Death is There and yet I am Still Here – Osho

What I wish to say is that it is essential to see death, to understand it, to recognize it. But this is possible only when we die; one can only see it while dying. Then what is the way now? And if one sees death only while dying, then there is no way to understand it — because at the time of death one will be unconscious.

Yes, there is a way now. We can go through an experiment of entering into death of our own free will. And may I say that meditation or samadhi is nothing else but that. The experience of entering death voluntarily is meditation, samadhi. The phenomenon that will automatically occur one day with the dropping of the body — we can willingly make that happen by creating a distance, inside, between the self and the body. And so, by leaving the body from the inside, we can experience the event of death, we can experience the occurrence of death. We can experience death today, this evening — because the occurrence of death simply means that our soul and our body will experience, in that journey, the same distinction between the two of them as when the vehicle is left behind and the traveler moves on ahead.

I have heard that a man went to see a Mohammedan fakir, Sheikh Fareed, and said, “We have heard that when Mansoor’s hands and legs were cut off he felt no pain… which is hard to believe. Even a thorn hurts when it pricks the foot. Won’t it hurt if one’s hands and legs are cut off? It seems that these are all fantastic stories.” The man also said, “We hear that when Jesus was hanged on the cross he did not feel any pain. And he was permitted to say his final prayers. What the bleeding, naked Jesus — hanging on a cross, pierced with thorns, hands stuck with nails — said in the final moments can hardly be believed!”

Jesus said, “Forgive these people, they don’t know what they are doing.” You must have heard this sentence. And the people all over the world who believe in Christ repeat it continuously. The sentence is very simple. Jesus said, “O, Lord, please forgive these people, because they know not what they are doing.” Reading this sentence, people ordinarily understand Jesus is saying that the poor people didn’t know they were killing a good man like him. No, that was not what Jesus meant. What Jesus meant was that “These senseless people do not know that the person they are killing cannot die. Forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing. They are doing something which is impossible — they are committing the act of killing, which is impossible.”

The man said, “It is hard to believe that a person about to be killed could show so much compassion. In fact, he will be filled with anger.”

Fareed gave a hearty laugh and said, “You have raised a good question, but I will answer it later. First, do me a little favor.” He picked up a coconut lying nearby, gave it to him and asked him to break it open, cautioning him not to break the kernel.

But the coconut was unripe, so the man said, “Pardon me, I cannot do this. The coconut is completely raw, and if I break open the shell the kernel will break too.”

Fareed asked him to put that coconut away. Then he gave him another coconut, one which was dry, and asked him to break that one open. “Can you save the kernel of this one?” he asked.

And the man replied, “Yes, the kernel can be saved.”

Fareed said, “I have given you an answer. Did you understand?”

The man replied, “I didn’t understand anything. What relation is there between a coconut and your answer? What relation is there between the coconut and my question?”

Fareed said, “Put this coconut away too. There is no need to break it or anything. I am pointing out to you that there is one raw coconut which still has the kernel and the shell joined together — if you hit the shell, the kernel will also break. Then there is the dry coconut. Now how is the dry coconut different from the raw coconut? There is a slight difference: the kernel of the dry coconut has shrunk inside and become separated from the shell; a distance has occurred between the kernel and the shell. Now you say, even after breaking open the shell, the kernel can be saved. So I have answered your question!”

The man said, “I still don’t get it.” The fakir said, “Go, die and understand — without that you cannot follow what I am saying. But even then you will not be able to follow me because at the time of death you will become unconscious. One day the kernel and the shell will be separated, but at that moment you will become unconscious. If you want to understand, then start learning now how to separate the kernel from the shell — now, while you are alive.”

If the shell, the body, and the kernel, the consciousness, separate at this very instant, death is finished. With the creation of that distance, you come to know that the shell and the kernel are two separate things — that you will continue to survive in spite of the breaking of the shell, that there is no question of you breaking, of you disappearing. In that state, even though death will occur, it cannot penetrate inside you — it will occur outside you. It means only that which you are not will die. That which you are will survive.

This is the very meaning of meditation or samadhi: learning how to separate the shell from the kernel. They can be separated because they are separate. They can be known separately because they are separate. That’s why I call meditation a voluntary entry into death. And the man who enters death willingly, encounters it and comes to know that, “Death is there, and yet I am still here.”

-Osho

From And Now and Here, Discourse #1

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

You can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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Death, the Gap and Jumping Out of the Wheel – Osho

In discourse the other night you said that at one’s death there is but a two or three second gap between which the soul travels from one body to the next. Master, you have said that your last life was seven hundred years ago. Where were you for all those years? 

Just here, in Uruguay! Where else could I be? The whole existence is available. When you are not in a body, you are just part of the whole existence without any partition.

The reason why I had to remain seven hundred years… A few people don’t get into the next life immediately. Either the person is so wicked, so animalistic, so murderous, like Adolf Hitler… He is not yet reborn because he needs a certain kind of womb which may not be available for thousands of years: he has to wait. Or if you have attained a certain evolved consciousness there is the same problem: you need a certain womb. Unless that is available, you cannot get another birth.

Ordinarily it is two or three seconds, because for the sleeping humanity the same kind of wombs are available. All day long millions of people are making love, and they are giving opportunities for new people to enter into a womb. So for the masses there is no problem; they don’t have to wait. It is almost instantaneous: as they leave one body, immediately some womb somewhere is ready. And they get into the closest womb.

By the way, if you are born in Germany, then for many lives you may be born in Germany for the simple reason that if you remain just part of the mass there is no reason to go far away to China or Japan and be born there. Just around you there are wombs ready to receive you.

In my experiments I have seen that people ordinarily continue in the same environment unless something starts growing in them and they cannot find the right womb in close proximity. Then they change. Then they move to different countries, to different races, to different peoples.

But in these extremes – either you are too cursed or too blessed – you will have to wait, because only once in a while a womb is ready for such a person. The father has to have certain qualities, the mother needs to have certain qualities, and only if their qualities are symmetrical with his own qualities can a certain soul enter. So it is not only that you carry your parents’ blood and your parents’ bones and your parents’ cells; there is something even deeper than that. You have certain qualities which are exactly those of your parents, but you have not acquired them from your parents – you had them, that’s why you got those parents.

Unembodied, you are just part of existence. It is difficult to explain to you where you are because “where” indicates a certain space; “when” indicates a certain time. But as you leave the body, you go beyond time and space both, so there is no way to say where you are. You are: time has stopped for you, space has disappeared for you.

You will remain in this state blissfully – if it is bliss that is preventing you from finding a new womb – or very miserably, if you are stuck because of misery, because of anguish, because of all the evil that you have done.

Adolf Hitler killed millions of people, at least six million people, and then he committed suicide himself – and all for no purpose. The whole thing was absolutely useless. Now to find parents of similar qualities, similar criminal minds, he will have to wait. But all this waiting will be an intense suffering.

My own understanding is that because of these situations, the idea of heaven and hell has arisen.

There is no hell and there is no heaven, just people who get stuck and cannot find a womb. If they are in anguish, misery, darkness, all the torture they have done to other people starts having its effects on them. They live in utter self-torture. And this is why the idea of hell has been created; otherwise there is no hell. But it has a meaning, a symbolic meaning.

Those seven hundred years were absolutely blissful for me, and I can say that anybody who has experienced that kind of bliss beyond time and space will naturally think he is in paradise. But there is no paradise; this existence is all. Either you are in the body… then you have a chance to evolve; without the body you cannot evolve. The body is a kind of school. It gives you all the situations for evolution. I know my seven hundred years were blissful, but I could not move ahead; it was frozen bliss. In that state there is no possibility to grow: you will remain at the same point until you are born again, and then you can start growing. A body is needed to grow.

Once you have attained the whole possibility of growth, the whole spectrum, there is no need for any evolution; you have come to the full point. Then you will not be coming back into the body. There is no need to come back to the school; you have learned everything. Now you can remain part of existence for eternity, with eternal bliss.

The body has to be respected, loved, because it is your vehicle for growth, for moving ahead.

Without it you cannot move. That’s why I am continuously surprised that the religions have created the idea that the body is something anti-spiritual. The body is what you want it to be: it can be anti-spiritual, it can be for spirituality. It is a vehicle: wherever you want to go it can take you; in itself it has no program. The body is very innocent and without any program.

The fact that all the religions have condemned the body has harmed humanity, because those who have condemned the body have stopped using the possibility of the body to take you to higher states.

On the contrary, they have started harming the body. They have been destructive to the body, and that is not going to help. They are destroying their own vehicle.

But it seems that the fact that people who have attained enlightenment have not entered into the body again has given a false idea to the priests, to the scholars – to those who don’t know and yet think they know. The idea has come to them that since you don’t enter into the body again after you become enlightened, that means that the body is not spiritual; it is anti-spiritual. You are in the body only because you are not enlightened, so fight with the body, torture the body, make yourself free of the body. But the methods they are using will not make them free of the body; they will get more entangled with the body. But nobody cares to look into all the implications of anything.

It is true that the enlightened person never enters the body, but the opposite is not true – that if you don’t enter the body you will be enlightened, or if you destroy the body you will be enlightened.

The very idea of destructiveness, torture, is unspiritual, and the person who can destroy himself can easily destroy anybody. If he can torture himself it is very easy for him to torture anybody.

Perhaps people like Adolf Hitler were your so-called saints in the past. They have tortured their bodies so much that now this is a reaction; the pendulum has moved to the other extreme: now they are torturing other people. Otherwise there is no reason why people should torture other people.

What enjoyment can they get in torturing other people? There must be some reason behind it – they have tortured themselves enough. So now it becomes a vicious circle: you torture yourself, then you are born in a body and you torture others; and because you torture others, you are born again in a body and you torture yourself.

The Hindustani word for the world is samsara. India has been very careful about its language: each word has its own philosophical background. Samsara means the wheel which goes on moving. The only way to jump out of the wheel is to be watchful, because watchfulness is already outside the wheel. If you become accustomed to watchfulness, you are suddenly out of the wheel. But if you get identified with anger, with jealousy, with love, with hate – with any kind of thing – then you are caught up with the wheel.

And the wheel goes on moving from one extreme to another. What is down will be up, what is up will be down – and there is no end to it unless somebody simply jumps out. And the only way to jump out is to become aware of your anger, of your love, of your hate, of your misery, of your joy. Just being watchful you are already out of the wheel – the goose is out.

