meditating on death

Meditating on Death

As I write this the sky is a flat grey. The last storm has cleared but the midday sun shines weaker and hangs lower every day. The nights are longer and colder. The new life of spring is still months away. Those who have worked hard and prepared themselves will survive to see it. The idle will be carried to their graves. There are few better analogies for the state of the Occident than winter.

Winter is a fitting moment to ponder our own mortality, but meditating on death is something we should do routinely, and incorporate into the rituals of the small and independent Reactionary brotherhoods we are forming.

The Modern view of Death

It seems strange and morbid to contemplate our own death. The modern man does everything he can to deny the truths of the world, and the most pointed of them is that we must all die. The modern man wants to live forever. He wants a long life, free from pain and adversity. He wants the boredom of fairness. Wherever death lurks, the modern man blinks and looks away. Few are the men today who willingly seek out danger and death.

Black Science Guy Neil Degrasse Tyson, in his clumsy and pseudo-spiritual attempt to make science deep and meaningful, explains that we are all made from stars. He misses the point, as autistic atheists are wont to do. This doesn’t explain us, or from where the spark of life originates. We might be made from stars, but we are born from our parents, and they from their parents. Our children are born from us. Our lives are transient, but we are part of something eternal. We belong to something, and it isn’t something abstract like stardust. We are part of a European tradition, a never-ending tapestry, made up of countless strands woven together. Individual strands may have their beginnings and ends, but the tapestry goes on forever.

Look up at the stars, is the modern message, and contemplate your own insignificance. Nothing really matters. Do whatever makes you feel good. Be nice. YOLO. The modern world calls for men who are scared of death because it means they will never do anything dangerous. A man who has freed himself of this fear is capable of disobeying.

Death through the Ages

Go back to the root of the European Tradition and there you find Achilles, supernaturally protected but longing for death and glory. At the height of Achilles’ grief and fury he captures Lycaon, who begs him to spare his life. Achilles reminds him:

‘Come, friend, you too must die. Why moan about it so?
Even Patroclus died, a far, far better man than you.
And look, you see how handsome and powerful I am?
The son of a great man, the mother who gave me life-
A deathless goddess. But even for me, I tell you,
Death and the strong force of fate are waiting.
There will come a dawn or sunset or high noon
When a man will take my life in battle too-
flinging a spear perhaps
Or whipping a deadly arrow off his bow.’

Homer, The Iliad

He was proven correct, and if even Achilles could not save himself from death, then how can we? Achilles does not only remind Lycaon of his mortality. The Iliad is a poem, designed to be recited aloud, and Achilles’ message is for the listener as much as it is for the warriors doomed by fate and Homer’s pen. When Achilles says ‘Come, friend, you too must die,’ he is talking to every one of us.

Ever since the fall of Troy, European art and literature has been replete with death, journeys to the underworld and encounters with the dead, right up to the modern day with its fascination with the zombie apocalypse. The European man is at once fascinated and repulsed by death.

Meditation on death was a central pillar of Stoic philosophy. Seneca referred to it as practising one’s death, and said that the man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.

What do prison and guards and locked doors mean to him? He has a free way out. There is only one chain that keeps us bound, the love of life, and even if this should not be rejected, it should be reduced so that if circumstances require nothing will hold us back or prevent us from being ready instantly for whatever action is needed.’

Seneca, Letters From a Stoic

Slaves followed triumphant Roman generals on their victory parades. During the cacophony of the crowd the slaves would whisper to the general ‘Memento mori.’ Remember thou must die.

The European Christian tradition is a story of death and resurrection. Medieval churches, once the seat of the local community, were repositories of death. They were places of worship, but also, before we became rootless cosmopolitans, the resting places of generations of family members, where we would visit them, pray for their souls, ask them to pray for us, and be reminded that one day we would join them. Even today, one can still visit the old churches in Europe, and visit the tombs of Christian knights and the earthly remains of Saints and Apostles.

Beneath Paris lies the catacombs, the largest grave in the world. There is an inscribed metal plaque mounted on a wall:

paris catacombs incensé

Roughly translated it reads: You are crazy, you who promise yourself a long life, you who cannot count on even a single day.

It comes from the 15th century work The Imitation of Christ, which continues:

‘How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.’

