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.

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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

DSC_0229

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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Raja Stop the Wheel – Osho

Death is not the end but only the culmination of one’s whole life, a climax. It is not that you are finished but you are transported to another body. That is what the easterners call “the wheel.” It goes on turning and turning. Yes, it can be stopped, but the way to stop it is not when you are dying.

That is one of the lessons, the greatest lesson I learned from my grandfather’s death. He was crying, with tears in his eyes, and asking us to stop the wheel. We were at a loss what to do: how to stop the wheel?

His wheel was his wheel; it was not even visible to us. It was his own consciousness, and only he could do it. Since he was asking us to stop it, it was obvious that he could not do it himself, hence the tears and his constant insistence in asking us again and again, as if we were deaf. We told him, “We have heard you, Nana, and we understand. Please be silent.”

In that moment something great happened. I have never revealed it to anybody; perhaps before this moment was not the time. I was saying to him, “Please be silent” – the bullock cart was rattling on the rough, ugly road. It was not even a road, just a track, and he was insisting, “Stop the wheel, Raja, do you hear? Stop the wheel.”

Again and again I told him, “Yes, I do hear you. I understand what you mean. You know that nobody except you can stop the wheel, so please be silent. I will try to help you.”

My grandmother was amazed. She looked at me with such big, amazing eyes: what was I saying?

How could I help?

I said, “Yes. Don’t look so amazed. I have suddenly remembered one of my past lives. Seeing his death I have remembered one of my own deaths.” That life and death happened in Tibet. That is the only country which knows, very scientifically, how to stop the wheel. Then I started chanting something.

Neither my grandmother could understand, nor my dying grandfather, nor my servant Bhoora, who was listening intently from the outside. And what is more, neither could I understand a single word of what I was chanting. It was only after twelve or thirteen years that I came to understand what it was. It took that much time to discover it. It was bardo thodal, a Tibetan ritual.

When a man dies in Tibet, they repeat a certain mantra. That mantra is called bardo. The mantra says to him, “Relax, be silent. Go to your center, just be there; don’t leave it whatsoever happens to the body. Just be a witness. Let it happen, don’t interfere. Remember, remember, remember that you are only a witness; that is your true nature. If you can die remembering, the wheel is stopped.”

I repeated the bardo thodal for my dying grandfather without even knowing what I was doing. It was strange – not only that I repeated it, but also that he became utterly silent listening to it. Perhaps Tibetan was such a strange thing to hear. He may never have heard a single word in Tibetan before; he may not even have known that there was a country called Tibet. Even in his death he became utterly attentive and silent. The bardo worked although he could not understand it. Sometimes things you don’t understand work; they work just because you don’t understand.

No great surgeon can operate on his own child. Why? No great surgeon can operate on his own beloved. I don’t mean his wife – anyone can operate on his wife – I mean his beloved, who certainly is not his wife, and can never be. To reduce your beloved into your wife is a crime. It is of course unpunished by law, but nature itself punishes, so there is no need for any law.

No lover can be reduced into a husband. It is so ugly to have a husband. The very word is ugly. It comes from the same root as “husbandry”; the husband is one who uses the woman as a field, a farm, to sow his seed. The word “husband” has to be completely erased from every language in the world; it is inhuman. A lover is understandable but not a husband!

I was repeating the bardo though I did not understand its meaning, nor did I know where it was coming from, because I had not read it yet. But when I repeated it just the shock of those strange words made my grandfather silent. He died in that silence.

To live in silence is beautiful, but to die in silence is far more beautiful, because death is like an Everest, the highest peak in the Himalayas. Although nobody taught me, I learned much in that moment of his silence. I saw myself repeating something absolutely strange. It shocked me to a new plane of being and pushed me into a new dimension. I started on a new search, a pilgrimage.

-OSHO

From Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Chapter 15

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

Glimpses of a Golden Childhood

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On Knowing the Eternal Law – Osho

Death is destiny. It has to be so because it is the origin – you come from death and you go to death. Life is just a moment between two nothingnesses, just a flight of a bird between two states of non-being.

If death is destiny, as it is, then the whole of life becomes a preparation, a training for it – a discipline in how to die rightly and how to die totally and utterly. The whole of life consists in learning how to die. But somehow a wrong conception about death has entered humanity, the conception that death is the enemy. This is the basis of all wrong conceptions, and this is the basis of humanity going astray from the eternal law, from Tao. How has this happened? It has to be understood.

