much of it is spent in a neurotic paranoia of decay and disease before the eventuality of death.
instead of attempting to challenge death, what if we challenged the fear of death? unlike the ancient Samurai, we needn't meditate on death by weapons and war. but the concept still rings true regardless of the era we live in.
visualising the various ways in which we may meet our end is a powerful way to embrace the end and thus nullify the fear that prevents us from enjoying life before death. through this pandemic, every death we are made aware of might actually be used to steel us against the fear rather than succumb to it.
even traumatic deaths like automotive accidents can help us prepare for an unexpected demise. well it wouldn't be unexpected as an eventuality even if it was unexpected as an event.
accept death accept life
before you start harping about how this can be disastrous to one's psyche rather than helpful, take a deep breath and read the original quote again.
Every day, when one's body and mind are at peace...
this is the caveat you might have missed. it's vital to center one's self in a state of equanimity and stability before attempting to challenge one's world view with disastrous consequences (even if imaginary). this thought exercise was used by ancient warriors of renown and repute, so it's not expected of the faint hearted or anyone but those willing to dive deep into the ideology.
that said, desperate times call for desperate measures. this is for you if you think the fear of dying is preventing you from enjoy the moments of living, and you want to do something about it.
this is for you if you're facing the eventuality of a loved one in a terminal situation and you want to help each other find peace in life not just in the after life. this meditation can be a discussion that will benefit both the dying and the (soon to be) bereaved.
if you think neither you not your loved ones are anywhere close to death, you can still contemplate on this particular line from the quote
And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.
if you're a creator, enterpreneur, artist, maker or what have you and are wracked by imposter syndrome, this would unleash the floodgates of creativity. it definitely does for me. if you're already dead what does it matter what people will think about what you have to share with the world. nobody is more liberated from the pressures of life than the dear departed.
remember death here can also be interpreted as the failure of an idea, concept, project or startup that you're embarking on. meditating on the many ways in which you can fail will make you resilient to the possibility of it happening. if and when it does happen, you'll be in a better position to deal calmly with it.
if you're game to give this a go, lemme know how it went or rather how it's going, every single day.