Death and Goal Setting - Everyday Samurai

Death and Goal Setting

Spirituality is not necessarily a required skill for the warrior.  Neither is it necessary for goal setting or goal accomplishment.

However, being grounded in a philosophical framework that helps one understand the nature of who they are, and what they want to accomplish in this lifetime, allows for accepting the inevitable mortality of human experience.

Every warrior must live with the understanding that at some point they will die.  Keeping this in mind is a stark reminder to get on with the business of living.

In other words, accepting the certainty of death allows us to face dangerous encounters, like those found in physical combat, with clarity of mind.  

Doing the work necessary to accept death, such as found in comprehensive martial systems, also empowers us to deal with every other aspect of life with greater power, clarity, and flexibility.

Accepting death empowers us to focus on what goals we want to accomplish during our lifetimes.

From Warriors Past

The samurai lived with a constant awareness that death could come at any moment.  Texts such as the Hagakure talked about how the way of the warrior is found in death.  This does not mean that the warrior should foolishly waste his life without employing tactics and skill.  

The words in Hagakure need to be tempered with the author's chagrin for not being able to follow his departed lord in ritual suicide, or junshi, following a prohibition set forth by the Tokugawa bakufu.  Further, most of these texts that talked about absolute obedience to one's lord and a resolution to die in service were written well after the age of war had concluded and the samurai were relegated to mere bureaucrats.  

The writers of this time were nostalgic for the exploits and legends they had never been a part of.  Their legal environment also prohibited from achieving the glorious death they longed for.

It is best to temper some of these writings with an understanding of the incentive structures impacting their ability to choose.

Rather, modern warriors can use the examples set down by our antecedents to inspire our further inquiry and spark the issue in our own minds to figure things out for ourselves guided by principles and bound by reason.  

Death may be a certain outcome for the human experience and living in service for a greater good is certainly noble.  Overcoming fear of death is likewise a laudable achievement that liberates the human spirit to live more fully in the present.  

It is from this state of freedom that life takes on a new potential for honor and fulfillment.

The Warrior's Task

Being in the present moment and focused on awareness of experience carries with it a power to act with uncommon potency.  The more we are able to shed dwelling on the past or anticipating the future, the more were are able to apply our talents and energies toward realizing our goals or creating desired outcomes.  This takes tremendous work in the area of releasing.  

Releasing the past, the stories about circumstances, painful emotions, and previous conditioning allows for experiencing life with a fresh approach.  

The thoughts that cloud our judgment disappear and the fullness of experience becomes available to create with greater choice.  

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently pointed out in The Screwtape Letters:

Planning for the future is the work of the present.  

Strategy is all about setting forth a blueprint for achieving desires using the perceived means available.  All strategy and tactics are human actions undertaken toward the achievement of some goal.  Economics, the application of scarce means to achieve desired ends, is the highest form of strategy.

The key to reaching these ends is to expand the perception of what is possible as well as accessing the resources necessary to achieve them.  Dropping past conditioning as well as the fears that prevent us from taking action can liberate our potential for success.  It helps us see possibilities we may have previously been blind to.

In this, the warriors' comfort with the notion of death is a good place to begin our inquiry.

Digging Deeper On Goals

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