Man has taken death as the enemy of life, as if death is there to destroy life, as if death is against life. If this is the conception then of course you have to fight death, and life becomes an effort to survive death. Then you are fighting against your own origin, you are fighting against your destiny, you are fighting against something which is going to happen. The whole fight is absurd because death cannot be avoided.

If it were something outside you it could be avoided, but it is inside. You carry it from the very moment you are born. You start dying really when you start breathing, at the same moment. It is not right to say that death comes in the end, it has always been with you from the very beginning. It is part of you, it is your innermost center, it grows with you, and one day it comes to a culmination, one day it comes to flowering. The day of death is not the day of death’s coming, it is the flowering. Death was growing within you all this time, now it has reached a peak; and once death reaches a peak you disappear back into the origin.

But man has taken a wrong attitude and that wrong attitude creates struggle, fight, violence. A man who thinks that death is against life can never be non-violent. It is impossible. A man who thinks that death is the enemy can never be at ease, at home. That is impossible. How can you be at ease when the enemy is waiting for you any moment? It will jump on you and destroy you. And the shadow of death is always falling on you? It can happen any moment. How can you rest when death is there? How can you relax? The enemy won’t allow you to relax.

Hence the tension, the anxiety, the anguish of humanity. The more you fight with death, the more anxiety-ridden you will become, you are bound to become. It is a natural consequence. If you fight with death you know that you are going to be defeated. How can you be happy with a life which is going to end in defeat? You know that whatsoever effort you make, nothing is going to succeed against death. Deep down you are certain about only one thing and that is death. In life everything else is uncertain, only death is certain. There is only one certainty, and in that certainty you have an enemy. Fighting with certainty and hoping for uncertainties how can you be in a repose? How can you be relaxed, calm, collected? Impossible.

People come to me and they say they would like to be at peace, they would like to be at home in the world, they would like to be silent, they need a certain relaxation. But I look into their eyes and the fear of death is there. Maybe they are just trying to be relaxed to fight against death more easily; maybe they are trying to find a repose so that they can become stronger against death. But if death is there how can you be relaxed, silent, at peace, at home? If death is the enemy, then basically the whole of life becomes your enemy. Then every moment, everywhere, the shadow falls; then every moment, from everywhere, death echoes. The whole life becomes inimical, and you start fighting.

The whole concept of the Western mind is to fight to survive. They say, ‘survival of the fittest’, ‘life is a struggle’. Why is it a struggle? It is a struggle because death is taken as the opposite. Once you understand that death is not the opposite of life but part of it, an intrinsic part of it, which can never be separated from it – once you accept death as a friend, suddenly a transformation happens. You are transfigured, your vision now has a new quality in it. Now there is no fight, no war, you are not fighting against anybody, now you can relax, now you can be at home. Once death becomes a friend only then does life become a friend also. This may look paradoxical but it is so, only the appearance is paradoxical. If death is the enemy, then deep down life is also the enemy, because life leads to death.

Every type of life leads to death – the poor man’s life, the rich man’s life, a life of success and a life of failure, the life of the wise man and the life of an ignorant one, the life of a sinner and a saint.

All sorts of lives, whatsoever their differences, lead to death. How can you be in love with life if you are against death? Then your love is just nothing but a possessiveness, your love is nothing but a clinging. Against death you cling to life, but you can understand that this very life is bringing death nearer every day. So you are doomed, all your efforts are doomed. And then anxiety arises, the whole being trembles. You live in a trembling and then you become violent and mad. In the West the proportion of mad people is much higher than in the East. The reason is clear.

The West takes death against life but the East has a totally different standpoint – life and death are one, two faces of the same phenomenon. Once you accept death many things are immediately accepted. In fact if you accept death as part of life, then all other enemies are also accepted as part of friendship because the basic duality dissolves, the duality of life and death, being and non-being. If the basic duality is resolved, then all other dualities are just superficial, they dissolve. Suddenly you are at home – eyes are clear, no smoke is in them, perception is absolutely clear, and no darkness is around.

But why, why has it happened in the West? And it is happening in the East also because the East is turning more Western every day. In all education, in scientific attitudes the East is no longer purely Eastern, it is already contaminated. The East is now also becoming anxious, afraid. Have you observed that in the West there is much time consciousness but in the East it is not so much, and even if it is, it is only in the cultured, educated parts? If you move to the villages there is no time consciousness. In fact, time consciousness is death consciousness: when you are afraid of death then time is short. With so many things to do and so little time given, you are conscious of every second passing. Life is being shortened so you are tense, running around, doing many things, trying to enjoy the whole of it, running from one place to another, one enjoyment to another – and enjoying nothing because you are so time conscious.

