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Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion.

Respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes, they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

—Chief Tecumseh (c.1800)


A blazing comet

Born in 1768 in what is now Ohio, Tecumseh was a Shawnee Chief and revered warrior.

His name literally means “blazing comet.”

He was an outspoken resistance leader for the protection of Native lands and fought in numerous famous battles—including the Battle of Tippecanoe, and the War of 1812.

Early in his life, Tecumseh was recognized as a passionate and gifted speaker.

And if anyone was qualified to speak about death—he certainly was.

When Tecumseh was just 6 years old, his father was killed in battle. His older brother who became his father figure, was also killed in battle in 1792.

Tecumseh was also killed in 1813, at the age of 45, in the Battle of Thames.

His legacy is one of fierce courage, service, and ultimate sacrifice.

I came across this poem a few years ago and find it incredibly inspiring and challenging every time I read it.

There is so deep life wisdom in his short and beautiful speech.

Here are some of the key life lessons I take from his words.

I must live every day as if it were my last. I should not push the concept of death out of my mind, but rather, meditate on it daily in such a way that I fully live.

I should live in dialogue with spiritual traditions other than my own—in a spirit of curiosity, acceptance, and non-judgment.

I should seek to find my own unique voice, and speak it fearlessly, for finding my true voice is one of the central purposes of life.

Don’t live to please others.

Love others fiercely.

A meaningful life is one of service to others.

Leave the world better than I found it.

Living in gratitude is the only way to live, and it’s my responsibility.

Abuse harms the abuser as well as the abused.

Who knows what really happens when we pass over the “great divide,” so embrace it fully as something that ultimately happens to every living creature.

You only get one life, so don’t hold back!

Take action now

Journal about this question this weekend:

  1. If you knew you were going to die in a year, what would you change about the way you are living now?

Have a great weekend!


Want more? Suggested Resources Below

  1. Tecumseh Historical Info
  2. Steve Jobs Stanford 2005 Graduation Speech on Death



Dr. Parker Houston

Parker Houston

Dr. Parker Houston is a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified in organizational psychology. He is also certified in personal and executive coaching. Parker's personal mission is to share science-based principles of psychology and timeless spiritual practices, to help people improve the way they lead themselves, their families, and their organizations. *Opinions expressed are the author's own.
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