Death is Not the Enemy – Osho

Death is not the enemy. It appears to be so because we cling too much to life. The fear of death arises out of the clinging. And because of this clinging we are unable to know what death is. Not only that, we are unable to know what life is too.

The man who is not able to know death will not be able to know life either, because deep down they are two branches of the same tree, If you are afraid of death, basically you will remain – because it is life that brings death. It is through living that you come to dying.

You would like to become stagnant frozen, so that you don’t flow, so that death never happens. You would like to get stuck somewhere on the way, so that you never come to the ocean and disappear.

A man who is afraid of death clings to life too much; but the irony is that even if he clings too much to life, he is not able to see what life is. His clinging to life becomes a barrier to understanding life too. He cannot understand death, he cannot understand life; he remains in a deep misunderstanding, in a great ignorance.

So this is one of the most fundamental things to see: that death is not the enemy. Death cannot be the enemy. In fact, the enemy exists not. The whole existence is one. All is friendly. All is yours, it belongs to you and you belong to it. You are not strangers here.

Existence has given birth to you; existence has mothered you. So when you die, you simply go back to the original source to rest and to be born again.

Death is like a rest. Life is activity: death is rest. And without rest activity is not possible. Life is like the day and death is like the night. And without the night, the day cannot exist on its own. It is night that prepares you for the day, it is night that rejuvenates you, gives you energy back. You move in your deep sleep to the very point where death will lead you.

Every night you go into death – it is a small death – hence in the morning you feel so alive. Unfortunate are those people who don’t die every night. In the morning they are more tired than they were when they went to bed. They were dreaming, they were still clinging to life in their dreams. They didn’t go in a let-go. They didn’t allow death to take possession of them and mend many things and give rest, relaxation, new energy. These are the unfortunate people. The fortunate people are those who go into a tremendously deep sleep, a dreamless sleep. In the morning they are again alive, ready to face life in its manifold forms, full of joy, full of response, ready to take any challenge that life proposes.

Death is like the night. Life is yang and death is yin. Life is male, death is female. Life is aggression, ambition – a great effort to conquer many things. And death is relaxation from all aggression – an inward journey. One relaxes into oneself. Zen people call it ‘the asylum of rest’.

Life is an adventure; you go away from yourself; you go farther and farther away. The farther away you are, the more miserable you become. You go in search of happiness, but the more you search for happiness, the farther you are from it. And you can see it in your own life. This is not a philosophy; this is a simple statement of fact. Everybody goes in search of happiness. But the farther away you go, the more miserable you become.

Life is a search for happiness – but brings misery. One day you are fed up and tired and bored. That adventure no longer appeals. You relax into yourself, you come back. The closer you come to yourself, the happier you become. The more you forget about happiness, the happier you become. The day you stop seeking and searching for happiness, you are happy.

Life is a promise for happiness, but only a promise. It never fulfills. Death fulfills it. Hence, I repeat: death is not the enemy. Death is your home where you come after many, many journeys – tired, frustrated, exhausted – to seek shelter, to seek rest, to gain again the lost vitality. One thing.

Second thing: life and death are not so much apart as we think. You think life happened the day you were born, and death will happen the day you die. So there is a seventy or eighty or one hundred years’ gap. It is not so. Birthing and dying go on together your whole life. The moment you start breathing you start dying too. Each moment there is life and there is death – two wheels of the same cart. They go together. They are simultaneous. You cannot put them so far apart – seventy years is too much distance. You cannot put them so far apart – they are there every moment. Every moment something is being born in you and something is dying.

Dying and living are together. In seventy years’ time you are finished with this dying and living. You are tired of the game. You would like to go home. You have played with sand castles. You have argued, fought for your sand castles: This is mine and that is thine, and enough is enough! Evening has come and the sun is setting and you want to come home. After seventy years you slip into deep rest. But dying and living continue together. To see it in that light will bring great insight to you. Each moment both are there.

So there is no need to be afraid. It is not that death is going to happen somewhere in the future. The future creates problems: It is going to happen somewhere in the future – how to protect yourself? How to create Great China Walls against it? What arrangements should be made so it doesn’t happen to you, or at least so it can be postponed a little more?

But it is already happening! It is not a question in the future. It has been happening since you have been here. You cannot postpone it; you cannot do anything about it! There is no way to do anything about it. It is the very process of life – dying is part of the very process of life.

For example, it comes very, very prominent and loud and bold when you make love. Naturally, because love gives you the feeling of life. But have you watched? After each love act you become depressed. Relaxed, silent, but a kind of frustration is also there. At the peak of your love you are at the peak of life, and then suddenly you fall into death. Each love act brings life to a peak, and, naturally, gives you a glimpse into the abyss of death that is surrounding it. The valley of death is very clear when the peak of life is very high.

Out of this experience, two types of culture have arisen in the world. One is sex-against, and one is death-against.

The sex-against culture emphasizes more the frustration that follows the sex act. It is more concerned with the valley. It says, “Look, nothing is achieved, only frustration. That was all illusion; that peak, that orgasm, was just illusory, momentary. See what really comes in the end – just frustration. Again, you are flat on the ground. So it was a kind of illusion that you have created, but this is reality.”

After each sex act, everybody starts thinking of how to become celibate, how to drop this whole miserable wheel, how to get out of this vicious wheel. The idea of celibacy and Brahmacharya has arisen because of that second part. It is there! People who are sex-against see only it. People who are death-against don’t see it. People who are death-against, they simply see the peak, they don’t look into the valley. Once the peak is there, they close their eyes and go into sleep. They don’t think about the valley. The valley is there, but they have chosen only the peak.

But see, there is a corollary to it. If you only see the peak then you will be very much afraid of death, because you will not have any experience of it. Then death will remain unknown forever. Only when you are dying, then you will come across it. Then it will be too much and too new, and too unfamiliar and unknown, and it will shock you very much.

So the people who are death-against and only see the peak of life, the orgasmic peak of the sex act, will avoid the valley, they will not look into it. Then ultimately, one day, that valley is there. They are very afraid. Hence, in the West, where sex has become more free and people are less sex-against, hey are more death-against. They are fighting against death. Somehow death has to be destroyed.