-Osho

From The Path of the Mystic, Discourse #12

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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Death, a Blessing in Disguise – Osho

My friend, Chintan, is just starting six months of heavy chemotherapy. You have already sent him such beautiful messages for his meditation while passing through this. Now, Osho, do you have some jokes for him too? 

Prem Garima, Chintan is certainly passing through a difficult stage, but everybody has to finally pass through the difficult stage of death.

Only a meditator is capable of passing through it as if it is a joke. He can pass through it laughing and singing, because he knows that the fire cannot burn and the death cannot destroy him. There is no sword that can cut him.

He belongs to the eternal life.

Once a small glimpse of the eternity is achieved, there is no life which can be destroyed by anything. It can be removed from one form into another, but death cannot do more than that — just the changing of the house.

To the non-meditator death is the end, to the meditator, a beginning. It is a new beginning, a fresh beginning, freed from the old rotten body, the old mind. It is a resurrection; every death is a resurrection. But if you don’t know it, you will die unconsciously without experiencing the beauty of resurrection. If you can die consciously, death is only a door into a new life on a higher plane. But to die consciously, one has to live consciously. You cannot manage to die consciously without a long, meditative, conscious life. Only a conscious life is rewarded with a conscious death — it is a reward, but only to the conscious man. To the unconscious man, it is the end to all his efforts, ambitions, desires. There is only darkness ahead, not a single light and no possibilities left.

Death simply takes away the whole future.

Naturally, the unconscious man is immensely afraid and deeply trembling, knowing that death is coming closer every day. Since your birth the only thing that has been certain is death; everything else is uncertain and accidental. Only death is not accidental; it is an absolute certainty. There is no way to avoid it or dodge it. It will catch hold of you in the right moment at the right place.

I have always loved the beautiful Sufi story…

A king dreams in the night that a dark shadow is putting her hand on his shoulder. He looks back. He is horrified. It is just a dark shadow, but the shadow speaks and says, “There is no need to be worried. I have just come to inform you — it is not routine; you are a great king; it is an exception — otherwise I never come to inform anybody. I come without any information.”

The king said, “But who are you?”

The dark shadow laughed and said, “I am your death, and be prepared. Tomorrow, as the sun will be setting, I am going to come to you.”

Naturally, this nightmare woke him up. Even after he was awake, knowing well that it was only a dream, he was trembling and perspiring. And his heart was beating so loudly he could hear it himself. He immediately called the council of all his wise men, and particularly the royal astrologers, prophets, and told them the dream. He asked them the meaning of it — is it true that death is going to happen? The astrologers may be able to figure it out.

The wise men, the philosophers, the astrologers, the prophets, all started arguing about the dream.

Perhaps it was the first dream analysis! But they could not come to any conclusion, just as they cannot come to any conclusion today. All the dream analysts, the so-called psychoanalysts, differ in their interpretations. You take the same dream to all and you will get different conclusions about the dream. You will be more confused than ever.

And so was the situation of the king from the middle of the night till the morning; he became more and more confused because everybody was saying something different. And when the sun started rising, the old man who used to serve the king… He was not only a servant, he had helped the king from his very childhood. He had taken care of him, because his mother had died and his father had appointed the man to take care of the child because he was his most trustworthy bodyguard. So the king respected him almost like his father.

The old man said, whispered in his ear, “These great thinkers and philosophers and astrologers have argued for centuries and they have never come to any conclusion; do you think they will come to any conclusion within twelve hours? Forget it; that is not possible. These are the people who know only how to argue; they never come to any conclusion. They argue well but the question is not the beauty of the argument, the question is what is the conclusion of all your philosophies? There is no conclusion at all. No two philosophers agree with each other.”

The king asked him, “Then what do you propose?”

He said, “My understanding is let them discuss; there is no harm. But you take our fastest horse and get away as far as possible from the palace. It is dangerous to be at this place, for at least the coming twelve hours. After the sun has set, you can start turning back, but not before that.” It looked practical. The old man said, “These people can go on arguing; there is no need to stop them. If they come to any conclusion, I will follow you immediately. The best way is towards Damascus, another capital of another kingdom. So I will know where to find you, to give you their conclusion. I will come behind you.”

The king was convinced by the old man. He left all those great philosophers discussing, and slipped quietly out of the palace with the best horse he had. The whole day the horse was running as fast as possible. They did not stop to eat or even to drink water. It was not a time to think of water or food. And the horse seemed to be in a certain understanding that it was a very critical moment for his master.

They reached near Damascus, just outside the city, as the sun was setting. They stopped in a mango grove and as he was tying the horse to a tree, he patted it and he said, “You prove to be a great friend. You have never run so fast before; you must have understood my situation. And we have come hundreds of miles away.”

As the sun was setting he immediately felt the same hand on his shoulder from behind. The shadow was there and said, “I also have to thank your horse. I was worried whether you would be able to reach this place at the right time or not. That’s why I had come to inform you. This is the place destined for your death, and your horse has brought you right on time.”

Whether you run or you stay, it doesn’t matter, death comes. Death has started coming closer to you from the very moment you were born. In what form it comes does not matter. Bertrand Russell has said that if there were no death in the world, there would have been no religion. He has some great insight there: without death, who was going to bother about meditation? Without death, who was going to bother to know about the secret mysteries of life? One would have remained always concerned with the mundane and the worldly. Who would have turned inwards? There would have been no Gautam Buddha.

So death is not just a calamity, it is a blessing in disguise. If you can understand, if you have this much intelligence — that after birth, death is approaching every moment closer — you will not lose your time in trivia. Your priority will be to know what this life is before it ends: Who is living in me? What force? For every intelligent man and woman this is the priority. Everything else is secondary to knowing oneself.

Once you know yourself, there is no death.

Death was only in your ignorance.

In your meditative consciousness, death disappears just as darkness disappears when there is light brought in. Meditation brings the light in, and death is found to be the greatest fiction. It appears only from the outside that somebody is dying. From the inside nobody has ever died, and that is where your life source is.

Chintan is taking his death very joyously, very peacefully. He will die consciously. He is giving every indication that death cannot make him unconscious, cannot knock him unconscious. He will retain his consciousness, and he will have a laugh as he will be dying, because the whole world is living in an illusion.

Life is neither born nor dies.

It has been before birth; it will be after death. Birth and death both are small episodes in the eternal stream of consciousness and light.

Garima, you are asking for some jokes for him….

Giovanni bumps into his friend Alfredo on the streets of Rome, and notices that his friend is looking very depressed.

“How was your holiday in-a Miami Beach?” he asks.

“Mama mia,” replies Alfredo. “It was-a terrible. I go-a to Miami and check into-a bigg-a hotel. In-a the morning I go down to eat-a breakfast. I tell-a the waitress, ‘I wanna two pissis-a toast.’ She bring only one piss. I tell-a her, ‘I want two piss.’ She say, ‘Go to the toilet.’ “I say, ‘You no understand, I wanna two piss on-a the plate.’

“She say, ‘You better no piss on da plate, you sonna va bitch.’ I don’t even know the lady and she call me sonna va bitch!“Later I go eat at the bigga restaurant. The waitress brings me a spoon and knife but no fock. I tell-a her, ‘I wanna fock.’ She tell me, ‘Everyone wanna fuck.’ “I tell her, ‘You no understand. I wanna fock on-a da table.’

“She say, ‘You better not fuck on-a table, you sonna va bitch.’

“So I go back to my room in-a hotel and there is no shits on-a my bed. I call the manager and tell-a him, ‘I wanna shit.’ He tell me to go to the toilet. I say, ‘You not understand. I wanna shit on my bed.’

“He say, ‘You better not shit on-a bed, you sonna va bitch.’

“I go to the check-out desk and the man at the desk say, ‘Happy Holidays, Peace to you.’

“I say, ‘Piss on you too, you sonna va bitch, I gonna go back to Italy.’”

Just tell Chintan: Avoid Italy and go anywhere else.

-Osho

From The Invitation, Discourse #9, Q1

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

If You Can See Death, Death Cannot See You – Osho

I have heard one beautiful story. Once there was a great sculptor, a painter, a great artist. His art was so perfect that when he would make a statue of a man, it was difficult to say who was the man and who was the statue. It was so lifelike, so alive, so similar. An astrologer told him that his death is approaching; he is going to die soon. Of course, he became very much afraid and frightened, and as every man wants to avoid death, he also wanted to avoid. He thought about it, meditated, and he found a clue. He made his own statues, eleven in number, and when Death knocked on his door and the Angel of Death entered, he stood hidden among his own eleven statues. He stopped his breathing.

The Angel of Death was puzzled, could not believe his own eyes. It had never happened; it was so irregular. God has never been known to create two persons alike; he always creates the unique. He has never believed in any routine. He is not like an assembly line. He is absolutely against carbons; he creates only originals. What has happened? Twelve persons in all, absolutely alike? Now, whom to take away? Only one has to be taken away. Death, the Angel of Death, could not decide. Puzzled, worried, nervous, he went back. He asked God, “What have you done? There are twelve persons exactly alike, and I am only supposed to bring one. How should I choose?”

God laughed. He called the Angel of Death close to him, and he uttered in his ears the formula, the clue how to find the real from the unreal. He gave him a mantra and told him, “Just go, and utter it in that room where that artist is hiding himself among his own statues.”

The Angel of Death asked, “How is it going to work?”

God said, “Don’t be worried. Just go and try.”

The Angel of Death came, not yet believing how it is going to work, but when God had said, he had to do it. He came in the room, looked around, and not addressing anybody in particular, he said, “Sir, everything is perfect except one thing. You have done well, but you have missed at one point. One error is there.”

The man completely forgot that he is hiding. He jumped; he said, “What error?”

And Death laughed. And Death said, “You are caught. This is the only error: you cannot forget yourself. Come on, follow me.”

Death is of the ego. If the ego exists, death exists. The moment the ego disappears, death disappears. You are not going to die, remember; but if you think that you are, you are going to die. If you think that you are a being, then you are going to die. This false entity of the ego is going to die, but if you think of yourself in terms of nonbeing, in terms of non-ego, then there is no death – already you have become deathless. You have always been deathless; now you have recognized the fact.

The artist was caught because he could not disappear into nonbeing.

