Woland on Death and Dying

Me in my role as Woland, the devil in The Master and Margarita

A meditation upon impermanence:

This is the text I wrote which serves as my opening monologue in Maria’s production of “The Master and Margarita: A picnic With the Devil”. It is derived from an improvised interview I did at rehearsal, discussing the Buddhist exercise of Meditation Upon Impermanence

The Christian practice of Memento Mori has a similar aim, reminding us always that none of the things we love, hate, or fear are permanent, so we shouldn’t waste time worrying about keeping them. In the end, we lose it all.

Ultimately, this practice is not ‘morbid’. It is, in fact, liberating in that it helps to diminish the suffering inherent  in living.

Ο Μαιτρ και η Μαργαρίτα photo by © Karol Jarek (10)


You people always amaze me. You are all told that one day you must die, you watch millions of your fellows dying around you, yet you continue to tell yourselves that you alone will be spared. Each day 150,000 of you die, 6,000 every hour, 100 every minute, two each second, yet you continue to believe in your own immortality.

The truth you must face is that you cannot be spared by death. Everyone around you, everyone in this room, this building, this city, this country, all who now walk upon this earth will be gone within 100 years.

No insurance, no pension plan, no fame, no amount of wealth and power can stop your death. No exercise program, no diet, no plastic surgery, can make you younger, prevent decay, stop your death.

You can’t stop death by never thinking about it, not listening if somebody else is talking about it, or avoiding dying people.

You can’t believe that your legacy, your art, your reputation, will grant you some shadow immortality. Eventually it will all go, Picasso, Beethoven, Shakespeare, even Jesus and Buddha; the statues and buildings will crumble, science will falter, technology will fail and fade away. The human species will become fossilized bones in the crust of a dead planet that will itself return to dust, in a collapsed universe, awaiting a new big bang.

Only by acknowledging your death, by realizing that your every breath could be your last, can you overcome your fear and be free. Some of you will realize this. Most of you won’t.

Ay, que lastima! Krima.

(long pause)

But hey! Enough of my yakkin’! Let’s get this show started!!

Azazaello!…..The people are getting bored! Move your butt and show us something!

Author: Blaine L. Reininger

Blaine L. Reininger was born July 10, 1953 in Pueblo, Colorado. Then he lived a life. By and by, he founded Tuxedomoon with Steven Brown in 1977. He traipsed around America, tuxedomooning until 1980, when he began to traipse around Europe. As a direct result of all of this traipsing, many musical compositions were composed, most of which found their way to some sort of mechanical device capable of reproducing musical compositions. This was mostly for the good. He now lives in Athens, Greece, where he is content.

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