Neither by work nor by progeny nor by wealth, but by renunciation alone immortality is attained.
Higher than heaven the ultimate truth abides in the cave of the heart, shining, and the sincere seeker attains.
For religion, death is the basic problem – not life, because life is. Life is not a problem; you have it, you are it. But death is a problem. Death is not here and yet is here. Death has not occurred to you, yet it has occurred all around; it will occur to you. Life is the present; death is the future. The present is never the problem – the future is the problem, because future has to be tackled, because future has to be encountered, because future has to be transcended. So man is always face to face with death, not with life.
That’s why animals have no religion, because they cannot imagine death; they cannot conceive of death. They live, they die, but death is never a problem for them. It is never comprehended, it is never conceived, it is never encountered as a problem in their consciousness. They don’t know death – they are alive or they are dead, but they don’t know death. When is death known? How is death known? Death is known – you are alive, you are not dead, but there is death somewhere in the future.
A dead man has no problem with death, he is already dead. Then death is not a problem. Alive, death faces us somewhere, just around the corner, waits for us. This waiting death – this constant awaiting, somewhere near, just any moment it can happen – is the problem. So man goes on fighting it, and the whole of life becomes just a fight with death. The whole of life is just wasted – just wasted in arranging, in making securities – in defense against death.
We cannot be alive, because there is death. We cannot live, we cannot live authentically because death will not allow us to live. How can you live when there is death? When you are going to die, how can you live peacefully? How can you live blissfully? Then every step in life is just a step towards death. Then any movement is a movement towards death, or any movement is a movement of your death coming towards you.
Religion has death as the problem – what to do about it? We are doing many things – through wealth, through science, through health, through protection, through medicine, through philosophy, through theology – we are creating many different measures for how to be deathless. We are creating many things, but everything proves futile, meaningless, absurd. Death comes, and every arrangement is just proved futile. It has always been so and it will always be so, because death is not really just in the future, it is also in the past.
The moment one is born, death is born within him. Death is not only in the future – if it were only in the future then it could be avoided, but it is part of the past. It is just a process of the same thing which we call birth. Birth is the beginning of death – or, death can be said to be just an ending of the process of birth. So your birth day is also your death day. The beginning is the end, because every beginning implies its end. Every beginning has its end as a seed. If death is just in the future, then it can be avoided. It is not; it is part of you, it is here and now – just in you, progressing, growing.
Death is not a fixed point somewhere; it is a growth within you; it is growing constantly. When you are fighting it, it is growing. When you are feeding it, it is growing. When you are escaping from it, it is growing. So whatsoever you do, one thing is constantly going on – that is, you are dying. Whatsoever you do – you are asleep, you are relaxing, you are working, you are thinking, you are meditating – whatsoever you do, one thing is certain: death is growing constantly, continuously. It doesn’t need your help; it doesn’t need you cooperation. It doesn’t care about your defenses; it goes on growing. Why? – because it has come into being with your birth; it is part of birth. So death cannot be escaped in the ways man and the human mind have always tried.
This Upanishad says that death can be escaped, but you can become deathless. You can know something which is immortal, which will never die. So how to know it? Where to search for it, and how to discover it? Because every effort that we know is just meaningless, irrelevant.
The Upanishad says: Don’t fight with death; rather, know that which is life. Don’t try to escape from death; rather, try to enter that which is life. The very flame of life must be entered. Don’t create the sort of life which is negative; don’t go on trying to avoid death – this is negativity. Be positive and try to know what is life. Really, death is not against life. In the dictionary it is; in existence it is not. Death is not against life; death is against birth.
Life is something else. Life is before birth, life is born. Birth is a phenomenon which happens in life.
Birth is not the beginning of life – if birth is the beginning of life, that means you were born dead. Birth is not the beginning of life – life precedes birth. Life is presupposed, it is before birth – because life is there, birth happens.
Life comes first, then there is birth.
You are, even when you are not born.
You are born because you were there before.