Buddha says in his Dhammapada: If you can see death, death cannot see you. If you can die before death comes, then death cannot come to you; and there is no need to make statues. That is not going to help. Deep down you have to destroy one statue, not to create eleven more. You have to destroy the image of the ego. There is no need to create more statues and more images. Religion, in a way, is destructive. In a way, it is negative. It annihilates you – annihilates you completely and utterly.

You come to me with some ideas to attain some fulfillment, and I am here to destroy you completely. You have your ideas; I have my own. You would like to be fulfilled – fulfilled in your ego – and I would like you to drop the ego, to dissolve, to disappear, because only then is there fulfillment. The ego knows only emptiness; it is always unfulfilled. By the very nature, by its very intrinsic nature, it cannot attain to fulfillment. When you are not, fulfillment is. Call it God, or give it a name Patanjali would like – samadhi – the attainment of the ultimate, but it comes when you disappear.

These sutras of Patanjali are scientific methods how to dissolve, how to die, how to commit real suicide. I call it real because if you kill your body that is unreal suicide. If you kill your self that is authentic suicide.

And that is the paradox: that if you die, you attain to eternal life. If you cling to life, you will die a thousand and one times. You will go on… you will go on being born and dying again and again and again. It is a wheel. If you cling, you move with the wheel.

Drop out of the wheel of life and death. How to drop out of it? It seems so impossible because you have never thought of yourself as a nonbeing, you have never thought of yourself as just space, pure space, with nobody there inside.

These are the sutras. Each sutra has to be understood very deeply. A sutra is a very condensed thing. A sutra is like a seed. You have to accept it deep down in your heart; your heart has to become a soil for it. Then it sprouts, and then the meaning.

I can only persuade you to be open so that the seed can fall right in place within you, so that the seed can move into the deep darkness of your non-being. In that darkness of your  non-being, it will start being alive. A sutra is a seed. Intellectually, it is very easy to understand it. Existentially, to attain to its meaning is arduous. But that’s what Patanjali would like, that’s what I would like.

So don’t just be intellectuals here. Get en rapport with me, get in tune with me. Don’t just listen to me; rather, be with me. Listening is secondary; being with me is primary, basic – just to be in my company. Allow yourself to be totally here-now with me, in my presence, because that death has happened to me. It can become infectious. I have committed that suicide. If you come close to me, if you are in tune with me even for a single moment, you will have a glimpse of death.

And, Buddha is right when he says, “If you can see death, death will not be able to see you,” because the moment you see death you have transcended death. Then there is no death for you.

-Osho

Excerpt from Secrets of Yoga, Chapter One (Originally published as Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, V.8).

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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Meditation: An Experience of Death in Life – Osho

The whole of life is yours. Love it, live it to the fullest. That’s the only way to get ready for death.

Then you can live death too, to its fullest; and it is one of the most beautiful experiences. There is nothing comparable to the death experience in life, except deep meditation.

So those who know meditation, they know something of death—that’s the only way to know before dying.

If I am saying there is no more significant experience in life than death, I am saying it, not because I have died and come back to tell you, but because I know that in meditation you move into the same space as death—because in meditation you are no more your physiology, no more your biology, no more your chemistry, no more your psychology. All those are left far away.

You come to your innermost center where there is only pure awareness. That pure awareness will be with you when you die because that cannot be taken away. All these other things which can be taken away, we take away with our own hands in meditation.

So meditation is an experience of death in life.

And it is so beautiful, so indescribably beautiful that only one thing can be said about death: it must be that experience multiplied by millions.

The experience of meditation multiplied by millions is the experience of death.

And when you pass on you simply leave your form behind. You are absolutely intact, and for the first time out of the prison of physiology, biology, psychology.

All the walls are broken and you are free.

For the first time you can open your wings to the existential.

-Osho

From Ignorance to Innocence, Chapter Five

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

 

Becoming a Witness – Osho

In order for one to stay awake at the time of death, or in order for one to successfully experience a conscious death in meditation, what preparations should the seeker make in relation to the body system, the breathing system, the way of breathing, his life energy, celibacy, and his state of mind? Please explain in detail.

Before one can remain conscious in the moment of death, first one needs to prepare to stay conscious in pain and suffering. Ordinarily, it is not possible for one who becomes unconscious even in suffering to stay awake at the time of death. One needs to understand what it means to become unconscious when in suffering. That will make one understand what it means to be conscious in suffering too.

Becoming unconscious when one is in misery means one has identified oneself with the misery. When you have a headache, you don’t feel any distance between the headache and yourself; you don’t remain just a distant watcher. Rather, you feel as if you are in pain. When you have a fever, it doesn’t feel as though the body is hot, somewhere at a distance from you, instead you feel as if you have become hot. This is identification. When your foot is hurt and wounded, you don’t feel just the affected foot; rather, you feel as if you are hurt and wounded.

Basically, we don’t feel any distance between our selves and our bodies. We live identified with the body. When hunger arises, one doesn’t say his body is hungry and he is aware of it, instead he says, “I am hungry.” But this is not the truth. The truth is, the body is hungry and he is aware of it. He is simply the center of awareness – continuously aware of whatsoever is happening. If there is a thorn hurting the foot, he knows it; if there is a headache, he knows it; if the stomach needs food, he knows it.

Man is consciousness, consciousness which is continuously aware. He is not the experiencer, he is simply the knower. This is the reality. But our state of mind is not that of the knower, it is that of the experiencer. When the knower turns into being the experiencer; when he knows not, but rather becomes identified with the act itself; when he does not remain a witness watching from a distance, but rather becomes the participant in the act, that is when the identification takes place. Then he becomes one with the act. This identification prevents him from waking up because in order to be awake, in order to be aware, a certain distance is required, a space is needed.

I am able to see you only because there is a distance between you and me. If the whole distance between you and me were to be removed, I wouldn’t be able to see you. I am able to see you because there is a space between us. If this entire space were somehow eliminated, it wouldn’t be possible for me to see you. My eyes can see you, because there is a space in between but my very eyes are unable to see themselves.

Even if I need to see my figure, I have to become the other in a mirror; I have to be at a distance from myself – only then can I see my reflection. Seeing the reflection in a mirror means my image is at a distance, and now it is visible to me. All that a mirror does is present your image at a distance from you. The intervening space thus created enables you to see.

In order to see, a distance is needed. For one who lives identified with the body, or thinks he is the very body, there exists no distance between him and his body.

Once there was a Mohammedan mystic called Farid. A man came to see him one morning and raised the same question you have asked me. He said to Farid, “We have heard that when Jesus was crucified he did not cry out, scream, or grow miserable. We have also heard that when Mansoor’s limbs were cut off, he was laughing. How can this be? This is impossible.”

Farid didn’t say a word. He laughed, and from the coconuts offered to him by his devotees, he picked up one that was lying nearby and gave it to the man. Farid told him, “Take this coconut. It is not ripe yet. Break it open, but make sure you keep the kernel from breaking. Break the outer shell and bring me the unbroken kernel.”

The man said, “This is impossible. Because the coconut is unripe, there is no space between the kernel and the outer shell. If I break open the shell the kernel will break too.”

Farid said, “Forget this coconut. Here is another. Take this one, it is dry. There is a space between its kernel and the outer shell. Can you assure me you can break only the shell and leave the kernel intact?”

The man said, “What’s so difficult about this? I will break the shell and the kernel will be saved without any problem.”

Farid said, “Tell me why the kernel will be saved.”

The man replied, “Because the coconut is dry, there exists a distance between the shell and the kernel.”

Farid said, “Now don’t bother about breaking open the coconut; set it aside too. Did you get your answer or not?”

The man said, “I was asking you something else, and you have gotten me into talking about a coconut. My question is, why didn’t Jesus cry out when he was crucified? Why didn’t he weep? Why didn’t Mansoor writhe in pain when his limbs were cut off? Why did he laugh? Why did he smile?”

Farid answered, “Because they were dry coconuts, while we are wet coconuts – there is no other reason than this.”

The reason why Jesus didn’t weep when crucified, and Mansoor didn’t suffer pain, but rather laughed and smiled, is because they had become totally disidentified with their bodies. There was no other reason than this. It was not really Jesus who was being crucified. Jesus was watching his body being crucified from within, and this he did from the same distance as the people standing around him – outside, away from his body. No one from the crowd screamed, none of them cried, “Don’t kill me!” Why? – Because there was a distance between them and Jesus’ body.

Within Jesus too, there was a distance between the element that watches and his body. Hence Jesus also didn’t cry out, “Don’t kill me!”

Mansoor’s limbs were amputated and he kept laughing. When someone asked him, “What makes you laugh when your limbs are being cut off?” Mansoor said, “I would have cried had you dismembered me, but it is not ‘me’ you are chopping off; the one you are doing it to, you fools, is not me. I laugh at you because you are taking this body to be Mansoor’s, just as you take the bodies you are in to be your authentic selves. You will obviously suffer painful deaths. What you are doing to me is nothing but a repetition of the mistakes you have committed in treating your own selves. Had you been aware that you are separate from your bodies, you wouldn’t have tried to cut my body. You would have known that you and your body are two different things. Then you would have realized that by cutting up the body, Mansoor is not cut.”

The greatest preparation for entering death in a conscious state is to first enter pain consciously, because death does not occur often, it does not come every day. Death will come only once, whether you are prepared for it or not; there cannot be a rehearsal for death. But pain and misery come every day. We can prepare ourselves while going through pain and suffering – and remember, if we can do so while facing them, it will prove useful at the time of death.

Hence, seekers have always welcomed suffering. There is no other reason for it. It is not that suffering is a good thing. The reason is simply that suffering provides the seeker with an opportunity for self-preparation, self-attainment. A seeker has always thanked God for the suffering he undergoes, for the simple reason that, in moments of misery, he gets a chance to dis-identify himself from his body.

Remember, sadhana, spiritual discipline, is a little difficult to follow when you are happy. It is easier when you are miserable, because in moments of happiness one doesn’t want to have even the slightest feeling of separation from one’s body. When you are happy the body feels very dear to you; you don’t feel like being detached from it even for a second.

In moments of happiness we move closer to the body; hence it is not surprising that a seeker of happiness becomes a materialist. It is also not surprising if a person who is continuously seeking happiness believes himself to be nothing more than his body, because in happy times he begins to exist like a green coconut instead of a dry one – the distance between him and his body continues to narrow down.