It is reminiscent of the great Japanese spiritual guide for warriors, Hagakure (lit. Hidden by Leaves) which, among a treasure trove commentary on honour, the way of the warrior and a lament for the decline of masculine virtue, expounds on the idea on serious and ritualised contemplation of one’s own violent death:

‘Every morning a warrior should recommit himself to death. In morning meditation, see yourself killed in various ways, such as being shredded by arrows, bullets, swords, and spears, being swept away by a tidal wave, burned by fire, struck by lightning, dying in an earthquake, falling from a great height, or succumbing to overwhelming sickness. An elder warrior said, “Once out of your front door you are surrounded by death. Once you leave your gate you are surrounded by enemies.” This saying is not merely a parable, but a way to prepare for your fate.’

-Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Everything that lives must eventually die and become again a part of the earth. The soul leaves the body and what remains will rot away and become food and sustenance for new life. The earth will reclaim its rightful property.

Our bodies are not truly ours, and never were, but instruments loaned to us, and that debt must eventually be repaid. Life and death are one, and it will go on forever until the end of the world and death itself is conquered. Fearing death is as irrational as fearing the sun coming up tomorrow. Violence and war are nothing to be feared, not even a nuclear war. Everything on Earth is trapped in a never-ending cycle of annihilation and rebirth, for it has been ordained so. The Earth demands blood, and men will never tire of obliging her;

Thus, from the maggot up to man, the universal law of the violent destruction of living things is unceasingly fulfilled. The entire earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but an immense altar on which every living thing must be immolated without end, without restraint, without respite, until the consummation of the world, until the extinction of evil, until the death of death.

Joseph De Maistre – The Executioner

Today, soldiers deploying on operations write letters to their family, to be delivered should they be killed in action, and in doing so engage in a private meditation on their death.

Personal Meditation on Death

Develop your own rituals, either singly, or as part of your Reactionary brotherhood. Read the Stoics: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Cato and the other great pre-Enlightenment thinkers. Read and study their thoughts on death. Borrow their mantras: Memento mori. Remember thou must die. Tomorrow I must die. I knew I was mortal. Invent your own.

Meditate on your own inevitable death. We must become comfortable with staring death in the face. It is not supposed to be a pleasant exercise, but an exercise of the Will. Like a muscle, the Will is strengthened by exercise. Meditating on death is an exercise in voluntary hardship. A deliberate decision to deviate from comfort and conformity. Consider it a mental purgatory, a cleansing fire that burns away modern weaknesses from our minds.

Imagine your own death. Imagine being shot, stabbed, beheaded, drowned, burned and suffocated. Cleaved by pole-axe. Trampled under a cavalry charge. Crushed under collapsed buildings. Pulled apart by horses. Imagine grappling with a suicide bomber, scrabbling in the dirt for the trigger, trying to stop him setting off his explosives and not quite making it. Practise your death a million times over.

Capture the details of the scene in your mind’s eye. Picture it as awful and grisly as you can bear. It should be distressing, but watch it unfold impassively. Fire. Dust. Gunfire and the howl of jet engines. Smoke burning your airways. Cold steel puncturing your skin. Your own blood slippery and warm spilling down your skin. Limbs torn off. Explosions. People around you screaming. Your face hitting the cold, hard pavement. Blood running out of your mouth and being washed away by the rain. Your last thoughts of your family. Your adventure ends here.

Imagine further into the future. Your body lies abandoned and unrecovered on the battlefield. The sun and wind scour your skin dry. Crows and feral dogs fight over you. Insects crawl over your skin and flies lay their eggs. Time moves on. The cycle of day and night spins faster and faster. Your remains are scattered by the wind and decompose into the earth. Eventually, there is nothing left of you at all.

This is not an idle daydream. You’re not the hero. Don’t be tempted to save yourself. The objective is to suffer and die and to watch it all without any emotional attachment. Be indifferent to the fate of your mangled body. Let go of the attachment to your physical body, because it was never truly yours. Your thread is over, but the European tradition remains. The tapestry continues to be woven without you, and all the more beautiful for your place in it.

The Rewards of Meditating on Death

Accepting that we must die will give us a greater realisation of the here and now. A greater ability to distinguish between what we can and cannot control. We will have more appreciation for what one already has and less attachment to the futile strivings of the modern world. An awareness that your strength and beauty are fleeting. Use them while you can. Less politics. Less futile distractions. Less pointless facebook arguments with leftists. Less greed, envy and pride. Less wrath, the sin to which most Reactionaries most likely succumb, but at the same time, a reminder that failing to be angry when one has just cause is also a sin.

