Why a Brush with Death Can Help You Live Your Best Life


It is truly a great cosmic paradox that one of the best teachers in life turns out to be death. No person or situation could ever teach you as much as death has to teach you.

While someone could tell you that you are not your body death shows you. Whilst someone could remind you of the insignificance of the possessions you cling to death takes them all away in a second. While people can teach you that men and women of all races are equal and that there is no difference between the rich and the poor, death instantly makes us all the same.

The question is are you going to wait until that last moment to let death be your teacher? The mere possibility of death has the power to teach us at any moment. A wise person realises that at any moment they may breathe out and the breath may not come back in. It could happen at any time in any place and your last breath is gone. You have to learn from this.

A wise being embraces the reality, inevitability, and unpredictability of death. Any time you are having trouble with something think of death. Let’s say you are the jealous type and you can’t stand anyone being close to your mate. Think about what will happen when you are no longer here. How does romance feel when you are gone? Is it fair that your loved one should live alone with no one to care for them? Get past your personal issues – then you’ll find that you want the person you love to be happy and to have a full and beautiful life. Since that is what you want for them, why are you bothering them now just for talking to someone?

It shouldn’t take death to challenge you to live at your highest level. Why wait until everything is taken from you before you learn to dig deep inside yourself to reach your highest potential? A wise person affirms “If with one breath all of this can change then I wish to live at the highest level while I’m alive. I’m going to stop bothering the people I love, I’m going to live life from the deepest part of my being.”This is the consciousness necessary for deep and meaningful relationships.


Look how callous we get with our loved ones. We take it for granted that they are there and that they will continue to be there for us. What if they died? What if you died? What if you knew that this evening would be the last time you saw them in this lifetime?

Imagine that an angel comes down and tells you “Straighten up your affairs”. You will not awaken from your sleep tonight. You are coming to me.” Then you’d know that every person you see on that day, you’d be seeing for the last time. How would you feel? How would you interact with them? Would you even bother with the little grudges and complaints you’ve been carrying around? How much love could you give the ones you love, knowing it would be the last time you would get to be with them?

Think about what it would be like if you lived like that. Every moment with everyone. Your life would be really different. You should contemplate this. Death is not a morbid thought. Death is the greatest teacher in all of life.

Death is the greatest teacher in all of life. 

Take a moment to look at the things you think you need. Look at how much time and energy you put into various activities. Imagine if you knew you were going to die within a week or a month. How would that change things? How would your priorities change? How would your thoughts change? Think honestly about what you would do with your last week.

What a wonderful thought to contemplate. Then ponder this question “If that’s really what you would do with your last week what are you doing with the rest of your time?” Wasting it? Throwing it away? Treating it like it’s not something precious?

What are you doing with life?

What are you doing with life? That is what death asks you. Let’s say you are living life without the thought of death, and the angel of death comes to you and says “Come it is time to go”. You say “But no you’re supposed to give me a warning so I can decide what to do with my last week. I’m supposed to get one more week”.

Do you know what death will say to you? He will say “My god! I gave you 52 weeks this past year alone and look at all the other weeks I’ve given you. Why would you need one more? What did you do with all those?”

If I asked that what are you going to say? How will you answer? “I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t think it mattered.” That’s a pretty amazing thing to say about your life.

Death is a great teacher but who lives with that level of awareness?

It doesn’t matter what age you are. At any time you could take a breath and there may never be another. It happens all the time, to babies, to teenagers, to people in mid-life, not just the aged. One breath and they are gone.

No one knows when their time will be. That’s not how it works. So why not be bold enough to regularly reflect on how you would live that last week?

If you were to ask this question of someone who is truly awakened they wouldn’t have any problem answering you.

Not a thing would change inside of them. Not a thought would cross their minds. If death were to come in an hour or death were to come in a week, or if death were to come in a year. They would live exactly as they are living now. There is not a single thing they carry inside of their heart that they would rather be doing. In other words, they are fully living life and not making compromises or playing games with themselves. You have to be willing to look at what it would be like if death were staring you in the face. Then you have to come to peace with yourself so that it doesn’t make any difference whether it is or not.

There is this story of a great yogi who said that every moment of his life he felt that a sword was suspended above his head by a spider web.

He lived with the awareness that he was close to death. You are that close to death. You are that close to death every time you get in the car, every time you walk across the street and every time you eat something.

It could be the last thing you do. Do you realise that what you are doing at any moment is something that someone was doing when they died? He died eating dinner. He died in a car accident two miles from his home. He died in a plane wreck on a trip to New York. He went to bed and never woke up. At some point, this is how it happened to somebody.

death grave stoneNo matter what you are doing, you can be sure that somebody died that way. Don’t be afraid to discuss death, or get uptight about it. Instead, let this knowledge help you to live every moment of your life fully because every moment matters.