In moments of pain one wishes he were not the body. Ordinarily, a man who takes himself to be nothing but the body also wishes he were not the body when his head hurts or when his foot is injured or when his body aches. He tends to agree with monks all over the world who go about saying that, “It would have been better if I were not the body.” Feeling the pain in his body, he becomes eager to somehow find out he is not the body too. That’s why I say to you, the moments of pain can become moments of spiritual discipline; they can be turned into moments of sadhana. But ordinarily, what do we do?

Ordinarily, during times of suffering, we try to forget pain. If a man is in trouble, he will drink alcohol. Someone is in pain and he will go and sit in a movie theater. Somebody is miserable and he will try to forget his misery with prayers and devotional songs. These are all different ways and means to forget pain.

Someone drinks; we can say this is one tactic: someone goes and watches a movie, this is another. A person goes to a concert; this is a third way of forgetting pain. Somebody goes to the temple and drowns himself in prayers and hymns; this is a fourth strategy. There can be a thousand and one strategies – they can be religious, nonreligious, or secular. That’s not a big question. Underneath all this, the basic thing is that man wants to forget his misery. He is into forgetting misery.

A person who is out to forget misery can never wake up to misery. How can we become aware of something we tend to forget? Only with an attitude of remembering can we become aware of something. Hence, only by remembering pain can we become aware of it.

So whenever you are in misery, take it as an opportunity. Be totally aware of it, and you will have a wonderful experience. When you become fully aware of your suffering, when you look at it face to face, not escaping the pain, you will have a glimpse of your separateness from it. For example, you fell, were injured, hurt your foot. Now try to locate the pain inside, try to pinpoint the exact spot where it hurts and you will be astonished to discover how you have managed to spread the pain over a much wider area, away from the original spot where its intensity is not so much.

Man exaggerates his suffering. He magnifies his misery, which is never actually that much. The reason behind this is the same – identification with the body. Misery is like the flame of a lamp, but we experience it as the dispersed light of the lamp. Misery is like the flame, limited to a very small section of the body. But we feel it like the very extended light of the lamp, covering a much larger area. Close your eyes and try to locate the pain from inside.

Remember too, we have always known the body from the outside, never from within. Even if you know your body, it is known as others see it. If you have seen your hand, it is always from the outside, but you can feel your hand from within too. It is as if one were to remain contented with seeing his house only from the outside. But there is an inner side to the house as well.

Pain occurs at the inner parts of the body. The point where it hurts is located somewhere in the interior of the body, but the pain spreads to the outer parts of the body. It is like this: the flame of pain is located inside, while the light radiates outward.

Since we are used to seeing the body from outside, the pain appears to be very spread out. It is a wonderful experience, trying to see the body from inside. Close your eyes and try to feel and experience what the body is like from within. The human body has an inner wall too; it has an inner covering as well. This body has an inner limit too. That inner frontier can certainly be experienced with closed eyes.

You have seen your hand lifting. Now, close your eyes sometime and lift your hand, and you will experience the hand rising from within. From the outside you have known what it is to be hungry. Close your eyes and experience hunger from within, and for the first time you will be able to feel it from inside.

As soon as you get hold of the pain from within, two things happen. One is, the pain does not remain as widely spread as it originally seemed to be; it immediately centers on a small point. And the more intensely you concentrate on this point, the more you will find it becoming smaller and smaller. And an incredible thing happens. When the point becomes very small, you find to your amazement it appears and disappears, goes off and on. Gaps begin to appear in between. And finally, when it disappears, you wonder what happened to it. Many times you miss it. The point becomes so small, that often when the consciousness tries to locate it, it is not there.

Just as pain expands in a state of unconsciousness, in the state of awareness it narrows down and becomes small. In such a state of consciousness the feeling will be that although you have gone through so many painful experiences, although you have lived through so much suffering, yet, in fact, the miseries were not really that many. We have suffered exaggerated pains. The same is true with regard to happiness. The happinesses we have been through were not as many as they seemed to be; we have enjoyed them in an exaggerated form too.

If one were to enjoy one’s happiness with awareness, we would find that happiness becomes very small too. If we were to live through misery with the same kind of awareness, we would find it becomes very narrow as well. The greater the awareness, the narrower and smaller the pains and miseries. They become so small that, in a deeper sense, they turn out to be meaningless. In fact, their meaning lies in their expansion. They seem to be encompassing one’s entire life. However, when seen through great awareness, they go on narrowing down, ultimately becoming so meaningless they don’t have anything to do with life as such.

The second thing that will happen is, when you look at your misery very closely, a distance will be created between you and the misery. In fact, whenever you look at a thing, immediately a distance is created between you and the thing itself. Seeing causes the distance. No matter what we look at, a distance immediately begins to take place.

If you look closely at your misery, you will find a separation between the misery and you, because only that which is separate from you can be seen. Obviously, that which is inseparably one with you cannot be seen. One who is aware of his misery, one who is filled with consciousness, one who is full of remembrance, experiences the misery as somewhere else, and he is somewhere at a distance.

The day a man comes to realize the difference between himself and the misery, as soon as he comes to know his pain is happening somewhere at a distance, the unconsciousness caused by misery ceases to exist. And once a person comes to understand that the sufferings as well as the happinesses of the body occur elsewhere, that one is merely a knower of them, his identity with the body is severed. Then he knows he is not the body.

This is the initial preparation. Once this preparation is complete, then it is easy to enter death with awareness. Not only easy, but it will happen most certainly. As such, we are not afraid of death really. After all, even to be afraid of death, one needs to be familiar with death. How can we feel afraid of something we know nothing about?

So, we have no fear of death really; rather, in our minds death exists in the form of a disease. That’s the idea we have of it. When even minor illnesses leave us in so much trouble – the foot hurts and we suffer so much, the head hurts and we suffer so much – what a torture it will be when the entire body will hurt and fall apart!

The fear of death is the sum total of all our illnesses. Death in itself, however, is not an illness. Death has nothing to do with illness – it is not even remotely connected with it. It is a different matter if illnesses precede death, but there is no cause-and-effect relationship between the two. It is beside the point that a man dies following an illness, but one need not be mistaken and think that illness causes death. Perhaps the reverse is the case.

Because a man comes close to death, he grabs on to illness. No one ever dies of illness. As death approaches, he begins to catch illnesses. As death draws near, his body becomes weak, his receptivity toward sickness increases. He becomes vulnerable; he begins to look for illnesses. The same illness would not be able to affect him were the man closer to life. Perhaps it would not have been able to catch hold of him.

Do you know there are some moments when you are more receptive to illnesses, while there are some when you are not? In moments of disappointment and sadness a person becomes vulnerable to illness, while a man full of hope and optimism becomes unreceptive to it. Even illness does not enter you without your willingness to accept it – your inner acceptance is needed.

Hence, no matter how many medicines are given to them, those who are of a suicidal mind can never be cured. Their minds remain unreceptive to medications. Their minds go on seeking illnesses, inviting diseases with open arms, but keeping their doors very tightly closed as far as medications are concerned.

No, no one ever dies of illness. Rather, one becomes vulnerable to illnesses because of approaching death. That’s why illness occurs first, then death follows. We normally think what happens first is the cause, and that which follows it is the effect. That’s erroneous thinking. Illness is not the cause. Invariably the cause is death. The illness is merely the effect.

So the fear of death in our minds is really the fear of illness. First of all, we create the fear of death by adding up all our illnesses. The second thing worth remembering is that all the people we have seen dying, we have not really seen them dying, we have only seen them falling ill. How can we ever see anyone dying? Death is such an utterly inner phenomenon; no one can be a witness to it. Think twice before you ever testify to seeing such and such a person die, because it is a very difficult thing to see someone dying. To this day it has never happened on this earth.

No one has ever seen anyone dying. Only this much has been seen: a man fell ill, grew more ill, and more and more ill, and one day it became known that the man is no longer alive. But basically, no one has ever seen when a person died. No one has ever been able to pinpoint at which moment a person died, and what exactly happened in the process of dying. The only thing we have seen is a man being set free from life.

We have not seen a boat touching the other shore; we have only seen it leaving this shore. We have seen a consciousness move away from the shores of life, and then after a certain point we have lost sight of it. The body that remains with us is no longer alive, as it was until yesterday, and so we think the man is dead.

For us, death is an inference; it is not an event that occurs right before us. We have seen sick people, we have seen the suffering of a dying man – the cramping of his limbs, his eyes rolling up, his face deforming, his jaws clenching; we have seen that perhaps the man wants to say something but cannot – we have seen all this. We have with us the sum of all this; it has become part of our collective mind. Whatsoever has been happening at the time of death over millions of years, we have collected it all. We are afraid of that.

We are also frightened of facing the same difficulties at the time of our death. Hence, man has devised very clever means. He has dismissed the fact of death from the whole idea of life. We create cemeteries outside the town so that we are not reminded of death more often. Really, ideally a cemetery should be created in the middle of the town, because there is nothing in life more certain than death itself: everything else is uncertain. Other things may or may not be. The only thing which one can believe in definitively is death. Death is the most certain thing; no one can doubt its existence.

We can doubt the existence of God; we can doubt the existence of the soul; we can doubt life itself, but there is no way to doubt death. Death is. That which is so certain we have put outside the town. If a funeral passes by, the mother calls her children to come inside the house, because somebody is dead. Actually, if someone is dead everyone should be asked to come out so they can watch the greatest fact of life passing by. Everyone is bound to pass through death. There is no need to deny it. But we are so scared of death we don’t even want to mention it.

I have heard…

An old woman came to see a monk and said. “The soul is indeed immortal.” Old people often talk about the immortality of the soul for no other reason than the fear of death. That’s the only reason why we find such a large number of old folks in temples, mosques, churches. Why aren’t young people and children interested in going to these places? It will be a while before they get the news of death. It will take a little time. They can afford to deny death for now; they can forget it for a while.

How can an old man forget death? He gets reminders every day. One day he finds his legs refuse to walk, another day his vision fails, sometimes his ears lose their hearing power. He receives hints from all around that, one by one, parts of his body seem to be giving in to death. Now he begins to rush toward the church, the temple, the mosque. He is not concerned with God; he goes there simply to make sure that, even though what he has understood life to be is coming to an end, will he perish too?