In the East, people are sex-against. They look only into the valley. They don’t look at the peak; they say the peak is just illusory. Because they look into the valley, they have become more and more death-prone, ready to die. In fact, waiting to die; in fact, hoping to die, desiring to die, dreaming to die. In the East the greatest ideal is how to die so utterly that you are never born again. That is the ultimate death.

In the West the idea is how to create a situation where you don’t die at all; you go on living – on and on and on. Both attitudes are lop-sided. Both attitudes create a kind of imbalance in you, and that imbalance is the misery of man.

A real man, an authentic man, will face all; he will not choose. He will not say, “I will see only the valley and I will be oblivious of the peak,” or “I will only see the peak and I will remain oblivious of the valley.” He will see both as they are. He will not choose.

Not to choose is Zen. To be choiceless is Zen: to see things as they are in their totality – good and bad, heaven and hell, life and death, day and night, summer and winter – to see them as they are. Zen is not an either/or philosophy. It does not give you a choice because it says, “If you choose, you will always be afraid of the one that you have not chosen.”

See into it: if you choose something, you will remain constantly trapped with that which you have not chosen, because the not-chosen is the rejected, the not-chosen is the repressed. The not-chosen is a hankering to take revenge. The not-chosen is getting ready – someday, in a weaker moment, it will explode with a vengeance.

So the man who is sex-against is always afraid of the vengeance of sex – it can explode any moment. And the man who is afraid of death, death-against, is naturally always trembling death is coming. He knows, there is a tacit understanding. Whether you see it or not, it makes no difference. Just not seeing it will not make it disappear. It is there. You know it is there and it is coming. And it is coming closer every moment.

The man who is sex-against will be afraid of sexuality erupting any moment in his consciousness. And the man who is death-against will be afraid of death coming any day and possessing him and destroying him.

Both kinds of people remain fear-oriented; and both kinds of people remain in a fighting state, continuously conflicting. They never come to a calm tranquility, an equilibrium. Equilibrium is when you don’t choose, when you see the fact as it is. Life is not an either/or question, there is nothing to choose. It is all together. By your choice, nothing is changed. By your choice, only you get into a kind of ignorance. That which you choose is part, and that which you are not choosing is also part of reality. The unchosen part of reality will remain hanging around you, waiting to be accepted. It cannot disappear, there is no way for it to disappear. If you love life too much and you don’t want to see the fact of death… death is there hanging around like a shadow.

Zen says: See both – they are one piece, they are together. Seeing them together, without any choice, without any prejudice, you transcend them. Seeing them together, you are no more identified with life and no more identified with death. When you are not identified, you are free, you are liberated.

Identification is what imprisonment is. Let this be understood perfectly, because that is the root cause of all our misery, slavery.

Identification – this word is very significant. It means you get identified with a part. You become one with one part of life, that part you start thinking of as if it is the whole. Nothing is wrong with the part as such, but the part is the part; it is not the whole. When you start thinking of the part as the whole, partiality arises. When you start claiming for the part as if it is the whole, you are becoming blind to the whole. Now you will be in conflict with reality. And you cannot win against reality, remember it. You cannot win against reality. It is impossible. It does not happen, it cannot happen. You can win only with reality, never against reality. Victory is with reality. That’s why all the great Masters have put so much emphasis on surrender. Surrender means to be with reality. Then victory is certain – because reality is going to win. It is always the reality that wins. If you are with it, you will be a winner; if you are against it, you are going to be a loser. And we are all losers, we have been fighting.

We choose a small part and claim that this is the whole. We choose life, we take life out of its basic context – death – and we say, “This is me. I am life.” Now you are getting into trouble. You will be encaged in this identification. How will you manage death then? – and it is there, and it is happening every moment, and it is going to take you unawares one day.

You get identified with the body, “I am the body,” then there is trouble. You get identified with the mind, “I am the mind,” then there is trouble. Getting identified is getting into trouble. Identification is the very stuff ignorance is made of. Once identification is dropped, once you don’t get identified with anything, you simply remain a witness – not saying, “This I am” or “that I am.” You simply remain a witness. You see life as passing, you see death as passing, you see sex as passing, you see frustration, joy, success, failure. You go on seeing; you remain a pure seer. You don’t get hooked with anything; you don’t claim “I am this.” Without claiming, who are you? Without confining and defining yourself, without giving a limitation to yourself, if you can remain flowing, just seeing, there is liberation. There is great liberation.

Unidentified one is free. Identified, one is encaged.

Zen says: Don’t be identified with anything whatsoever. And then, naturally, transcendence happens. You see misery coming and you remain a watcher. You see misery arising, engulfing you, surrounding you like great dark smoke, but you remain a watcher. You see it, you don’t judge. You don’t say, “This is me,” or “This is not me.” You don’t say anything at all, you remain non-judgemental. You simply see this is the fact, that there is misery. 

Then as it had come one day, one day it starts disappearing. Clouds had gathered and now they are disappearing, and there is great sunshine and happiness. You don’t get identified with that either. You just see that sunshine has come back; clouds have disappeared. You don’t say, “This is me,” you don’t say, “This is not me.” You don’t make any statement at all about yourself. You simply go on watching.

Many times, it will happen – misery will come, happiness will come – many times you will succeed, many times you will fail. Many times, you will be depressed, and many times you will feel very high. Watching all this duality, by and by you will see that you are beyond all these dual pairs of things.

And so is a pair – life and death. And so is a pair – mind and body. And so is a pair – the world and nirvana. All are dual pairs. When you can see thoroughly, when you can see transparently, and you don’t choose, you are something transcendental – the witness. That witness is never born and never dies.

Death and life come into that witness’ vision, but that witness is eternal. It was there before you were born, and it will be there when you are gone. You have been coming into the world millions of times, and you may yet be coming – and still you have never come. The world appears in you just like a reflection appears in a mirror. Nothing, in fact, happens to the mirror. Or do you think something happens to the mirror?

You are standing before a mirror and the mirror reflects your face. Do you think something is happening to the mirror? Nothing is happening. You are gone, the mirror is empty. Somebody else comes before the mirror, the mirror reflects that face – beautiful or ugly – it has no choice, it is choiceless. You bring a beautiful rose-flower, it reflects; you bring an ugly thorn, it reflects. You bring a beautiful face, it reflects; you bring an ugly face, it reflects. It has no choice. it does not say, “This is not good and I am not going to reflect,” and, “This is very good and I will cling to it. Please don’t go away from here. remain here. I am you; you are me.” No, the mirror simply reflects.