In the East people are not so time conscious because they have accepted life. You may not be aware that in India we have named death as time. We call death kal, and we also call time kal; kal means time and kal means death as well. To use the same word for both means a very deep understanding, it is very meaningful. Time is death, death is time: the more death conscious you are, the more time conscious you will be, the less death conscious, the less time conscious. Then there is no question of time. If you have completely absorbed death into life time consciousness simply disappears. Why in the West and now in the East is there so much anxiety about death, somuch so, that life cannot be enjoyed at all?

Living in a timeless world rocks are more happy than man; living in a world where death is not known the trees are more blissful than man; not that they don’t die, but death is not known. Animals happy, celebrating, birds singing, the whole existence except man is blissfully unaware of death. Only man is aware of death and that creates all the other problems; that is the source problem, the basic rift.

It should not be so because man is the highest, the most refined, the peak of existence – why should it be so with man? Whenever you attain to a peak, almost side by side the valley becomes deeper. A high peak can exist only with a deep valley. For rocks there is no unhappiness, no valley part, because their happiness is also on the plain ground. Man is a peak, he has risen high, but because of this rise, side by side there is a depth, a valley. You look down and you feel nauseous, you look down and you feel afraid. The valley is part of the peak.  The valley cannot exist without the peak and the peak cannot exist without the valley, they are together, they are a togetherness. But a man standing at the height of the peak looks down and feels nauseous, giddy, afraid, fearful.

Man is conscious – that is where the whole trouble lies.

Consciousness is a two-edged sword; it cuts both ways. It can make you so utterly happy that that type of happiness is not known anywhere in existence; it can make you so unhappy and miserable that that type of unhappiness is also not known anywhere else in the world. Man is a double possibility; by being conscious two roads suddenly open before him.

Consciousness can become a blessing, but it can become a curse also. Every blessing comes with a curse. The problem is that it depends on you how you choose. Let me explain it to you, then we can enter the sutra easily.

Man is conscious. The moment man becomes conscious he becomes conscious of the end also – that he is going to die. He becomes conscious of tomorrow, conscious of time, conscious of the passing of time – then sooner or later the end will come near. The more he becomes conscious, the more death becomes a problem, the only problem. How to avoid it? This is using consciousness in a wrong way. It is just as if you have given a child a telescope, and the child doesn’t know how to use it. He can look into the telescope from the wrong end.

Consciousness is a telescope; you can look through it from the wrong end. And the wrong end has some benefits of its own – that creates more trouble. Through the wrong end of the telescope you can see that many benefits are possible; in the short range many benefits are possible. People who are time conscious gain something in comparison to people who are not time conscious. People who are death conscious attain many things in comparison to those who are not death conscious. That’s why the West goes on accumulating material wealth and the East has remained poor. If you are not death conscious, who bothers?

People live moment to moment as if the tomorrow doesn’t exist. Who accumulates? For what? Today is so beautiful, why not celebrate it, and we will see about tomorrow when it comes.

In the West they have accumulated infinite wealth because they are so time conscious. They have reduced their whole life into things, material things – skyscrapers. They have attained much wealth… that is the benefit of looking from the wrong end. They can see only certain things which are close, short-range, they cannot see farther away. Their eyes have become like those of a blind man who cannot see farther away. He looks at just whatsoever he can gather right now, without thinking that it may be at a very great cost in the end. In the long range this benefit may not prove a benefit. You can make a big house, but by the time it is built you are ready to go; you couldn’t live in it at all. You could have lived in a small house beautifully, even a cottage would have done, but you thought that you would live in a palace. Now the palace is ready but the man is gone. He is not there.

People accumulate wealth at the cost of their own self. Finally, eventually, one day, they become aware that they have lost themselves and that they have purchased useless things. The cost was great, but now nothing can be done, the time is past.

If you are time conscious you will be mad about accumulating things, you will transform your whole life energy into things. A man who is conscious of the whole range will enjoy this moment as much as he can. He will float. He will not bother about the tomorrow because he knows tomorrow never comes. He knows deeply that finally only one thing has to be attained – that is one’s own self.

Live, and live so totally that you come in contact with yourself…. And there is no other way to come in contact with yourself. The deeper you live, the deeper you know yourself, in relationship, in aloneness. The deeper you move in relationship, in love, the deeper you know. Love becomes a mirror. And one who has never loved cannot be alone, he can at the most be lonely.

