Death is Making Love with God – Osho

Is there a difference between the Shunyavada of Nagarjuna and Avyakritopadesh, the unspoken and the undefinable teaching of Lord Buddha? 

There is no difference at all. If a difference appears to be there, that is only because of the formulation. Nagarjuna is a great philosopher, one of the greatest of the world. Only a few people in the world, very few, have that quality of penetration that Nagarjuna has. So, his way of talking is very philosophical, logical, absolutely logical. Buddha is a mystic, not a philosopher. His way of saying things is more poetic than philosophical. The approach is different, but Nagarjuna is saying exactly the same thing as Buddha. Their formulation is certainly different, but what they are saying has to be understood.

You ask — the question is from Omanath Bharti — “Is there any difference between shunyavada…” shunyavada means the theory, the philosophy of nothingness. In English there is no word which can be equivalent, appropriately equivalent, to shunya. Shunya means emptiness; but not negative, very positive emptiness. It means nothingness, but it does not mean simply nothingness; it means no-thing-ness. Shunya means void, void of everything. But the void itself is there, with utter presence, so it is not just void. It is like the sky which is empty, which is pure space, but which is. Everything comes in it and goes, and it remains.

Shunya is like the sky — pure presence. You cannot touch it although you live in it. You cannot see it although you can never be without it. You exist in it; just as the fish exists in the ocean, you exist in space, in shunya. Shunyavada means that everything arises out of no-thing.

Just a few minutes ago I was telling you the difference between truth and reality. Reality means the world of things, and truth means the world of no-thing, nothing — shunya. All things arise out of nothing and dissolve back into nothing.

In the Upanishads there is a story:

Svetaketu has come from his master’s house, back to his parents. He has learned all. His father, Uddalaka, a great philosopher, looks at him and says, “Svetaketu, you go outside and bring a fruit from yonder tree.”

He goes out, brings a fruit. And the father says, “Break it. What do you see in it?” There are many seeds in it. And the father says, “Take one seed and break it. What do you see in it?”

And he says, “Nothing.”

And the father says, “Everything arises out of this nothing. This big tree, so big that one thousand bullock carts can rest underneath it, has arisen out of just a seed. And you break the seed and you find nothing there. This is the mystery of life — everything arises out of nothing. And one day the tree disappears, and you don’t know where; you cannot find it anywhere.”

So does man: we arise out of nothing, and we are nothing, and we disappear into nothing. This is shunyavada.

And what is Buddha’s avyakritopadesh, the unspoken and the undefinable teaching? It is the same. He never made it so philosophically clear as Nagarjuna has made it. That’s why he has never spoken about it. That’s why he says it is indefinable; it cannot be brought to the level of language. He has kept silent about it.

You know the Flower Sermon? One day he comes with a lotus flower in his hand and sits silently, saying nothing. And the ten thousand disciples are there, the ten thousand bhikkhus are there, and they are waiting for him to say something, and he goes on looking at the lotus flower. There is great silence, and then there is great restlessness too. People start becoming fidgety — “What is he doing? He has never done that before.”

And then one disciple, Mahakashyapa, smiles.

Buddha calls Mahakashyapa, gives him the lotus flower, and says to the assembly, “What can be said I have said to you, and what cannot be said I have given to Mahakashyapa.”

This is avyakritopadesh, this is the indefinable message. This is the origin of Zen Buddhism, the transmission. Something was transmitted by Buddha to Mahakashyapa, something which is nothing; on the visible plane nothing — no word, no scripture, no theory — but something has been transmitted. What?

The Zen monks have been meditating on this for two thousand five hundred years: “What? What was transmitted? What exactly was given?” In fact, nothing has been given from Buddha to Mahakashyapa; Mahakashyapa has certainly understood something. He understood the silence, he understood the penetrating silence. He understood that moment of clarity, that moment of utter thoughtlessness. He became one, in that moment, with Buddha. That’s what surrender is. Not that he was doing it: Buddha was silent and he was silent, and the silences met, and the two silences dissolved into each other. And two silences cannot remain separate, remember, because a silence has no boundary, a silence is unbounded, a silence is simply open, open from all sides. In that great assembly of ten thousand monks there were two silences that day — Buddha and Mahakashyapa. The others remained outside. Mahakashyapa and Buddha met: that’s why he smiled — because that was the greatest sermon that Buddha had ever preached. Not saying a single thing and he had said all, all that could be said – and all that could not be said, that too.