This mirror-like quality is what is meant by witnessing. And that’s why the mirror remains clean of all impressions. It goes on reflecting, but no impressions are collected on it. This is the state of awareness. This is what meditation is all about.

Watch, see, be alert, but don’t choose. And don’t get into any part. The part is not the whole. The part is part, and sooner or later the part will go, because the part cannot stay long enough. And when it goes you will be miserable because you will not be willing to leave it; you will cling to it, because you got identified with it. But it will have to go, and you will feel miserable and you will cry and you will weep – but that is your creation. If you had remained like a mirror there would be no problem. Whatsoever happens, happens. You remain undis-turbed and undistracted.

This is the very essential core of all religions. It is not a question of practice, it is not a question of learning concepts, dogmas. It is not a question of reciting sutras. It is a question of insight! And this insight is available to you. There is no need to go to anybody for this insight. You have been carrying it all along. From the very beginning it has been so. It is there, the mirror is there. Just start using it.

Try sometimes and you will be surprised! The same thing that has been disturbing you in the past no more disturbs. Somebody insults you – you simply watch, you don’t get identified with it. You don’t say, “He has insulted me.” How can he insult you? You don’t know yourself who you are, how can he know who you are? He cannot insult you. He may have been insulting some image that he carries of you, but that is not you. He may be having some idea about you, and that idea he is insulting. How can he insult you? He cannot see you at all.

If you remain alert and watchful, you will be surprised – the insult came and went and nothing happened inside you, nothing was stirred, The calmness was radiant. No vibration, no wave, not even a ripple arose in you. And you will be tremendously blissful knowing this mirror like quality. Then you are becoming integrated.

Then somebody comes and praises you. Try it again. Be watchful. Don’t think he is praising you. He may be praising somebody he thinks you are. He may be praising you for some ulterior motives of his own. That is none of your business. You simply see the fact that “this man is praising me.” But remain a mirror. Don’t swallow it! Don’t cling to it! If you swallow it you will be in difficulty. Then ego arises – with identification, ego.

And then you start expecting that everybody should praise you like this man. Nobody’s going to praise you like that. Then there is hurt and misery. And tomorrow this man may not praise you again. His motive may have been fulfilled. Or tomorrow he may start thinking that he was wrong, or tomorrow he may take revenge. Whenever somebody praises you, some day he is going to insult you too – because he has to take revenge, he has to put things right.

An imbalance arises. When somebody is praising you, he is not feeling really very good; it hurts him to praise you. He has to show you that you are higher than him – that hurts. He may not show it right now, but he will keep the hurt, the wound, inside. And some day if the opportunity arises, he will show you who you are; he will put you in your right place. And then you will be very much hurt. This man has been praising you so much, and now he hurts you. But he has not done anything. It is you – you started clinging to the idea that he had put in your mind.

Not getting identified with anything, watching, keeping the mirror-like quality is what brings one, by and by, closer to enlightenment.

Rinzai was giving a lecture one day on the ‘True Man of No Title’. That’s what I mean when I say the mirror-like quality – the ‘True Man of No Title’. There is inside you a True Man of No Title. It is neither man nor woman, neither Hindu nor Mohammedan, neither good nor bad – it has no titles – neither educated nor uneducated, neither Eastern nor Western, it has no titles – neither a saint nor a sinner, it has no titles. And that is the true man inside you.

Rinzai was giving a lecture one day on the ‘True Man of No Title’. This was the title of his lecture:

A monk, quite perplexed, went up to him and asked, “What is this True Man of No Title?” Rinzai grabbed him by the neck and yelled, “Speak! Speak!” The monk was dumbfounded and could say nothing. Rinzai let go of him and exclaimed: “What worthless stuff is this True Man of No Title!”

What Rinzai did was to create a situation. The man asked, “What is this True Man of No Title?” Rinzai grabbed him by the neck and shouted, “Speak! Speak!” He has shocked him. In that shock all titles have disappeared. In that shock he is nobody, simply nobody, a mirror. In that shock the mind is no more spinning. In that shock he is simply dumbfounded. Rinzai has created a situation for him to look into this real man of no title, this mirrorlike quality.

But the man missed, he started thinking how to answer. “What is my Master doing to me? Is this the right thing to do to a questioner?” He must have got into thoughts like that. He missed the point. That’s why Rinzai exclaimed: “What worthless stuff is this True Man of No Title!”

The moment your mirror starts clinging to something, you become worthless. The moment your mirror is covered and attached to something; it is collecting dust – you become worthless. The moment the mirror collects no dust, you have immense worth – you are a god. The only difference between a Buddha and you is this much: that your mirror has collected much dust and Buddha’s mirror has become completely clean of all dust. Your thoughts are nothing but dust.

But sometimes you value dust very much. You say, “This is golden dust, this is no ordinary dust. This is pure gold! I have to hold it. I should not allow anybody to rob me of it; it is very valuable.”

That’s how you have become attached to life. You think it is very valuable. And because you become attached, you think of death as the enemy, the robber. Death is coming and it will rob you of all your gold, of all the precious stones that you have carried all along. It will take all the dust off your mirror – and that’s all you have been thinking is your life. Hence, you are afraid.

If you see the point, death is a friend. In fact, a far greater friend than life itself. Why do I say so?

I say so because in life you get attached, you collect dust. Death takes all your attachments and all your dust away. If you can see the point, you will feel tremendously grateful to death. What you cannot do, death does for you. That’s why if you can do it, then there is no death for you; then there is no need for death. If a man can clean his consciousness through meditation, then he will never die.

I’m not saying that he will not die in the body – that is a natural thing. But he will never come across death. Death happens only to the dust that collects on the mirror. The mirror never dies! The mirror itself is undying. This witnessing is an undying process, it is eternal. The traveler continues; only the clothes become torn and rotten, and they have to be changed. The traveler continues; only dust gathers on the body and you have to take a bath.

But if you start thinking that your dust is you, you will not take any bath. There are people who are very much afraid of taking a shower – as if they will lose something, something valuable. There are people who are afraid of meditation because meditation is a shower. It takes all the nonsense thoughts that you have collected, accumulated – all the junk that you go on carrying in your head.