Everything is a million times more meaningful in the final weekThat’s what happens when someone knows he only has a week left. You can be certain that they would tell you that the most important week they ever had was that last week.

What if you were to live every week that way? At this point, you should ask yourself why you aren’t living that way. You are going to die. You know that. You just don’t know when your life will be taken from you. You will leave behind your possessions, your loved ones, and all your hopes and dreams for this life. You’ll be taken right out of this life, and you will no longer be able to fill the roles you were so busy playing.

If things can be changed in an instant, then maybe they aren’t so real after all.

Death changes everything in a flash. That’s the reality of the situation.  Maybe you’d better check out who you are. Maybe you should look deeper. The beauty of embracing deep truths is that you don’t have to change your life. Rather you take steps to change how you live your life.

It’s not what you are doing. It’s how much of you is doing it. 

For example, you’ve walked outside thousands of times, but how many times have you appreciated it? Imagine a person in a hospital bed who had just been told they have a week left to live. They look up at the doctor and say, “Can I walk outside and look at the sky just one more time?”.

If it were raining outside they would want to feel the rain just one more time. For them that would be the most precious thing. But you don’t want to feel the rain. You run and cover-up. What is it that won’t let us live our lives? What is it inside of us that is so afraid that it keeps us from just enjoying life? This part of us is so busy trying to make sure that the next thing goes right that we can’t just be here and now, and live life.

Don’t you want to live before death comes?

All the while death is watching our footsteps. Don’t you want to live before death comes? You’re probably not going to get a warning. Very few people are told when they are going to die. Almost everybody takes a breath and doesn’t take another.

So start using every day to begin letting go of that scared part of you that won’t let you live your life fully. Since you know you’re going to die someday be willing to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. Be willing to be fully present without being afraid of what will happen in the next moment.

That’s how people live when they face death. You’ll get to do that because you are facing death every moment. Learn to live as if you are facing death at all times, and you’ll become bolder and more open. If you live life fully you won’t have any last wishes, you will have lived them every moment.

Only then will you have fully experienced life and released the part of you that’s afraid of living. There’s no reason to be afraid of life, and the fear will fade once you understand the only thing to get from life is the growth that comes from experiencing it.

Life itself is your career and your interaction with life is your most meaningful relationship.

Everything else you are doing is just focusing on a tiny subset of life in the attempt to give life some meaning but really, all that gives life meaning is the willingness to live it. It isn’t any particular event. It’s the willingness to experience life’s events.

What if you knew the next person you would see would be the last person you would ever see? You would be right there soaking it in, experiencing it. It wouldn’t matter what they were saying, you’d enjoy hearing the words because it would be the last conversation you’d ever have.

What if you brought that kind of awareness to every conversation? That’s what happens when you are told that death is around the corner. You change! Life doesn’t change.

You change! Life doesn’t change.

The true seeker commits to live like that every moment and lets nothing stop them.

Why should anything stop you? You’re just going to die anyway. If you challenge yourself to live as though it was your last week your mind may come up with all kinds of suppressed desires. It may start talking about all the things you always wanted to do and you may think you’d better make time to do them.

You’ll soon see that’s not the answer. You have to understand that you attempt to get special experiences from life that make you miss the “actual” experience of life.

LifeLife exists with or without you.

Life is not something you get. It’s something you experience. Life exists with or without you. It has been going on for billions of years. You get the honour of seeing a tiny slice of it.

If you’re busy trying to get something you will miss the slice you’re experiencing. Every one of life’s experiences is different and every experience is worth having.

Life is not something to waste. It’s truly precious. That’s why death is such a great teacher. It’s death that makes life precious.

Look how precious life becomes when you imagine you only have a week to live. How precious would life be if there was no such thing as death? You waste every second of it because you have never thought about not being here in your life. It’s scarcity that makes things precious. Scarcity makes a simple rock a rare gem – so death gives meaning to life.

Death is your friend. Death is your liberator. For God’s sake do not be afraid of death. Try to learn what it is saying to you. The highest way to learn is to take each moment of your life and realise what matters is to live it fully. If you live each moment completely you will have a fuller life and you will not have to fear death.

How to get the most out of life!You fear death because you crave life.

You fear death because you crave life. You fear death because you feel there’s something you could get that you haven’t experienced yet. Many people feel that death will take something away from them. The wise person realises that death is constantly giving them something.

Death is giving meaning to your life. You’re the one that throws your life away. You waste every second of it. You get in your car and drive from here to there and see nothing. You’re not even there. You’re busy thinking about what you are going to do next. You’re a month ahead of yourself or even a year.

You’re not living life. You’re living mind. 

You’re not living life. You’re living mind. So it is you who throws your life away not death. The possibility of death, in a strange way, can help you to get your life back by making you pay attention to the moment.

Antonia has studied philosophy and Behavioural Science and holds a PhD in Philosophy. To contact Antonia Ruhl please visit her Conscious Living Directory Blog and post your comments or message.



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