The Art of Dying
Osho on Death
HOW CAN WE PREPARE OURSELVES FOR DEATH?
DON’T accumulate anything whatever: power, money, prestige, virtue, knowledge, even the so-called spiritual experiences.
Don’t accumulate. If you don’t accumulate you are ready to die any moment, because you have nothing to lose.
The fear of death is not really fear of death; the fear of death comes out of the accumulations of life. Then you have too much to lose so you cling to it. That is the meaning of Jesus’ saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit.
I don’t mean become a beggar, and I don’t mean renounce the world. I mean be in the world but don’t be of the world. Don’t accumulate inside, be poor in spirit. Never possess anything — and then you are ready to die. Possessiveness is the problem, not life itself. The more you possess, the more you are afraid to lose. If you don’t possess anything, if your purity, if your spirit is uncontaminated by anything, if you are simply there alone, you can disappear any moment; whenever death knocks on the door it will find you ready. You are not losing anything. By going with death you are not a loser. You may be moving into a new experience.
And when I say don’t accumulate, I mean it as an absolute imperative. I’m not saying don’t accumulate things of this world but go on accumulating virtue, knowledge, and so-called spiritual experiences, visions — no. I am talking in absolute terms: don’t accumulate. There are people, particularly in the East, who teach renunciation. They say, ‘Don’t accumulate anything in this world because it will be taken away from you when death comes.’ These people seem to be basically more greedy than the ordinary worldly people. Their logic is: don’t accumulate in this world because death will take it away, so accumulate something that death cannot take away from you — accumulate virtue, PUNYA; accumulate character, morality, knowledge; accumulate experiences, spiritual experiences, experiences of kundalini, meditation, this and that; accumulate something that death cannot take away from you.
But if you accumulate, with that accumulation comes fear. Each accumulation brings fear in the same proportion…then you are afraid.
Don’t accumulate and fear disappears. I don’t teach you renunciation in the old sense; my Sannyas is an absolutely new concept. It teaches you to be in the world and yet to be not of it.
Then you are always ready.
I have heard about a great Sufi mystic, Abraham Adam. Once he was the Emperor of Bokhara, then he left everything and became a Sufi beggar. When he was staying with another Sufi mystic he was puzzled because every day the man was continuously complaining of his poverty.
Abraham Adam said to him, ‘The way you abuse it, it may be that you have bought your poverty cheaply.’ ‘How stupid you must be!’ the man retorted, not knowing to whom he was talking, not knowing that Abraham was once the emperor. He said, ‘How stupid you must be to think that one buys poverty.’ Abraham replied, ‘In my case, I paid my kingdom for it. I would even give away a hundred worlds for a single moment of it, for every day its value becomes more and more to me. No wonder then that I give thanks for it while you lament it.’
The purity of the spirit is the real poverty. The word ‘sufi’ comes from an Arabic word ‘safa’. Safa means purity. Sufi means one who is pure in the heart. And what is purity? Don’t misunderstand me, purity has nothing to do with morality. Don’t interpret it in a moralistic way. Purity has nothing to do with puritans.
Purity simply means an uncontaminated state of mind, where only your consciousness is and nothing else. Nothing else really enters into your consciousness, but if you hanker to possess, that hankering contaminates you. Gold cannot enter into your consciousness. There is no way. How can you take gold into your being? There is no way. Money cannot enter into your consciousness. But if you want to possess, that possessiveness can enter into your consciousness. Then you become impure. If you don’t want to possess anything, you become fearless. Then even death is a beautiful experience to pass through.
A man who is really spiritual has tremendous experiences but he never accumulates them. Once they have happened he forgets about them. He never remembers, he never projects them into the future. He never says that they should be repeated or that they should happen again to him. He never prays for them. Once they have happened they have happened. Finished! He is finished with them and he moves away from them. He is always available for the new, he never carries the old.
And if you don’t carry the old you will find life absolutely new, incredibly, unbelievably new at each step. Life is new, only the mind is old; and if you look through the mind, life also looks like a repetition, a boring thing. If you don’t look through the mind…. Mind means your past, mind means the accumulated experiences, knowledge and everything. Mind means that through which you have passed, but on to which you are still hanging. Mind is a hang-over, dust from the past covering your mirrorlike consciousness. Then when you look through it everything becomes distorted. Mind is the faculty of distortion. If you don’t look through the mind you will know that life is eternal. Only mind dies — without mind you are deathless. Without mind nothing has ever died; life goes on and on and on forever. It has no beginning and no end.
Accumulate, then you have a beginning, and then you will have an end.
How to prepare yourself for death….
When I say ‘how to prepare for death’, I don’t mean preparing for the death that will come in the end — that is very far away.
If you prepare for it you will be preparing for the future and again the mind will come in. No, when I say prepare for death, I don’t mean the death that will come finally,
I mean the death that visits you every moment with each exhalation. Accept this death each moment and you will be ready for the final death when it comes.
Start dying each moment to the past. Clean yourself of the past each moment. Die to the known so that you become available to the unknown. With dying and being reborn each moment you will be able to live life and you will be able to live death also. And that’s what spirituality is really all about: to live death intensely, to live life intensely; to live both so passionately that nothing is left behind unlived, not even death. If you live life and death totally, you transcend. In that tremendous passion and intensity of life and death, you transcend duality, you transcend the dichotomy, you come to the One. That One is really the truth. You can call it God, you can call it life, you can call it truth, Samadhi, ecstasy, or whatsoever you choose.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Art of Dying
Chapter title: Confusion is my Method
12 October 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘death, life, sannyas, meditation, consciousness, transcendence, spirituality’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- A Bird on the Wing
- The Art of Dying
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Empty Boat
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Tao: The Pathless Path
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- Zen: The Path of Paradox
- The Ultimate Alchemy
- Beyond Psychology
- Philosophia Perennis
- The Golden Future
- From the False to the Truth