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Enrich Your Life by Contemplating Death

Jan 30, 2008
On the Toltec Wisdom Path we talk about using death as an advisor, surrendering ourselves to the Angel of Death, but how many of us have considered the enormity of this concept and the incredible value of this tool?

Everyone has an intellectual understanding that they will die. You cannot refute the evidence of the physical world: nobody who has a body gets out of here alive. But have you internalized the fact that this existence, this being that you think you are, and this mind will at some point cease to exist? Who you really are may continue in another form, but who you think you are, your personality, the "I" in any statement you make about yourself or your life has a finite existence.

What if you believed each moment was your last? Your last chance to take an action, to speak your truth, to love yourself, to love somebody else, to think a thought, to be with the wonder, mystery, and joy of being alive in a body. Can you imagine the richness this perspective could bring to every minute of your life? Imagine the freedom: no time for normal hassles; this is your last moment. Only the decision of how best to use it would fill your mind. Imagine living from that place in your everyday life.

Can you imagine living as if each moment was your last? If not, then look at what is in the way of you living each moment so fully. Clearing these obstacles is the work before you. Being on a spiritual or personal development path is about clearing away the things that keep you from enjoying this present moment. Your entire life comes into existence and disappears in each moment. If you are not aware of the moment, then you are living a dream of the past or a projection into the future. Why waste your time with past or future when the juice is happening right now? Why waste the opportunity of this lifetime, the only one you will ever have as this body, this personality?

The key to living our lives in the present is bringing the proper mood to how we view death. We don't need the morbid, whining, victimized mood of a society that doesn't want to think about death, that says it's not fair, it's sad, or it's too depressing. We need the mood of a Toltec warrior. This Toltec view of death is exemplified in the following quote from Don Juan to Carlos Castenada in the Journey to Ixtlan:

"For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while; in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it."

To assume this mood in our lives we must take responsibility for our actions. Taking responsibility means measuring each act we take against the fact that death is waiting, ready to tap us on the shoulder at any minute. It means doing our best all the time. It means neither judging ourselves nor trying to bypass dealing with issues that arise so we can pretend to be in the present. It means seriously looking at what is keeping us out of the present moment and committing to doing whatever work is necessary to bring our full awareness and presence into each delicious minute left to us in this great mystery of existence.
About the Author
Raven Smith is dedicated to sharing powerful shamanic tools to help you live your purpose. He is a mentor in the Eagle Knight lineage of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. Raven co-authored Spiritual Integrity and runs Spiritual Integrity Coaching with his wife, Heather Ash Amara. He also wrote The Recapitulation Workbook. Contact Raven for more inspiration.
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