• Home
  • Osho
  • Sannyas Belgium
  • More Masters
  • Links
  • Contact

The Art of Dying

Part 1:


Life is in living. It is not a thing, it is a process. There is no way to attain to life except by living it, except by being alive, by flowing, streaming with it. If you are seeking the meaning of life in some dogma, in some philosophy, in some theology, that is the sure way to miss life and meaning both.
Life is not somewhere waiting for you, it is happening in you. It is not in the future as a goal to be arrived at, it is herenow, this very moment - in your breathing, circulating in your blood, beating in your heart. Whatsoever you are is your life, and if you start seeking meaning somewhere else, you will miss it. Man has done that for centuries. Concepts have become very important, explanations have become very important - and the real has been completely forgotten. We don't look to that which is already here, we want rationalisations.


Nobody can give you the meaning of your life. It is your life, the meaning has also to be yours. Himalayas won't help. Nobody except you can come upon it. It is your life and it is only accessible to you. Only in living will the mystery be revealed to you.
The first thing I would like to tell you is: don't seek it anywhere else. Don't seek it in me, don't seek it in scriptures, don't seek it in clever explanations - they all explain away, they don't explain. They simply stuff your empty mind, they don't make you aware of what is. And the more the mind is stuffed with dead knowledge, the more dull and stupid you become. Knowledge makes people stupid; it dulls their sensitivity. It stuffs them, it becomes a weight on them, it strengthens their ego but it does not give light and it does not show them the way. It is not possible.
Life is already there bubbling within you. It can be contacted only there. The temple is not outside, you are the shrine of it. So the first thing to remember if you want to know what life is: never seek it without, never try to find out from somebody else. The meaning cannot be transferred that way. The greatest Masters have never said anything about life - they have always thrown you back upon yourself.
The second thing to remember is: once you know what life is, you will know what death is. Death is also part of the same process. Ordinarily we think death comes at the end, ordinarily we think death is against life, ordinarily we think death is the enemy, but death is not the enemy. And if you think of death as the enemy it simply shows that you have not been able to know what life is.
Death and life are two polarities of the same energy, of the same phenomenon - the tide and the ebb, the day and the night, the summer and the winter. They are not separate and not opposites, not contraries; they are complementaries. Death is not the end of life; in fact, it is a completion of one life, the crescendo of one life, the climax, the finale. And once you know your life and its process, then you understand what death is.
Death is an organic, integral part of life, and it is very friendly to life. Without it life cannot exist. Life exists because of death; death gives the background. Death is, in fact, a process of renewal. And death happens each moment. The renewal is needed each moment. The moment you breathe in and the moment you breathe out, both happen. Breathing in, life happens; breathing out, death happens. That's why when a child is born the first thing he does is breathe in, then life starts. And when an old man is dying, the last thing he does is breathe out, then life departs. Breathing out is death, breathing in is life - they are like two wheels of a bullock cart. You live by breathing in as much as you live by breathing out. The breathing out is part of breathing in. You cannot breathe in if you stop breathing out. You cannot live if you stop dying. The man who has understood what his life is allows death to happen; he welcomes it. He dies each moment and each moment he is resurrected. His cross and his resurrection are continually happening as a process. He dies to the past each moment and he is born again and again into the future.
If you look into life you will be able to know what death is. If you understand what death is, only then are you able to understand what life is. They are organic. Ordinarily, out of fear, we have created a division. We think that life is good and death is bad. We think that life has to be desired and death is to be avoided. We think somehow we have to protect ourselves against death. This absurd idea creates endless miseries in our lives, because a person who protects himself against death becomes incapable of living. He is the person who is afraid of exhaling, then he cannot inhale and he is stuck. Then he simply drags; his life is no longer a flow, his life is no longer a river.
If you really want to live you have to be ready to die. Who is afraid of death in you? Is life afraid of death? It is not possible. How can life be afraid of its own integral process? Something else is afraid in you. The ego is afraid in you. Life and death are not opposites; ego and death are opposites. Life and death are not opposites; ego and life are opposites. Ego is against both life and death. The ego is afraid to live and the ego is afraid to die. It is afraid to live because each effort, each step towards life, brings death closer. If you live you are coming closer to dying. The ego is afraid to die, hence it is afraid to live also. The ego simply drags.
There are many people who are neither alive nor dead. This is worse than anything. A man who is fully alive is full of death also. That is the meaning of Jesus on the cross. Jesus carrying his own cross has not really been understood. And he says to his disciples, 'You will have to carry your own cross.' The meaning of Jesus carrying his own cross is very simple, nothing but this: everybody has to carry his death continuously, everybody has to die each moment, everybody has to be on the cross because that is the only way to live fully, totally. Whenever you come to a total moment of aliveness, suddenly you will see death there also.