It is strange that societies which believe in the immortality of the soul are more frightened of death than ones which do not believe in the soul’s existence. Take our country, for example. For ages we have been firm believers in the immortality of the soul. And yet, no race on earth is more cowardly than ours, no people are more dead than we are.

A nation, which proclaims the soul is immortal, suffers in slavery for a thousand years. How strange! One wonders how a nation, which declares the soul is immortal and which is inhabited by eight hundred million souls, can live in slavery under the domination of three million. Those who believe the soul is immortal, that it can never die, what fear can they have of becoming slaves? What fear can they have of fighting the enemy? What fear can they have of facing death by hanging? How can guns and cannons frighten them? But no, something else is involved here.

Believing in the immortality of the soul is not the same as knowing the immortality of the soul. Believing in it is just a strategy for erasing the fear of death, for falsifying it – the same as creating a cemetery outside the town.

Every day people open their scriptures and read the teachings on the immortality of the soul so that they can be absolutely sure there is no death, so that they can carry the hope that they will survive – so there is no need to worry. They assert, “The body will die, but we will still survive!”

Who are you asserting as your existence other than the body? You have no knowledge of it. You announce, “The body may die, I will continue to live,” and the fact is you have absolutely no idea who you are other than the body! You don’t know what it is that will survive when the body is no more. If you should ever really think, “Who am l?” you will come to know that you know nothing about yourself except that you are the body.

So the old woman said to the monk, “I believe the soul is immortal. The soul is indeed imperishable. What do you say?”

About the immortality of the soul, the monk answered nothing. He merely looked at the woman, took her hand in his and said, “What do you think about death? Not much time is left.”

The woman was annoyed. She said, “What kind of ominous talk is this? Please don’t say such things. Being a monk, a good man, you should not talk about such ominous things.”

The monk said, “If the soul is immortal, then how can death be ominous? Death can be inauspicious only if the soul is mortal.”

But the woman continued, “Drop this and talk about something else. Talk about God, talk about moksha. I haven’t come to hear you speak about death.”

Actually, people go to monks precisely to hear things which can somehow comfort them and alleviate their fears. They want someone who can tell them, “You are not going to die.” They want to be told, “You are not a sinner; the soul is eternally pure, uncorrupted. Did you say you are a thief? Forget it, no one is a thief. Did you say you are a black marketeer? That’s all nonsense. Can the soul ever engage in black-marketing?”

The result is, all the black marketeers gather around monks who keep saying, “The soul is pure, without blemish. It has always been incorruptible, it can never be defiled.” And the man sitting in front, an old thief, nods his head in agreement and says, “You are absolutely right, your holiness! How true, your holiness!” He wants to believe, he wants someone to assure him that the soul is absolutely pure, so he can be free from the bother of becoming pure, so he won’t have to be worried about becoming impure – so there will be no more fear.

We need to have a good understanding of the reality on which this mental condition is fundamentally based. We are not afraid of death, we are afraid of illness. And we are afraid to part with what we call life.

For example, you push me out of this house. I have no idea what lies outside this house – whether there is a big palace, a forest, a desolate place, a desert – I haven’t the faintest idea. I am not sure whether I will be happy or unhappy outside the house. I don’t know at all. Although outside the door lies the unknown, yet the fear of leaving the house makes me miserable. The house was dependable, known, familiar. It is frightening to leave the familiar and go into the unfamiliar. The fear is not really of the unknown, because I have absolutely no knowledge of the unknown. The fear is having to leave the known.

You will be surprised, but the mind is so possessed by the known that we find it difficult even to let go of our known illnesses. It is even difficult to give up our known miseries. Most physicians hardly ever cure your illness, they merely persuade you to drop the illness. Most medicines do nothing to your illness, they simply give you courage to get rid of it.

Recently, a well-known scientist conducted many experiments in this area. He took twenty patients suffering from the same illness. Ten of them he treated with medicine, while he kept the other ten only on water. The interesting thing was that the patients in both categories recovered together. Now what does this mean? What it means is simply that it is neither a question of medicine nor of water. The big question is that of persuading a man to drop his illness. If water does this work, then the patient can be cured by water. If homeopathic sugar pills succeed, then he is cured by the pills. If a charm proves effective, then it can cure too. If a patient has faith in a pinch of ash given by a fakir, then it can cure him too. Faith in the water of the Ganges also does the trick. Everything works.

Even a highly intelligent man such as Aristotle has proposed remedies which make us laugh. He was, one should say, the father of logic. He has proposed incredible cures; he could not have suggested them had they not been effective. The cures did work. For example, he has written that when a woman is in labor, apply horse dung on her stomach and the pain will stop completely – a wise and intelligent man like Aristotle says this. Can it ever be possible that a woman can get over the pain of labor by applying horse dung on her stomach? But apparently it did work. The reason why a woman recovered from her labor pains is that basically a pregnant woman never has a pain in the stomach; she simply creates it while giving birth to a child.

The more frightened a woman is of giving birth the more her pain grows. And as she becomes fearful of the pain, she contracts the entire reproductive system. The child pushes its way out of her body, while the woman goes on contracting the whole system. This creates a conflict between the two, and the conflict causes pain. That’s why most babies are born at night – seventy percent of the babies – because the mother won’t allow the birth to happen in the daytime. She remains alert during the day and hinders the birth from happening. Hence, the baby is forced to take birth at night when the mother is asleep, when she is unaware. Therefore, seventy percent of the poor babies are unable to take birth in the daylight; they have to be born in the darkness of night.

There is a man called Levin. He teaches women to cooperate with their labor. He asks them to cooperate during childbirth, and has succeeded in having thousands of women deliver babies without any pain. He neither applies horse dung, nor gives an injection, nor ties a charm about a woman, nor brings any offering from a guru – he does nothing of the sort. He merely persuades the woman to cooperate. He advises women, “Allow the child to take birth without creating any hindrance; cooperate with the child. Be filled with the feeling of giving birth to the child. That will be enough, you won’t have any pain.”

There are hundreds of tribes where women do not go through any labor pains. They go on working in the fields, and when the time comes they give birth to the child. The mother places the infant in a basket and resumes her work in the field.

Man does not even give up those illnesses he has been suffering for so long, he holds tightly to them. People even insist on keeping their chains. This fact came to light during the French revolution. Some of the most dangerous prisoners were kept in a large prison. They were sentenced to life imprisonment. Their chains were never to be taken off; they were to remain in them forever. Only when they died would the shackles be removed.

The revolutionaries broke down the prison walls and brought the prisoners out of their cells. The prisoners had given up all hope of ever coming out. Some were imprisoned for twenty years, some for thirty, and some were in there for fifty years. They had become almost blind. Their chains had almost become parts of their bodies; one could not say they were separate from their bodies. There was no longer any separation left between their bodies and the chains. Do you think chains tied around one’s hands for fifty years would remain separate? They are bound to become part of one’s hands.

The man forgets the chains are not part of his body. He takes care of them in the same way he does his hands. He cleans and shines the chains every morning as he does his body – after all, the chains are to stay with him his whole life. If this is the case, then the whole matter is over.

So when the revolutionaries began cutting the chains from these prisoners, many of them objected. They told the revolutionaries that without chains they would feel very uncomfortable outside. But revolutionaries are always very pigheaded. They haven’t learned yet that you can’t be stubborn with people. If you force people to give up their existing chains, they will put on new ones. So the revolutionaries forcibly cut the chains and released the prisoners. What followed was incredible. By nightfall, more than half the prisoners returned, saying they didn’t like it outside, they felt they were naked without their chains on them.

Obviously, if you remove the many golden ornaments worn by a woman, she will feel naked, weightless. She will feel as if she has lost something, as if she has lost weight. So the prisoners said, “Give us our chains back. We couldn’t take a nap in the afternoon without the chains on us, how could we?” Even the sound of those chains became part of their psychological state. The added weight of chains had become so much a part of their psyche, their subconscious, that even while changing sides in sleep they felt it.

Man becomes so tied to the familiar that he feels hurt even breaking his chains. We are caught in the familiar, which we take as life. It is because of the grip of the familiar that we are so scared of death. In the first place, we have no knowledge of death. And the first principle for awakening is awareness of misery, so that one can know one is separate from the body.

The second thing is the ability to witness. It has never occurred to us that… Sometimes, walking in the middle of the marketplace, suddenly give a little jolt to yourself, and for two minutes just stand still. Just watch without doing anything – simply be a witness. The moment you stand as a watcher in the middle of the street, suddenly you will be severed from your surroundings and out of them. The moment you become a witness to something, you transcend it, you jump out of it. But it is very difficult to stand on a street and be a witness. It is not easy to be a witness even while watching a movie.

The darkness in the movie theater becomes quite convenient for people watching the movie. One can cry in that darkness without any feeling of embarrassment. If we examine the handkerchiefs of people as they leave the theater, we can find out what went on inside, how many people cried. We know very well nothing really takes place on the screen, it is just a screen. We also know perfectly well that what we see on the screen is merely an appearance, that nothing is happening there. It is simply a play of light and shadow, just a network of rays projected from the rear of the theater. The screen shows nothing except pictures. And yet, everything comes off on the screen, and we don’t remain a witness even to the screen; we become a part of it.

Don’t be under the illusion that while watching the film you really remain a watcher. Don’t be mistaken. You become a participant too; you don’t remain outside the film. Once you are inside the theater, for a short while you enter into the film as well. You begin to like someone in the film, and you dislike someone else. You feel sorry for somebody, while you feel happy about someone else. After a little while you become identified, you become a participant in the film.

It will be indeed difficult to remain a witness in life if we cannot manage to do so while watching a film. As such, life is nothing more than a film. If you look a little deeper, life is not very different from a movie. If you look even more deeply, you will find that just as the network of rays appears on the movie screen, the network of electricity appears on the screen of life.

Life is made up of a profound network of electricity. It is a great interplay of electrons. If the human body were to be dissected in every way, at the end you would find nothing except electrons. If we were to break down the wall of this room and look for the element it is made of, we would find that what is ultimately left is nothing but electricity. Then what is the big difference?

Really, what is the difference between a movie screen and the screen of life? We find the interplay of electrons on the movie screen too. The only difference is, on the movie screen the pictures are two-dimensional whereas on the screen of life they are three-dimensional. But that’s not much of a problem. It won’t be too long before other dimensions, now lacking in films, will be met.