And your head is suffering, is very heavy, and you are miserable, but still you go on carrying it thinking that it is valuable.

Death is a great friend, it unburdens you. It unburdens you of all that you have accumulated. Once this unburdening is allowed voluntarily, death becomes samadhi. If you don’t allow it voluntarily, then death is not a samadhi, it is a pain. Now see the point. The same thing can be utter pain, and the same thing can be utter joy. It depends on your interpretation – how you look at things, how you penetrate a certain experience, how deep you go into it. 

If you are a clinger, very possessive, then death will be very painful and will be a great anguish. You will suffer. You will not suffer because of death, you will suffer because of your clinging, because of your possessiveness, because of your attachments, because of your greed, and all that.

But if you are not a clinger, you are not very possessive, you are not greedy, you are not egoistic, you are not aggressive, suddenly death’s quality has changed. It comes like a fresh breeze of God. It comes and cleanses you. It gives you a great rest much needed. It purifies you. It takes you into the eternal source from where you will rise again. If you go voluntarily into it you will rise in a better form, because you have learned something from the last form. If you don’t go voluntarily, then too death will throw you into the furnace, will burn you, but forcibly, and you will come back again into the same form because you have not learned anything.

The student who has not learned anything has to be sent to the same class again and again and again. A Buddha is a person who has learned all the possibilities of all forms. He has been a rock, and he learned it. He has been a tree, and he learned it. He has been a tiger, and he learned it. He has been a man and a woman, he learned it. He has been a god and he learned it. And he went on learning and learning and learning…. And one day he has finished all forms. He has gone through all forms – watching, choicelessly alert, keeping his mirror bright, un-clouded, he has come through all the forms. And he has now come to a point where no more learning is needed. He has learned the lesson. Then he disappears. Then death becomes nirvana. Then he spreads all over existence, then he becomes a fragrance. Then he enters the cosmic form. Now small forms are no more needed. He has learned all that was there in those small forms. All that was contained in those small forms he has decoded. He has become a grown-up. Now there is no need for him to go back to school. He becomes part of the whole. He spreads over the whole. Then he is a song in the heart of the cosmic mind, a blessing, a peace. He does not come any more, he has gone beyond the point of return.

This is the ultimate learning. But one has to go through all the forms. And death brings a great lesson, far greater than life. And death brings a very intense possibility to understand, because life is spread long range – death comes in a very, very potential way in a very short time. In a single moment it shakes you. If you are not alert you will miss that moment, the moment is very tiny. If you are alert, then that very moment becomes a door into the divine.

Once you are not attached to death, once you are not afraid of death, death becomes a game, a play.

Listen to this beautiful story:

Almost blind at the age of ninety-six and no longer able to teach or work about the monastery, Zen Master Yamamoto decided it was time to die, so he stopped eating. When asked by his monks why he refused his food, he replied that he had out-lived his usefulness and was only a bother to everybody.

Now ninety-six… it is enough. And the old man thinks that now it is time to die, so he stops eating food. Death is just a rest. It is time to rest. He starts preparing to retire. This is the understanding that is needed. 

The disciples told him, “If you die now” – it was January and very cold – “when it is so cold, everybody will be uncomfortable at your funeral and you will be an even greater nuisance, so please eat!”

Those were also great people. Mm? – the reason they give: “Please just think of the cold. You will be dying, it is January and much too cold, and you will be a greater nuisance to all of us. We will have to go to your funeral – so start eating.”

This can happen only in a Zen monastery with a Zen Master and Zen disciples. Nobody is worried about the death. Death is okay. The Master is ready to die, but look at the disciples. Those disciples are also very close to enlightenment. They say, “Stop your nonsense! Right now it is not a good time. Why do you want to create trouble for us? Yes, you are a bother – ninety-six years old – but that will be even more bothersome, dying in the middle of January. Please eat!”

So the old man laughed, he resumed eating, but when it became warm again he stopped, and not long after quietly toppled over and died.

Death, too, is then a game, something to be played with. Then you are not afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of. Then you are not even serious. Look at the non-seriousness of the whole thing. Can you think of something like this happening in the West? Impossible! It can only happen in the East where people have accepted life and death both, as they are.

And this can happen only when you know that nobody is going to die – that’s why they could joke with the old man, and the old man laughed. He was not offended. Just think of the disciples saying, “This will be a nuisance, sir, dying in the middle of January. It is so cold and it will be a great bother for all of us to go to the funeral.” Just see the point of it, the humor of it – as if life and death are nothing but jokes, as if the old man is just going to play an act, as if it is not truth!

That’s how it is. Simply as if he is going to play an act. “Please don’t play it right now, later on you can do it when the days are warmer.” The old man laughed; he didn’t feel offended. He must have enjoyed it tremendously. This was a great insight in his disciples. Now they even take death humorously. When you start taking death also humorously, you are a man of under-standing. You are, by and by, turning into The Man of No Title, the real Man of No Title. When you take death also with humor, you have already gone beyond it. And to go beyond life and death is to go into your reality.

Another anecdote:

When Tozan was dying a monk said to him, “Master, your four elements are out of harmony, but is there anyone who is never ill?”

“There is,” said Tozan.

He was very ill. The whole body was just disintegrating. The four elements were no more together. It was a kind of riot inside his body, Elements were trying to get free of each other. Tozan was old and dying, and the disciple asks, “Your four elements are out of harmony, but is there anyone who is never ill?”

“There is,” said Tozan.

“Does this one look at you?” asked the monk.

“It is my function to look at him,” answered Tozan.

“How about when you yourself look at him?” asked the monk.

“At that moment I see no illness,” replied Tozan.

In you there are two worlds: the world of birth and death, and the world that is transcendental. Yes, the body can be very ill, and yet there may be no illness in you – if you don’t get attached to illness, if you don’t get identified with illness, if you don’t start thinking “I am ill.” It is only a kind of hypnosis. It has to be learned through many many doors.