Let it be remembered that death and life both become aflame together, they are never separate. If you are very, very minimally alive, at the minimum, then you can see death and life as being separate. The closer you come to the peak, the closer they start coming. At the very apex they meet and become one. In love, in meditation, in trust, in prayer, wherever life becomes total, death is there. Without death, life cannot become total.
But the ego always thinks in divisions, in dualities; it divides everything. Existence is indivisible; it cannot be divided. You were a child, then you became young. Can you demark the line when you became young? Can you demark the point in time where suddenly you were no longer a child and you had become young? One day you become old. Can you demark the line when you become old? Processes cannot be demarked.
Exactly the same happens when you are born. Can you demark when you are born? When life really starts? Does it start when the child starts breathing - the doctor spanks the child and the child starts breathing? Is life born then? Or is it when the child got into the womb, when the mother became pregnant, when the child was conceived? Does life start then? Or, even before that? When does life start exactly?
It is a process of no ending and no beginning. It never starts. When is a person dead? Is a person dead when the breathing stops? Many yogis have now proved on scientific grounds that they can stop breathing and they are still alive and they can come back. So the stopping of the breathing cannot be the end. Where does life end? It never ends anywhere, it never begins anywhere. We are involved in eternity. We have been here since the very beginning - if there was any beginning - and we are going to be here to the very end, if there is going to be any end. In fact, there cannot be any beginning and there cannot be any end. We are life - even if forms change, bodies change, minds change. What we call life is just an identification with a certain body, with a certain mind, with a certain attitude, and what we call death is nothing but getting out of that form, out of that body, out of that concept.
You change houses. If you get too identified with one house, then changing the house will be very painful. You will think that you are dying, because the old house was what you were - that was your identity. But this doesn't happen, because you know that you are only changing the house, you remain the same. Those who have looked within themselves, those who have found who they are, come to know an eternal, non-ending process. Life is a process, timeless, beyond time. Death is part of it.
Death is a continuous revival: a help to life to resurrect again and again, a help to life to get rid of old forms, to get rid of dilapidated buildings, to get rid of old confining structures so that again you can flow and you can again become fresh and young, and you can again become virgin.


Everything returns to its original source, has to return to its original source. If you understand life then you understand death also. Life is a forgetfulness of the original source and death is again a remembrance. Life is going away from the original source, death is coming back home. Death is not ugly, death is beautiful. But death is beautiful only for those who have lived their life unhindered, uninhibited. unsuppressed. Death is beautiful only for those who have lived their life beautifully, who have not been afraid to live, who have been courageous enough to live - who loved, who danced, who celebrated.
Death becomes the ultimate celebration if your life is a celebration. Let me tell you in this way: whatsoever your life was, death reveals it. If you have been miserable in life, death reveals misery. Death is a great revealer. If you have been happy in your life, death reveals happiness. If you have lived only a life of physical comfort and physical pleasure, then of course, death is going to be very uncomfortable and very unpleasant, because the body has to be left. The body is just a temporary abode, a shrine in which we stay for the night and leave in the morning. It is not your permanent abode, it is not your home.
So if you have lived just a bodily life and you have never known anything beyond the body, death is going to be very, very ugly, unpleasant, painful. Death is going to be an anguish. But if you have lived a little higher than the body, if you have loved music and poetry, and you have loved, and you have looked at the flowers and the stars, and something of the non-physical has entered into your consciousness, death will not be so bad, death will not be so painful. You can take it with equanimity, but still it cannot be a celebration.
If you have touched something of the transcendental in yourself, if you have entered your own nothingness at the centre - the centre of your being, where you are no more a body and no more a mind, where physical pleasures are completely left far away and mental pleasures such as music and poetry and literature and painting, everything, are left far away, you are simply, just pure awareness, consciousness - then death is going to be a great celebration, a great understanding, a great revelation. If you have known anything of the transcendental in you, death will reveal to you the transcendental in the universe - then death is no longer a death but a meeting with God, a date with God.
So you can find three expressions about death in the history of human mind.
One expression is of the ordinary man who lives attached to his body, who has never known anything greater than the pleasure of food or sex, whose whole life has been nothing but food and sex, who has enjoyed food, has enjoyed sex, whose life has been very primitive, whose life has been very gross, who has lived in the porch of his palace, never entered it, and who had been thinking that this is all life is. At the moment of death he will try to cling. He will resist death, he will fight death. Death will come as the enemy.
Hence, all over the world, in all societies, death is depicted as dark, as devilish. In India they say that the messenger of death is very ugly - dark, black - and he comes sitting on a very big ugly buffalo. This is the ordinary attitude. These people have missed, they have not been able to know all the dimensions of life. They have not been able to touch the depths of life and they have not been able to fly to the height of life. They missed the plenitude, they missed the benediction.
Then there is a second type of expression. Poets, philosophers, have sometimes said that death is nothing bad, death is nothing evil, it is just restful - a great rest, like sleep. This is better than the first. At least these people have known something beyond the body, they have known something of the mind. They have not had only food and sex, their whole life has not been only in eating and reproducing. They have a little sophistication of the soul, they are a little more aristocratic, more cultured. They say death is like great rest; one is tired and one goes into death and rests. It is restful. But they too are far away from the truth.
Those who have known life in its deepest core, they say that death is God. It is not only a rest but a resurrection, a new life, a new beginning; a new door opens.

