To me, death is a teacher whose wisdom and simplicity can be awe-inspiring. Humanity, as a whole, fears death; however, death is inevitable. For as an old saying goes, you can win a million battles with death, but death only has to win once.

This resistance to an inevitable part of nature brings a certain amount of pain and discomfort. When we come into this life, we are already starting to die as the sands of our life start to run. So many people see death as the enemy; these dame people don't always live life, which is an entirely different focus.

Long ago, I realized that what we focus on tends to have a strong influence on our everyday lives. So one day I decided to focus on life...instead of my inevitable death. I found that in trying to live life to the fullest, the idea of death bothered me less and less. Then, by keeping death as a companion and teacher instead of my enemy, I found true living and a new perspective that lays the foundation for a smooth transition later when my time comes.

Death became a great teacher of life. Death teaches perspective and priority. How many times have we heard of people who radically change their lives and lifestyles after surviving a life-threatening situation or after having a near-death experience? Once you see death face-to-face, life takes on a whole new look and feel. One way to allow death to teach us is to remember that death is always on your left shoulder, just behind you. This is similar to thinking that this will be your last day, week, or month. The problem with this exercise is that if you only have a month to live, you would leave nothing in reserve. For example, if all the money you have would only have to last a month, you could spend everything, liquidate your assets, and live very well, doing whatever you whish for the remaining month. The odds are that you will live past the month, so obviously this method has flaws. But thinking that death is just past your left shoulder, a constant companion, also changes your perspective:

For some, the drive for fame and accumulation of wealth no longer looks as appealing compared to issues of family.
For others, petty arguments cease. For example, the next time you are in an argument, just glance over your left shoulder and sense death standing there. Many times, I find the argument seems pointless to me and I just want to quickly resolve it or just drop it completely.
Forgiveness sometimes is easier for people to address. Some things become easier to forgive and some people seek to let others know they are forgiven. Others seek forgiveness for past wrongs.
Some find that the physical world itself doesn't matter as much as spiritual development, and hence, they lose much of their attachment to this world. Death standing very close to you makes much of the physical world and its activities seem very temporary and trivial, while some of the trivial now seem much more important. Unexpectedly, you may want to take the time to see a sunrise and experience other simple pleasures.
I believe death has been my teacher in showing me what is really important. I am actually quite young (28), so as my peers are trying to make a name for themselves, accumulating money and possessions and working 50+ hours a week, I find that the extra money and other dangling carrots do not appeal to me. For me, time to do the things I now see as important is more valuable than money. I try to spend time wisely instead of squandering it and wasting it.
I am living my life to the fullest. I try to squeeze every ounce of life form each second from each day. Regrets have become a thing of the past with death as my teacher. If only I did this instead of chickening out, death tells me "carpe diem, my friend." With death at my shoulder, I tend to seize the day more often, for I am willing to take that chance because this may be my last chance. This is not to say I have become reckless, but the risks and costs appear differently. Procrastination diminishes for the same reason. What needs to get done is done because I may not have another chance.

In living this way, I foresee that when my time comes, I will not leave as much to be done as I would have. And in all likelihood, I will not hesitate to accept death's hand when he gestures that it is my time.

Death, for me, is not to be feared. It is a teacher and companion. In the end, death will release me from a frail body, a painful injury, or however I leave this world, and usher me to a new beginning. In the meantime, I live life to the fullest.

Author's Bio: 

A modern-day mystic and yogi, Eric Putkonen focuses on the "Direct Path" traditions (a.k.a. Pathless Path): Jnana Yoga, Advaita Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, etc. After searching for thirteen years and awakening in 2005, he has devoted himself to spreading the concepts and insights of these traditions. See his website Awaken to Life ((www.awaken2life.org).