Mahakashyapa understood and laughed. In that laughter Mahakashyapa disappeared totally, became a Buddha. The flame from the lamp of Buddha jumped into Mahakashyapa. That is called the ‘transmission beyond scriptures’ — the Flower Sermon. It is unique in the history of human consciousness. That is what is called avyakritopadesh: the unspoken word, the unuttered word.

Silence became so substantial, so solid; silence became so real, so existential; silence became tangible in that moment. Buddha was a nothing, Mahakashyapa also understood what it means to be a nothing, to be utterly empty.

There is no difference between Nagarjuna’s shunyavada and Buddha’s unuttered message. Nagarjuna is one of the greatest disciples of Buddha, and one of the most penetrating intellects ever. Only very few people — once in a while, a Socrates, a Shankara — can be compared with Nagarjuna. He was very, very intelligent. The uttermost that the intellect can do is to commit suicide; the greatest thing, the greatest crescendo that can come to the intellect is to go beyond itself — that’s what Nagarjuna has done. He has passed through all the realms of intellect, and beyond.

The logical positivists say that nothing is merely an abstraction. In the various instances of negative assertions — for example: this is not sweet, I am not healthy, I was not there, he did not like me, etcetera, etcetera — negation has no substance of its own. This is what the logical positivists say. Buddha does not agree, Nagarjuna does not agree. Martin Heidegger, one of the most penetrating intellects of the modern age, does not agree.

Heidegger says there is an actual experience of nothing. It is not just something created by language; there is an actual experience of nothing. It is inseparably bound up with being. The experience that attests to this is that of dread. Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, also asks, “What effect does nothing produce?” and answers, “It begets dread.”

Nothing is an actual experience. Either you can experience it in deep meditation, or when death comes. Death and meditation are the two possibilities of experiencing it. Yes, sometimes you can experience it in love too. If you dissolve into somebody in deep love you can experience a kind of nothingness. That’s why people are afraid of love — they go only so far, then panic arises, then they are frightened. That’s why very few people have remained orgasmic — because orgasm gives you an experience of nothingness. You disappear, you melt into something and you don’t know what it is. You go into the indefinable, avyakrit. You go beyond the social. You go into some unity where separation is no longer valid, where ego exists not. And it is frightening, because it is deathlike.

So it is an experience, either in love, which people have learned to avoid — so many go on hankering for love, and go on destroying all possibilities for it because of the fear of nothingness — or, in deep meditation when thought stops. You simply see there is nothing inside, but that nothing has a presence; it is not simply absence of thought, it is presence of something unknown, mysterious, something very huge. Or, you can experience it in death, if you are alert. People ordinarily die in unconsciousness. Because of the fear of nothingness they become unconscious. If you die consciously… And you can die consciously only if you accept the phenomenon of death, and for that one has to learn for the whole life, prepare. One has to love to be ready to die, and one has to meditate to be ready to die. Only a man who has loved and meditated will be able to die consciously. And once you die consciously then there is no need for you to come back, because you have learned the lesson of life. Then you disappear into the whole; that is nirvana.

The logical positivists look very logical, but they miss something —because reality is far more than logic. In ordinary experience we come only to what they say: this chair is here, this will be removed, then you will say there is no chair there. It simply indicates absence – the chair has been removed. These are ordinary instances of nothingness: there was once a house and then it has been dismantled, it is no longer there. It is only an absence.

But there are nothingnesses deep inside your being, at the very core. At the very core of life, death exists. Death is the center of the cyclone. In love you come close to that, in meditation you come close to that, in physical death also you come close to that. In deep sleep, when dreams disappear, you come close to it. It is very life-giving, it is life-enhancing. A man who cannot sleep deeply will become ill, because it is only in deep sleep, when he dies into his deepest depth, that he regains life, energy, vitality. In the morning he is again fresh and full of zest, gusto — vibrant, again vibrant.

Learn to die! That is the greatest art to be learned, the greatest skill there is.

Heidegger’s standpoint comes very close to Buddha’s, and his language is very modern, that’s why I’m quoting him. He says: “Every being, so far as it is a being, is made out of nothing.” There is a parallel Christian doctrine too — very neglected, because Christian theologians cannot manage it, it is too much. The doctrine is creatio ex nihilo: the creation is out of nothing.