Part 2:


His whole life had been just a preparation, a preparation to learn the secrets of dying. All religions are nothing but a science - or an art - to teach you how to die. And the only way to teach you how to die is to teach you how to live. They are not separate. If you know what right living is, you will know what right dying is. So the first thing, or the most fundamental thing is: how to live. Let me tell you a few things. First: your life is your life, it is nobody else's. So don't allow yourself to be dominated by others, don't allow yourself to be dictated to by others, that is a betrayal of life. If you allow yourself to be dictated to by others - maybe your parents, your society, your education system - your politicians, your priests, whosoever they are - if you allow yourself to be dominated by others you will miss your life. Because the domination comes from outside and life is within you. They never meet. I am not saying that you should become a no-sayer to each and everything. That too is not of much help. There are two types of people. One is an obedient type, ready to surrender to any and everybody. They don't have any independent soul in them; they are immature, childish, always searching for a father-figure, for somebody to tell them what to do and what not to do. They are not able to trust their own being. These people are the greater part of the world, the masses. Then there are, against these people, a small minority who reJect society, who reject the values of the society. They think they are rebellious. They are not, they are only reactionaries. Because whether you listen to society or you reject society, if society remains in either way the determining factor, then you are dominated by the society.

Let me tell you an anecdote...

Once Mulla Nasrudin had been away for a while and arrived back in town wearing a long beard. His friends naturally kidded him about the beard and asked him how he happened to acquire the fur-piece.
The Mulla with the beard began to complain and curse the thing in no uncertain terms. His friends were amazed at the way he talked and asked him why he continued to wear the beard if he did not like it.
"I hate the blasted thing!", the Mulla told them.
"If you hate it then why don’t you shave it off and get rid of it?", one of his friends asked.
A devilish gleam shone in the eyes of the Mulla as he answered, "Because my wife hates it too!"

