Death: Absolute for Life to be
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT FACING THE DEATH OF EACH MOMENT AND LETTING GO?
Death is already happening. Whether you face it or not, whether you look at it or not, it is already there. It is just like breathing. When a child is born, he inhales, he breathes in for the first time. That is the beginning of life. And when one day he becomes old, dies, he will exhale. Death always happens with exhalation and birth with inhalation. But exhalation and inhalation are happening continuously. With each inhalation you are born; with each exhalation you die.
So the first thing to understand is that death is not somewhere in the future, waiting for you, as it has been always pictured. It is part of life; it is an ongoing process — not in the future, here, now. Life and death are two aspects of existence. simultaneously happening together.
Ordinarily, you have been taught to think of death as being against life.
Death is not against life — life is not possible without death. Death is the very ground on which life exists. Death and life are like two wings: the bird cannot fly with one wing, and the being cannot be without death. So the first thing is a clear understanding of what we mean by death. Death is an absolutely necessary process for life to be. It is not the enemy, it is the friend. And it is not there somewhere in the future, it is here, now. It is not going to happen, it has been always happening. Since you have been here it has been with you. With each exhalation it happens — a little death, a small death — but because of fear we have put it in the future.
The mind always tries to avoid things which it cannot comprehend, and death is one of the most incomprehensible mysteries. There are only three mysteries: life, death and love. All these three are beyond mind. So mind takes life for granted; then there is no need to inquire. That is a way of avoiding. You never think, you never meditate on life; you have simply accepted it, taken it for granted. It is a tremendous mystery. You are alive, but don’t think that you have known life. For death, mind plays another trick: it postpones it. To accept it here and now would be a constant worry, so the mind puts it somewhere in the future — then there is no hurry. When it comes, we will see. And for love, mind has created substitutes which are not love. Sometimes you call your possessiveness your love; sometimes you call your attachment your love; sometimes you call your domination your love — these are ego games. Love has nothing to do with them. In fact, because of these games, love is not possible.
Between life and death, between the two banks of life and death, flows the river of love. And that is possible only for a person who does not take life for granted, who moves deep into the quality of being alive and becomes existential, authentic. Love is for the person who accepts death here and now and does not postpone it. Then between these two a beautiful phenomenon arises: the river of love. Life and death are like two banks. The possibility is there for the river of love to flow, but it is only a possibility. You will have to materialize it. Life and death are there, but love has to be materialized — that is the goal of being a human. Unless love materializes, you have missed — you have missed the whole point of being.
Death is already happening — so don’t put it in the future. If you don’t put it in the future there is no question of defending yourself. If it is already happening — and it has been already happening always — then there is no question of protecting yourself against death. Death has not killed you, it has been happening while you were still alive. It is happening just now and life is not destroyed by it; in fact, because of it, life renews itself each moment. When the old leaves fall, they make space for the new leaves to come. When the old flowers disappear, the new flowers appear. When one door closes, another immediately opens. Each moment you die and each moment there is resurrection…
Each moment the past is crucified, the old leaves disappear. And each moment a new being arises in you, resurrects. It is a constant miracle.
The second thing to understand about death is that death is the only certainty. Everything else is uncertain: it may happen, it may not happen. Death is certain because in birth half of it has already happened, so the other end must be somewhere, the other pole must be somewhere in the dark. You have not come across it because you are afraid; you don’t move in the dark. But it is certain! With birth, death has become a certainty. Once this certainty penetrates your understanding, you are relaxed. Whenever something is absolutely certain then there is no worry. Worry arises out of uncertainty.
Watch. A man is dying and he is very worried. The moment death becomes certain and the doctors say, ‘Now you cannot be saved,’ he is shocked. A shivering goes through his being. But then things settle, and immediately all worries disappear. If the person is allowed to know that he is going to die and that death is certain, with that certainty a peace a silence, comes to his being. Every person who is dying has the right to know it. Doctors go on hiding it many times, thinking, ‘Why disturb?’ But uncertainty disturbs; certainty, never. This hanging in-between, this being in limbo, wondering whether one is going to live or die — this is the root cause of all worry. Once it is certain that you are going to die then there is nothing to do. Then one simply accepts it. And in that acceptance, a calmness, a tranquility happens…
Death is certain. Whatsoever you do — get up early or not — death is certain. It has already happened, that’s why it is certain; it is already happening, that’s why it is certain. So why wait for the moment when you are dying on your bed? Why not make it certain right now?
Just watch. If I say death is certain, can’t you feel fear disappearing within you? Can’t you feel that with the very idea — and it is just an idea right now, not your experience — with just an idea that death is certain, you are calm and quiet. If you can experience it…. And you can, because it is a fact. I am not talking about theories; I don’t deal in theories. This is a simple fact. Just open your eyes and watch it. And don’t try to avoid it; there is no way to avoid it. In avoiding, you miss. Accept it. Embrace it. And live with the consciousness that each moment you die and each moment you are born. Allow it to happen. Don’t cling to the past — it is no more, it is already gone. Why go on carrying dead things? Why be so burdened with corpses? Drop them. And you will feel weightlessness; you will feel unburdened.
