Death is. Suffering is. To deny either requires a truly monumental effort at self-delusion. To claim that this is indeed the best of all possible worlds is so ridiculous as to border on the farcical. From the far side of sanity. To claim the opposite, that all is gloom and despair and the best we can do is quietly commit suicide is equally absurd. This views all the beauties the beauties of the earth as meaningless, fleeting, and doomed. In many ways beauty is even more dear because it is ephemeral.

Death is the valued ally of the Warrior. To regain his perspective he need only remind himself of the inevitability of Fate. To take another's life when by his actions he has forfeited it is a duty of the Warrior. To be ready at any time to meet his fate in the performance of duty or in helping a stranger is also the place of the Warrior. Fate is the same for everyone. The only difference is in what you do before it and how you meet it.

Having said all that it may be necessary to assert that death is not a goal. The Warrior is not a glory hound seeking a meritorious death. Death is something to be resolutely accepted while fulfilling your duty or defending your ideals. The purpose of this acceptance i to free your mind for living. If the right thing to do leads to your death, do the right thing. Just remember that there may be other options with the same result which are more viable. Choose the result you need first and then look for the most efficient path. Target fixation tends to be terminal. Do not seek death on its own ground for you will find it earlier than necessary.

Afterlife is a chancy proposition at best. If there is one, you should improve your chances by a sustained and honest effort to do the right thing and develop yourself. If there isn't one you will have derived what joy you can from your run under the stars by appreciating life. I know of no proof either way and we shall know soon enough.

Suffering is a popular subject, particularly among Warriors and Ascetics. It is the choice of suffering that marks the Warrior. He does, however, suffer only in order to accomplish something, not for the sake of suffering. That something may be skill-at-arms or self-control, but even these are but tools to accomplish the mission. Both are worthy achievements, but their ultimate value is to enable one to live properly. Suffering is not a way to self-glorification, it is a means to an end.

Death and suffering. Both are pillars of the Warrior Ethic; upon these are many of its attitudes and achievements based. Neither is a goal in itself. Neither should be inflicted on another needlessly, or suffered needlessly. The key is to know when and why it is necessary and then being able to inflict or suffer as needed. This is the Way of the Warrior... and the true leader.

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Copyright 2000 by Gregory R. Gagnon