Death makes us warriors

Keep death always before your eyes.
— St. Benedict

“One reason why Christian tradition has always steered me away from preoccupation with reincarnation has not so much to do with doctrine as with spiritual practice.  The finality of death is meant to challenge us to decision, the decision to be fully present here-now, and so begin eternal life. For eternity, rightly understood, is not the perpetuation of time, on and on, but rather the overcoming of time by the “now” that does not pass away.

But we are always looking for opportunities to postpone the decision. So if you say: “Oh, after this I will have another life and another life,” you might never live, but keep dragging along half dead because you never face death.  Don Juan says to Carlos Castaneda, “That is why you are so moody and not fully alive, because you forget you are to die; you live as if you were going to live forever.”  What remembrance of death is meant to do, as I understand it, is to help us make the decision. Don Juan stresses death as the adviser. Death makes us warriors.”

— Brother David Steindl-Rast (Benedictine monk)

Photograph: portrait of Br David Steindl-Rast

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