When you feel hungry, what do you say? You say, “I am hungry.” You are not – the body is hungry; the organism is hungry. You are just a watcher, you are just seeing that the body is hungry. Then you eat and you fed satisfied, and you say, “Now I am satisfied, fully satisfied.” You are not satisfied, because you were not hungry in the first place! First you had seen hunger in the body, now you feel satisfaction in the body – but you are just a witness. First your mirror was reflecting the hungry man standing in front of you, and now your mirror reflects the satisfied man standing before you – but the mirror was never hungry and the mirror is not satisfied either.

One day you are healthy, another day you are ill – the mirror reflects! One day you are young, another day you are old. One day you are loved, another day you are hated. One day appreciated, another day condemned. The mirror goes on reflecting. The function of the mirror is just to reflect whatsoever is the case. But each time you get identified.

Stop this identifying yourself with things that are standing in front of you, and suddenly you will see you have never been ill and never been hungry and never been born, and never are you going to die. You are the very source of eternity. You are eternal.

-Osho

From Zen: The Path of Paradox, V.3, Discourse #7

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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How Not to Get Identified – Osho

Not to be identified with mind and body – still I don’t know how to do it. I tell myself: You are not the mind, don’t listen to your fear, love yourself, be content, etc., etc. 

Please explain again how not to get identified or, at least, why I still don’t understand you.

It’s not a question of telling yourself that you are not the mind, you are not the body, because the one who is telling it is the mind. That way you are never going to get out of the mind. All telling is done by the mind itself, so you will be emphasizing the mind more and more. The mind is very subtle; you have to be very, very alert about it. Don’t use it. If you use it you strengthen it. You cannot use your mind to destroy your mind itself. You have to understand that this mind cannot be used for its own suicide.

When you say, “I am not the body,” it is the mind saying so. When you say, “I am not the mind,” it is again the mind saying so. Look into the fact; don’t try to say anything. Language, verbalization, is not needed. Just a deep look. Just look inside. Don’t say anything. But I know your trouble. From the very beginning we are taught not to see but to say. The moment you see the rose flower you say, “How beautiful!” Finished. The rose flower is gone – you killed it. Now something has come between you and the rose. “How beautiful it is!” – These words now will function as a wall.

And one word leads to another, one thought to another. And they move in association, they never move alone. You will never find a single thought alone. They live in a herd; they are herd animals. So when once you have said, “How beautiful is the rose!” you are on the track; the train has started moving. Now the word “beautiful” will remind you of some woman you once loved. Roses forgotten, the beautiful is forgotten, now the idea, a fantasy, imagination, memory, of a woman. And then the woman will lead to many other things. The woman you loved had a beautiful dog. Here you go! And now there is no end to it.

Just see the mechanism of the mind, how it functions, and don’t use the mechanism. Resist that temptation. It is a great temptation because you are trained for it. You work almost like a robot; it is automatic.

Now the new revolution that is coming into the world of education has a few proposals. One proposal is that small children should not be taught language first. First they should be allowed time to crystallize their vision, to crystallize their experiencing. For example, there is an elephant, and you say to the child, “The elephant is the biggest animal.” You think you are not saying anything nonsensical, you think it is absolutely reasonable and the child has to be told about the fact; but no facts need to be told. It has to be experienced. The moment you say, “The elephant is the biggest animal,” you are bringing something which is not part of the elephant. Why do you say the animal is the biggest animal? Comparison has entered, which is not part of the fact.

An elephant is simply an elephant, neither big nor small. Of course, if you put it by the side of a horse, it is big, or by the side of an ant it is very big; but you are bringing the ant in the moment you say the elephant is the biggest animal. You are bringing something which is not part of the fact. You are falsifying the fact; comparison has come in.

Just let the child see. Don’t say anything. Let him feel. When you take the child to the garden, don’t say the trees are green. Let the child feel, let the child absorb. Simple thing, “The grass is green” – don’t say it.

This is my observation, that many times when the grass is not green you go on seeing it as green – and there are a thousand and one shades of green. Don’t say that the trees are green, because then the child will see just green – any tree and he will see green. Green is not one color; there are a thousand and one shades of green.

Let the child feel, let the child absorb the uniqueness of each tree, in fact of each leaf. Let him soak, let him become like a sponge who soaks reality, the facticity of it, the existential. And once he is well grounded and his experience is well-rooted, then tell him the words; then they will not disturb him. Then they will not destroy his vision, clarity. Then he will be able to use language without being distracted by it. Right now your language goes on distracting you.

So what is to be done? Start seeing things without naming them, without labeling them, without saying “good,” “bad,” without dividing them. Just see and allow the fact to be there in your presence without any judgement, condemnation, appreciation whatsoever. Let it be there in its total nudeness. You simply be present to it. Learn more and more how not to use language. Unlearn the conditioning, the constant chattering inside.

This you cannot do suddenly. You will have to do it by and by, slowly. Only then, at the very end of it, can you simply watch your mind. No need to say, “I am not this mind.” If you are not, then what is the point of saying it? You are not. If you are the mind, then what is the point of repeating that you are not the mind? Just by repeating it, it is not going to become a realization.

Watch, don’t say anything. The mind is there like a constant traffic noise. Watch it. Sit by the side and see. See this is mind. No need to create any antagonism. Just watch, and in watching, one day, suddenly the consciousness takes a shift, changes, a radical change – from the object suddenly it starts focusing on the subject, if you are a watcher. In that moment you know you are not the mind. It is not a question of saying, it is not a theory. In that moment you know – not because Patanjali says so, not because your reason, intellect, says so. For no reason at all, simply it is so. The facticity explodes on you; the truth reveals itself to you.

Then suddenly you are so far away from the mind you will laugh how you could believe in the first place that you were the mind, how you could believe that you were the body. It will look simply ridiculous. You will laugh at the whole stupidity of it.

“Not to be identified with mind and body – still I don’t know how to do it.” Who is asking this question, “How to do it?” See it immediately; who is asking this question, “How to do it?” It is the mind who wants to manipulate, it is the mind who wants to dominate. Now the mind wants to use even Patanjali. Now the mind says, “Perfectly true. I have understood that you are not the mind” – and once you realize that you are not the mind you will become a super mind. The greed arises in the mind; the mind says, “Good. I have to become a super mind.”

The greed for the ultimate, for bliss, the greed to be in eternity, to be a god, has arisen in the mind. The mind says, “Now I cannot rest unless I have achieved this ultimate, what it is.” The mind asks, “How to do it?”