Just as I see you now, someday one will be able to see people on the screen exactly like that. Without any difficulty, it will soon become possible for an actor to step out of the screen and walk around in the movie theater. It won’t be too long. It’s just a matter of developing the technique, which is not too difficult. If a three-dimensional man can move around on the screen, his stepping just ten feet off the screen and walking around the hall is simply a matter of a little advancement in technology. It’s not too difficult to foresee a film actress stepping from the screen, shaking hands with you, or caressing you.

Now, the reverse is happening: the heroine does not step out of the screen; rather, you enter the screen and pat her. You can be saved this trouble! It’s not good to cause you so much bother: you need not go through the inconvenience. It will become possible for you to remain seated in your chair and the heroine will come and caress you!

What goes on in life anyway? What transpires when I take your hand in my hand? When I hold your hand in my hand, you see it either as an expression of love or of enmity. It is just a matter of interpretation. In both cases the hand is held; the difference arises only in the interpretation.

When a hand is being held, in a moment both things can happen without much difficulty: initially the holding of hands can take place with the feeling of love, while in the end, the feeling of enmity may set them apart. This is not difficult to conceive. So much change comes about in a second.

When I hold your hand, you take it as my expression of love. But what is actually happening? Really, what is transpiring? If both our hands were to be examined, what seems to be going on? Some electrons are pressing against some other electrons. And the interesting thing is, my hand never touches yours. A space inevitably remains between the two. And sometimes it shrinks. When there is a distance the space becomes visible. As the distance shrinks, the space becomes less and less visible. If the distance becomes too narrow, the space disappears.

So when one hand is holding the other, there is always a space between the two. The pressure works on that very space, not on your hand. And in effect, the pressure of that empty space works on your hand. We interpret this pressure of the empty space as either love or enmity.

It is all a matter of interpretation. However, if one could become a witness and watch this holding of hands, an incredible thing happens. When someone holds your hand, don’t be in a hurry to see it as either love or enmity. Just remain a witness to the holding of hands, and you will feel a total transformation in your consciousness.

When someone’s lips are pressed on yours, forget about love etcetera, simply become a witness for a moment. You will have such a strange experience in your consciousness, one you may have never had before. Then it is possible you may laugh at yourself.

As long as you laugh at others, you are not a witness. The day you laugh at yourself, you become a witness. From that day on you begin witnessing. People all over the world laugh at others, only a sannyasin laughs at himself. And one who can laugh at himself has begun to see something.

Another thing is, be a witness in life – anywhere, any moment. For example, while eating, suddenly become a watcher for a moment: watch your hand picking up the food; watch your mouth chewing the food; watch the food reaching your stomach. Stand at a distance and simply watch. You will suddenly find the taste has disappeared. All of a sudden, the act of eating will take on a different meaning. You will find that you are not eating – food is being taken and you are merely watching.

There is a wonderful story. The story is…

Once a monk arrived on the outskirts of the town where Krishna lived. It was the rainy season and the river was flooded. The monk was on the other shore. The women of the village were anxious to feed the monk, but the river stood in the way. On their way they stopped by to see Krishna. They asked Krishna, “How are we to cross the river? The current is very strong, boats cannot cross. The monk has been without food for the last few days. Occasionally we receive some news about him. He is waiting on the other side, which is covered with thick forest. We must bring him food. Please show us a way to cross the river.”

Krishna said, “Go to the river and tell her if the monk has never had any food in his entire life, if he has always been on a fast, she should make way for you.” Since these were Krishna’s words, the women believed him.

The women went ahead. Addressing the river they said, “O river! If the monk has been on a fast for all of his life, then please give way so we can bring him food.”

The story goes that the river gave way. The women crossed the river and fed the monk. The food they had brought was more than enough, but the monk ate it all. When it was time to return, they realized all of a sudden they had not asked Krishna the key to finding their way back. Now they found themselves in great difficulty.

Earlier they had said to the river that the monk had been fasting his whole life, how could they say the same thing now? The monk was not an ordinary eater; saying he was on a fast was far from the truth – he had consumed all the food the women had brought. The monk didn’t even wait for the women to offer him second or third helpings. There were no leftovers.

The women became very concerned. The monk asked, “Why do you look so troubled? What is the matter?”

The women said, “We are in great difficulty. We only knew the device for coming here, we don’t know the key that will take us back.” The monk asked what the device was that had brought them to him. The women said, “Krishna told us if we wanted to cross the river, we should tell the river that if the monk is on a fast, it should make a way for us.”

The monk said, “So what is the problem? The same device will work again. The key which can lock can also unlock, and the one which can unlock can also lock. Use the same key again.”

The women said, “How can we use it now? You have already eaten the food.”

The monk burst into laughter, a striking sound on the bank of that river. The women were very puzzled. They said, “Here we are in trouble, and you are laughing!”

The monk said, “I am not laughing at you, I am laughing at myself. Go ahead and tell the river the same thing you said before. The river must have understood my laughter. Go and tell her once again.”

With great fear, great hesitation and uncertainty, they approached the river and said, “O river, please give way if this monk has not had any food his whole life.” They knew inside what they were saying was not at all true, but the river did make way for them.

The women were very puzzled. The miracle they had seen coming to this shore was nothing compared to what they saw on their way back. They went straight to Krishna and said, “This is too much! We thought you performed the miracle when we crossed the river the first time. But it is really the monk who performed the miracle. It was all right what we said on our way to see the monk, and it worked. But we said the same thing on our way back and the river gave way!”

Krishna said, “Of course, the river was bound to give way, because only he is a monk who never eats.”

“But we saw him with our own eyes devouring all the food we carried with us.”

Krishna said, “Just as you were watching him eat, the monk was watching himself eat as well – he was not the doer of his action of eating.”

This is only a story. Don’t ever try to cross a river like this, you might put some monk in trouble unnecessarily! No river will give way. And yet the fact remains, if we could also see ourselves in all our actions not as a doer but as a watcher, in all our actions, then dying is an act too – the final act.

If you can succeed in keeping yourself removed from your actions, you will be able to stay removed at the moment of death too. Then you will see. The one who was eating until yesterday; the one who was attending to his business, walking down the street; the one who quarreled, fought, loved, it is he who is dying. Then you will be able to watch one additional act, the act of dying. Exactly as other acts involved loving, running one’s business, being in the marketplace, dying will also be an act. You will be able to see the same person who did all these other things dying.

There was a Mohammedan fakir by the name of Sarmad. A very sweet but strange incident took place in his life. As has always happened, the maulvis, the priests, filed a suit against him. The priest has always been against the mystic. Sarmad was summoned to appear in the emperor’s court.

Mohammedans express their belief through a sutra, a maxim, and that is, “There is only one God; other than him there is no God. There is only one messenger of God and he is Mohammed.” But the Sufi mystics drop the latter half of the sutra. They repeat, “There is no other God than the one God,” but they drop the other half, “There is only one messenger of God and he is Mohammed,” because they believe there are many messengers of God. That’s why the Mohammedan theology has always been against the Sufis.

Sarmad was even more dangerous. He would not even repeat the Sufi sutra fully. He had even dropped half of that too. That sutra is, “Other than the one God, there is no God.” Sarmad used to repeat only the latter half “…there is no God.” Now this was too much. It was okay to drop Mohammed’s name; that would not have made him an atheist, it would have simply amounted to his not being a Mohammedan. However, just because one is not a Mohammedan does not mean one ceases to be a religious person. But what can you do with a man like Sarmad? He said, “There is no God!”

Sarmad was brought to the court. The emperor asked, “You say there is no God. Is it true?”

Sarmad answered, “I do say so.” And he proclaimed in a loud voice, “There is no God!”

The emperor asked, “Are you an atheist?”

Sarmad said, “No, I am not an atheist. But I have not known any God as yet, so how can I say God is? I say only as much as I know. In this sutra, so far I have come to know only one half of it, that there is no God. I don’t know anything of the other half. The day I come to know it, I will let everyone know. How can I lie about it if I don’t know? A religious man cannot lie.”

It was a difficult situation. He was ultimately executed, beheaded in front of the Jama Masjid in Delhi.

This is not a story. Millions of people watched him executed. As he was beheaded at the front door of the masjid, the mosque, and as the head started rolling down the steps of the mosque, a voice came out of the rolling head, “There is only one God. There is no God other than the one God.”

His lovers standing in the crowd said, “You crazy Sarmad, if you had to say it, why didn’t you say such a simple thing before?”

Sarmad said, “How can one know him until one has lost his head? Now that I know, I say there is God, that no God exists other than him. But how could I have said this without knowing?”

There are truths we come to know only by passing through them. The truth of death is one of these. But in order that one may know death, one needs to prepare while one is still alive. The preparation for death has to be done while one is still alive. One who fails to do so, dies a wrong death.

Living a wrong life may be forgiven, but dying wrongly can never be forgiven, because it is the ultimate point, it is the very quintessence, the finale of life. Some mistakes committed here and there in life may be overlooked, but a mistake at the last moment of life will become firmly and permanently established forever. And the interesting thing is, you can repent for the mistakes committed in life – they can be rectified – but there is no way one can rectify his mistake, repent and ask forgiveness for it after death. Death becomes the final seal. Hence, a life lived wrongly may be excused, but a wrong death cannot be.

Remember, how can one who has lived wrongly in the first place die rightly? After all, life is bound to come to an end; it is life which will ultimately reach a point from where it departs. In fact, whatsoever I was during my lifetime, I shall depart as the sum total of that at the final moment of death. At that moment everything in my life will stand before me cumulatively. At the moment of death I will be the sum of my whole life.

Let me put it this way: life is a spread out phenomenon; death is a condensed one. In other words, life is a vast expanse, while death is the total, cumulative, condensation of this whole expanse – the abridgment of it. Death is very atomic. Everything has come together in one atom; that’s why there is no other phenomenon greater than death. But it occurs only once. This does not mean, however, that you have not died before. No, it has occurred many times before, but it occurs only once in one lifetime. And if you have lived this life remaining asleep, then death also takes place in the state of sleep. It comes anew in the next life, and again occurs only once.

So keep in mind, one who dies a conscious death takes a conscious birth in the next life – that becomes the other part of his dying. And the life of one who dies and takes birth consciously functions on a totally different plane. For the first time, he is able to grab hold of the entire meaning of life, of the whole purpose of life, of the heights and depths of life, precisely and consciously. He is able to grasp the whole truth of life.