If you ask the modern physicist he will agree with Buddha: the deeper you go into matter, things start disappearing. A moment comes, when the atom is divided — thing-hood completely disappears. Then there are electrons, but they are not things anymore, they are no-things. It is very difficult to understand. But physics, modern physics, has come very close to metaphysics — because it is coming closer and closer to reality every day. It is approaching through matter, but coming to nothing. You know matter no longer exists in modern physics. Matter is just an illusion: it only appears, it is not there. The solidity of it, the substantiality of it, is all illusion; nothing is substantial, all is flux and energy. Matter is nothing but energy. And when you go deeper into energy, energy is not a thing, it is a no-thing.

Death is the point at which knowledge fails, and we become open to being — that has been the Buddhist experience down the ages. Buddha used to send his disciples, when somebody had died, to see the body burning on the funeral pyre: “Meditate there, meditate on the nothingness of life.” Death is the point at which knowledge fails, and when knowledge fails, mind fails. And when mind fails, there is a possibility of truth penetrating you.

But people don’t know. When somebody dies you don’t know what to do, you are very embarrassed. When somebody dies it is a great moment to meditate.

I always think that each city needs a Death Center. When somebody is dying and his death is very, very imminent he should be moved to the Death Center. It should be a small temple where people who can go deep in meditation should sit around him, should help him to die, and should participate in his being when he disappears into nothing. When somebody disappears into nothing great energy is released. The energy that was there, surrounding him, is released. If you are in a silent space around him, you will go on a great trip. No psychedelic can take you there. The man is naturally releasing great energy; if you can absorb that energy, you will also kind of die with him. And you will see the ultimate — the source and the goal, the beginning and the end.

“Man is the being by whom nothing comes into the world,” says Jean-Paul Sartre. Consciousness is not this or that object, it is not any object at all; but surely it is itself? “No,” says Sartre, “that is precisely what it is not. Consciousness is never identical with itself. Thus, when I reflect upon myself, the self that is reflected is other than the self that reflects. When I try to state what I am, I fail, because while I am speaking, what I am talking about slips away into the past and becomes what I was. I am my past and my future, and yet I am not. I have been the one, and I shall be the other. But in the present, there is nothingness.”

If somebody asks you, “Who are you?” what are you going to say? Either you can answer out of the past, which is no more, or you can answer out of the future, which you are not yet. But who are you right in this moment? A nobody, a nothingness. This nothingness is the very core, the heart — the heart of your being.

Death is not the ax that cuts down the tree of life, it is the fruit that grows on it. Death is the very substance you are made of. Nothingness is your very being. Attain to this nothingness either through love or meditation, and go on having glimpses of it. This is what Nagarjuna means by shunya. This is what Buddha transferred that day when he delivered the Flower Sermon. This is what Mahakashyapa understood when he laughed. He saw nothingness, and the purity of it, the innocence of it, the primal innocence of it, the radiance of it, the immortality of it — because nothingness cannot die. Things die; nothingness is immortal, eternal.

If you are identified with anything, you will suffer death. But if you know that you are death, how can you suffer death? Then nothing can destroy you; nothingness is indestructible.

A Buddhist parable narrates that the king of hell asked a newly arrived spirit whether during life he had met the three heavenly messengers. And when he answered, “No, my Lord, I did not,” he asked whether he had ever seen an old man bent with age, or a poor and friendless sick man, or a dead man?

Buddhists call these three ‘the messengers of God’: old age, sickness, death — three messengers of God. Why? — because only through these experiences in life do you become aware of death. And if you become aware of death and you start learning how to go into it, how to welcome it, how to receive it, you are released from the bondage, from the wheel of life and death.

Heidegger says, and so does Soren Kierkegaard, that nothingness creates dread. That is only half of the story. Because these two people are just philosophers, that’s why it creates dread.

If you ask Buddha, Mahakashyapa, Nagarjuna, if you ask me, death looked at only partially creates dread; looked at absolutely, totally, it frees you from all dread, from all anguish, from all anxiety, it frees you from samsara… because if you look partly then it creates fear that you are going to die, that you will become a nothing, that soon you will disappear. And naturally you feel nervous, shaken, uprooted. If you look at death totally, then you know you are death, you are made of it. So nothing is going to disappear, nothing is going to remain. Only nothingness is.

Buddhism is not a pessimistic religion as has been thought by many people. Buddhism is the way to get rid of both optimism and pessimism, to get rid of duality.

Start meditating on death. And whenever you feel death close by, go into it through the door of love, through the door of meditation, through the door of a man dying. And if some day you are dying — and the day is going to come one day — receive it in joy, benediction. And if you can receive death in joy and benediction, you will attain to the greatest peak, because death is the crescendo of life. Hidden in it is the greatest orgasm, because hidden in it is the greatest freedom.