Meditating on death gives one a mental strength, and from this, a desire to be tested in this world. Cultivate a mindset where one is simultaneously dead and alive. Like the masterless samurai of Japan who felt themselves left behind by an effeminate and honourless society, we too are dead to this world, and surrounded by enemies the moment we step outside our homes. What fear is there to be had in being called racist when one has already died countless times in one’s mind? Talking to that cute girl isn’t the ordeal you think it is.

Yet we are still alive, viscerally so, because by meditating on death we painfully make ourselves aware of the beauty of this life. This one life we have been loaned is a gift, bought at a great price. We should do all we can with it. Meditate on death, then train like a madman. Read, recruit, reproduce, form a brotherhood, make a stand, and do it all before death claims us. We cannot build strong men by neglecting the mind and the will. The rebirth of Europe can only be built on a firm mental and spiritual foundation. We need more than just disgruntled white gym bros. If we are to build a hard, masculine warrior fraternity it will be made up of men who have militant and radical minds.

 

26 thoughts on “Meditating on Death”

    1. I believe there are some similarities. I imagine that in saying they love death as we love life, they are claiming that there is more glory in dying for their god than there is in continuing to live in acquiescence with the amoral and degenerate West – which I can understand. If the Crusaders could come back from their graves and see the modern Europe they’d want to blow it up too. Early Christians chose martyrdom over renouncing their Faith. All cultures have had a concept of a ‘good death’, except the modern West it seems, with its clinging to life, money and YOLO.

  1. Simon,

    Your blog is masculine wisdom more valuable than precious jewels.

    Another pertinent quote I love from the Hagakure (paraphrased)

    “If it is certain you will lose, retaliate. There is no reason in this but plunging recklessly towards an irrational death it is then you will awaken from your dreams.”

    1. It’s a fantastic book. I remember reading it as a teenager and it never left me. It’s even more relevant than ever.

  2. Your words ring true. I feel fortunate to have had your website passed along to me by a West Point warrior and like-minded friend.

  3. You’re a truly inspirational writer. I have read about and practised the stoic philosophy of negative visualisation before, but this article has already given me a deeper perspective on the benefits of it. I already feel much more motivated for my training and work today. Thank you

  4. God weaves equally with the threads of life and death, but until we are Self-realized, we can see only the phenomenal or incoherent backside of the Tapestry. Let our meditation on the phenomenon of death be an expression of our intellectual intuition (faith) that from the Noumenal side of the Tapestry, our deaths partake in Beauty Itself and thereby consecrate ourselves fully to Its making.

  5. I have lost two of my beloved dogs in two months, to cancer. Even in death, they taught me how to accept their death as the end of their pain. They, along with this post, taught me how to begin to accept the inevitability of my own death. And accepting their deaths made the pain of losing them fade away.

    Thank you for writing this.

  6. I do not believe in coincidence. I do not believe in chance or luck. I do believe in destiny and synchronicity and the shared psychic connection of kindred spirits – like the connection shared by twins when they sense the others joys and pains in spirit and through the mind… that said, I believe there is more than chance and timing to your posting of this well thought out entry.

    Just a few days before you posted this, I had replied to an email from Henry explaining my whereabouts on line recently which has been almost silent… I have been in the grips of contemplating and meditating on life and death… how I deal with death of close ones is in brooding and deep contemplation (unlike my usually daily brooding as a poet). I lost a cousin in Mexico to cancer… it looked like she was pulling through but it resurfaced and got her in the end. She was a few years younger than me and she was beautiful, I did not know her as well as I would have liked, she was a daughter of my mothers sister who also passed away from cancer as did another of her sisters – cancer is after the women in my family… the good thing about my cousins passing is it brought some family members together and I was given the opportunity to meet family I had never met and others I was curios to know how our families were intertwined, and clan from the ranch I thought I would never see again – the same as happened when my godmother passed away… my tribe grew with the simple passing of a few… she will be missed… but God… don’t let me die from something as miserable and pathetic as cancer or some other life sucking illness…

