I come from a family where there are four suicides on the maternal side, including my grandmother. How does this affect one’s death? What help to overcome this perversion of death which runs as a theme through the family?
The phenomenon of death is one of the most mysterious and so is the phenomenon of suicide. Don’t decide from the surface what suicide is. It can be many things. My own understanding is that people who commit suicide are the most sensitive people in the world, very intelligent. Because of their sensitivity, because of their intelligence, they find it difficult to cope with this neurotic world.
The society is neurotic. It exists on neurotic foundations. Its whole history is a history of madness, of violence, war, destruction. Somebody says, “My country is the greatest country in the world” — now this is neurosis. Somebody says, “My religion is the greatest and the highest religion in the world” — now this is neurosis. And this neurosis has gone to the very blood and to the bones, and people have become very, very dull, insensitive. They had to become, otherwise life would be impossible.
You have to become insensitive to cope with this dull life around you; otherwise you start falling out of tune. If you start falling out of tune with the society, the society declares you mad. The society is mad, but if you are not in adjustment with it, it declares you mad. So, either you have to go mad, or you have to find a way out of the society; that’s what suicide is. Life becomes intolerable. It seems impossible to cope with so many people around you – and they are all insane. What will you do if you are thrown into an insane asylum?
It happened to one of my friends; he was in a mental asylum. He was put there by the court for nine months. After six months — he was mad, so he could do it — he found a big bottle of phenol in the bathroom and he drank it. For fifteen days he suffered diarrhea and vomiting, and because of that diarrhea and vomiting he came back into the world. His system was purified, the poison disappeared. He was telling me that those next three months were the most difficult — “The first six months were beautiful because I was mad, and everybody was also mad. Things were going simply beautifully, there was no problem. I was in tune with the whole madness around me.”
When he drank phenol, and those fifteen days of diarrhea and vomiting, somehow by an accident his system got purified, his stomach got purified. He could not eat for those fifteen days — the vomiting was too much — so he had to fast. He rested in bed for fifteen days. That rest, that fasting, that purifying helped — it was an accident — and he became sane. He went to the doctors, told them “I have become sane”; they all laughed. They said, “Everybody says so.” The more he insisted, the more they insisted, “You are mad, because every madman says so. You simply go and do your work. You cannot be released before the court’s order comes.”
“Those three months were impossible,” he said, “nightmarish!” Many times he thought about suicide. But he is a man of strong will. And it was only a question of three months, he could wait. It was intolerable! — somebody was pulling his hair, somebody was pulling his leg, somebody would simply jump upon him. All that had been going on for six months, but he had also been part in it. He was also doing the same things; he was a perfect member of that mad society. But for three months it was impossible because he was sane and everybody was insane.
In this neurotic world, if you are sane, sensitive, intelligent, either you have to go mad, or you have to commit suicide — or you have to become a sannyasin. What else is there?
The question is from Jane Ferber; she is Bodhicitta’s wife. She has come to me in the right time. She can become a sannyasin and avoid suicide.
In the East suicide does not exist so much, because sannyas is an alternative. You can respectfully drop out; the East accepts it. You can start doing your own thing; the East has respect for it. Hence, the difference between India and America is of five times: for one Indian committing suicide, five Americans commit suicide. And the phenomenon of suicide is a growing phenomenon in America. Intelligence is growing, sensitivity is growing, and the society is dull. And the society does not provide an intelligent world — then what to do? Just go on suffering unnecessarily?
Then one starts thinking, “Why not drop it all? Why not finish it? Why not give the ticket back to God?” In America, if sannyas becomes a great movement, the rate of suicide will start falling, because people will have a far better and more creative alternative of dropping out. Have you watched it happen that hippies don’t commit suicide? It is the square world, the conventional world where suicide is more prevalent. The hippie has dropped out. He is a kind of sannyasin — not yet fully alert to what he is doing but on the right way; moving, groping, but in the right direction. The hippie is the beginning of sannyas. The hippie is saying, “I don’t want to be a part of this rotten game, I don’t want to be a part of this political game. I see things, and I would like to live my own life. I don’t want to become anybody’s slave. I don’t want to be killed on any war front. I don’t want to fight — there are far more beautiful things to do.”
