Live your life as if you are already dead – I can recognize this philosophical phrase as mine, in my heart. So, I want to tell you a little bit more about this way of life. Anthropologist Ruth Benedict has described in her works the incredible Japanese ease of action and self-discipline, which can also help us overcome the difficult moments of life that cause most people in the West to fall into stressful situations and depression!
1. A child is happy when he is born, but he has not yet “tasted life”. Only through spiritual development and their own experiences, men and women get the opportunity to live “full lungs” and feel the true “taste of life”. This is the only way to love life.
2. The Japanese skill of self-control has a clear rationale: It improves a person’s control over his own life (i.e control of reactions to life situations). Everyone in a certain domain of life copes with the situation. For everything that life has prepared for you, you need to go through some training. If you decide to give up and do not “train”, you will not have good results and you will feel unhappy. “Cleanse yourself of all evil.” Man turns into what he would like to become.
3. According to Western philosophy, by practicing “muga” (muu-gah, state of consciousness of the present moment, complete concentration, trance) and practicing “live as if you are already dead” philosophy, the Japanese eliminate conscience. What they call the “observing self” or “looking at oneself” serves as a sensor that judges a person’s actions.
The difference between Eastern and Western philosophy is clearly manifested in the fact that “unscrupulous” Westerners are considered to be people who have completely lost their sense of sin, which should be accompanied by inappropriate behavior. On the other hand, when the same term is used for Japanese, it refers to a person who ceases to be tense and limited.
The Japanese view a person as an individual who can withstand even the most difficult tasks and cope with all of life’s adversities and difficulties. The main motivator for “good deeds” among Westerners is guilt. According to Japanese philosophy, a person is inherently softhearted and kind. Such a person acts directly, just as he is and acts with ease.
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4. The most extreme form in Japanese philosophy is the approving attitude towards “a person who lives as if he has already died”. When this is translated, it would sound like a “living corpse”, and in all Western languages this expression has a negative connotation.
However, when the Japanese say “Live as if you are already dead” they mean that a man lives stress-free, grounded in his duties and skills, without attachment. This approach relieves the Japanese of unnecessary stress in life and puts life in a broader perspective.