Remember, the mind always asks how to do a thing. The “how” is a mind question. Because “how” means the technique. The “how” means, “Show me the way so I can dominate, manipulate. Give me the technique.” The mind is the technician. “Just give me the technique and I will be able to do it.”

There is no technique of awareness. You have to be aware to be aware. There is no technique. What is the technique of love? You have to love to know what love is. What is the technique of swimming? You have to swim. Of course in the beginning your swimming is a little haphazard. By and by you learn… but you learn by swimming. There is no other way. If somebody asks you, “What is the technique of bicycling?” – And you do bicycle, you ride on the cycle – but if somebody asks, you will have to shrug your shoulders. You will say, “Difficult to say.” What is the technique? How do you balance yourself on two wheels? You must be doing something. You are doing something, but not as a technique; rather as a knack. A technique is that which can be taught, and a knack is that which has to be known. A technique is that which can be transformed into a teaching, and a knack is something which you can learn but you cannot be taught. So learn by and by.

And start from less complicated things. Don’t suddenly jump to the very complicated. This is the last, the most complicated thing: to become aware of the mind, to see the mind and see that you are not the mind. To see so deeply that you are no longer the body and no longer the mind, that is the last thing. Don’t jump. Start with small things.

You are feeling hungry. Just see the fact. Where is the hunger? In you, or somewhere outside you? Close your eyes, grope in your inner darkness, try to feel and touch and figure out where the hunger is.

You have a headache. Before you take the aspirin do a little meditation. It may be that the aspirin is not needed then. Just close your eyes and feel where the headache is exactly, pin it, point it, focus on it. And you will be amazed, that it is not such a big thing as you were imagining before, and it is not spread all over the head. It has a locus, and the closer you come to the locus, the more you become distant from it. The more diffused the headache, the more you are identified with it. The more clear, focused, defined, demarked, localized, the more distant you are.

Then there comes a point where it is just like a needle point, absolutely focused; then you will come to have a few glimpses. Sometimes the needle point will disappear; there will be no headache. You will be surprised, “Where has it gone?” Again it will come. Again focus; again it will disappear. At the perfect focusing, the headache disappears, because at the perfect focusing you are so far away from your head that you cannot feel the headache. Try it. Start with small things; don’t jump to the last thing so immediately.

Patanjali also has travelled a long way to come to these sutras of viveka, discrimination, awareness. He has been talking about so many things as preparatory, as basic requisites, very necessary. Unless you have fulfilled all that, it will be difficult for you just to non-identify yourself with the mind and body.

So never ask “how” about it. It has nothing to do with “how.” It is a simple understanding. If you understand me, in that very understanding you will be able to see the point. I don’t say you will be able to understand it. I say you will be able to see it. Because the moment we say “understand,” intellect comes in, the mind starts functioning. “Seeing it” is something which has nothing to do with the mind.

Sometimes you are walking on a lonely path and the sun is setting and the darkness is descending, and suddenly you see a snake crossing the path. What do you do? You brood about it? You think about it, what to do, how to do it, whom to ask? You simply jump out of the way. That jumping is a seeing; it has nothing to do with mentation. It has nothing to do with thinking. You will think later on, but right now it is just a seeing. The very fact that the snake is there, the moment you become aware of the snake, you jump out of the way. It has to be so because mind takes time and the snake won’t take time. You have to jump without asking the mind. The mind is a process; snakes are faster than your mind. The snake will not wait, will not give you time to think what to do. Suddenly the mind is put aside and you function out of the no-mind, you function out of your being. In deep dangers it always happens.

That is the reason why people are so attracted to danger. Moving in a speedy car, going one hundred miles per hour or even more, what is the thrill? The thrill is of no-mind. When you are driving a car one hundred miles per hour, there is no time to think. You have to act out of no-mind. If something happens and you start thinking about it, you are lost. You have to act immediately; not a single moment is to be wasted. So the greater the speed of the car, the more and more the mind is put aside, and you feel a deep thrill – a great sensation of being alive – as if you have been dead up to now and suddenly you have dropped all deadness and life has arisen in you.

Danger has a deep, hypnotic attraction, but the attraction is of no-mind. If you can do it sitting just by the side of a tree or a river or just in your room, there is no need to take such risk. It can be done anywhere. You have just to put the mind aside – wherever you can put the mind aside – and just see things without the mind interfering.

I have heard:

An anthropologist in Java came across a little-known tribe with a strange funeral rite. When a man died, they buried him for sixty days and then dug him up. He was placed in a dark room on a cool slab, and twenty of the tribe’s most beautiful maidens danced erotic dances entirely in the nude around the corpse for three hours.

“Why do you do this?” the anthropologist asked the chief of the tribe who replied, ”If he does not get up we are sure he is dead!”

That may be the attraction of forbidden things. If sex is forbidden it becomes attractive. Because all that is allowed becomes part of the mind. Try to understand this.

All that is allowed becomes part of the mind; it is already programmed. You are expected to love your wife or your husband; it is part of the mind. But the moment you start becoming interested in somebody else’s wife, it is not part of the mind; it is not programmed. It gives you a certain freedom, certain freedom to move off the social track, where everything is convenient, where everything is comfortable – but every. thing is also dead. You become deeply interested in somebody else’s woman. He may be fed up with that woman, he may be just trying to find out some other way to become alive again – he may even get interested in your wife.

The question is not of a particular woman or man. The question is of the forbidden, the not allowed, the immoral, the repressed – that it is not part of your accepted mind. It has not been fed into your mind.

Unless man is completely capable of becoming a no-mind, these attractions continue.

And this is the absurdity of the whole thing: that these attractions were created by the people who think themselves moral, puritan, religious. The more they reject something, the more attractive it becomes, more inviting; because it gives you a chance to get out of the rut, it gives you a chance to escape somewhere which is not social. Otherwise the society goes on and on, crowding you everywhere. Even when you are loving your wife the society stands there watching.

Even in your privacy the society is there, as much as anywhere else, because the society is in your mind, in the program that it has given to your mind. From there it goes on functioning. It is a very cunning device.

Once in a while everybody feels just to do something which is not allowed, just to say yes to something for which always one has been forced to say no – just to go against oneself. Because that “oneself” is nothing but the program that the society has given to you.