    And then my very good friend Dominique Hernan, Legionnaire, and adventurer died – his passing was painful and my circle of trust is now back down to two. Dominique was my age but his life experience and travels aged him with wisdom and confidence and a relaxed attitude I aspire to acquire and understand. I met him through Cris and we clicked immediately – he got me and I got him, we had the same sense of humor and shared the same cynicism and sarcastic attitude and we always knew what the other was thinking… without saying a word or sharing a glance we knew when to fight, and when to bug out… and we always could tell when the other was in trouble. We heard conflicting stories about his death and none of them made any sense – knowing the type of man he was, he was mysterious and quiet and solitary but he was not reckless – he worked in private security and there was not much he would risk if there was no money involved – but Cris, and myself and our young friend Jan would willing follow Mssr. Hernan on any adventure when he called us in to help him on a job – unlike the way Cris and I have to con and trick each other into following the other on some scheme… with Dominique we knew there would be danger involved and we might get bloodied up and come back with broken bones and holes in our bodies where there shouldn’t be… but we were following that man and cared very little about the money… we were chasing death, that old son of a bitch and enjoying every reckless moment of it… we probably wont do that sort of thing with out Dom around… but we’ll still get into trouble… he will be missed… there are very few men like him left in this world.

    God – don’t let me die on my knees or in some concentration camp… don’t let it be fighting in a made up conflict designed to sell weapons and push bank loans on poor nations… if I must die at the hands of another make it at the hands of a real man in an epic battle of wills between right and wrong… let death come in a noble pursuit and in a bloody and barbaric fight… the kind that makes a man abandon his honor… his integrity… his dreams of glory… make it savage and brutal and beastly… let our blood seep deep into the earth that nothing will ever grow there… let the clouds be grey for a hundred years after our passing over our graves and let no song or poems be written about the wrath of Heaven we call down and the fires from Hell that we raised…

    I have flipped cars over and slammed them into walls… I have rolled down mountains and nearly drowned a few times… I have found myself crawling on my belly as bullets whizzed over head… I have been mugged at gun point and I have been jumped several times by gangs that out numbered me… I have had the shit kicked out of me by pimps and drug dealers… I have been homeless and know hunger and I am familiar with sleeping out in the cold and the wind and the rain… I am not afraid of death… but I worry how it will come.

    Thank you for posting this Simon – it is one of your best… my brooding is over and I will get back to writing on a some-what regular basis now… I have not kept up with my correspondences and I apologize – congratulations on the birth of your children.

    It is destiny that is bringing these men here… and we all know what is coming… we don’t know when… but we know it is coming… and I suspect many of them will rush recklessly into the fire – without giving a second thought to the demons and socialist waiting in the flames… it will be a death worth chasing.

    1. Thanks Victor. I don’t believe in coincidences either. Good to hear you’re writing again. I’ve been meaning to write to you also, it’s been a while and we should catch up.

  7. Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances…

  8. In life, especially during times of conflict and danger, one must come to terms with one’s own mortality, potential and eventual death, in order to think and see things clearly and function effectively, and for me that requires being at peace with God and self and by having a clear understanding of the mission at hand.

    Thanks for the good thoughts…do good and fight the good fight.

  9. There are I feel primary and secondary goals for life.

    The primary is based on the finitude of bodily life. We decay and do not last forever as mortal men, what then can be greater a mission than to ensure the safety of the spiritual life into eternity? Salvation is paramount. Once bodily life has ceased, no other changed can be made. From this moment we sit under individual judgment.

    The secondary goal is based on honoring the Creator. For this, we see the noble missions of living the noble Christian life, the supporting and nurturing of our great traditions from which civilizations honoring the hierarchy of the invisible world are formed, and of course, the living legacy which we all wish to drive through time like a spear in the form of our offspring, the patriarchal lineage.

    If man fails in these goals, he has failed the bodily life. This is the answer to the age old question: “why are we?”

  10. Wow…as I am building my Christian tribe…this essay resonates with me so much. I’ve always loved the Samurai way of looking at honor and death…as a Christian I’ve started being led into looking into the Christian Warriorhood way…and a good place to start is the Crusades…and your blog. Thanks brother.

  11. On this day in 1836:

    To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World:

    Fellow citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna—I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.

    William Barret Travis

    Lt. Col. comdt

    P.S. The Lord is on our side—When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn—We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.

    Travis

  12. “Lo, there do I see my father. Lo, there do I see my mother and my brothers and my sisters. Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning. Lo, let me take my place among them.” From the movie The 13th Warrior.

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