Death is making love to God, or God making love to you. Death is cosmic, total orgasm.

So drop all ideas that you carry about death — they are dangerous. They make you antagonistic to the greatest experience that you need to have. If you miss death you will be born again. Unless you have learned how to die, you will go on being born again and again and again. This is the wheel, samsara, the world. Once you have known the greatest orgasm, then there is no need; you disappear, and you remain in that orgasm forever. You don’t remain like you, you don’t remain as an entity, you don’t remain defined, identified with anything. You remain as the whole, not as the part.

This is Nagarjuna’s shunyavada, and this is Buddha’s unspoken message, the unspoken word. They are both the same.

-Osho

From The Heart Sutra, Discourse #2

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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This is the Existential Centering – Osho

You said that awareness created centering and crystallization, but I personally feel that awareness brings a feeling of deep void within me. Please explain the relationship between centering and inner void.

As man is, he is without a center – without a real, authentic center. He has a center, so to speak, but the center is false. He only thinks he has a center. The ego is a false center. You feel that it is there, but it is not. If you go to find it, you will not find it at all.

Bodhidharma reached China 1100 years after Buddha. He was a Buddha himself. The Emperor Wu came to receive Bodhidharma. When no one was there, he asked Bodhidharma, “I am very, very disturbed. My mind is never at ease. What can I do? Tell me. Make my mind at peace, at ease. I am in deep conflict; an inner struggle continues – so do something.” Bodhidharma said, “I can do something. Come early in the morning at four o’clock, but remember to bring your self.”

The Emperor felt: “Either this man is mad or I have not understood what he is saying.” He said, “Of course, I will come. I will come with my self.”

Bodhidharma still insisted, “Do not forget. Bring your self with you. Otherwise, whom am I going to put at ease?”

The whole night the Emperor could not sleep. It was such a strange thing. I looked weird. What does this man mean? And then he began to feel doubtful about whether to go or not, and it was to be in the early hours, at four o’clock in the morning. And Bodhidharma had said to come alone: “Let your self only be with you; no one else.” So no one could know what he was going to do, and he looked mad. It was even dangerous. But still, he was tempted. This man was really a different type of being. He attracted! He was magnetic! So the Emperor couldn’t stay at home, he came. When he was coming near, Bodhidharma said, “You have come, but where is your self?”

Wu said, “You make me puzzled. The whole night I couldn’t sleep. What do you mean by ‘my self’? I am here.”

So Bodhidharma said, “Give me your self. I will make it silent, at peace, at ease. Close your eyes and find out where it is. Point it out to me and I will make it disappear totally, and there will be never any problem again.”

So the Emperor Wu closed his eyes and sat before Bodhidharma. The morning was absolutely silent. No one was there. He could even hear his own breath; he could hear his own heartbeat. And Bodhidharma was there constantly telling him, “Go in and find out where it is. If you cannot find it, then what can I do?” And he searched and searched and searched for hours together. Then he opened his eyes, and he was a different man.

He said, “I do not find it anywhere. It is all void. There is no self.”

Bodhidharma said, “If there is no self and there is void, are you disturbed now? Is someone at a dis-ease inside? Now where is the anguish you were talking about? So much talking about it, and now where is it?”

Wu said, “It is nowhere, because the person has disappeared, so how can dis-ease exist without him? I tried and tried, but it is nowhere to be found. Really, I was myself in deception. I always thought ‘I’ am inside. I tried to find it, and it is not there. There is simply a void – shunya – an emptiness, a nothingness.”

So Bodhidharma said, “Now go to your home, and whenever you feel that something is to be done with your self, first find out where it is.”

It is a false entity. Because we have never searched for it, it seems to exist. Because we have never gone in, we go on talking about the “I”. It is not there. So the first thing to be understood is that if you meditate, if you become silent, you will feel a void, because you cannot find the ego. The ego was all the furniture; now the furniture has disappeared. You are just a room – rather, a room-ness.

Even the walls have disappeared. They were part of the ego. The whole structure has disappeared, so you will find a void.

This is the first step – when the ego disappears. It is a false entity; it is not there. It only appears to be, and you go on thinking that it is there. It belongs to your thinking, not to your being. It belongs to your mind, not to your existence. Because you think it is there, it is there. When you go to find it, it is not found. Then you feel the void, emptiness. Now persist in this emptiness, remain in this void.

