"To be a warrior a man has to be first of all, and rightfully so, keenly aware of his own death. But to be concerned with death would force any one of us to focus on the self and that would be debilitating. So the next thing one needs to be a warrior is detachment. The idea of imminent death instead of becoming an obsession, becomes an indifference."
- Don Jaun (from Carlos Castaneda's "The Teachings of Don Jaun")
And why would one wish to be a warrior?
Warriors are cool. We all need to be something of a warrior, every one of us, to stand up to life and stay on the right path. People who aren't warriors usually end up doing something incredibly stupid, just because they are too soft to do what's necessary. That said, I am absolutely hopeless at fighting. A paper bag could beat me. I agree with Danny's quote - a warrior must be OK with death, because any warrior - say, a mother - is prepared to go ALL the Fucking Way. If we're scared of death then really we are scared of everything.
I don't think he means warrior in the literal sense; I think he's saying we should have the mindset and convictions of a warrior, especially when it comes to facing our own mortality and eventual demise, coming to grips with our own death.
The mindset of a warrior means that, as many warriors of the past would say, "it is a good day to die". You are happy with the person you have been, you have few regrets, and if you were to die you believe that your life would be remembered favorably - you made a difference, and your life was a "net positive" - when balancing the bad with the good, your scales tilt towards the good.
I am like you - I used to be a horrible fighter, and used my wits and gift of gab to get me out of sticky situations. As an adult I took martial arts with my sons, and eventually became a black belt and an instructor - and I did this with a handicap (I have shitty knees and hip). I did this for my sons, and to reach a personal goal of overcoming my disabilities to reach a physical goal. Overall, a net positive on my "life scales".
At least that's how I interpret it. I could be wrong. ;)
I would say that Richard Dawkins summed it up amazingly here:
That and the fact that 1783 didn't bother me, so why should the idea of 2283?
I was going to post that!
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?
Richard, dude, I'll whine if I like. Potential, theoretical people - so what? I have a life, and I value it. What about you? Are you having trouble coming to terms? Science can't help you here? Oh dear. What shall you do now? Get spooky. Step out of your damn comfort zone for once. Think in a different way. It is OK Mr Dawkins, nothing bad will happen.
If you are talking about the death of others, such as loved ones, it doesn't really bother me - the person I knew/loved is gone, and all that's left is a meat sack. I choose to remember the good times with that person, not dwell on the past.
If you're talking about my own mortality, well I basically don't worry about it too much. I'll eventually die, and before then I try to live the best life possible. This includes raising my kids with love, compassion, and common sense; being the best possible husband I can to my wife of over 26 yeas; and being a good friend to my friends, consultant for my clients etc.
While I don't truly believe in stuff like karma, the concept is still a great way to go through life. What I mean by that is that if you try to do your best, be honest with others, help others when you can, and live your life in an open and forthright manner then good things will happen to you; likewise if you are selfish, never look out for others, never help others, and are deceitful then your life will most likely suck and you'll be miserable.
I don't make a habit of worrying about things I can't control. I've always been more curious than anything, I'll enjoy the closure. I'll know 100% who of us was right.
Mark Twain summarizes it for me rather well: "I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit." So why bother?
Its funny to me that I find the idea of ceasing to exist oddly comforting not to say I look forward to death at all but once I abandoned any belief of an afterlife it became a lot less scary. The first point ill make is this once it is over I will cease to care as I will no longer exist in this form or any other so I wont be sad or angry or in pain at all ill just be gone. Really the idea of living on a another plane of existence for the rest of eternity is not a comforting one in either heaven or hell what a burn that would be 100 or so years here and the rest of all time as a spirit that would be a real let down. My only regret I have about death is leaving those I care about and missing what the future has in store for the human race.