Death plays a central role in Tibetan Buddhist traditions, where it’s a frequent focus for their meditations. These meditations often occur at burial grounds or even in the presence of dead and decaying bodies. I don’t know of another culture that’s so acutely aware of the inevitability of death, and what it means for the living.

This contrasts starkly with modern western cultures that play the dangerous game of ignoring death. We talk about the dead as if they were still alive. We cultivate an environment where talking about death is seen in a negative light. We watch films like Indiana Jones and fantasize about elixirs of never-ending life. When one of our own dies, we dress them up in fancy clothes and make-up so that we can see them, and even talk to them as if they were still living.

Nearly everything we do surrounding death is based on the premise of trying to avoid a basic reality: everyone dies. The reason we do this is obvious: we like being alive and can’t quite fathom the existence of an earth that no longer includes us at its center.

But we can’t avoid it. No one has. Not even Jesus. Not even Mohammed. Not even Buddha. And that brings us back to Tibetan Buddhism, and their strong connection to death. This connection is so important to them because it reminds them that all things are impermanent, even our own existence.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in their Nine-Point Meditation on Death. Using this mediation, a practitioner contemplates the following set of truths:

Truth 1: Death is certain

1. We cannot escape death

2. Each moment we’re alive brings us one step closer to death

3. Death comes in a single instant and is unexpected

Conclusion: Practice the Dharma (the Buddhist teachings)

Truth 2: The time of death is uncertain

4. The duration of our lives is unpredictable

5. There are more causes for death than causes for life

6. The human body is extremely fragile

Conclusion: Practice the Dharma now

Truth 3: The only thing that can help you at the time of death is your mental and spiritual development

7. Wealth we’ve accumulated can’t help

8. Friends and family can’t help

9. Our bodies can’t help

Conclusion: Practice the Dharma purely

The Tibetan Buddhists remind themselves of these truths to encourage practice of the Dharma, and to make two important realizations:

1. Recognizing how short and precious life is—with this knowledge they’re more likely to make it meaningful and live it fully.

2. Familiarizing themselves with the reality of death—with this knowledge they can remove their fears that stem from the prospect of dying.

Why you should acknowledge your coming death

Death is the most common fear. It’s the one destiny that everyone on this planet shares. But in order to dominate life, you must accept the inevitability of death—the inevitability that one day you won’t be here.

I’m going to die. You’re going to die. Everyone we know is going to die, too.

But if you live in constant fear of death, you’re unlikely to have a meaningful or impactful life. You’ll spend all of your time worrying about it or shying away from new opportunities because you’re afraid of it.

And maybe this cautious attitude will prolong your life by a fraction of a percentage, but at what cost? Reduced productivity, reduced achievement, reduced enjoyment of life, to name a few. Only when you fully accept your morbid fate can you fully embrace and dominate the little time that you do have.

It sounds cliché, but we’re all born and we all die. The time in between those events is what defines us. What we do defines who we are. But if we’re living in constant denial of the known end to our story, we won’t proceed in an authentic way that keeps our best interests in mind.

The truth is that the average modern man exhibits this fear to such a large degree that it paralyzes him. It stops him from doing anything bold. He’s so afraid of dying that he barely even lives. When you accept your fate, you separate yourself from the hordes of John Does who can’t do the same. You begin to live life on a higher plane of existence.

You must rid yourself of any delusions that you have and accept your own coming death. Only then will you be able to take maximum control and dominate the little time that you do have.

How to confront death

The advantages of acknowledging your own coming death are numerous. In a broad sense, it will ground your life in reality, allowing you to approach everything from a more effective, more fearless mindset. The best way to condition yourself to accept this fact, and live like it, is through frequent reminder. And I don’t know of a better reminder than The Nine-Point Meditation on Death. 

Read the following truths one-by-one, think of any relatable experiences you’ve had (e.g. people you know who’ve died). Make it real. Think about your own coming death. This will light a fire under your belly to value what time you do have.

Note: I’ve altered the conclusions to apply more generally.

Truth 1: Death is certain

Conclusion: Practice things that facilitate personal growth and bring you happiness

Truth 2: The time of death is uncertain

Conclusion: Practice things that facilitate personal growth (do it now)

Truth 3: The only thing that can help you at the time of death is your mental and spiritual development

Conclusion: Practice things that facilitate personal growth without getting distracted by attachments to material objects or other people

This is an excerpt from my new book “Dominate“. Read reviews and get it here.

Read More: 3 Habits That Every Man Should Practice