But that does not make you free. The hippies, the yippies and others, they are not really rebellious people, they are reactionaries. They have reacted against the society. A few are obedient, a few are disobedient, but the centre of domination is the same. A few obey, a few disobey, but nobody looks at his own soul. A really rebellious person is one who is neither for society nor against society, who simply lives his life according to his own understanding. Whether it goes against society or it goes with society is not a consideration, it is irrelevant. Sometimes it may go with the society, sometimes it may not go with the society, but that is not the point to be considered. He lives according to his understanding, according to his small light. And I am not saying that he becomes very egoistic about it. No, he is very humble. He knows that his light is very small, but that is all the light that there is. He is not adamant, he's very humble. He says, 'I may be wrong, but please allow me to be wrong according to myself.' That is the only way to learn. To commit mistakes is the only way to learn. To move according to one's own understanding is the only way to grow and become mature. If you are always looking at somebody to dictate to you, whether you obey or disobey makes no difference. If you are looking at somebody else to dictate to you, to decide for or against, you will never be able to know what your life is. It has to be lived, and you have to follow your own small light. It is not always certain what to do. You are very confused. Let it be so. But find a way out of your confusion. It is very cheap and easy to listen to others because they can hand over dead dog mas to you, they can give you commandments - do this, don't do that. And they are very certain about their commandments. Certainty should not be sought; understanding should be sought. If you are seeking certainty you will become a victim of some trap or other. Don't seek certainty, seek understanding. Certainty can be given to you cheap, anybody can give it to you. But in the final analysis you will be a loser. You lost your life just to remain secure and certain, and life is not certain, life is not secure. Life is insecurity. Each moment is a move into more and more insecurity. It is a gamble. One never knows what is going to happen. And it is beautiful that one never knows. If it was predictable, life would not be worth living. If everything was as you would like it to be, and everything was certain, you would not be a man at all, you would be a machine. Only for machines is everything secure and certain. Man lives in freedom. Freedom needs insecurity and uncertainty. A real man of intelligence is always hesitant because he has no dogma to rely upon, to lean upon. He has to look and respond. Lao Tzu says, 'I am hesitant, and I move alertly in life because I don't know what is going to happen. And I don't have.any principle to follow. I have to decide every moment. I never decide beforehand. I have to decide when the moment comes!' Then one has to be very responsive. That's what responsibility is. Responsibility is not an obligation, responsibility is not a duty - it is a capacity to respond. A man who wants to know what life is has to be responsive. That is missing. Centuries of conditioning have made you more like machines. You have lost your manhood, you have bargained for security. You are secure and comfortable and everything has been planned by others. And they have put everything on the map, they have measured everything. This is all absolutely foolish because life cannot be measured, it is immeasurable. And no map is possible because life is in constant flux. Everything goes on changing. Nothing is permanent except change. Says Heraclitus, 'You cannot step in the same river twice.' And the ways of life are very zig-zag. The ways of life are not like the tracks of a railway train. No, it does not run on tracks. And that's the beauty of it, the glory of it,.the poetry of it, the music of it - that it is always a surprise. If you are seeking for security, certainty, your eyes will become closed. And you will be less and less surprised and you will lose the capacity to wonder. Once you lose the capacity to wonder, you have lost religion. Religion is the opening of your wondering heart. Religion is a receptivity for the mysterious that surrounds us. Don't seek security; don't seek advice on how to live your life. People come to me and they say, 'Osho, tell us how we should live our life.' You are not interested in knowing what life is, you are more interested in making a fixed pattern. You are more interested in killing life than in living it. You want a discipline to be imposed on you. There are, of course, priests and politicians all over the world who are ready, just sitting waiting for you. Come to them and they are ready to impose their disciplines on you. They enjoy the power that comes through imposing their own ideas upon others. I'm not here for that. I am here to help you to become free. And when I say that I am here to help you to become free, I am included. I am to help you to become free of me also. My sannyas is a very paradoxical thing. You surrender to me in order to become free. I accept you and initiate you into.sannyas to help you to become absolutely free of every dogma, of every scripture, of every philosophy - and I am included in it. Sannyas is as paradoxical - it should be - as life itself is. Then it is alive. So the first thing is: don't ask anybody how you should live your life. Life is so precious. Live it. I am not saying that you will not make mistakes, you will. Remember only one thing - don't make the same mistake again and again. That's enough. If you can find a new mistake every day, make it. But don't repeat mistakes, that is foolish. A man who can find new mistakes to make will be growing continuously - that is the only way to learn, that is the only way to come to your own inner light.

I have heard...

One night the poet, Awhadi of Kerman (a very great Muslim poet) was sitting on his porch bent over a vessel. Shams-e-Tabrizi, a great Sufi mystic, happened to pass by. Shams-e-Tabrizi looked at the poet, at what he was doing. He asked the poet, 'What are you doing?' The poet said, 'Contemplating the moon in a bowl of water.' Shams-e-Tabrizi started laughing, with an uproarious laughter, a mad laughter. The poet started feeling uncomfortable; a crowd gathered. And the poet said, 'What is the matter? Why are you laughing so much? Why are you ridiculing me?' Shams-e-Tabrizi said, 'Unless you have broken your neck, why don't you look directly at the moon in the sky?'

The moon is there, the full moon is there, and this poet was sitting with a bowl of water arid looking into the bowl of water at the reflection of the moon. Seeking truth in scriptures, seeking truth in philosophies, is looking at the reflection. If you ask somebody else how you should live your life, you are asking for misguidance, because that man can only talk about his own life. And never, never, are two lives the same. Whatsoever he can say or impart to you will be about his own life - and that too only if he has lived. He may have asked somebody else, he may have followed somebody else, he may have been an imitator himself. Then it is a reflection of a reflection. And centuries pass and people go on reflecting the reflection of the reflection of the reflection - and the real moon is always there in the sky waiting for you. It is your moon, it is your sky, look directly. Be immediate about it. Why borrow my eyes or anybody else's eyes? You have been given eyes, beautiful eyes, to see, and to see directly. Why borrow understanding from anybody? Remember, it may be understanding to me. but the moment you borrow it, it becomes knowledge to you - it is no more understanding, Understanding is only that which has been experienced by the person himself. It may be understanding for me, if I have looked at the moon, but the moment I say it to you it becomes know.ledge, it is no longer understanding. Then it is just verbal, then it is just linguistic. And language is a lie.

Let me tell you an anecdote...

