“Death—Our Eternal Companion & the Only Infallible Advisor We have” – Carlos Castaneda
Death is our eternal companion, it is always to our left, at an arm’s length. How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us? The thing to do when you’re impatient is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is there watching you.
The issue of our death is never pressed far enough. Death is the only wise adviser that we have. Whenever you feel that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, “I haven’t touched you yet.”
We have to change, and change fast. We have to learn again and again that death is the hunter, and that it is always to one’s left. We have to ask death’s advice and drop the cursed pettiness that belongs to those who live their lives as if death will never tap them.
Think of your death now. It is at arm’s length. It may tap you any moment, so really you have no time for crappy thoughts and moods. None of us have time for that. The only thing that counts is action, acting instead of talking. . . .
Perhaps you can recall what I said to you about one of our biggest flaws as average human beings. The big flaw I am talking about is something you ought to bear in mind every second of your existence. For me, it’s the issue of issues, which I will repeat to you over and over until it comes out of your ears.
We are beings on our way to dying. We are not immortal, but we behave as if we were.
This is the flaw that brings us down as individuals and will bring us down as a species someday.
The warrior’s advantage over their average fellow men is that warriors know that they are beings on their way to dying and they don’t let themselves deviate from that knowledge. An enormous effort must be employed in order to elicit and maintain this knowledge as a total certainty.
Why is it so hard for us to admit something that is so truthful? It’s really not man’s fault. Someday, I’ll tell you more about the forces that drive a man to act like an ass. Many of us make sense when we talk because we are prepared to use words accurately. But most of us are not prepared to take ourselves seriously as men who are going to die.
The nagual Julian used to tell me about the conquering generals of ancient Rome. When they would return home victorious, gigantic parades were staged to honor them. Riding with them was always a slave whose job was to whisper in their ear that all fame and glory is but transitory.
If we are victorious in any way, we don’t have anyone to whisper in our ear that our victories are fleeting. Warriors, however, do have the upper hand; as beings on their way to dying, they have someone whispering in their ear that everything is ephemeral. The whisperer is death, the infallible advisor, the only one who won’t ever tell you a lie.