Of Voluntary Death
Many die too late and some die too early. Still the doctrine sounds strange: “Die at the right time.”
Die at the right time: thus Zarathustra teaches.
To be sure, he who never lived at the right time could hardly die at the right time! Better if he were never to be born! – thus I advise the superfluous.
But even the superfluous make a great thing of their dying; yes, even the hollowest nut wants to be cracked.
Everyone treats death as an important matter: but as yet death is not a festival. As yet, men have not learned to consecrate the fairest festivals.
I shall show you the consummating death, which shall be a spur and a promise to the living.
The man consummating his life dies his death triumphantly….
To die thus is the best death; but the second best is: to die in battle and to squander a great soul.
But equally hateful to the fighter as to the victor is your grinning death, which comes creeping up like a thief – and yet comes as master.
I commend to you my sort of death, voluntary death that comes to me because I wish it.
And when shall I wish it? – he who has a goal and an heir wants death at the time most favorable to his goal and his heir….
Many a one grows too old even for his truths and victories; a toothless mouth has no longer the right to every truth.
And everyone who wants glory must take leave of honor in good time and practice the difficult art of – going at the right time….
I wish preachers of speedy death would come! They would be the fitting storm and shakers of the trees of life! But I hear preached only slow death and patience with all “earthly things.”
If one only remained in the desert and far from the good and just! Perhaps he would have learned to live and learned to love the earth – and laughter as well!…
That your death may not be a blasphemy against man and the earth, my friends; that is what I beg from the honey of your soul.
In your death, your spirit and your virtue
should still glow like a sunset glow around the
earth: otherwise yours is a bad death.
Thus I want to die myself, that you friends may love the earth more for my sake; and I want to become earth again, that I may have peace in her who bore me.
Truly, Zarathustra had a goal, he threw his ball: now may you friends be the heirs of my goal, I throw the golden ball to you.
But best of all I like to see you, too, throwing on the golden ball, my friends! So I shall stay on earth a little longer: forgive me for it!
…Thus spake Zarathustra.
Death is the most misunderstood phenomenon. People have thought of death as the end of life. That is the first, basic misunderstanding.
Death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life. Yes, it is an end of something that is already dead. It is also a crescendo of what we call life, although very few know what life is. They live, but they live in such ignorance that they never encounter their own life. And it is impossible for these people to know their own death, because death is the ultimate experience of this life, and the beginning experience of another. Death is the door between two lives; one is left behind, one is waiting ahead.
There is nothing ugly about death; but man, out of his fear, has made even the word, death ugly and unutterable. People don’t like to talk about it. They won’t even listen to the word death.
The fear has reasons. The fear arises because it is always somebody else who dies. You always see death from the outside, and death is an experience of the innermost being. It is just like watching love from the outside. You may watch for years, but you will not come to know anything of what love is. You may come to know the manifestations of love, but not love itself. We know the same about death. Just the manifestations on the surface – the breathing has stopped, the heart has stopped, the man as he used to talk and walk is no more there: just a corpse is lying there instead of a living body.
These are only outer symptoms. Death is the transfer of the soul from one body to another body, or in cases when a man is fully awakened, from one body to the body of the whole universe. It is a great journey, but you cannot know it from the outside. From outside, only symptoms are available; and those symptoms have made people afraid.
Those who have known death from inside lose all fear of death. Instead of death being an ugly and fearful thing, it changes into one of the purest, most silent, and most sublime experiences. You experience yourself for the first time without your prison, the body, an experience of absolute freedom…unhampered, uncaged.
This kind of death can be known in many ways. One is the usual way – but then you will not be here to report about it. You are gone. You have experienced, but the experience has also gone with you. Fortunately, there are other ways in which you can experience exactly what death is, and yet remain alive.
Love is one. In total love, when you are not holding anything back, a kind of death happens. You are no more body, you are no more mind, you are pure spirit.
In meditation, the same experience happens of bodilessness, mindlessness, and yet of absolute consciousness, of absolute aliveness.