The more strict a society, the more possibility of rebels. The more free a society, the less possibility for rebels. I will call a society revolutionary where rebels disappear because they are no longer needed. I will call a society free when nothing is rejected, so there is no morbid attraction in it. If the society is against the drugs, drugs will attract you, because they give you an opportunity to put the mind aside. You are burdened with it too much.

Remember, this can be done without being suicidal. The thrill that comes to you when you are doing something which the society does not allow is coming from a state of no mind, but at a very great cost. Just look at small children hiding somewhere behind a wall smoking. Watch their faces – so glad. They will be coughing and tears will be coming to them because taking smoke in and throwing it out is just foolish. I don’t say it is a sin. Once you say it is a sin it becomes attractive. I simply say it is stupid, it is unintelligent. But watch a small child puffing a cigarette – his face. Maybe he is in deep trouble, his whole breathing system is feeling troubled, nauseous, tears are coming, and he is feeling tense – but still glad he can do something which is not allowed. He can do something which is not part of his mind, which is not expected. He feels free.

This can be attained very easily through meditation. There is no need to move on such suicidal paths. If you can learn how to put the mind aside….

When you were born you had no mind; you were born without any mind. That’s why you cannot remember a few years of your life, just the beginning years, three, four, five years. You don’t remember them. Why? You were there, why don’t you remember? The mind was not yet crystallized. You go backwards, you can remember something that happened near the age of four, and then suddenly there is a blank, then you cannot go more deeply. What happened? You were there, very alive. In fact more alive than you will ever be again, because scientists say that at the age of four a child has learned, known, seen, seventy-five percent of all his knowledge that is going to be there in his whole life. Seventy-five percent at the age of four! You have lived seventy five percent of your life already, but no memory? Because the mind was not yet crystallized. The language was to be learned, things were to be categorized, labeled. Unless you can label a thing you cannot remember it. How to remember it? You cannot file it in your mind somewhere. You don’t have a name for it. So first the name has to be learned; then you can remember.

A child comes without mind. Why am I insisting on this? To tell you that your being can exist without the mind; there is no necessity for the mind to be there. It is just a structure that is useful in the society, but don’t get too fixated with the structure. Remain loose so you can slip out of it. It is difficult, but if you start doing it by and by you will be able to.

When you come home from the office, on the way try to drop the office completely. Remember again and again that you are going home, no need to carry the office there. Try not to remember the office. If you catch yourself red handed remembering something of the office again, drop it immediately, get out of it, slip out of it. Make it a point that at home you will be at home. And in the office forget all about the home, the wife, the children, and everything. By and by learn to use the mind and not to be used by it.

You go to sleep and the mind continues. You again and again say, “Stop!” but it doesn’t listen because you have never trained it to listen to you. Otherwise the moment you say, “Stop!” it has to stop. It is a mechanism. The mechanism cannot say, “No!” You put the fan on, it has to function; you put it off, it has to stop. When you stop a fan, the fan cannot say, “No! I would like to continue a little longer.”  It is a biocomputer, your mind. It is a very subtle mechanism, very useful; a very good slave but a very bad master.

So just be more alert, try to see things more. Live a few moments every day, or a few hours if you can manage, without the mind. Sometimes swimming in the river, when you put your clothes on the bank, then and there put the mind also. In fact make a gesture of also putting the mind there and go into the river alert, radiant with alertness, remembering continuously. But I am not saying verbalizing, I am not saying that you go on saying to yourself, “No, I am not the mind,” because then this is the mind. Just nonverbal, tacit understanding.

Sitting in your garden, lying down on the lawn, forget it. There is no need. Playing with your children, forget it. There is no need. Loving your wife, forget it. There is no need. Eating your food, what is the point of carrying the mind? Or taking a shower, what is the point of taking the mind in the bathroom?

Just by and by, slowly… and don’t try to overdo, because then you will be a failure. If you try to overdo, it will be difficult and you will say, “It is impossible.” No, try it in bits.

Let me tell you one anecdote:

Cohen had three daughters and was desperately looking around for sons-in-law. One such young man came on the horizon and Cohen grabbed him. The three daughters were paraded in front of him after a lavish meal. There was Rachel, the eldest, who was decidedly plain – in fact she was downright ugly. The second daughter, Esther, was not really bad looking but was decidedly plump – in fact she was disgustingly fat. The third Sonia, was a gorgeous, lovely beauty by any standards.

Cohen pulled the young man aside and said, “Well, what do you think of them? I have got dowries for them – do not worry. Five hundred pounds for Rachel, two hundred fifty pounds for Esther, and three thousand pounds for Sonia.”

The young man was dumbfounded: “But why, why have you got so much more dowry for the most beautiful one?”

Cohen explained, “Well, it is like this. She is just a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy little bit pregnant.”

So start getting a little bit pregnant every day – with awareness. Don’t just become pregnant in a wholesale way. A little bit, by and by. Don’t try to overdo, because that too is again a trick of the mind. Whenever you see a point, the mind tries to overdo it. Of course you fail. When you fail the mind says, “See, I was all the time saying to you this is impossible.” Make very small targets. Move one foot at a time, inch by inch even. There is no hurry. Life is eternal.

But this is a trick of the mind. The mind says, “Now you have seen the point. Do it immediately – become non-identified with the mind.” And of course the mind laughs at your foolishness. For lives together you have been training the mind, training yourself, getting identified; then in the sudden flash of a moment you want to get out of it. It is not so easy. Bit by bit, inch by inch, slowly, feeling your way, move. And don’t ask too much; otherwise you will lose all confidence in yourself. And once that is lost, the mind becomes a permanent master.

People try to do this many times. For thirty years a person has been smoking, and then suddenly one day, in a crazy moment, he decides not to smoke at all. For one hour, two hours he carries on, but a great desire arises, a tremendous desire arises. His whole being seems to be upset, in a chaos. Then by and by he feels this is too much. All his work stops; he cannot work in the factory, he cannot work in the once. He is almost always clouded by the urge to smoke. It seems too disturbing, at such a great cost. Then again in another crazy moment he takes the cigarette out of the pocket, starts smoking, and feels relaxed; but he has done a very dangerous experiment.