But for millions there is nothing; the society has taken away all possibilities for their growth. They are stuck. People commit suicide because they are feeling stuck and they don’t see any way out. They come to a cul-de-sac. And the more intelligent you are, the sooner you will come to that cul-de-sac, that impasse. And then what are you supposed to do? The society does not give you any alternative; the society does not allow an alternative society.
Sannyas is an alternative society. It looks strange that in India the suicide rate is the lowest in the world. Logically it should be the highest, because people are suffering, people are miserable, starving. But this strange phenomenon happens everywhere: poor people don’t commit suicide. They have nothing to live for, they have nothing to die for. Because they are starved, they are occupied with their food, shelter, money, things like that. They cannot afford to think about suicide, they are not yet that affluent. America has everything, India has nothing.
Just the other day I was reading… Somebody has written: “Americans have a smiling Jimmy Carter, Johnny Cash and Bob Hope. And Indians have a dry, dull, dead Morarji Desai, no cash, and very little hope.”
But still people don’t commit suicide: they go on living, they enjoy life. Even beggars are thrilled, excited. There is nothing to be excited about, but they are hoping.
Why is it happening so much in America? — the ordinary problems of life have disappeared, the mind is free to rise higher than the ordinary consciousness. The mind can rise beyond body, beyond mind itself. The consciousness is ready to take wings and the society does not allow it. Out of ten suicides, about nine are sensitive people. Seeing the meaninglessness of life, seeing the indignity that life imposes, seeing the compromises that one has to make for nothing, seeing all the taciturnity, looking around and seeing this — “a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing” — they decide to get rid of the body. If they could have wings in the body, they would not decide so.
Then suicide has another significance too; it has to be understood. In life everything seems to be common, imitative. You can’t have a car that others don’t have. Millions of people have the same car as you have. Millions of people are living the same life as you are living, seeing the same film, the same movie, the same TV as you are, reading the same newspaper as you do. Life is too common, nothing unique is left for you to do, to be. Suicide seems to be a unique phenomenon: only you can die for yourself, nobody else can die for you. Your death will be your death, nobody else’s. Death is unique!
Look at the phenomenon: death is unique — it defines you as an individual, it gives you individuality. The society has taken your individuality; you are just a cog in the wheel, replaceable. If you die nobody will miss you, you will be replaced. If you are a professor in the university, another will be the professor in the university. Even if you are the president of a country, another will be the president of the country, immediately, the moment you are no more. You are replaceable.
This hurts — that your worth is not much, that you will not be missed, that one day you will disappear and soon those people who will remember you will also disappear. Then, it will be almost as if you had never been. Just think of that day. You will disappear… Yes, for a few days people will remember — your lover will remember you, your children will remember you, maybe a few friends. By and by, their memory will become pale, faint, will start disappearing. But maybe while those people with whom you had a certain kind of intimacy are alive, you may be remembered once in a while. But once they are also gone, then… then you simply disappear, as if you had never been here. Then there is no difference whether you have been here or have not been here.
Life does not give you unique respect. It is very humiliating. It drives you into such a hole where you are just a cog in the wheel, a cog in the vast mechanism. It makes you anonymous.
Death, at least, is unique. And suicide is more unique than death. Why? — because death comes, and suicide is something that you do. Death is beyond you: when it will come, it will come. But suicide you can manage, you are not a victim. Suicide you can manage. With death you will be a victim, with suicide you will be in control. Birth has already happened – now you cannot do anything about it, and you had not done anything before you were born — it was an accident.
There are three things in life which are vital: birth, love, and death. Birth has happened; there is nothing to do about it. You were not even asked whether you wanted to be born or not. You are a victim. Love also happens; you cannot do anything about it, you are helpless. One day you fall in love with somebody, you cannot do anything about it. If you want to fall in love with somebody you cannot manage, it is impossible. And when you fall in love with somebody, if you don’t want — if you want to pull yourself away — that too seems to be difficult. Birth is a happening, so is love. Now only death is left about which something can be done: you can be a victim or you can decide on your own.
A suicide is one who decides, who says, “Let me at least do one thing in this existence where I was almost accidental: I will commit suicide. At least there is one thing I can do!” Birth is impossible to do; love cannot be created if it is not there; but death… death has an alternative. Either you can be a victim or you can be decisive.