The mind is very cunning. It can play games. If you begin to think and observe this, this voidness, if you begin to think, you will fill it again. Even if you say, “This is void,” you are out of it, already out of it. The void has disappeared – you have come in. Remain with the void; remain void. Do not think. It is difficult, very frightening. One gets dizzy. It is an abyss – an infinite abyss. You are falling down and falling down with no bottom to reach. One gets dizzy; one begins to think. The moment you think, you have found the ground again. Now you are not in the void.

If you can be in the void without escaping it by any thinking whatsoever, suddenly the void will also disappear, as the ego has disappeared – because, really, it is because of the ego that it looks like a void. Ego was the thing which was fulfilling. That was the furniture, and there was no void. Now the ego has disappeared; that is why you feel it as a void. This feeling of emptiness is just because something which was always there is now not there.

If you see me in this chair, then suddenly if you do not find me in the chair, the chair will look empty – not because the chair is empty, but simply because someone was there filling it and now he is no more there. So you see the void, not the chair. You see the void because the absence of something looks like an emptiness. You are still not seeing the chair. You were seeing a person there; now you are seeing the absence of the person. But the chair is still not seen. So when the ego disappears, you feel the void. This is only a beginning, because this void is also the negative part of the ego – the other aspect. This void must also disappear.

It is reported about Rinzai, a Zen Master, that when he was learning with his Teacher, the Teacher always insisted that he should attain the void, the nothingness, the shunya. So one day he came; he had attained it. It was a long effort. To dissolve the ego is a long effort. It was a long journey – difficult, sometimes virtually impossible – but he had attained. So he came, laughing, dancing, happy in ecstasy. He fell down ar his Master’s feet and said, “I have attained. Now the void is there.”

The Master looked at him very unsympathetically and said, ”Now you go and throw this void also. Do not bring it here. Throw this void also. Throw this nothingness, because if you have nothingness it becomes something again.”

Even a void is something. If you can feel it, it is something; if you can know it, it is something; if you can observe it, it is something. Even nothing becomes something if it is in your hands. The Master said, “Throw this void out. Only come to me when even nothingness is not there.”

Rinzai wept. Why couldn’t he see it himself? A void is an attainment, it is something. If you have achieved nothingness, nothingness becomes a thing. When you go deep in the void – without any thinking, without any vibration in the mind – if you remain in this, suddenly the void just disappears and then the Self is known. Then you are centered. Then you have come to the real center. There is the false center, the absence of the false center, and then the real center. By “centering” I mean the ground, the very ground of Being. It is not your center, because you are the false center.

So it is not your center. It is the center – just the center of Being. The very Existence is centered in it. You are the false center; you will disappear. But even in your disappearance, if you begin to feel fulfilled with void, the ego has returned in a very subtle way. In a very subtle way, it has come back. It will say, “I have attained this void,” so it is still there.

Do not allow it to come back. Remain in the void. Do not do anything with the void: do not even think about it, do not even feel anything about it. The void is there: be at ease; let it be there. It will disappear. It is just a negative part. The real thing has disappeared. It is just shadow. Do not catch the shadow; do not cling to the shadow. because the shadow can remain only if the real thing is nearby. Only then can the shadow remain. Ultimately the void disappears, and then there is centering. Then for the first time you are not and YOU ARE – not as you, but as pure Being; rather, as the All. And this point must be noted carefully – that it is not Your center; it is the center of All.

Forget your false center. Go in and dig for it: then it dissolves. It is never found. It is not, so you cannot find it. Then a more arduous thing befalls you: you encounter the void. It is very silent. Compared to the ego world, it is very silent. You are in a deep peace. But do not be satisfied with it. It is false, because it is part of the ego. And if you feel satisfied, the ego will re-enter; it will come back. A part of it was still there. That part will bring it back again, whole. Remain with the void without any thinking.

That is just deathlike. One is dying before one’s own eyes – everything dissolving in a great abyss. And soon you will disappear and only the abyss will be there – not even the knower of the abyss, not even the observer of the abyss, but just the abyss. Then you are centered – centered in the Cosmic Center: it is not your center. For the first time, you are.

Now language will have a different meaning. You are not and you are. Here, yes and no lose their traditional difference, their customary meaning. You are not there as you. Now you are there as the Divine – as the Cosmos itself. This is the existential centering – the centering in the Existence.

-Osho

From The Ultimate Alchemy, V.2, Discourse #2

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

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