Asking advice from my death

“The thing to do when you’re confused is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you catch a glimpse of it, or if you just have the feeling that your companion is watching you.” ~Don Juan

I’ve never been good at making decisions. I tend to get lost in the considering and weighing of all the possible options for so long that the actual making of a decision seems to slide ever-forward into the mist of confusion as I stay paralyzed in the endless loop of pondering. I need to find a way to exit this loop more quickly if I am ever going to make progress in the direction of my goals.

I do recognize that part of this confusion comes from worrying about what other people will think about the various options I am considering, but I am learning to let go of this need to please everyone else so I can listen to my own intuitive guidance for a change.

However, this whole process of discerning what my internal voice is trying to tell me is still new, so I often still find myself mired in confusion. It’s not always easy to reliably know whether I’m truly hearing the voice of my inner guidance or whether I’m hearing what my ego wants to hear or whether I’m simply hearing an echo of what someone else has told me to do in the situation.

So if I wish to avoid asking advice from others to be sure I’m following my own inner guidance and I don’t yet know how to effectively tune in to my own guidance, to whom do I go to ask for advice?

In The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living, Stephen Cope quotes the wonderful advice shown above that Yaqui shaman Don Juan once gave to his student Carlos Castaneda about what to do when confused.

I love this suggestion to ask advice from my death. That may well be the only way to cut through all the crap to see what really matters to me.

If I look at each decision from the perspective of my death, it highlights the aspects of the decision that are most meaningful. From that perspective, the earning potential, prestige, or security of any career choice I may make suddenly seem irrelevant. The degree to which I might make a difference, express my true talents and gifts, or live a full and fulfilled life suddenly come front and center as prime considerations.

There may also be plenty of times when seen from the perspective of my death that it will be apparent that the choice really doesn’t matter in the long run. What color couch would go best in my living room? You know, any choice will do as long as one gets made so I can get on with more important things. In cases like this I could save a lot of time and energy by just getting out a quarter and flipping it. Decision’s made! Move on.

So if you see me looking a lot to my left over the coming days, you’ll know exactly which companion I am consulting. I hope she will point the way clearly with whatever gesture she chooses to show me. I could really use the help these days.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.

2 thoughts on “Asking advice from my death

  1. Wow. Just…wow. What an amazing idea. Have you read ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’? Similar idea of having a little bird on your shoulder who knows when you’re going to die, so you should live as if you were going to die tomorrow.

    Cheating and reading the intro on Amazon. Criminy, the Jake story hits WAY too close to home. Might have to buy book.


    • I read Tuesdays with Morrie a long, long time ago (late 90s, I think) and had forgotten about his talking about the little bird on the shoulder.

      Yes, Jake’s story hits really close to home for me too. I think that’s part of what I am loving so much about this book so far. It’s putting it into the direct context of someone’s story — a story that mirrors my own so well in so many ways.

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