This society has taken all dignity from you. That’s why people commit suicide — because their committing suicide will give them a sort of dignity. They can say to God, “I have renounced your world and your life. It was not of worth!” The people who commit suicide are almost always more sensitive than the others who go on dragging, living. And I’m not saying to commit suicide, I am saying there is a higher possibility. Each moment of life can be so beautiful, individual, non-imitative, non-repetitive. Each moment can be so precious! Then there is no need to commit suicide. Each moment can bring such blessing, and each moment can define you as unique — because you are unique! Never before has there been a person like you, and never again will there be.
But the society forces you to become part of a big army. The society never likes a person who goes in his own way. The society wants you to be part of the crowd: be a Hindu, be a Christian, be a Jew, be an American, be an Indian — but be part of a crowd; any crowd, but be part of a crowd. Never be yourself. And those who want to be themselves… and those are the salt of the earth, those people who want to be themselves. They are the most valuable people on the earth. The earth has a little dignity and fragrance because of these people. Then they commit suicide.
Sannyas and suicide are alternatives. This is my experience: you can become a sannyasin only when you have come to the point where, if not sannyas, then suicide. Sannyas means, “I will try to become an individual while alive! I will live my life in my own way. I will not be dictated to, dominated. I will not function like a mechanism, like a robot. I will not have any ideals, and I will not have any goals. I will live in the moment, and I will live on the spur of the moment. I will be spontaneous, and I will risk all for it!”
Sannyas is a risk.
Jane, I would like to say to you: I have looked into your eyes; the possibility of suicide is there too. But I don’t think you will have to commit suicide — sannyas will do! You are more fortunate than the four people in your family who committed suicide. In fact, every intelligent person has the capacity to commit suicide, only idiots never commit. Have you ever heard of any idiot ever committing suicide? He does not care about life; why should he commit suicide? Only a rare intelligence starts feeling the need to do something, because life as it is lived is not worth living. So, either do something and change your life — give it a new shape, a new direction, a new dimension — or why go on carrying this nightmarish burden, day-in day-out, year-in year-out? And it will continue… And medical science is helping you to continue it even longer — a hundred years, a hundred and twenty years. And now those people are saying that a man can live to nearabout three hundred years, easily. Just think if people have to live for three hundred years: the suicide rate would go very high — because then even mediocre minds would start thinking that it is pointless.
Intelligence means seeing deeply into things. Has your life any point? Has your life any joy? Has your life any poetry in it? Has your life any creativity in it? Do you feel grateful that you are here? Do you feel grateful that you were born? Can you thank your God? Can you say with your whole heart that this is a blessing? If you cannot, then why do you go on living? Either make your life a blessing… or why go on burdening this earth? Disappear. Somebody else may occupy your space and may do better. This idea comes to the intelligent mind naturally. It is a very, very natural idea when you are intelligent. Intelligent people commit suicide. And those who are more intelligent than the intelligent people — they take sannyas. They start creating a meaning, they start creating a significance, they start living. Why miss this opportunity?
Heidegger has said: “Death isolates me and makes of me an individual.” It is my death, not that of the multitude to which I belong. Each of us dies his own death; death cannot be repeated. I can sit an examination twice, or thrice; compare my second marriage with my first, and so on and so forth. I die only once. I can get married as many times as I like, I can change my jobs as many times as I like, I can change my town as many times as I like… but I die only once. Death is so challenging because it is at once certain and uncertain. That it will come is certain, when it will do so is uncertain.
Hence there is great curiosity about death, about what it is. One wants to know about it. And there is nothing morbid about this contemplation of death. Accusations of that kind are merely the device of the impersonal ‘they’ — the crowd — to prevent one escaping its tyranny and becoming individuals. What is necessary is to see our life as a being towards death. Once this point has been reached, there is a possibility of deliverance from the banality of everyday life and its servitude to anonymous powers. He who has so confronted his death is stabbed awake thereby. He perceives himself now as an individual distinct from the mass, and is prepared to take over responsibility for his own life. In this way, we decide for authentic against inauthentic existence. We emerge from the mass and become ourselves at last.
Even to contemplate death gives you an individuality, a form, a shape, a definition — because it is your death. It is the only thing left in the world that is unique. And when you think about suicide it becomes even more personal; it is your decision.