In those three hours when he didn’t smoke, he has learned one thing about himself: that he is impotent, that he cannot do anything, that he cannot follow a decision, that he has no will, that he is powerless. Once this settles, and this settles in everyone by and by…. You try once with smoking, another time with dieting, and another time with something else, and again and again you fail. The failure becomes a permanent thing in you. By and by you start becoming a driftwood; you say, “I cannot do anything.” And if you feel you cannot do, then who can do?

But the whole foolishness arises because the mind tricked you. It always told you to immediately do something for which a great training and discipline is needed; and then it made you feel impotent. If you are impotent the mind becomes very potent. This is always in proportion: if you are potent, the mind becomes impotent. If you are potent, then the mind cannot be potent; if you are impotent, the mind becomes potent. It lives on your energy, it lives on your failure, it lives on your defeated self, defeated will.

So never overdo.

I have heard about one Chinese mystic, Mencius, a great disciple of Confucius. A man came to him who was an opium taker, and the man said, “It is very, very impossible. I have tried every way, every method. Everything fails finally. I am a complete failure. Can you help me”’

Mencius tried to understand his whole story, listened to it, came to understand what had happened: he has been overdoing. He gave him a piece of chalk and told him, “Weigh your opium against this chalk, and whenever you weigh, write “one,” next time write “two,” again write “three,” and go on writing on the wall how many times you have taken opium. And I will come after one month.”

The man tried. Each time he took opium he had to weigh it against the chalk, and the chalk was disappearing by and by, very slowly, because each time he had to write “one,” then with the same chalk “two,” “three”…. It started disappearing. It was almost invisible in the beginning; each time the quantity was reduced, but in a very subtle way. After one month when Mencius went to see the man, the man laughed; he said, “You tricked me! And… it is working. It is so invisible – that I cannot feel the change, but the change is happening. Half the chalk has disappeared – and with half the chalk, half the opium has disappeared.”

Mencius said to him, “If you want to reach the goal never run. Go slowly.”

One of the most famous sentences of Mencius is: “If you want to reach, never run.” If you really want to reach, there is no need even to walk. If you really want to reach, you are already there. Go so slow! If the world had listened to Mencius, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Chuang Tzu there would be a totally different world. If you ask them how to manage our Olympics, they will say, “Give the prize to the one who gets defeated fast. Give the first prize to one who is the slowest walker, not for the fastest runner. Let there be a competition, but the prize goes to one who is the slowest.”

If you move slowly in life, you will attain much, and with grace and grandeur and dignity. Don’t be violent; life cannot be changed by any violence. Be artful. Buddha has a special word for it; he calls it upaya, “Be skillful.” It is a complex phenomenon. Watch every step and move very cautiously. You are moving in a very, very dangerous place, as if moving between two peaks on a tightrope, like a tightrope walker. Balance each moment, and don’t try to run; otherwise failure is certain.

“Not to be identified with mind and body – still I don’t know how to do it. I tell myself: you are not the mind, don’t listen to your fear, love yourself, be content….” Stop all this nonsense. Don’t say anything to the mind, because the sayer is the mind. You rather be silent and listen. In silence there is no mind. In small gaps when there is no word there is no mind. Mind is absolutely linguistic, it is language. So start slipping into the gaps. Sometime just see, as if you are an idiot, not thinking just seeing. Sometimes go and watch people who are known as idiots. They are simply sitting there – looking but not looking at anything. Relaxed, perfectly relaxed, their face has a beauty. No tension, nothing to do, completely at ease, at home. Just watch them.

If you can sit for one hour like an idiot every day, you will attain.

Lao Tzu has said, “Everybody seems to be so clever except me. I look like an idiot.” One of the most famous novelists, Fyodor Dostoevski, has written in his diary that when he was young he had an epileptic fit, and after the fit, for the first time he could understand what reality is. Immediately after the fit everything became absolutely silent. Thoughts stopped. Others were trying to find medicine and the doctor, and he was so tremendously glad. The epileptic fit had given him a glimpse into no-mind.

You may be surprised to know that many epileptics have become mystics and many mystics used to have epileptic fits – Ramakrishna even. Ramakrishna will go into a fit. In India we don’t call it a fit. We call it samadhi. Indians are clever people. When one is going to name a thing, why not name it beautifully? If we call it “no-mind” it looks perfectly good. If I say, “Be an idiot,” you feel disturbed, uneasy. If I say, “Become a no mind,” everything is okay. But it is exactly the same state.

The idiot is below mind, the meditator is above mind, but both are without any minds. I am not saying that the idiot is exactly the same, but something similar. The idiot is not aware that he has a no-mind, and the no-mind man is aware that he has a no-mind. A great difference, but a similarity also. There is a certain similarity between mad people and the realized ones. In Sufism they are called “the mad ones”; the realized ones are known as the mad people. They are mad in a way: they have dropped out of mind.

By and by, learn it slowly. Even if you can have a few seconds of this superb idiocy, when you are not thinking anything, when you don’t know who you are, when you don’t know why you are, when you don’t know anything at all and you are deep in a non-knowledge state, in deep ignorance, in the deep silence of the ignorance; in that silence the vision will start coming to you, that you are not the body, you are not the mind. Not that you will verbalize it! It will be a fact, just as the sun is shining there. You need not say that there is the sun and the shine. As the birds are singing – there is no need to say that they are singing. You can just listen and be aware and know that they are singing, without saying it.

Exactly the same way, prepare yourself slowly, and one day you will realize you are neither the body nor the mind – nor even the self, the soul! You are a tremendous emptiness, a nothingness – a no-thingness. You are, but without any boundary, with no limitation, with no demarcation, with no definition. In that utter silence one comes to the perfection, to the very peak of life, of existence.

-Osho

From Secrets of Yoga (Previously titled Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega V.8), Discourse #8

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt How Not to Get Identified.

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Dis-identification

Dis-identification can still see identification but identification cannot see dis-identification. No-Mind can see mind but mind cannot see No-Mind. In identification one is not aware of being identified, but in dis-identification one is still aware of the possibility of identification. Jean Klein used to say “that in order to know who one is, it is first necessary to know what one is Not”. Just to say that there is no Not doesn’t cut it. Talley ho.

-purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled Here to Now and Behind.