So, I have mentioned two things. First, in order that you may have a conscious death, become alert to the suffering, be aware of it. Don’t run away from pain, don’t escape from misery. The second thing I said, while moving around and performing your day-to-day activities, suddenly stop and become a witness for a moment. Then resume your activity. If you can become a witness even for a few moments in twenty-four hours, you will find all of a sudden what a big madhouse this world is, and how, by becoming a witness, you step out of it.

When someone swears at you, immediately you become such a recipient you lose sight of the person swearing at you. As soon as he swears at you, you receive it. In fact, you receive it even before the words leave his lips. You receive the whole of it before the swearer has even managed to complete it. Actually, you receive twice as much as is sworn at you. Even the person swearing is taken aback to see how you received more than he swore. You completely fail to see what is happening.

If you could really see… Next time when someone swears at you, become a watcher, don’t be a receiver. Just be there and watch the person swearing at you. It will cause you to laugh at yourself, and the laughter will be liberating. You will laugh at your being the constant recipient of profanities all through your life. Perhaps you may even thank him and go your way. Doing so, you may leave the poor man guessing, because such an act would be beyond his comprehension. He would be totally at a loss.

In a period of twenty-four hours, whatsoever may happen – in anger, in hate, in love, in friendship, in enmity, while walking, resting, whatever – watch it sometimes for a moment, just for a moment. Give yourself a jolt just for one moment and watch what’s happening with awareness. At that moment don’t be a recipient, simply be a watcher of whatever is happening. Such calm will surround you in that moment: you will become so very aware, because at that moment you will be filled with meditation. That very moment of awareness is the moment of meditation.

If one could carry on these two experiments, then the rest of the things you have asked will follow. For instance, you ask, “If a seeker practices celibacy, will it help in death? Will he attain awareness?” In fact, he alone can attain celibacy who becomes a witness, not otherwise.

One who indulges is sure to remain sexual. An indulgent person means one who is lustful. He wants to indulge in sex. If one could be a witness, lust and sex would slowly and gradually disappear from one’s life. If a man could become a witness during intercourse, perhaps he would never enter into it again because everything would seem so meaningless, so worthless. Everything would look so childish that he might come to feel, “What’s going on? What’s happening? What’s all this anyway? How have I managed to do this up to now? Why has all of this such a hold over me?” But since we don’t become a witness, we keep on repeating it.

Actually, don’t ever be a witness if you wish to continue repeating your mistakes. Every mistake will then repeat itself. Then again, every mistake has its own season, just goes on recurring. If you could keep a daily record of your life for a few months, you would immediately find yourself to be one of those who are periodically mad.

Just this afternoon I received a letter from a friend. He becomes insane every six months, and for the other six months he remains sane. He often used to ask me why this happens to him. I said, “You are able to know the difference because the duration of your sane and insane states is clearly defined. This is not so with other people. They remain insane half a dozen times and are sane half a dozen times during the day; hence they are not able to figure it out. You stay insane for a solid period of six months and remain sane for another whole six months. The contrast is very clear.” Ordinarily, a person goes mad ten times a day and behaves normally the other ten. Neither does he know nor do other people know when he is sane and when he is insane.

If, for a few months, you could keep a complete record of what goes on in your life, it will immediately become clear to you that all things repeat themselves. For example, anger recurs at almost the same time each day. Each day, you not only feel hungry at a fixed time, you get angry at a fixed time too. You feel hungry exactly at eleven o’clock. As soon as the clock strikes eleven or twelve or one in the afternoon, whatever, you feel hungry. At whichever time you take your meals, you feel hungry at that particular time. The body tells you it is hungry. In the same manner, you feel angry, sexual, loving, at a set time. These are all hungers too, and they arise at a fixed time.

You go on repeating the same mistakes, because you have never tried to realize the fact that whatsoever you do is all mechanical routine. And occasionally, this creates a problem. For example, you are hungry and there is no food around. Only then do you come to know you are hungry. If you find food when you are hungry, you will never know what hunger is. The matter is taken care of.

Similarly, when you are angry and there is no one around to vent your anger upon, only then can you know what anger is. But you do find someone around. Sometimes it happens that you are hungry and there is no food around, but it is very rare that you may not find anyone on whom you can air your anger. And when there is no one at hand, a person takes his anger out on inanimate objects. If nothing else, he bangs his fountain pen, swearing at it. If this man ever becomes aware of what he has done, what will he think of himself? What will this man think, really?

A great deal of research is being done in America to find the psychological causes for car accidents – in a large number we seem to be responsible. In a state of anger, a man presses the accelerator harder without being aware of it. Perhaps, mentally, he may be pressing his wife’s head, or his son’s throat, but in that particular moment his foot is on the accelerator. In this case the accelerator is a substitute for his wife or son. He goes on pressing and forgets he is driving a car. In fact, he is riding on his anger, but no one knows what he is doing. The danger is obvious.

The car has nothing to do with this man’s anger; the car has no knowledge of his anger. So far, we have not been able to create a built-in system, such that the car will refuse to move if the driver is angry. We have not been able to develop any such mechanism. The man presses the accelerator, and the car takes it to mean he wants to raise the speed. The car doesn’t know it needs to go slow at that moment. It doesn’t realize the man is in a dangerous situation, that the man is unable to see anything at that moment.

Within a period of twenty-four hours, the moments of anger, the moments of sex, keep recurring. We move in a set pattern like a machine. If you wake up and see, you may ask, “Am I really living, or am I just moving in a circle like an ox at a wheel?” Living, obviously, cannot be similar to being an ox at a wheel. How can there be any life in moving round and round like an ox at a wheel? The ox simply moves mechanically. Has this ever occurred to you?

I was reading a book about a marvelous man who has done a wonderful experiment. He observed that you come across a man on the street and he says, “Hello, how are you?” and you answer, “I am fine, thank you.” You may not have realized that the man neither cared to listen to your reply, nor had he asked the question with the intent of hearing your answer. He must be wanting to ask something else. Since it would have looked a little odd to start off abruptly, he began by asking, “How are you?”

Even on the phone, the man asks, “How is your health?” – Although he couldn’t care less about your health; he has never been concerned about your health, nor will he ever be. Hence, no matter what reply you give, he is never going to listen to it. He will skip your answer and start talking about something else.

So the man decided to perform an experiment. One morning, someone called him on the phone and asked, “Hello, how are you?” And the man answered, “My cow gives a lot of milk.”

The other fellow said, “That’s good! How is your wife?” Hearing this, the man found out that no one really listens to what you say. We take things absolutely mechanically.

For example, there is a man who overeats. Now he is not even aware why he overeats. Has it ever occurred to you that when you are angry you eat too much? Have you ever kept account of it? Have you ever noticed consciously that you eat more when you feel the lack of love? Have you ever kept any record of it? Have you ever discovered consciously that when one’s life is filled with love, one doesn’t eat much? When a man meets his beloved, he loses his appetite. The hunger disappears in moments of love. But when love is absent, he begins to eat voraciously. Why? There is a mechanical system, a long lasting psychological conditioning at work behind it.

A child receives both love and food from his mother. The very first experience of love for a child is that of receiving food. If the child does not receive food from the mother, he feels a lack of love; when she offers him food he feels love. So food and love are not two separate things in the child’s initial experience; food and love are synonymous for him. For a child, the first experience of food and love is one and the same.

If a mother loves her child a lot, he drinks less milk, because he is always assured that he will have milk anytime, that he need not worry about the future. Hence, he doesn’t find any necessity to overfill his stomach. So a child whose mother loves him a great deal will take less milk. A mother who does not love her child, who feeds him milk unwillingly, indifferently, who is always pushing the child away – that child drinks more milk, because he is not sure. The mother may give him milk after a while, or may not. Who knows how long he may have to remain hungry?

Lack of love prompts the child to take in more food, while the abundance of love makes him take in less. This becomes part of his psychological conditioning. Whenever love flows in his life, he eats less. He begins to overeat when love stops coming to him, although now the connection is not so apparent, now it is just a mechanical routine.

I was reading someone’s biography. This man has traveled all over the world. In whichever country he went, he had to fill in all kinds of forms. He couldn’t understand why he had to undergo the torture of filling out all these forms. So he started filling in absurd details. He did this everywhere he traveled. No government questioned him. He would write his age as five thousand years, and no one objected. Who reads these forms? Who bothers? Who is interested? Nobody cares. Life goes on absolutely off guard, mechanically. All answers are mechanical. Someone asks, “How are you?” You answer, “I am okay.” Even computers can do this job. One computer asking, “How are you?” Another computer answering, “I am okay.” That’s how it is going on really. There is no consciousness, no alertness, no awareness – nothing.

One needs to become a little aware of all this. One needs to be a witness. Just stop for a moment. Make any moment the moment to become alert. Give yourself a sudden jerk and look around in amazement. Just remain a watcher.

If you can prepare yourself in these two areas, you will become less and less angry because a witnessing consciousness can never be angry. In order to be angry, one has to become identified, one has to become unconscious. A witnessing consciousness will go on attaining to celibacy because it cannot be consumed by sexual desire. A man of witnessing consciousness can never over eat; hence he doesn’t need to take a vow to diet. Although we are not aware of it, food in itself is not the cause of our overeating. The reason lies much deeper.

Hence, people who feel a lack of love start overeating. But if you become aware of it, you will be greatly amazed. The question is not of taking a vow to eat less when you are overeating; the question is that something like love has not happened in your life. If you realize this, then you are able to catch hold of the root causes of the fundamental problem. Where does the trouble lie? What is really the matter?

One man suffers from overeating. He goes to a temple and vows before a muni, a monk, to eat once a day. However, he now consumes twice or three times more food during his once-a-day meal. He suffers from hunger the whole day and contemplates food the whole time. He turns into a maniac. Then he no longer remains just hungry, he goes crazy. He develops a craze for food. Then for twenty-four hours food becomes his sole concern.

Now in this country there are thousands of monks who live, brooding twenty-four hours a day about food. They are maniacs, they are mad. They don’t realize what they have done to themselves, what kind of madness they are into. They are preoccupied with the thought of food all the time, as if that is the only subject left in the world to worry about, as if brooding about food from dawn to dusk is the only object in life. They think the problem will be taken care of if they work out the eating arrangement exactly as they want it to be.