And remember, I am not saying that you should go and commit suicide. I am saying that your life, as it is, is leading you towards suicide. Change it.
And contemplate death. It can come any moment, so don’t think that it is morbid to think about death. It is not, because death is the culmination of life, the very crescendo of life. You have to take note of it. It is coming — whether you commit suicide or it comes … but it is coming. It has to happen. You have to prepare for it, and the only way to prepare for death — the right way — is not to commit suicide; the right way is to die each moment to the past. That’s the right way. That’s what a sannyasin is supposed to do: die each moment to the past, never carry the past for a single moment. Each moment, die to the past and be born in the present. That will keep you fresh, young, vibrant, radiant; that will keep you alive, throbbing, excited, ecstatic. And a man who knows how to die each moment to the past knows how to die, and that is the greatest skill and art. So when death comes to such a man, he dances with it, he embraces it! — it is a friend, it is not the enemy. It is God coming to you in the form of death. It is total relaxation into existence. It is becoming again the whole, becoming one again with the whole.
So don’t call this perversion.
You say: “I come from a family where there are four suicides on the maternal side, including my grandmother.”
Don’t condemn those poor people, and don’t think for a moment that they were perverts.
“How does this affect one’s death? What helps to overcome this perversion of death which runs as a theme through the family?”
Don’t call it a perversion; it is not. Those people were simply victims. They could not cope with the neurotic society, and they decided to disappear into the unknown. Have compassion for them, don’t condemn. Don’t abuse them, don’t call names — don’t call it perversion or anything like that. Have compassion for them and love for them.
There is no need to follow them, but feel for them. They must have suffered a lot. One does not decide very easily to drop life: they must have suffered intensely; they must have seen the hell of life. One never decides easily for death, because to survive is a natural instinct. One goes on surviving in all kinds of situations and conditions. One goes on compromising — just to survive. When somebody drops his life that simply shows it is beyond his capacity to compromise; the demand is too much. The demand is so much that it is not worth it; then only one decides to commit suicide. Have compassion for those people.
And if you feel that something is wrong then something is wrong in the society, not in those people. The society is perverted! In a primitive society nobody commits suicide. I have been to primitive tribes in India: for centuries they have not known of anybody committing suicide. They don’t have any record of anybody ever having committed suicide. Why? The society is natural, the society is not perverted. It does not drive people to unnatural things. The society is accepting. It allows everybody his way, his choice to live his life. That is everybody’s right. Even if somebody goes mad, the society accepts it; it is his right to go mad. There is no condemnation. In fact, in a primitive society, mad people are respected like mystics — and they have a kind of mystery around them. If you look into a madman’s eyes and into the eyes of a mystic, there is some similarity — something vast, something undefined, something nebulous, something like a chaos out of which stars are born. The mystic and the madman have some similarity.
All madmen may not be mystics, but all mystics are mad. By ‘mad’ I mean they have gone beyond mind. The madman may have fallen below mind, and the mystic may have gone beyond mind, but one thing is similar — both are not in their minds. In a primitive society even the madman is respected, tremendously respected. If he decides to be mad, that’s okay. Society takes care for his food, for his shelter. Society loves him, loves his madness. Society has no fixed rule; then nobody commits suicide because freedom remains intact.
When society demands slavery and goes on destroying your freedom and crippling you from every side and paralyzing your soul and deadening your heart… one comes to feel it is better to die than to compromise.
Don’t call them perverts. Have compassion for them; they suffered a lot, they were victims. And try to understand what happened to them; that will give you an insight into your own life. And there is no need to repeat it, because I give you an opportunity to be yourself. I open a door for you. If you are understanding you will see the point of it, but if you are not understanding then it is difficult. I can go on shouting and you will hear only that which you can hear, and you will hear only that which you want to hear — that which you want to hear.
A psychologist friend has come: he has written a long question. He says: “Why do you go on saying drop the ego? Nobody has ever been able to drop the ego.”
Now how does he know it — that nobody has ever been able to drop the ego? He says it has not succeeded. How do you know? It has succeeded, although it has succeeded only with very rare and few people. But it has succeeded, and it has succeeded only with rare people because only those rare people allowed it to succeed. It can succeed with everybody, but people don’t allow it to succeed. They are not ready to lose their egos.