One who has loved and known a relationship, can be alone. Now his aloneness has a totally different quality to it, it is not loneliness. He has lived in a relationship, fulfilled his love, known the other, and known himself through the other. Now he can know himself directly, now the mirror is not needed.

Just think of someone who has never come across a mirror. Can he close his eyes and see his face? Impossible. He cannot even imagine his face, he cannot meditate on it. But a man who has come to a mirror, looked into it, known his face through it, can close his eyes and see the face inside. That’s what happens in relationship. When a person moves into a relationship, the relationship mirrors, reflects himself, and he comes to know many things that he never knew existed in him.

Through the other he comes to know his anger, his greed, his jealousy, his possessiveness, his compassion, his love, and thousands of moods of his being. Many climates he encounters through the other. By and by a moment comes when he can now be alone; he can close his eyes and know his own consciousness directly. That’s why I say that for people who have never loved meditation is very, very difficult.

Those who have loved deeply can become deep meditators; those who have loved in a relationship are now in a position to be by themselves. Now they have become mature, now the other is not needed. If the other is there they can share, but the need has disappeared; now there is no dependence.

Consciousness becomes conscious of death in the end. If consciousness becomes conscious of death in the end a fear arises. That fear creates a continuous escaping within you. Then you are escaping from life; wherever there is life you are escaping because wherever there is life a hint, a glimpse of death comes. People who are too afraid of death never fall in love with persons, they fall in love with things – things never die because they have never lived.

You can have things for ever and ever and, moreover, they are replaceable. If one car goes you can replace it by another car of exactly the same make. But you cannot replace a person – if your wife dies, she dies for ever. You can have another wife but no other woman will ever replace her – for good or for bad, no other woman can be the same woman. If your child dies you can adopt another, but no adopted child will have the same quality of relationship that your own child can have. The wound remains, it cannot be healed. People who are too afraid of death become afraid of life. Then they accumulate things: a big palace, a big car, millions of dollars, rupees, this and that, things which are deathless. A rupee is more deathless than a rose. They are not bothered about roses, they only go on accumulating rupees.

A rupee never dies, it is almost immortal, but a rose…. In the morning it was alive and by the evening it is no more. They become afraid of roses, they don’t look at them. Or sometimes, if the desire arises, they purchase plastic flowers. They are good. You can be at ease with plastic flowers because they give a sense of immortality. They can be there forever and forever and forever. A real rose – in the morning it is so alive, by the evening it is gone, the petals have settled on the soil, it has returned to the same source. From the earth it comes, flowers a while, and sends its fragrance to the whole of existence. Then mission done, message given, it falls silently back to the earth and disappears with not a single tear, with no struggle. Have you seen petals falling down onto the earth from a flower? How beautifully and gracefully they fall, with no clinging; for not even a single moment do they try to cling. A breeze just comes and the whole flower has gone to the earth, returned to the source.

A man who is afraid of death will be afraid of life; will be afraid of love, because love is a flower – love is not a rupee. A man who is afraid of life may get married but he will never fall in love. Marriage is like a rupee, love is like a rose flower. It is there, it may not be there, but you cannot be certain about it, it has no legal immortality about it. A marriage is something to cling to, it has a certificate, a court behind it. It has the force of the police and the president behind it and they will all come if something goes wrong.

But with love…. There is the force of roses of course, but roses are not policemen, they are not presidents, they cannot protect.

Love comes and goes, marriage simply comes. It is a dead phenomenon, it is an institution. It is simply unbelievable that people like to live in institutions. Afraid, afraid of death, they have killed all possibilities of death from everywhere. They are creating an illusion around them that everything is going to stay as it is. Everything is secure and safe. Hidden behind this security they feel a certain security, but that is foolish, stupid. Nothing can save them; death will come and knock at their doors and they will die.

Consciousness can take two views. One is to be afraid of life because through life comes death.

Another is to love life so deeply that you start loving death also, because it is the innermost core of it. The first attitude comes from thinking; the second attitude comes from meditation. The first attitude comes from too many thoughts, the second attitude comes from a thought-less mind, from a no-mind. Consciousness can be reduced to thoughts; thoughts can be melted down again into consciousness.