When he was in America, Vivekananda had said, “My country would not have been ruined had our religion not become a religion of the kitchen. That caused its disaster.” Can a religion remain worth its name if it turns out to be a religion confined to the kitchen? The reason why this happens is because we don’t wake up and see our inner conditioning – what we do, and when.

For example, there is a man and he is an alcoholic. People are after him: they want him to give up drinking. The man wants to give up drinking too, but he never cares to figure out why he goes on drinking anyway. Why does he wish to become unconscious? There must be something in his life he wants to forget all about, something which he would rather not remember. There is something in life he would like to draw the curtain on.

If this man could become aware of the thing he is trying to forget, perhaps some solution might be found. But instead he puts a cover on it. He goes on putting cover after cover, because there is something hidden behind it which he does not want to be exposed. Then his life becomes a continuous running about to cover things, and everything turns out a lie. Finally, a day arrives when it becomes difficult for the man even to figure out why he had wanted to forget things in the first place. He himself will have forgotten all about it. He himself will have no idea when and why he started drinking.

A man goes on puffing, dragging on a cigarette the whole day. Someone may ask, “What can the reason be? Why does he go on inhaling and exhaling smoke like that? There must be a secret behind this taking in and letting out smoke, because it is hard to imagine people all over the world smoking for nothing.”

If he watches closely, a smoker can find out what makes him smoke a cigarette. Whenever he feels lonely, whenever he is without company, he immediately goes for a cigarette. He uses the cigarette as a companion, a rather inexpensive companion. It causes no problems. You can put it in your pocket, carry it wherever you like. You can sit alone and start working on it anytime. It’s an occupation. In a sense, it’s an innocent occupation; you are not causing any harm to anyone. You are harming yourself, more or less. You are just throwing the smoke out; you are just being occupied – that’s all.

Once I was traveling in a train. When traveling by train, it is my habit to sleep quietly as much as I can. A man traveling with me in the same compartment was bothered very much by my sleeping. He tried to wake me up several times. When I got up after six hours, took a bath, and got ready to go back to sleep again, the man could contain himself no longer. He said, “What in the world are you doing? I have read the same newspaper ten times, opened and shut this window several times, and here you are sleeping blissfully. I have never smoked as many cigarettes. It would be good if you stayed up.”

He was right. Man is lonely even in a crowd. There are so many people around – the wife, the sons, the daughters, the father, the mother, the whole family, such a mob, and everything else…. And yet man is lonely.

So far we have not been able to eliminate man’s loneliness, so he goes on doing something or other to escape his loneliness. He smokes, he plays cards. He plays cards not only with others, but even with himself. The craziness reaches its limit when a man plays both hands. You can find even the most intelligent man doing this.

It seems even the so-called most intelligent man is not really intelligent. Why? One will have to become aware of this state; one will have to witness it. If this man, who plays both hands, could be filled with awareness for a moment and see the whole thing as a witness, would he not laugh at himself as you just did? Indeed he would laugh. He would wonder, “What is happening? What am I doing to my life?”

If this should become apparent, then one doesn’t have to take a vow or an oath. Then one doesn’t have to renounce anything; things which are worthless drop by themselves. If a man grasps the root causes and goes on becoming deeply aware of them, he reaches the point from where the causes can be rooted out without any difficulty.

Remember, you will be in trouble if you begin pruning the leaves of a tree, because once a leaf is pruned it is replaced by four new leaves. The tree believes you are interested in grafting, it is not at fault. The tree feels maybe you want four leaves, that’s why you are pruning one, so it produces four leaves. When you see the four leaves, you panic and prune all four of them. That gives rise to sixteen new leaves!

No, things are to be rooted out – simply pruning the leaves won’t help. We have no idea of roots; we merely go on playing with leaves.

There are people who take a vow of celibacy. Once a friend of mine and I were guests in Calcutta. Our host was a seventy-year-old man, one of the most honest people I have known. Confiding in me one day, he said, “Please tell me, what shall I do? I have taken a vow of celibacy three times in my life.”

What the old man said was fine, but the amazing thing was that my friend became very impressed by him. He exclaimed, “Three times?”

I told my friend, “Do you understand what taking a vow three times means?” Then I asked the old man, “Why didn’t you take it a fourth time? Did your vow succeed the third time?”

He said, “No, the third time I lost my nerve.” He was an honest man indeed. Taking the vow three times obviously means he broke it each time. And breaking the vow each time, the disappointment and frustration was bound to become profound. Breaking the vow three times, the loss of his self-confidence was sure to intensify. There was no way he could have shown any more courage to take the vow a fourth time.

So I told the man, “The monk who made you take the vow was, in fact, your enemy. You took him for a friend. He broke your will completely. Now even at the age of seventy you have no courage left to take a vow of celibacy.” What’s the reason? The leaves. You pluck one leaf, and three more come out. Can there be any vows of celibacy?

There are no vows of celibacy. One only needs to have an understanding of what sexual desire is. You need to become aware of sex. The fruit of celibacy comes from the awareness of sex. When a person becomes aware of his sexual desire, probes into it, understands it, lives it, recognizes it, he suddenly realizes the game in which he is engaged.

This game is no different from the game of cards I mentioned earlier. This whole game of sex is nothing but laying down playing cards. When this awareness reaches the depths of his being like an arrow, all of a sudden a man finds himself rising to celibacy, brahmacharya, celibacy is not some kind of a vow.

Remember, religion has nothing to do with taking vows. People who take vows are never religious; they can never be. A religious man is one in whose life vows blossom like fruits – as a consequence. The more he goes on watching life, the more he sees certain things constantly changing.

For example, a man is holding colored stones. You may cry in vain and tell him to throw the stones away, but he won’t listen. Although they are colored stones, he sees them as colored diamonds. Looking at their shine and luster, he thinks they are diamonds. Obviously, how can he let them go? The man says, “We consider those people who gave them up, as gods. We are ordinary people, we can’t cast them away.”

The same man, when he comes across a diamond mine, sees diamonds all over. Now, will we need to convince him he should get rid of his colored stones? Before he realizes what has happened, he will have already dropped the stones, run and filled his hands with diamonds. If one were to ask him later on what he did with the stones he was holding in his hands, he might say, “I am glad you reminded me. I had completely forgotten about them. I don’t know what happened to them. I don’t know when they were dropped.” When diamonds are in sight, one needs to empty his hands immediately.

Life is a positive ascent; it is not a negative descent. Life is a positive achievement, not a negative renunciation. As the witnessing consciousness grows deeper, new planes of bliss come to light. The layers of misery go on falling away; much garbage is thrown out. You keep throwing pebbles away, and diamonds begin to appear in your hands. These two things, the dropping of the nonessential and the acquiring of the essential, will always apply in following the points you have raised in your question.

So let your awareness of misery become intense, sharp. In that state, stop identifying with your body. Let your consciousness not become one with your body. And in all your day-to-day activities and operations, be a witness, not an experiencer.

Let me tell you a short story to explain to you what I mean. I have always loved this story.

Just recently, it seems the birthday of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar was celebrated. Once he went to see a play. Ishwarchandra was a very well-known figure of his time, a very intelligent man. He was the honored guest and was seated in the first row. The play was in progress and there was a scene in which the villain is after the heroine to harass her. He tries to give her a hard time in every possible way. The scene reaches its climax when, finally, on a dark night in a thick forest, the villain catches hold of the woman. It is a very dark night. Everything is quiet; there is not a soul around. The villain grabs the woman. The woman screams, but her cry simply echoes in the stillness of the forest.

Ishwarchandra was watching the scene. He was a nice man. He couldn’t take the villain’s behavior any more. He lost his control. He got so enraged that he completely forgot it was just a play. He took off his shoe, jumped on the stage, and began pounding the villain. He started beating the actor! The actor took Ishwarchandra’s shoe and placed it on his forehead to show his gratitude.

The actor showed more understanding than Ishwarchandra. Addressing the audience, he said, “Never before have I received a greater award than this. It is indeed a tribute to an actor’s skills that an intelligent man such as Ishwarchandra should take the play to be real.”

Addressing Vidyasagar, the actor said, “Sir, I shall treasure this shoe; I won’t return it to you. This is my greatest reward.”

If a person such as Vidyasagar took a play to be real, how can ordinary people like us comprehend what it means to take as play what we hold to be real? But with a few experiments of being a witness, we will be able to understand what it means: reality will begin to look like a drama. If this happens, then it is possible to enter death with awareness.

-OSHO

From And Now and Here, Chapter Twelve

And Now and Here

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

A Conscious Death – Osho

Is it possible to die consciously without being enlightened?

Nirah, existence follows certain laws – and there are no exceptions. If one wants to die consciously, the only way is to be enlightened.

Death is such a great surgery: your soul is being taken apart from the body and mind, with which it has been involved for seventy or eighty years. Even for a small operation you need anesthesia; and this is the greatest operation in existence.

Unconsciousness is nothing but nature’s way of giving you anesthesia. Unless you are completely unidentified with body and mind, you cannot die consciously – and a death which is not conscious is a great opportunity missed.

Enlightenment is an absolute necessity.

Enlightenment only means that your whole being is conscious: there are no dark corners left inside you. Dying in such consciousness the body, the mind, the brain can be taken away from you, because you know now – not just as a theory, but as your authentic experience – that you have always been separate. The involvement with the body was broken the day you became enlightened.

In the ancient scriptures of the Buddhists, enlightenment is called the “great death” – not that you are going to die, but the death is great because you will be able to see it happening, you will be a witness. Now you are no longer attached to the body, no clinging, and you have become aware of your immortality.

You can die consciously only when you know that you are immortal, that you belong to eternity, not to time; that deep within you is the beginning of existence and the end of existence – if there is any beginning or if there is any end. In fact there is no beginning and no end; you have always been here, and you will always be here.

A conscious death is one of the miracles of life, because after that you will not be born again in any form – as a man, as a bird, as a tree. You will remain in the eternal consciousness of the universe, spread all over the ocean. Hence, it has been called the “great death.”

But there are no exceptions. Existence follows absolutely definite laws, and this is a law of the highest order, because it concerns your consciousness, your life, your death.

-OSHO

From The Rebellious Spirit, Chapter Sixteen

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Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.