Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A spiritual life.

" A woman once asked Carlos Castaneda how to achieve a spiritual life. He responded: "When you go home tonite sit in your chair and remember that your child, your husband, everyone you love, and you yourself, are going to die- and that they will die in no particular order,unpredicatably.Remember this every night," Castaneda said," and you'll soon have a spiritual life."

From Judd Biasiotto's article in this months PL USA.

The fact that death is always hunting us is something I never forget and imbues everything I do with all that much more significance.


Rannoch Donald RKC said...


Great stuff. It is amazing how quickly we turn away from the subject of our own inevitable demise.

A meditation group I took part in introduced Death Meditation one week, much to the alarm of some of the participants. Whilst some refused to take part I personally found the process incredibly liberating. Approached in the correct manner it is a truly life affirming practice.

This is it. There are no secrets. Breathe and smile.

This is an interesting piece...


Mark Reifkind said...


I agree, people get very easily freaked by this idea although the reality for all of us is that we will die, no matter how fit, strong, rich or smart we are. It is inevitable and there is NO telling when it will happen.
If one TRULY knew this was there last day, or week or month on earth, how much important would all the trivial bullshit we tend to worry about really be in the face of that reality.
yet the truth is we are faced with that reality every esecond of every day but we like to live in denial of that.
not to say one should be morbid but an awareness, a conciousness of that reality will make the important things in life( family,friends,being able to move) all that more sweet and lessen the sting of the more insignificant 'details' and issues.

Rannoch Donald RKC said...

I think "denial" is the morbid part. The idea that covering your eyes with your hands somehow banishes the monsters.

Look them in the eye. Stare 'em down!

Carl Jung said "What we resist persists."

Routine, commitments, work, even family, all these things cloud the reality that this is a one way ticket.

My wife said recently that the view of life filling up rather than running out is a particularly healthy one. I like that. I'm full, I'm done. Not such a bad thing!

Boris said...

Nice. Dr. Judd definately throws out gems in his column. Haven't read PLUSA in a while, so thanks for posting it.

Jordan Vezina said...

That's a great quote. Reminds me of the inner turmoil that you go through either in or on your way to a hot zone. If you're constantly freaked out about dying or getting hurt you can't be effective. I've heard other vets say they adopted a mentality like they were already dead, and it killed the fear. You're still afraid, it's just not a crippling fear. I prefer to just think my ticket's already been punched, it's just a matter of when it gets cashed in.

Mark Reifkind said...


coming from a guy like you, that has been in war, brings a whole nother reality to it. I've read that that attitude( one must be already "dead") before going into battle was the focus on the Samurai as well. They had to think their 'ticket was already punched' before the could fight with 100% abandonment.
The truth is we all have our tickets punched and it is just a matter of when they get cashed; whether we like to think about it or not.
thanks for the comments and congrats on your snatch progress as well!

Jordan Vezina said...

Thanks Rif. Though I must say mine was a small war, and much more friendly than the current one. We got pastries.

mc said...

you know gentlemen i offer this from a quite perspective of a wee voice off in the corner: i find it hard to separate my awareness of castinada's work and practices from anything he says. it's sorta like trying to reconcile the neitzsche's statements about women in his aphorisms as if they can be read outside awareness of his syphilitic whoring ways.

after a comment like that, forgive me: again, this is just coming from my context; not a criticism of responses to the observation.

i would offer as a complement to this quotation, taking a slightly different perspective, which is in Covey's seven habits, the second habit of begin with the end in mind: imagine yourself three years from now, attending your own funeral: what do you want people to be able to say about you? - someone from your family, your job and some other community (he uses one's church).

Unlike ol' Carlos's perspective of everyone else is dead, and so there you are, the last person standing, alone, potentially without the peyote, Covey seems to offer something to do with the thoughts of mortality: what are you doing to leave that legacy for people to be inspired by you, warmed by you, loved by you, encouraged by you, lead by you.

i like the proactiveness of covey's approach. equally salutary but more effective for purpose: what's your three year plan with respect to the Other and Self?

and now rif, as requested, i have posted. thank you for the offer and the opportunity.