Living On The Edge
Most people in the modern world take so many things for granted.
One of those is that the world as we know it will continue indefinitely.
Another is that our own lives will continue, without much in the
way of significant change, for quite some time into the future.
A consequence of this is that people in the modern world feel and
act as though they have a long time period in which to do anything
significant in their lives. Most of the large, important decisions
people make, and the things that they decide to do in response to
those decisions, are things that will take a very long time. People
plan a career, knowing that it will be many years or even decades
before the benefits of that career come to fruition. People buy a
house that they will not own for 20 or 30 years—and so on.
Another consequence is that what people are doing right
now is often of very little importance (other than perhaps
to add one tiny little almost insignificant bit to the long, drawn
far away in the distance).
There are several problems with the above mind-set for the person
who is interested in self-sufficient living, and in survival without
using the products of modern society. One problem that many would-be
survivalists (including myself) have encountered is the feeling of stress that
can come from knowing that the familiar world-as-we-know-it
is coming to an end, and in fact could be taken away at almost any
To address these problems, including that of stress, I think it
is necessary to in some way come to grips with the idea of living
on the edge.
To believe that we have all the time in the world
is not only stupid, but also takes away our appreciation of life,
for where there is no awareness of death, boredom and discontent
quickly set in. The warrior knows that his death is constantly stalking
him; therefore whatever time he has left is a most priceless gift.
Knowing that his time cannot last, the warrior savours his gift to
the full, and enjoys every moment of this precious time. This is
what is known as living on the edge.
Theun Mares, Return of the Warriors, p146.
The only reason why man hates the thought of living
on the edge is because he insists on holding onto the idea that his
life is not what he feels it should be. Being plagued all too frequently
by feelings of discontent and bitterness man constantly hopes to
change his life into what he imagines he would like it to be. In
maintain these hopes man must believe in some future time in which
he will be able to materialise his wishes. Thinking in this way,
it is not so surprising that man should abhor the thought of living
on the edge, for the concept, and all that it entails, threatens
his entire view of the world, filling him with an overpowering sense
of insecurity and doom.
Theun Mares, Return of the Warriors, p148.
He came to believe that much of what is wrong
Western society arises from the denial of death. "I feel this denial of death
actually complicates problems
that exist in Western society," Rinpoche said in the interview. "It is why there
is no long-term vision, not very much thought for the consequences of actions,
little or no compassion. People see death as terrible, as tragic. Because they
want to live, they see death as the enemy of life and therefore deny death, which
then becomes even more fearful and monstrous." But death can be a friend, he
the crowd at Interface. "Death holds the key to the meaning of life," Rinpoche
said. "Remembering... brings life
into focus... It sorts out your priorities, so you do not live a trivial
life... It helps
you take care of the most important things in life first."
To Live Free
of Fear of Death, Sogyal
Having witnessed the very essence of life and death,
there is nothing in this world a warrior cannot contend with. In
the face of certain death nothing matters any more, because the worst
is already at hand. So by accepting death as an inherent factor of
life, the warrior is always calm and lucid. Neither his words nor
his actions reveal that his knowledge encompasses both life and death.
Theun Mares, The Toltec Teachings - Volume VI, p174.
One of the most profound implications inherent within
the concept of living on the edge is the fact that this is where
life is for ever new, for ever nascent. Consequently,
for the warrior living on the edge, life is never stagnant or repetitious,
or boring. Instead every moment of his life is filled with awesome
wonder and breathless excitement.
Theun Mares, The Mists Of Dragon Lore, p139.
Living with death as their best advisor and in having
learned to dance the edge of life, the Warriors of Freedom are incapable
of looking upon life in the same way as average men and women have
been taught to do through their social conditioning. For the Warrior
of Freedom death is not something vague out there that will only
catch up with him in his old age, but is instead a very real and
vital force that guides his every step, his every decision, emotion
and feeling. Knowing that his death can tap him at any moment, the
Warrior of Freedom does not waste even an instant of his time or
his personal power, but strives to make every moment and
every act as meaningful and as pleasurable as possible. Such warriors
are for ever ready to make their last stand right here and right
now, for each and every one of their acts is utterly impeccable and
an expression of their innermost predilection. For such a warrior
there are no regrets, only a breathtaking sense of enthusiasm and
Theun Mares, The Mists Of Dragon Lore, p153.