He is a psychologist, and he says, “Osho, I see in you too a great ego.” As a psychologist he says, “I see a great ego in you.”
Then you have not seen me at all. Then you have seen something which is your projection.
The ego goes on projecting itself. The ego goes on creating its own reality around itself, its own reflections.
Now, if you can see so deeply into me why have you come here? — you can see deeply into yourself. If you have such great insight, what is the point in coming here? — it is pointless. And if you have decided already that the ego cannot be dropped, that it is not possible, then you have taken a decision without even trying.
And I am not saying the ego can be dropped! I am saying the ego exists not! How can you drop something which doesn’t exist? And Buddha has not said that the ego has to be dropped, he is saying the ego has to be only looked into — and you don’t find it, hence it disappears.
What can you do then — when you go inside your being and you don’t find any ego, you find silence there; no self-dominating, no center like an ego there? Dropping the ego does not mean that you have to drop it. Dropping the ego is only a metaphor. It simply means that when you go in, you look in and you don’t find anything, the ego disappears. In fact, even to say ‘disappears’ is not right, because it was not there in the first place. It is a misunderstanding.
Now, rather than going into yourself you are looking at me. And you think you have looked into me! And because you are a psychoanalyst or a psychologist, then you decide. And your decision will become a barrier — because the ego does not exist in me! And I would like to declare: the ego does not exist in you! Even to this psychologist friend I will say: the ego does not exist in him. The ego exists not! It is a non-existential idea, just an idea.
It is like when you see a rope in the dark and you think it is a snake, and you start running, and you are out of breath, and you stumble upon a rock and you get a fracture, and by the morning you come to know that it was only a rope. But it worked tremendously! The snake was not there, but it affected your reality. A misunderstanding is as real as understanding. It is not true, but it is real! That is the difference between reality and truth. A snake seen in a rope is real, because its results, its consequences are going to be real. If you have a weak heart it can be very dangerous seeing a snake in a rope: you can run so fast that you can have heart failure. It can affect your whole life. And it looks so ridiculous; it was just a rope.
What I am saying, or what Buddha is saying is: Just take a lamp and go inside. Have a good look at whether the snake exists or not. Buddha has found it does not exist in him. I have found it does not exist in me. And the day I found it does not exist in me, I looked around into everybody’s eyes and I have never found it. It is an unfounded idea. It is a dream.
But if you are too full of the dream, you can even project it on me. And I cannot do anything about it. If you project, you project. It is as if you are wearing glasses, colored glasses, green glasses, and the whole world looks green. And you come to me and you say, “Osho, you are wearing a green dress.” What can I do? I can only say, “You just take off your glasses.” And you say, “Nobody has ever been able to take off his glasses. It has never happened!” Then it is difficult.
But it is not a problem for me; it is going to be a problem for you. I feel sorry for you, because if this is your idea then you will suffer your whole life — because ego creates suffering. An unreal idea, thought to be real, creates suffering. What is suffering really? Suffering is when you have some ideas which don’t correlate with the truth. Then there is suffering.
For example, you think stones are food and you eat them; then you suffer, then you have a great stomachache. But if it is real food then you don’t suffer, then you are satisfied. Suffering is created by ideas which don’t go with reality; bliss is created when you have ideas which go with reality. Bliss is a coherence between you and the truth; suffering is a dichotomy, a division between you and the truth. When you are not moving with truth you are in hell; when you are moving with truth you are in heaven — that’s all. And that is the whole thing to be understood.
Now this man comes from faraway America. Listening to my tapes, he started feeling for me. He has come here, but if this is his way of looking at things he will miss. And remember, it is not a problem for me. If you think I am a great egoist, thank you — it is not a problem for me. This is your idea, and you are perfectly entitled to have ideas. But if you are so certain about it, what is going to happen?
He says, “I have been to many holy saints of many religions, and they were all egoists.”
You must be wearing the same glasses everywhere. You go on creating your own reality, which is not true. That’s why Buddha insists so much on nothingness, on no-mind – because when the mind has no thoughts you cannot project anything. Then you have to see that which is. When you don’t have any ideas, when you are simply empty, a mirror mirroring, then whatsoever comes in front of you is mirrored. And it is mirrored as it is. But if you have ideas, then you distort. Thoughts are the media for distortion.
