CAN YOU SAY SOMETHING ABOUT DEATH AND THE ART OF DYING?
Deva Vandana, the first thing to be known about death is that death is a lie.
Death exists not; it is one of the most illusory things. Death is the shadow of another lie — the name of that other lie is the ego. Death is the shadow of the ego. Because the ego is, death appears to be there.
The secret of knowing death, of understanding death, is not in death itself. You will have to go deeper into the existence of the ego. You will have to look, watch, observe, be aware of what this ego is. And the day you have found that there is no ego, that there has never been — it appeared only because you were not aware, it appeared only because you were keeping your own existence in darkness — the day it is understood that the ego is a creation of an unconscious mind, the ego disappears and simultaneously death disappears.
The real you is eternal. Life is neither born nor dies.
The ocean continues, waves come and go — but what are waves? Just forms, the wind playing with the ocean. Waves have no substantial existence. So are we, waves, playthings. But if we look deep down into the wave there is an ocean, and the eternal depth of it and the unfathomable mystery of it. Look deep down into your own being and you will find the ocean. And that ocean is; the ocean always is. You cannot say, “It was,” you cannot say, “It will be.” You can only use one tense for it, the present tense: it is. This is the whole search of religion. The search is to find that which truly is. We have accepted things which really are not, and the greatest and the most central of them is the ego. And of course it casts a big shadow — that shadow is death. Those who try to understand death directly will never be able to penetrate into the mystery of it. They will be fighting with darkness. Darkness is non existential, you cannot fight with it. Bring light, and the darkness is no more.
How can we know the ego? Bring a little more awareness to your existence. Each act has to be done less automatically than you have been doing up to now, and you have the key. If you are walking, don’t walk like a robot. Don’t go on walking as you have always walked, don’t do it mechanically. Bring a little awareness to it, slow down, let each step be taken in full consciousness. Buddha used to say to his disciples that when you raise your left foot, deep down say “Left.” When you raise your right foot, deep down say “Right.” First say it, so that you can become acquainted with this new process. Then slowly slowly let the words disappear; just remember “Left, right, left, right.” Try it in small acts. You are not supposed to do big things. Eating, taking a bath, swimming, walking, talking, listening, cooking your food, washing your clothes — deautomatize the processes. Remember the word deautomatization; that is the whole secret of becoming aware.
The mind is a robot. The robot has its utility; this is the way the mind functions. You learn something; when you learn it, in the beginning you are aware. For example, if you learn swimming you are very alert, because life is in danger. Or if you learn to drive a car you are very alert. You have to be alert. You have to be careful about many things — the steering wheel, the road, the people passing by, the accelerator, the brake, the clutch. You have to be aware of everything. There are so many things to remember, and you are nervous, and it is dangerous to commit a mistake. It is so dangerous, that’s why you have to keep aware. But the moment you have learned driving, this awareness will not be needed. Then the robot part of your mind will take it over. That’s what we call learning. Learning something means it has been transferred from consciousness to the robot. That’s what learning is all about. Once you have learned a thing it is no more part of the conscious, it has been delivered to the unconscious. Now the unconscious can do it; now your consciousness is free to learn something else.
This is in itself tremendously significant. Otherwise you will remain learning a single thing your whole life.
The mind is a great servant, a great computer. Use it, but remember that it should not overpower you. Remember that you should remain capable of being aware, that it should not possess you in toto, that it should not become all and all, that a door should be left open from where you can come out of the robot. That opening of the door is called meditation.
But remember, the robot is so skillful, it can even take meditation into its control. Once you have learned it, the mind says, “Now you need not be worried about it, I am capable of doing it. I will do it, you leave it to me.” And the mind is skillful; it is a very beautiful machine, it functions well. In fact all our science, together with all our so-called progress in knowledge, has not yet been able to create something so sophisticated as the human mind. The greatest computers in existence are still rudimentary compared to the mind. The mind is simply a miracle.
But when something is so powerful, there is danger in it. You can be hypnotized so much by it and its power that you can lose your soul. If you have completely forgotten how to be aware, then the ego is created.
Ego is the state of utter unawareness. The mind has taken possession of your whole being; it has spread like a cancer all over you, nothing is left out. The ego is the cancer of the inner, the cancer of the soul. And the only remedy, the only remedy I say, is meditation. Then you start reclaiming a few territories from the mind. And the process is difficult but exhilarating, the process is difficult but enchanting, the process is difficult but challenging, thrilling. It will bring a new joy into your life. When you reclaim territory back from the robot you will be surprised that you are becoming a totally new person, that your being is renewed, that this is a new birth.
And you will be surprised that your eyes see more, your ears hear more, your hands touch more, your body feels more, your heart loves more — everything becomes more. And more not only in the sense of quantity but in the sense of quality too. You not only see more trees, you see trees more deeply. The green of the trees becomes greener — not only that, but it becomes luminous. Not only that, but the tree starts having an individuality of its own. Not only that, but you can have a communion with existence now. And the more territories that are reclaimed, the more and more your life becomes psychedelic and colorful. You are then a rainbow — the whole spectrum; all the notes of music — the whole octave. Your life becomes richer, multidimensional, has depth, has height, has tremendously beautiful valleys and has tremendously beautiful sunlit peaks. You start expanding. As you reclaim parts from the robot, you start coming alive. For the first time you are turned on.
This is the miracle of meditation; this is something not to be missed. The people who miss it have not lived at all. And to know life in such intensity, in such ecstasy, is to know that there is no death. Not to know life creates death; ignorance of life creates death. To know life is to know there is no death, there never has been. Nobody has ever died, I declare, and nobody is ever going to die. Death is impossible in the very nature of things — only life is.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
The Book of Wisdom
Chapter title: Other Gurus and Etceteranandas
24 February 1979 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘death, ego, meditation, awareness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Light On The Path
- Zen: The Diamond Thunderbolt
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
- Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
- And The Flowers Showered
- A Bird On The Wing
- The Book of Wisdom
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1
- Beyond Enlightenment
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4, 8, 9