Discover more from The Vagabond Way
Death and Nihilism
The recollections of an (almost) dead man
Note: These are the random thoughts I had recovering after an accident in the hospital, don’t take them too seriously. You might find some wisdom in these words or not.
A few weeks ago, I was hit by a car. I remember one distinct moment from that interaction.
“The point of no return.”
When learning how to dive for swimming, the coach always said there was a point in the action of the dive where you had to commit, as momentum had driven you past the point of return. The same concept applies to boxing. The moment in which a boxer steps back, readies his body, and throws the punch, whatever comes after that, whether it be a counter or a dodge from his opponent, is done. He has passed the point of no return and needs to commit to the punch.
This was the same familiar experience I had gone through. Time itself had slowed down. I could see the car coming. We were both too committed to the action. BANG. All I remember after that was hearing the car drive off, a horse galloping behind me, and my ears ringing. This wasn’t the first time I was caught in something like this.
The first thought that entered my mind was, ‘Am I alive.’ When I figured that out, I immediately did a health check. At this point, it felt like I had taken a straight right to the face. My ears were ringing. I was dizzy. Even then, acting on instinct, I took a photo of the horse galloping away (only realizing after waking up in the hospital).
I stood up and noticed my left hand was mangled (I had dislocated a few fingers), but I could walk. I had a sharp pain in my pelvis. I last remember watching two grown men run towards me as I collapsed back on the ground. My last thought thinking about how I died without making good on the promises I made in this life and hoping those people would forgive me. Even though I was sad, I did feel weirdly content.
It’s crazy to me; in retrospect, I was able to take the picture, considering my physical condition. I think a reason for that was because of a quote I read from the Hagakure near daily:
“Even if a samurai's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should still be able to perform one more action with certainty. If one becomes like a revengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die.”
I had successfully programmed my body to act, even when completely broken. It was autonomous like my muscles and ligaments snapped into motion after my mind had lost consciousness. The ancients were right. A person’s will can be so powerful the body can enact a final action before giving in to damage.
Thanks for reading Vagabond! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.
Death is something that has become highly taboo to talk about. Even though we are surrounded by it, people are almost shunned for accepting or even embracing it. But some of us are forced to stare at the face of death constantly. These people are often the breeding ground for true nihilists who don’t care about the world or anything in it.
It’s best to start this off with a definition of Nihlism and why a new school of thought is needed to reframe Nihlism.
Nihilism is a philosophical perspective that posits that life and existence, including moral and ethical values, lack intrinsic meaning, purpose, or inherent value. Nihilism suggests that there is no objective truth or ultimate significance in the universe and that all systems of belief and values are essentially baseless.
The term "nihilism" is derived from the Latin word "nihil," which means "nothing." Nihilists often assert that traditional beliefs, religious doctrines, and societal structures are merely constructs created by humans and do not have any absolute or universal validity.
There are different forms of nihilism, including:
Metaphysical nihilism: This form of nihilism denies the existence of any fundamental reality or objective truth. It posits that everything, including the physical world and abstract concepts, is ultimately meaningless or nonexistent.
Epistemological nihilism: This perspective questions the possibility of knowledge and claims that true knowledge or objective understanding of reality is unattainable.
Moral nihilism: Moral nihilists argue that the universe has no inherent moral or ethical values. They believe that moral principles and values are subjective human inventions with no universal foundation.
Existential nihilism: This form of nihilism focuses on the individual experience and questions the meaning and purpose of human existence. It suggests that life lacks inherent meaning, leaving individuals to confront feelings of despair, anxiety, or a sense of existential emptiness.
Nihilism has taken different forms in the modern day. These days, people most likely know it as the ‘black pill,’ being familiar with the concepts of nihilism even though they have never heard of its philosophical father, Nietzche.
In the hospital bed, reflecting on my life, I thought about nihilism. I thought how if I had died here and now, it didn’t really matter. I was nothing anyway. People would forget I existed, my promises would be long forgotten, and the path to the next life would begin.
“When we contemplate the duration of the universe, we see it limited to the present moment, which is nothing more but the point which separates two infinities of time. The past and the future are as meaningless as if they did not exist. Is anyone more misguided than the man who barters an eternal future for a moment which passes quicker than the blink of an eye?”
-Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi
I want to preface this by saying I am not suicidal. It’s just that I don’t really care about my life. If I were to get hit by a car and die, and I could still retrospect in the afterlife like I am doing now as I write this, I would not be angry or sad. Sure, I would be disappointed that I could not fulfill promises or say goodbye to people I spoke to regularly, but such is life. Many would think this makes me an existential nihilist, but I’m not that either. I do believe this world has a purpose, and that’s to attain perfection and favor in the eyes of God. If someone dies on that path, they have lived a complete life.