And the same is the case with death. If you are before birth, then you will be after death, because that which is before birth is bound to be after death. Life is something which happens in between birth and death, and beyond birth and death.
We must think of life as a river: in this river one point is known as birth, another point is known as death, but the river continues. The river continues beyond death. The river was continuing before birth. This riverlike life must be penetrated – only then we can know that which is deathless. Of course that which is deathless is bound to be birthless . . . but our whole focus is just misguided. Our whole focus is on how to escape death, now how to know life. It is against death, not for life.
This is the only flaw, and because of this we can never know the deathless. We will go on, continue, constantly searching, discovering new methods, new techniques, new ways of how to escape death. And then death will be coming – and death will come.
Jesus has said, “Search for life, for more life. Don’t be satisfied with that which is with you as life. Search more, find out more, find in more – go for more life. We are for less death; we are not for more life; the whole focus is turned towards death.
It is like this: If there is darkness, you can do two things – either you can begin to fight with darkness to destroy it, or you can begin to search for light, which is quite a different search. You can fight darkness directly, but then you will be defeated. And darkness will be victorious – not because it is stronger than you, not because you are powerless against it. No, darkness is not powerful, you are not powerless – but darkness is just an absence, and you cannot fight any absence.
Darkness is simply not. You cannot fight it, and if you fight it you will be defeated – not because it is powerful, but because it is not. How can you fight something which is not? A darkness means nothing; it means simply absence of light. So if you fight darkness, then you continue for millennia; you will never win. And the more you are defeated, the more you will search for new methods to fight it. The more you are defeated, the more you will feel impotent, and darkness will feel like something very potent. You will think that you have to find something which can be more powerful than darkness. The whole of logic is fallacious; you can continue it and you will move in a vicious circle. The more you will be defeated, the more you will be frustrated, the more you will fight with new means – and again you will be defeated.
The defeat is not concerned with your power or powerlessness at all.
The defeat is because you are fighting something which is not.
The same is the case with death. Death is not something positive, it is just absence of life. When life goes somewhere else, death occurs. Death is just the going of something; it is not something which comes to you. Death is not something which comes to you; rather, it is only that life goes somewhere else. The river of life begins to flow somewhere else, and death occurs – death is just an absence.
The light is not, darkness happens; the light comes, darkness is not there. So find the light, find life; don’t fight with death, don’t fight with darkness. Don’t be negative; be positive. And by positive, I mean always search for something which is present; never go on any search for something which is absent – you will never find it.
Death happens daily, but no one has encountered it, no one has known it. No one can know it, because how can you know it? You are life – how can you know it? Darkness is there, but the sun has never known it – how can he know it? The moment the sun is there, darkness is not; so they have never encountered each other – they cannot, that is impossible.
If you bring light into a dark room, do you think your light will encounter darkness? The moment light is there, darkness is not. So only one can be; both cannot be together – either darkness can be there or light can be there. Light has not known darkness, darkness has not known light, because darkness is simply the absence. So how can light know its own absence? If it is to know, then it must be present. And if it is not present, only then is the absence there – but then light cannot know it.
You cannot encounter your own absence – how can you encounter it? Death is your absence. When you are absent, death occurs. So allow me to tell you this way, that death is a social phenomenon, not individual. No individual dies – individual rivers continue somewhere else. But when from this crowd the individual river moves somewhere else, then for this crowd someone has died; for this crowd, someone has become absent.
If my friend dies, it means he dies for me; not for himself. Death is a phenomenon which happens to me, not to him. How can it happen to him?
Life cannot face death; life is a movement which has moved somewhere else, so WE face it. Death is a social phenomenon; it is not an individual phenomenon. No one has died ever – but everyone dies, we know everyone dies, because someone becomes suddenly absent.
We are here. If I become suddenly absent, I will die – not for me, but for you. For you I will be absent. How I can be absent from myself? – it is impossible.