And once you drop the past the future drops on its own accord, because the future is nothing but a projection of the past. In the past you had some pleasures; now the mind projects those same pleasures into the future. In the past you had some sufferings; now the mind projects a future in which those sufferings are not allowed to happen. That’s what your future is. What else is your future? Pleasures that you enjoyed in the past are projected and miseries are dropped. Your future is a more colorful and modified past, repainted, renovated, but it is the past. Once the past drops, suddenly the future drops — and then you are left here and now; then you are in existence, you are existential, and that is the only way to be. All other ways are just to avoid life. The more you avoid life, the more you become afraid of death.
A person who is really living is not in any way afraid of death. If you are living rightly you are finished with death, you are already too grateful, fulfilled. But if you have not lived, then the constant worry continues, ‘I have not lived yet and death is coming. And death will stop all; with death there will be no future.’ So one becomes apprehensive, afraid, and tries to avoid death. In trying to avoid death, one goes on missing life. Forget about that avoidance.
Live life, in living life, death is avoided. In living life, you become so fulfilled that if this very moment death comes and the future stops, you will be ready. You will be happily ready. You have lived your life; you have delighted in existence; you have celebrated it; you are contented. There is no complaint, no grumbling; you don’t have any grudge. You welcome death. And unless you can welcome death, one thing is certain — you have not lived…
Drop the past each moment. Remember to drop it. Just as you clean your house every morning, every moment clean your inner house of the past. All psychological memories have to be dropped. Just keep factual things and your mind will be very, very clean and clear. Don’t move ahead of yourself into the future because that is not possible to do. The future remains unknown; that is its beauty, that is its grandeur, glory. If it becomes known it will be useless, because then the whole excitement and the whole surprise will be lost. Don’t expect anything in the future. Don’t corrupt it. Because if all your expectations are fulfilled then too you will be miserable… because it is your expectation and it is fulfilled. You will not be happy about it. Happiness is possible only through surprise; happiness is possible only when something happens which you had never expected, when something takes you completely unawares. If your expectations are fulfilled a hundred per cent, you will be living as if you are in the past, not in the future.
You come home and you expected your wife to say something and she does. And you expected your child to behave in a certain way and the child does. Just think — you will be constantly in boredom. Nothing will happen. Everything will be just a repetition, as if you are seeing something which you have seen before, hearing something which you have heard before. Continuously you will see that it is a repetition of something. and repetition can never be satisfying. The new, the novel, the original, is needed. So if your expectations are fulfilled, you will remain completely unfulfilled. And if your expectations are not fulfilled then you feel frustrated. Then you feel constantly as if you propose and God goes on disposing; you feel that God is the enemy; you feel as if everybody is against you and everybody is working against you. If your expectations are never fulfilled you will feel frustrated.
Just meditate upon your expectations: if they are fulfilled you will feel bored, if they are not fulfilled you will feel cheated. You will feel as if a conspiracy is going on against you, as if the whole existence is conspiring against you. You will feel exploited, you will feel rejected, you will not be able to feel at home. And the whole problem arises because you expect. Don’t go ahead into the future.
Drop expectations. Once you drop expectations you have learned how to live. Then everything that happens fulfills you, whatsoever it is. For one thing, you never feel frustrated because in the first place you never expected. So frustration is impossible. Frustration is a shadow of expectation. With the expectation dropped, frustration drops on its own accord.
Once expectations are not there you are free to move into the unknown and to accept the unknown — whatsoever it brings. And to accept it with deep gratitude. Complaints disappear; grumbling disappears; whatsoever the situation, you always feel accepted, at home. Nobody is against you, existence is not a conspiracy against you — it is your home.
The second thing: when everything happens unexpectedly, everything becomes new. It brings a freshness to your life; a fresh breeze is continuously blowing and it does not allow dust to gather on you. Your doors and your windows are open: in comes sunshine, in comes the breeze, in comes the fragrance of flowers — everything unexpected. You never asked for it, and existence goes on showering it on you. One feels God Is…
Once you expect, everything is destroyed.
Drop the past; that is the way to die each moment. Never plan for the future; that is the way to allow life to flow through you. And then you remain in an unfrozen state, flowing. This is what I call a Sannyasin — no past, no future, just at this moment alive, intensely alive, a flame burning from both the ends, a torch burning from both the ends. This is what let-go is.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Ancient Music in the Pines
Chapter title: Three Mysteries
28 February 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘death, fear, ego, life’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Empty Boat
- The Book of Wisdom
- From the False to the Truth
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
- Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind
- My Way: The Way of the White Clouds
- The Art of Dying
- The Last Testament, Vol 2
- The Hidden Splendor
- The Razor’s Edge
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 3
- Beyond Psychology
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2