If you can see ego in me, you are really doing a miracle. But it is possible… and you can enjoy. But it is only you who will be harmed by your idea, nobody else. If this idea persists, then there will be no possibility of being bridged with me. At least for these few days that you are here, put your ideas aside. And one thing is certain: your psychology has not helped you, otherwise you would not need to be here at all.
Just the other day he was sitting in front of me and talking about his problems. And sometimes I wonder… he has so many problems, and he is a group leader. What will he be doing with people? What kind of help can come from him? And he has such a fat body and he cannot even change that; and he goes on stuffing himself. And these were his problems. And he was so afraid that he was insisting again and again to Laxmi that he needed a private interview, because, “I cannot say things before people.” Why? People will be seeing you, that you are fat. It doesn’t matter whether you say it or not. Everybody has eyes and they can see that you are fat, and that you go on stuffing. How will you avoid Vrindavan people? They will know.
He wanted to have a private interview so that he could tell his problems, and the problem was fatness — “I go on eating and I cannot stop; what should I do?” Your psychology has not even been of that much help, and you think your psychology is capable of knowing me, of seeing me? Don’t be deceived by your own games.
And you have not been to any holy men. I am not saying that they were not holy; I am simply saying that you may have been there, but you have not been with them. If you cannot be with me, how can you be with them? You have not been with any holy man. Wherever you went, you went with your psychology, with all the knowledge that you have gathered around yourself. And it is of no use to you. It is worthless! And you go on advising people. You will create the same kinds of traumas, complexes, in other people too. A therapist can be of help only when his advice is not only for others, but when his advice is his life, when he has lived it and has seen its truth.
You say that the teaching of the ages to drop the ego, drop the mind, has not worked. It has worked! It has worked for me; that’s why I say it has worked. I know it has not worked for you. But there is nothing wrong in the teaching, something is wrong in you; that’s why it is not working in you. It has worked in millions of people. And sometimes it happens that your neighbor may be an enlightened being and you may not be able to see.
A seeker came from America. He had heard there was a great Sufi mystic in Dacca, in Bangladesh, so he came rushing — as Americans come. He came rushing: he simply jumped on Dacca! He caught hold of a taxi-driver and said, “Take me to this mystic!”
The taxi-driver laughed. He said, “You are really interested? Then you have found the right man. If you had asked any other taxi-driver, nobody would have known. I know this man. I have lived with this man for almost fifty years.”
“Fifty years? How old is he?” the American asked.
The taxi-driver said, “He is also fifty years old.”
He thought, “This man seems to be crazy!” He tried other taxi-drivers, but nobody knew the man so he had to come back to this crazy man.
And he said, “I had told you that nobody knows him. You come with me and I will take you.” And he took him — and Dacca is an old city and small streets and tiny — and he went zigzag here and there, for hours. And the American was feeling very happy, because the goal was coming closer and closer and closer. After three, four hours, they stopped before a small house, a very poor man’s house. And the taxi-driver said, “You wait, and I will arrange for the master.”
Then a woman came and she said, “The master is waiting for you.” And the man went in, and the taxi-driver was sitting there.
And he said, “Come on, my son, what do you have to ask?”
The American could not believe it. He said, “You are the master?”
He said, “I am the master, and I have lived with this man for fifty years; nobody else knows about it.” And it turned out that he was the master.
… But you have your ideas: “How can a taxi-driver be a master?” Just think of me as a taxi-driver… You will not believe — will you? Will this psychologist friend believe? It will be impossible.
You have ideas. Because of your ideas you go on missing many things that are around. The earth is never empty of masters. There are people everywhere, but you can’t see! And when you want to see them you go to the Vatican because you have some idea that the pope must be enlightened. In fact, how can an enlightened person be a pope? No enlightened person will agree to that nonsense. He may prefer to be a taxi-driver.
Please drop your ideas while you are here, for these few days. Open yourself, don’t be prejudiced from the very beginning that, “This has never happened.” This has happened! This has happened in me. You just look into my eyes, just feel me, and this can happen in you. There is nothing that is hindering it except these ideas, this knowledge. That’s why I say knowledge is a curse. Get rid of your knowledge and you will get rid of your pathology!
From The Heart Sutra, Discourse #4
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