The injuries were not too bad. My left hand was mangled with many dislocated fingers, which the doctor painfully rearranged for me. My pelvis was fractured in multiple places, which would heal itself over time. Both the driver and the horse rider fled the scene. The car was likely stolen, and as I found out later, the horse was also stolen.
About a week later, the horse thief was caught. He cut off the car, which resulted in the accident. I entered the police station and saw a small, sickly-looking man staring back at me. He had the stereotypical sunken face and jaw the usual drug addicts that had lost all their teeth had. At first, he apologized, saying he never intended to hurt anyone. I just wanted to experience what it was like to ride a horse, he croaked. After coming across one in an empty-looking property, he decided to go for it.
I couldn’t help but laugh; what a ridiculous story. I told him I wasn’t angry and, to be honest probably would have done the same. However, my forgiveness was conditional on whether he quit drugs or not. I told him I would probably never see him again, but I would forgive him the day he was clean from drugs. I didn’t need to know because the lord would bear witness to the promise. And if he does not fulfill his side of the bargain, I will collect what was owed to me in the next life. He agreed, and we parted ways.
Death has become taboo to talk about and, for some reason, has been roped in with nihilism, especially when people like Bryan Johnson are spending millions trying to conquer death. Death is the only thing all humans are equal in. It cannot be conquered. All the great scholars, warriors, doctors, philosophers, and others who existed in this world have succumbed to death.
“Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
If you fear death, it is because you are fundamentally weak in some aspect. Either it’s intellectual, i.e., deep down, you believe in a God or some afterlife but cannot bring yourself to study it thoroughly. Or it’s because you are mentally weak, or as the ancients would say, a coward. Fearing risk because it may lead to death, and hence never attaining the status of becoming “unrivaled under the heavens.”
Either way, you must contemplate death daily. You must understand that death is the end of the path that constitutes “The Way.” Those who have lived a life of discipline and humility come to understand this naturally.
“The Way of the warrior (bushido) is to be found in dying. Only when you constantly live as though already a corpse (jōjū shinimi) will you be able to find freedom in the martial Way, and fulfill your duties without fault throughout your life.”
I believe I was able to come out of this experience mentally stronger because I have meditated on the lessons on death passed down by the ancients, allowing me to live outside of the restrictions those who fear death place on themselves.
By accepting my mortality and embracing it, I have been able to conquer a fear which most people will never overcome, so that even in the brief window of time whereby I realized I reached the point of no return and the car would hit me, I was not afraid.
Nihilism and the Black Pill
It’s more likely the average internet participant knows what the black pill is but may have even heard the word nihilism. They are, fundamentally, the fruit of the same tree, with some slight differences depending on the branch of nihilism one is a part of.
This is beside the point. I’m not here to be another Andrew Tate and alpha male bro copycat and tell you if you feel depressed or if you feel like the world is out to get you, you should lift weights and buy a course on how to pick up women. After this interaction, I have come to understand how fleeting this world is. We all will die. If you feel depressed and helpless, the best path is to focus on pleasing God. Letting go of all earthly tethers and embracing that this world is merely a mirage and all that happens in it is as insignificant as a single grain of sand in a vast desert.
This is why I’m not too fond of the alpha male movement and its participants. They miss the forest for the trees. A warrior who spends his life perfecting the art of war only to use such talent for fame and fortune is a disgrace. How lost are those who chase worldly desire instead of using their abilities to attain worthiness in the eyes of God.
“It is a wretched thing that the young men of today are so contriving and so proud of their material posessions. Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty, they will have no self-respect.”
Dying on the path of attaining supreme excellence is the only death close to martyrdom in terms of value.
So what’s the point of this essay, anyway? Honestly, I don’t know myself. These are just the thoughts that plagued my mind as I slowly came back into consciousness. All I know is that the experience has granted me resolve in my belief that letting go of all earthly tethers is the way to true freedom. Not being afraid of death in the face of it was enough for me to come to this conclusion.
Although some might label me a nihilist for not caring about my life or this world, I do care about how I die, and I hope I achieve a beautiful death like the ancients who came before me.
“Know that this worldly life is no more than play, amusement, luxury, mutual boasting, and competition in wealth and children. This is like rain that causes plants to grow, to the delight of the planters. But later the plants dry up and you see them wither, then they are reduced to chaff. And in the Hereafter there will be either severe punishment or forgiveness and pleasure of Allah, whereas the life of this world is no more than the delusion of enjoyment.”
Thank you for reading our work and supporting our message🗡️