Just think of a river in cold winter. When icebergs start appearing certain parts of the water are now frozen. Then more cold comes, the temperature falls below zero and the whole river is frozen. Now there is no movement, no flow. Consciousness is a river, a stream – with more thoughts, the stream is frozen. If there are so many thoughts, so many ‘thought-hindrances’, there is no possibility of any flow. Then the river is completely frozen. You are already dead.

But if the river is completely flowing, if you melt down the icebergs, if you melt down all that has frozen, all the thoughts…. That is what meditation is all about: it is an effort to defreeze all thoughts. They can be converted again into consciousness. Then the river flows, then the river has a flow to it, and alive, vibrant, dancing, it moves toward the sea. Why do people like to be frozen? Because a frozen river cannot move to the sea. Sea means death. The river will disappear, disappear forever, it will become one with the infinite, it will not be any longer an individual. It will not have its own name: the Ganges will not be Ganges then, the Volga will not be Volga. They disappear into the uncharted.

If the mind is afraid, it becomes a whirlwind of thoughts. If you are too much of a thinking man, continuously thinking from morning to evening, from evening to morning, in the day, thoughts and thoughts and thoughts, in the night, dreams and dreams and dreams – your river is frozen. That too is part of fear: your river is so frozen that you cannot move, so the ocean remains far away. If you move, you will fall into the ocean.

Meditation is an effort to defreeze you. Thoughts by and by melt like snow, become flowing again, and mind becomes a stream. Now nothing hinders it, it moves unhindered towards the sea.

If consciousness becomes meditative then you accept death, then death is nothing apart, it is you. Then you accept death as repose; then you accept death as a final relaxation; then you accept death as a retirement. You retire. The whole day you have worked hard, in the evening you come home, and then you go to sleep, you retire. Life is like the day, death is like the night. Again you will come; many mornings will come, in different forms you will be here again and again and again, until the absolute death happens. That absolute death is for those who have become absolutely without thoughts. It is for those who have known absolutely that death and life are two aspects of the same coin, who are now no longer afraid of death – have not even a slight fear – and who are now no longer attached to life.

So there are two stages of the final disappearance. The first one is not to be afraid of death. And once you are not afraid of death the second step is not to have any deep lust for life. Then you go beyond.

And Lao Tzu said this is the eternal law – to know it is to be enlightened, not to know it is to court disaster.

-Osho

From Tao: The Three Treasures, V.2, Chapter One

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.

How to Die – Osho

Every culture, every civilization, every so called religion, cuts every child off from his heart. It is a most dangerous thing. All that is dangerous comes out of the heart. Mind is more secure, and with the mind you know where you are. With the heart, no one ever knows where one is. With the mind, everything is calculated, mapped, measured. And you can feel the crowd always with you, in front of you, at the back of you. Many are moving on it; it is a highway – concrete, solid, gives you a feeling of security. With the heart you are alone. Nobody is with you. Fear grips, fear possesses you. Where are you going? Now you no longer know, because when you move with a crowd on a highway, you know where you are moving because you think the crowd knows.

And everybody is in the same position: everybody thinks, ‘So many people are moving, we must be moving somewhere; otherwise, why so many people, millions of them, moving? They must be moving somewhere.’ Everybody thinks like that. In fact, the crowd is not moving anywhere. No crowd has ever reached any goal. The crowd goes on moving and moving. You are born; you become part of the crowd. And the crowd was already moving before you were born. And then a day comes when you are finished, you die, and the crowd goes on moving, because new ones are always being born. The crowd never reaches anywhere! – but it gives a feeling of comfort. You feel cozy, surrounded by so many people wiser than you, older than you, more experienced than you; they must know where they are moving – you feel secure.

The moment you start falling towards the heart… and it is a falling: falling like falling in an abyss. That’s why when somebody is in love; we say he has fallen in love. It is a fall – the head sees it as a fall – someone has gone astray, fallen. When you start falling towards the heart you become alone; now nobody can be with you there, you in your total loneliness. Afraid, scared you will be. Now you will not know where you are going, because nobody is there and there are no milestones. In fact, there is no concrete solid path. Heart is unmapped, unmeasured, uncharted. Tremendous fear will be there.

The whole of my effort is to help you not to be afraid, because only through the heart will you be reborn. But before you are reborn, you will have to die. Nobody can be reborn before he dies. So the whole message of Sufism, Zen, Hassidism – these are all forms of Sufism – is how to die. The whole art of dying is the base. I am teaching you here nothing except that: how to die.