A chicken farmer, dissatisfied with the productivity of his flock, decided to use a bit of psychology on his hens. Accordingly he purchased a gay-coloured, talking parrot and placed him in the barnyard. Sure enough, the hens took to the handsome stranger immediately, pointed out the best tidbits for him to eat with joyous clucks, and generally followed him around like a bevy of teen-age girls following a new singing star sensation. To the delight of the farmer even their egg-laying capacities improved. The barnyard rooster, naturally jealous of being ignored by his harem, set upon the attractive interloper, assailed him with beak and claws, pulling out one green or red feather after the other. Whereupon the intimidated parrot cried out in trepidation, 'Desist sir! I beg of you, desist! After all, I am only here in the capacity of a language professor!'

Many people live their life as language professors. That is the falsest kind of life. Reality needs no language, it is available to you on a non-verbal level. The moon is there; it needs no bowl and no water, it needs no other medium. You have just to look at it; it is a non-verbal communication. The whole of life is available - you just have to learn how to communicate with it non-verbally. That's what meditation is all about - to be in a space where language does not interfere, where learned concepts don't come in between you and the real. When you love a woman don't be bothered about what others have said about love, because that is going to be an interference. You love a woman, the love is there, forget all that you have learned about love. Forget all Kinseys, forget all Masters and Johnsons, forget all Freuds and Jungs. Please don't become a language professor. Just love the woman and let love be there, and let love lead you and guide you into its innermost secrets, into its mysteries. Then you will be able to know what love is. And what others say about meditation is meaningless. Once I came upon a book written by a Jaina saint about meditation. It was really beautiful but there were just a few places by which I could see that the man had never meditated himself - otherwise those places could not be there. 3ut they were very few and far between. The book on the whole, almost ninety-nine per cent, was perfect. I loved the book. Then I forgot about it. For ten years I was wandering around the country. Once in a village of Rajasthan, that saint came to meet me. His name sounded familiar, and suddenly I remembered the book. And I asked the saint why he had come to me. He said, 'I have come to you to know what meditation is.' I said, 'I remember your book. I remember it very well, because it really impressed me. Except for a few defects which showed that you have never meditated, the book was perfectly right - ninety-nine per cent right. And now you come here to learn about meditation. Have you never meditated?' He looked a little embarrassed because his disciples were also there. I said, 'Be frank. Because if you say you know meditation, then I am not going to talk about it. Then finished! You know. There is no need. If you say to me frankly - at least be true once - if you say you have never meditated, only then can I help you towards meditation.' It was a bargain, so he had to confess. He said, 'Yes, I have never said it to anybody. I have read many books about meditation, all the old scriptures. And I have been teaching people, that's why I feel embarrassed before my disciples. I have been teaching meditation to thousands, and I have written books about it, but I have never meditated.' You can write books about meditation and never come across the space that meditation is. You can become very efficient in verbalising, you can become very clever in abstraction, in intellectual argumentativeness, and you can forget completely that all the time that you have been involved in these intellectual activities has been a sheer wastage. I asked the old man, 'How long have you been interested in meditation?' He said, 'My whole life.' He was almost seventy. He said, 'When I was twenty I took sannyas, I became a Jaina monk, and those fifty years since then I have been reading and reading and thinking about meditation.' Fifty years of thinking and reading and writing about meditation, even guiding people into meditation, and he has not even tasted once what meditation is! But this is the case with millions of people. They talk about love, they know all the poetries about love, but they have never loved. Or even if they thought they were in love, they were never in love. That too was a 'heady' thing, it was not of the heart. People live and go on missing life. It needs courage. It needs courage to be realistic, it needs courage to move with life wherever it leads, because the paths are uncharted, there exists no map. One has to go into the unknown. Life can be understood only if you are ready to go into the unknown. If you cling to the known, you cling to the mind, and the mind is not life. Life is non-mental, non-intellectual, because life is total. Your totality has to be involved in it, you cannot just think about it. Thinking about life is not life. beware of this 'about-ism'. One goes on thinking about and about: there are people who think about God, there are people who think about life, there are people who think about love. There are people who think about this and that.

Mulla Nasrudin became very old and he went to his doctor. He was looking very weak so the doctor said, 'I can say only one thing. You will have to cut your love-life to half.' The Mulla said, 'Okay. Which half? Talking about it or thinking about it?'

That's all. Don't become a language professor, don't become a parrot. Parrots are language professors. They live in words, concepts, theories, theologies, and life goes on passing, slipping out of their hands. Then one day suddenly they become afraid of death. When a person is afraid of death, know well that that person has missed life. If he has not missed life there cannot be any fear of death. If a person has lived life, he will be ready to live death also.

(Osho - The Art of Dying, chapter #1)