The Upanishads say, don’t fight death, it is fighting absence; rather, search for the presence which is in you. Who is present in you? – find out. What is present in you which you call life? What is there which you call life? From where does it come in you? What is the center, the source of it? Go deep into yourself and find the source. The Upanishad says, this source is hidden in the heart.
This source of life is hidden in the heart.
Go in your heart and find the original source.
Once you have known that source then there will be no death for you. Then there will be no fear, then there will be no problem. Once you have known life itself, you have become immortal. You are unconsciously, unknowingly, unaware. Everyone is immortal. Nothing dies, nothing can die – but everyone feels the fear. This fear also comes because of the society, because we see – now today “A” has died and tomorrow “B” will die, and yesterday “C” has died. Then we become aware: “I am going to die.” I am going to die – this fear grips the mind because death occurs in a society.
Think of it in this way: If you are alone and you have never known any death, will death be a problem for you? If you are alone on an island, have never known any death, never heard about it – will you be aware of death at all? Will you be able to conceive that you are going to die? How can you conceive? – it is a social thing; the society teaches you death. The society shows you that death happens. Alone, you will never be able to know it; alone, you cannot even imagine it. Alone, the very word “death” will be meaningless. And in a certain, subtle way, everyone is deeply aware of this. That’s why, howsoever you become aware of death in others, somewhere deep down you continue to think that you are not going to die. Deep down everyone thinks, “Death may occur to anyone else but it is not going to occur to me.” That’s why so many deaths are occurring yet we continue; we continue to live; otherwise, we would be paralyzed, totally paralyzed. A single death occurring and we would be paralyzed. But somewhere deep down one knows: “It may have occurred to him, but it is not going to occur to me.” Everyone goes on deep down believing in something in himself as immortal . . . it is very unconscious; otherwise, there would be no fear.
The Upanishads say, make it conscious. Go deep down and know it very consciously: something that is life in you, that flame, will continue; that flame is not going to die.
How to go into the heart? How to penetrate it? – the Upanishad say, by renunciation. Renounce every outward-going effort, all that leads you outward. All that becomes a vehicle for your consciousness to move outward – renounce it. In the deep inactivity of renunciation, you will come to the center.
For example, how does the mind move outward? It moves for wealth, it moves for prestige, it moves for power. Any movement means a deep desire for something outside, a deep desire for something which doesn’t belong to you inside, but belongs to the objective world. Any desire for any object in the world is a movement outward. Renounce this movement. Even for a single moment, if you can renounce all outward-going movements, you will be in. This means that this in-coming doesn’t need anything to be done directly. It needs something to be done indirectly.
Don’t move outward and you will find yourself in the heart, in the cave of the heart.
Mind moves with desires, outwards. Then it can continue, continue, and go on and on – to the very end of the world it can go. Don’t move with any desires. Desirelessness is the method to come in, and desirelessness is meditation. Do not desire anything. Even for a single moment, if you are in a desireless moment, you will find yourself in. And then you can encounter the flame of life which is immortality, which is non-dying, which has never been born and will not die. Once known, there will be no fear of death. And when there is no fear of death, only then you can live authentically. Then your life will have a different quality altogether. It will be aware, it will be alive, it will be fresh. It will be blissful, it will be a deep ecstasy, a continuous ecstasy.
With no fear, with no longing, with no desire, there will be no pain. There will be no suffering there will be no anguish. With no desire you fall into a deep abyss of ecstasy. This is what is known in the Upanishads as the brahmalok, the world of the divine.
We live in a world of material things, mm? This is outward-going movement. When consciousness comes in, we penetrate a different world, the world of the divine. With outward movement there is suffering; with inward movement there is peace and bliss. It doesn’t mean that one who moves inward will not be able to move outward; he will be more able, more capable. But now he will move with his whole “in-ness,” now he will move in the outward world but untouched by it. Now he will move, but constantly rooted in himself. He will not be uprooted from himself. Now he can go anywhere, but he will be rooted in himself.
This rootedness in oneself is the source of all bliss that is possible.
From That Art Thou, Discourse #20
Copyright © OSHO International Foundation