A warrior cannot base his decisions or actions upon
faith, for he knows that faith is far too vague and uncertain. Instead,
a warrior must look for facts in which he can believe, before deciding
what course of action to take. This, however, is exactly where the
Warrior's Path moves so very far away from the course followed by
average men and women.
The warrior acknowledges firstly, that he is living in an unpredictable
universe in which life offers no guarantees; and secondly, that because
his death is stalking him constantly, he has no time to lose. In
the face of such odds, what facts are then left upon which the warrior
can act with confidence?
In such a situation, the only thing the
warrior can possibly know for certain in that he cannot procrastinate
and therefore cannot dither in his decisions. For better or for worse,
the warrior must take action in the moment, for in the presence of
death it is now or never. Furthermore, regardless of whether
such action entails doing something, or refraining from doing something,
the warrior also knows that his whole future depends upon the outcome
of his choice. Thus the warrior acknowledges that he, and he alone,
must take full responsibility for his actions.
These are the only facts a warrior can know for
certain. They do not amount to much, but at the end of the day they are all any
warrior can ever possibly need, for in their application they are powerful beyond
imagination. By acknowledging the fact that his time upon earth is limited and
that he can die at any given moment, the warrior turns his ordinary time into
magical time; and by living in the moment and by taking full responsibility
for his actions, the warrior achieves that alertness which makes each one of
his acts an expression of his discipline and his predilection.
Theun Mares, Cry of the Eagle, p124-125.
With an acute awareness of his death, with his detachment,
and with the power of his decisions, the warrior sets up his life
in the most strategic manner he can. The knowledge that his death
is stalking him guides his every action and gives him his great lust
for life. The power of his irrevocable decisions enables him to choose
without regrets, and what he chooses is always the most impeccable
course of action. As a result, the warrior always enacts everything
he has to do with ardent zeal and utter efficiency. When someone
behaves in this manner, he can rightfully be called a warrior, for
he has acquired the greatest of all attributes; namely, patience.
Once a warrior has acquired patience he is well
on his way to activating his power. The warrior now knows how to wait.
His death has become his best advisor and therefore sits next to him, advising
him, in inexplicable ways, how to make his choices, and how to live his life
as strategically as possible. But still the warrior waits, all the while learning
without feeling the need to rush, for he knows that he is waiting for his power.
And then one day the warrior suddenly manages to do something that is normally
quite impossible. The warrior may well not even notice his incredible achievement,
but as he keeps performing wonders, and as impossible things keep happening to
him, he starts to become aware of some sort of power beginning to emerge from
Theun Mares, The Toltec Teachings - Volume VI, p188.
Having acquired patience, and no longer fretting over
impossible expectations, the apprentice now continues to work quietly,
without hurry, but also without wasting precious time and personal
power. His learning now proceeds with the sure and easy steps of
a man who knows without doubt what his purpose in life encompasses.
Consequently a quietness of life surrounds the apprentice—an
inner state of serenity in which it is no longer difficult for him
to save and to store personal power. Then one day, whilst performing
a very mundane act, the apprentice suddenly
with a quality that has never before been present. At that moment
he knows, without anyone having to tell him, that the power he
has been struggling to acquire for so long is finally at his command.
Theun Mares, Cry of the Eagle, p86-87.
Theun Mares' website is www.toltec-foundation.org.
His books can be purchased in two forms. The old style is recently
out of print, but some of them can still be found new at many bookshops
Amazon.com. The new style
is much more expensive, due mainly to the archival-quality
of the paper and binding, and can be purchased from his website.
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