If you die, you become available to infinite sources of life. You die, really, in your present form. It has become too narrow. You only survive in it – you don’t live. The tremendous possibility of life is completely closed, and you feel confined, imprisoned. You feel everywhere a limitation, a boundary. A wall, a stone wall comes wherever you move – a wall.

My whole effort is how to break these stone walls. And they are not made of stone – they are made of thoughts. And nothing is more like rock than a thought. They are made of dogmas, scriptures. They surround you. And wherever you go, you carry them with you. Your imprisonment you carry with you. Your prison is always hanging around you. How to break them?

The breaking of the walls will appear to you like a death. It is in a way, because your present identity will be lost. Whosoever you are, that identity will be lost. You will be that no more. Suddenly something else…. It was always hidden within you, but you were not aware. Suddenly a discontinuity. The old is no more there, and something utterly new has entered. It is not continuous with your past. That’s why we call it a death. It is not continuous: a gap exists.

And if you look backwards, you will not feel that whatsoever existed before this resurrection was real. No, it will appear as if you saw it in a dream; or it will appear as if you read it somewhere in a fiction; or, as if somebody else related his own story and it was never yours – somebody else’s. The old completely disappears. That’s why we call it a death. An absolutely new phenomenon comes into existence. And remember the word ‘absolutely’. It is not a modified form of the old; it has no connection with the old. It is resurrection. But resurrection is possible only when you are capable of dying.

-Osho

Excerpt from Until You Die (Journey Toward the Heart), Chapter One

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Bardo: Between These Two Dreams – Osho

I’ve always been fascinated by the state of bardo as described in ancient Tibetan scriptures. Could you say something about this?

Bardo is a simple method but with great significance. Only people who have meditated a little bit in their lives can be benefited by it, and Tibet was one of the countries where almost everybody was devoting some time to meditation – just to be alone, silent, not doing anything, just witnessing. If such a person does not achieve enlightenment in his life, and death intervenes, then bardo is used.

Such a man has achieved a certain opening of the door. He has not entered in, but he has at least tried; he has knocked on the door. He has a certain receptivity, and at the time of death he is absolutely willing to go into a state of meditation. Now there is nothing to be afraid of. Death has already come; he can risk everything. And bardo is a certain soft method of hypnosis… just the way I am using it. Listening to me you become quiet, silent.

The bardo is a suggestion to the dying person: “Now be silent. Leave this life consciously. Rather than death taking it away from you, relax your hold; don’t be defeated by death, don’t struggle. Just drop all your attachment. This world is finished for you, and this life is finished for you. There is no point in holding on to it; in holding on to it you will be fighting with death. You cannot win, and a very significant possibility will be missed.

“Simply let go of everything on your own accord. Relax, and accept death without any antagonism as a culmination of life, as a natural phenomenon. It ends nothing. Remain conscious and watch what is happening – how the body starts becoming more and more distant from you, how the mind starts falling into pieces as if a mirror has fallen and broken into pieces, how your emotions, sentiments, moods… everything that made your life starts disappearing.”

It is the end of a dream. That is the fundamental point in bardo, that you have lived a dream that you call life, a seventy-year-long dream. It is coming to an end. You can weep for the spilled milk and miss the opportunity… because within seconds you will be entering into another womb, into another dream.

Between these two dreams just a few seconds are available for you to be alert and awake, and if you can manage this alertness you have conquered death, you have conquered dreaming. You will be entering into another womb consciously; you will be leaving this body consciously, entering into another body consciously.

You will be able to remember the death, the dream you had lived, in the coming life, which will make you alert not to get into the same rut – again chasing the same stupid desires, getting caught in the same jealousies, fighting for the same meaningless respectabilities. It will keep you alert that you have done it before. Everything ends in death and this too will end in death.

So bardo is reminding you that what is disappearing was a dream. It is very easy when death is coming to see your life as a dream. What else can it be? It is just as if you are waking up in the morning.

The whole night you have lived so much, so many dreams – you may have lived years in the night – but bardo reminds you that it was a dream. It has to be done by a very evolved being – a lama, a master – and he insists that it is time to realize that it was a dream: you are not dying, only the dream is broken.

And while you are being shifted from one dream to another… the gap is of tremendous importance because in that gap there is no dream, there is simple clarity, absolute clarity, awareness. So the second point to be reminded of is: don’t miss the gap.

And the third thing: don’t miss the entry into the womb. Then you have accomplished something which people need lives to work on.

