Sometimes something hits you so quick it takes a moment to realize what happened. Life is so fleeting, it is over before you know it. It’s as if we are already dead, and it takes our whole life to realize it.
Now, in the Phaedo, Plato has Socrates define Philosophy as the practice of dying while you live. Later on, Porphyry comments on this denotation by pointing out that there is a two-fold death; the common death is when the body separates from the soul, but the other peculiar to philosophers, when the soul separates from the body – “nor does the one entirely follow the other”; which is to say, the philosophic death does not bring about bodily decomposition, nor does bodily death release the soul from its conditioning to corporeal existence. The philosopher who achieves the ‘mors philosophorum’ is a dead man walking. As Evola points out, the whole difference is that the ‘mors philosophorum’ is active, where a soul so concentrated in its power can untie its corporeal bonds.
Of course, this connects to ‘hidden knowledge’, as the soul undergoes purification (death), then the passage into the beyond, and embodies that knowledge even during corporeal life. We see something of this in the Corpus Hermeticum:
“Conceive that you can at once be everywhere; in the sea, in the earth, as not yet begotten, in the womb, young, old, to be dead, the things after death and all these together; higher than all height, lower than all depth, in the fire, in the water, and in all times, places, deeds, and qualities, or else you cannot yet understand God.”
And so we can more easily understand the Katha Upanishad and Boehme when they describe the highest state as one where the senses, mind, and imagination are locked up. The point is to disengage the body actively in order to translate it into another state of being and perception – The ‘eye of eternity’ as Boehme puts it, where one sees “through Heaven, Hell, and Earth” – and to be able to incorporate that back into the ordinary life.