“Those who cling to life die, and those who defy death live.” ~Kenshin
The only way to conquer death is to live a life so healthy, courageous, and humorous that the gods themselves blush with envy.
Death is not something that we can master, like Kung Fu or basket weaving. It is not a skill. It is an orientation. It is a sacred alignment with nature. Moreover, Death is an initiation into the infinite.
You must have infinity inside you to conquer death. The deeper you gaze into infinity, the closer you get to resolving the anxiety of death. When you’re oriented toward death, you live. When you’re disoriented toward death, you suffer. Living fully is dying well in sacred alignment with Infinity. Living poorly is slowly dying out of misalignment with the infinite.
If, as the Buddha said, “The root of suffering is attachment,” then it stands to reason that the root of attachment is belief. And the root of belief is fear. And the root of fear is death. Conquer death!
Live so healthy and full that Death fears to take you:
“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” ~Bukowski
You fear death because you believe that it is taking something away from you. But discipline teaches you that death is a gift. As Kafka said, “The meaning of life is that it stops.”
Death is a whetstone for life. Use it to sharpen your mettle. Use it to test your soul. Use it to forge a character so antifragile that Fear itself shatters against it.
As Marcus Aurelius said, “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Come alive! You are a blade. Sharpen yourself. Then use it to cut the world.
Health cuts through entropy. Health is a sword that slices through entropy, inertia, idleness, laziness, and even death. Where entropy is the ultimate state of inert uniformity, health is the absolute state of engaged harmony.
To cut with health is to breathe. Breath is the lifeblood of the cut. This is the importance of meditation. Breath is the primal source. To breathe and to be present with breath, is to become one with the cosmos, in the moment, fluid, non-attached, and in a state of absolute awareness that everything is connected to everything else.
Establish harmony between you and the world, between you and the infinite, between you and death. Become a force to be reckoned with. Cut with your health. Fear of death be damned! There is life to be lived.
Live so courageously that Death stumbles over your audacity:
“Much of our lives are spent running from our own shadow. The denial of death and the division of the human soul go together.” ~John Gray
Death is a compass. The shadow is your ally. The trickster is your sidekick. Nonattachment is your discipline.
Meditate on death. Meditate on eternity. Meditate on interconnectedness. Meditate on pain. Meditate on the improbability of your own existence. You are a miracle, a flash in a pan, a speck in an implausible cosmos. Honor it.
Tap your inner shadow for courage. Tap your inner trickster for audacity. Use them both to get out of your own way, to recondition cultural conditioning, to stay ahead of the curve. Use them to rise above the pettiness and platitudes of a fear-based culture.
Blow up the crossroads. Dance a jig over God’s grave. Laugh into the abyss. Bridge the gap between opposites. Topple thrones. Kneecap high horses. Melt down golden idols into molten puddles of “try again.”
As Tecumseh said, “Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
Life is short. You only have so much time. Do you want to spend it afraid, risk-averse, unhealthy, and caught up in a sick society that keeps you lazy, comfortable, safe, and secure? Or do you want to spend it with courage, taking risks, challenging yourself to be healthy despite the sick society that surrounds you?
As Virgil warned, “Death twitches my ear. ‘Live,’ he says, ‘I am coming.’”
Tear the doors off the Ivory Tower and tell the oracles that they have failed. No fear. Ride like lightning, crash like thunder. Live dangerously. Live on purpose, with purpose. As Courage Wolf said, “Climb the highest mountain and punch the face of God.”
Live so humorously that Death has no choice but to laugh with you:
“Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.” ~Marcus Aurelius
Death outflanks us all. What is a mortal to do with such fleetingness, such soul-crushing angst, such overwhelming impermanence? How do you react to the crippling transience of it all?
You meet it with courageous humor. You meet it with audacity, tenacity, and a smile. You meet the cosmic joke head-on and laugh with the knowledge that although you are merely a speck in the cosmos you are also the entire cosmos within a speck.
Forced to gaze into Infinity, a few things become clear: Absurdity rules. Certainty is folly. Security is an illusion. Rescue isn’t coming. No God is coming to save you from your sins. No so-called authority is coming to bail you out. No hero is coming to liberate you from taking responsibility for your own freedom.
The only rescue is a good sense of humor. The only God is laughter. The only hero is wit. When humor is God, all false gods die. When humor is the only authority, all seriousness dies. Boundaries dissolve. Horizons manifest. Placation and sentimentality are laid to rest. You are finally free to laugh, to play, to live.
Death shrinks into a null set, a nothingness, a moot point. It becomes merely something to weigh your lightheartedness against. A laughable inevitability. A pitiful parenthesis. A petty destination.
In the throes of good humor, the entire universe is inside you, vibrating through you, howling at all moons, singing a language older than words, and, most importantly, reminding you that the destination (death) is nothing; that the journey (life) is the thing.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (How to Conquer Death) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.