The person is just falling into deep silence and death is descending. He is listening to these words from someone he has loved, he has trusted, from someone he cannot imagine deceiving – only then is it meaningful. It won’t work from just anybody. The bardo is available, all the instructions are available, but it is possible only through someone whom you have respected, honored, trusted, loved.

In this critical moment a small doubt about what the person is saying will destroy the whole thing – then the bardo has been futile. But if you don’t miss and you follow the instructions, you are laying a foundation for a new life which will be a totally different life. It will be your last life, because anybody who is dying consciously, who uses the gap to have a taste of absolute purity, enters into the womb alert, is born alert. His enlightenment is guaranteed by nature: he has the seed, the foundation.

So bardo is a simple process, but it can be helpful only to those who have meditated a little, who have been with a master, who have once in a while tasted the silence, the presence, and the beauty of being in the moment. They become capable.

Bardo is the greatest contribution Tibet has made to the world. Tibet has not contributed anything else. It is a poor country, far away from the world – the roof of the world – unapproachable. Even today it is very difficult to reach Tibet.

Tibet developed meditation through Buddhist influence and finally became the only country in history where everybody was meditating, where meditation was a normal phenomenon. Every family had to give at least one of its members – someone who was ready – to a monastery, to meditate totally. So from every family at least one member went from each generation.

Almost the whole country of Tibet became a monastery. Just as Russia has become a concentration camp, Tibet became a monastery. There were hundreds of monasteries in the mountains, in beautiful places. Every family had contributed someone who was truly interested in seeking. It was the only place where people were encouraged to go on the search; it had become part of the style of the whole country.

And those who were not in the monasteries were also meditating as much as they could manage, so by the time of death, bardo was possible for everybody. There were many masters available, many evolved beings available who could repeat those instructions – and everybody had a master of his own. It was a totally different world.

In this century many beautiful things have been destroyed but Tibet is at the top. Tibet has been destroyed by a communist invasion from China. Monasteries have been changed into schools, into hospitals, and monks have been forced to work in the fields. Even to mention the word “meditation” became a crime. And it was not hurting anybody: the country was so aloof, so cut off from the world.

But it has been destroyed, and I don’t think there is any possibility to recover its beauty, its grandeur. That is impossible because now there are roads joining it to Pakistan, to China. Now buses are moving, now airports are there and planes are coming and going. The army is there. It has become a military base for China. It has lost its golden age.

Soon it will be difficult to find a person who is capable of listening to bardo instructions and almost impossible to find a person who can give those instructions. They will be in the books; they are available now in all the languages. They are simple instructions but they can be improved, and I have the idea to improve them because they are very ancient and very crude. They can be polished. Much can be added to them, more dimensions can be given to them. But the basic thing is that the people should be meditative. My people are meditative, and it will be part of our basic work to revive the bardo in a more refined form so we can use it for our people.

Tibet is no longer the same Tibet. But we can create the situation, the psychology, where bardo – or something like bardo but even far more evolved – can help people. It is a beautiful process. Just as Japan has brought Zen from Buddhist sources of meditation, Tibet has brought, from the same Buddhist sources of meditation, bardo. These are their immortal contributions.

When nuclear weapons are forgotten, still these discoveries will have the same significance.

-Osho

From The Path of the Mystic, Chapter Seven

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Something Belonging to Eternity – Osho

A few months ago my friend and I were visiting his dying father. Lots of people were around, his body was about finished. To most people he was indifferent, but when everyone left he suddenly opened his eyes and told us, “I feel like I have two bodies; one body is sick and the other is completely healthy.” We told him, “That’s right! The healthy body is the real you, so stay with that one.” He said, “Okay,” and closed his eyes. As we sat with him, the sick energy around the hospital bed changed. We couldn’t believe this new energy; it was as if we were in darshan with you… such beautiful silence. I felt a bit strange saying these words to someone who was really experiencing this. Whatever I said wasn’t really my experience, just something I’d thought about. After we left he improved for a while, went home and died peacefully in his bed.

Beloved Osho, even though I’ve been with you for ten years, I felt so ignorant in front of this man who was ready to let go of everything with such trust and clarity and peace.

Geeta, the experience that you went through always is possible when someone is dying. All that is required is a little alertness. The man who was dying was aware – not much awareness is needed for this experience.

At the moment of death your physical body and your spiritual body start separating. Ordinarily, they are so much involved with each other that you don’t feel their separation. But at the moment of death, just before death happens, both the bodies start getting unidentified with each other. Now their ways are going to be different; the physical body is going to the physical elements, and the spiritual body is on its pilgrimage onwards, to a new birth, in a new form, in a new womb.

If the person is a little alert he can see it himself, and because you said to him that the healthier body is you, and the body that is sick and dying is not you…. In those moments, to trust is very easy because it is happening just before the eyes of the person himself; he cannot identify with the body that is falling apart, and he can immediately recognize the fact that he is the healthier one, the deeper one.

But you could have helped the man even a little more – this was good, but not good enough. Even this experience of the man, of getting unidentified with the physical body, immediately changed the energy in the room; it became silent, peaceful.

But if you had learned the art of how to help a dying man, you would not have stopped where you stopped. A second thing was absolutely necessary to tell him because he was in a trusting state – everybody is, at the moment of death.

It is life which creates problems and doubts and postponements, but death has no time to postpone. The man cannot say, “I will try to see,” or, “I will see tomorrow.” He has to do it right now, this very moment, because even the next moment is not certain. Most probably he is not going to survive. And what is he going to lose by trusting? Death anyway, is going to take away everything. So the fear of trust is not there; time to think about it is not there. And a clarity is there that the physical body is getting farther and farther away.

It was a good step to tell him, “You are the healthier body.” The second step would have been to tell him, “You are the witness of both the bodies; the body that is dying is physical, and the body that you are feeling is healthy is psychological. But who are you? You can see both the bodies… certainly you must be the third; you cannot be one of these two.”

This is the whole process of the bardo. Only in Tibet have they developed the art of dying. While the whole world has been trying to develop the art of living, Tibet is the only country in the world which has developed the whole science and art of dying. They call it the bardo.

If you had told the person, “This is good that you have taken one step, you are out of the physical body; but now you have got identified with the psychological body. You are not even that; you are only awareness, a pure consciousness, a perceptivity….” If you could have helped the person to understand that he is neither this body nor that body, but something bodiless, formless, a pure consciousness, then his death would have been a totally different phenomenon.

You saw the change of energy; you would have seen another change of energy. You saw silence descending; you would have seen music also, a certain dancing energy also, a certain fragrance filling the whole space. And the man’s face would have shown a new phenomenon – the aura of light.

If he had taken the second step also, then his death would have been the last death. In the bardo they call it “the great death,” because now he will not be born into another form, into another imprisonment; now he will remain in the eternal, in the oceanic consciousness that fills the whole universe.

So remember it – it may happen to many of you. You may be with a friend or with a relative, your mother, your father. While they are dying, help them to realize two things: first, they are not the physical body – which is very simple for a dying man to recognize. Second – which is a little difficult, but if the man is able to recognize the first, there is a possibility of the second recognition too – that you are not even the second body; you are beyond both the bodies. You are pure freedom and pure consciousness.

If he had taken the second step, then you would have seen a miracle happening around him – something, not just silence, but something more alive, something belonging to eternity, to immortality. And all of you who were present there would have been overwhelmed with gratitude that this death has not been a time of mourning, but it has become a moment of celebration.

If you can transform a death into a moment of celebration, you have helped your friend, your mother, your father, your brother, your wife, your husband. You have given them the greatest gift that is possible in existence. And close to death it is very easy. The child is not even worried about life or death; he has no concern. The young man is too much involved in biological games, in ambitions, in becoming richer, in becoming powerful, in having more prestige; he has no time to think of eternal questions.

But at the moment of death, just before death is going to happen, you don’t have any ambition. And whether you are rich or poor makes no difference; whether you are a criminal or a saint makes no difference. Death takes you beyond all discriminations of life and beyond all stupid games of life.

But rather than helping people, people destroy that beautiful moment. It is the most precious in a man’s whole life. Even if he has lived one hundred years, this is the most precious moment. But people start crying and weeping and showing their sympathy, saying, “This is very untimely, it should not happen.” Or they start consoling the person, saying, “Don’t be worried, the doctors are saying that you will be saved.”

These are all foolishnesses. Even the doctors play a part in these stupid things. They don’t tell you that your death has come. They avoid the subject; they go on giving you hope. They say, “Don’t be worried, you will be saved,” knowing perfectly well that the man is going to die. They are giving him a false consolation, not knowing that this is the moment when he should be made fully aware of death – so acutely and so impeccably aware that pure consciousness is experienced. That moment has become a moment of great victory. Now there is no death for him, but only eternal life.

-Osho

From The Razor’s Edge, Chapter Three

The Razor's Edge

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.