Osho on Death and Letting Go
Can you talk about facing the death of each
moment and letting go?
Osho: Death is already
happening. Whether you face it or not, whether you look at it or
not, it is already there. It is just like breathing. When a
child is born, he inhales. he breathes in for the first time.
That is the beginning of life. And when one day he becomes old,
dies, he will exhale. Death always happens with exhalation and
birth with inhalation. But exhalation and inhalation are
happening continuously. With each inhalation you are born; with
each exhalation you die.
So the first thing to understand is that death is not somewhere
in the future, waiting for you, as it has been always pictured.
It is part of life; it is an ongoing process -- not in the
future, here, now. Life and death are two aspects of existence.
simultaneously happening together. Ordinarily, you have been
taught to think of death as being against life. Death is not
against life -- life is not possible without death. Death is the
very ground on which life exists. Death and life are like two
wings: the bird cannot fly with one wing, and the being cannot
be without death. So the first thing is a clear understanding of
what we mean by death.
Death is an absolutely necessary process for life to be. It is
not the enemy, it is the friend. And it is not there somewhere
in the future, it is here, now. It is not going to happen, it
has been always happening. Since you have been here it has been
with you. With each exhalation it happens -- a little death, a
small death -- but because of fear we have put it in the future.
The mind always tries to avoid things which it cannot
comprehend, and death is one of the most incomprehensible
mysteries. There are only three mysteries: life, death and love.
All these three are beyond mind. So mind takes life for granted;
then there is no need to inquire. That is a way of avoiding. You
never think, you never meditate on life; you have simply
accepted it, taken it for granted. It is a tremendous mystery.
You are alive, but don't think that you have known life.
For death, mind plays another trick: it postpones it. To accept
it here and now would be a constant worry, so the mind puts it
somewhere in the future -- then there is no hurry. When it
comes, we will see. And for love, mind has created substitutes
which are not love. Sometimes you call your possessiveness your
love; sometimes you call your attachment your love; sometimes
you call your domination your love -- these are ego games. Love
has nothing to do with them. In fact, because of these games,
love is not possible.
Between life and death, between the two banks of life and death,
flows the river of love. And that is possible only for a person
who does not take life for granted, who moves deep into the
quality of being alive and becomes existential, authentic. Love
is for the person who accepts death here and now and does not
postpone it. Then between these two a beautiful phenomenon
arises: the river of love.
Life and death are like two banks. The possibility is there for
the river of love to flow, but it is only a possibility. You
will have to materialize it. Life and death are there, but love
has to be materialized -- that is the goal of being a human.
Unless love materializes, you have missed -- you have missed the
whole point of being. Death is already happening -- so don't put
it in the future. If you don't put it in the future there is no
question of defending yourself.
If it is already happening -- and it has been already happening
always -- then there is no question of protecting yourself
Death has not killed you, it has been happening while you were
still alive. It is happening just now and life is not destroyed
by it; in fact, because of it, life renews itself each moment.
When the old leaves fall, they make space for the new leaves to
come. When the old flowers disappear, the new flowers appear.
When one door closes, another immediately opens. Each moment you
die and each moment there is resurrection.
Once a Christian missionary came to me and he asked, 'Do you
believe in Jesus Christ's resurrection?' I told him that there
was no need to go so far. Each moment everybody is resurrected.
But he could not understand. It is difficult for people who are
too much into their ideology. He said, 'But do you believe that
he was crucified? Is this not just a myth, or is it a reality?
What do you think?' I said to him again that everybody is
crucified every moment. That is the whole meaning of Jesus'
crucifixion and his resurrection. Whether it is historical or
not does not matter a bit. It is simply irrelevant to think
whether it happened or not -- it is HAPPENING.
Each moment the past is crucified, the old leaves disappear. And
each moment a new being arises in you, resurrects. It is a
constant miracle. The second thing to understand about death is
that death is the only certainty. Everything else is uncertain:
it may happen, it may not happen. Death is certain because in
birth half of it has already happened, so the other end must be
somewhere, the other pole must be somewhere in the dark. You
have not come across it because you are afraid; you don't move
in the dark. But it is certain! With birth, death has become a
Once this certainty penetrates your understanding, you are
relaxed. Whenever something is absolutely certain then there is
no worry. Worry arises out of uncertainty. Watch. A man is dying
and he is very worried. The moment death becomes certain and the
doctors say, 'Now you cannot be saved,' he is shocked. A
shivering goes through his being. But then things settle, and
immediately all worries disappear. If the person is allowed to
know that he is going to die and that death is certain, with
that certainty a peace a silence, comes to his being.
Every person who is dying has the right to know it. Doctors go
on hiding it many times, thinking, 'Why disturb?' But
uncertainty disturbs; certainty, never. This hanging in-between,
this being in limbo, wondering whether one is going to live or
die -- this is the root cause of all worry. Once it is certain
that you are going to die then there is nothing to do. Then one
simply accepts it. And in that acceptance, a calmness, a
tranquillity happens. So if the person is allowed to know that
he is going to die in the moment of death he becomes peaceful.
In the East we have been practicing that for millennia. Not only
that, in countries like Tibet particular techniques were evolved
to help a man to die. They called it BARDO TODO. When a person
was dying, friends, relatives and acquaintances would gather
together around him to give him the absolute certainty that he
was going to die, and to help him to relax. Because if you can
die in total relaxation, the quality of death changes and your
new birth somewhere will be of a higher quality. The quality of
birth is decided by death. And then, in turn, the quality of
birth will decide the quality of another death.
That's how one goes higher and higher, that's how one evolves.
And whenever a person becomes absolutely certain about death a
flame arises on his face -- you can see it. In fact, a miracle
happens: he becomes alive as he has never been before. There is
a saying in India that before a flame dies, it becomes
tremendously intense. Just for a moment it flares up to
totality. I was reading a small anecdote. Once there were two
little worms. The first was lazy and improvident, and always
stayed in bed late. The other was always up early, going about
his business. The early bird caught the early worm. Then along
came a fisherman with a flashlight, and caught the night
crawler. Moral: You can't win.
Death is certain. Whatsoever you do -- get up early or not --
death is certain. It has already happened, that's why it is
certain; it is already happening, that's why it is certain. So
why wait for the moment when you are dying on your bed? Why not
make it certain right now? Just watch. If I say death is
certain, can't you feel fear disappearing within you? Can't you
feel that with the very idea -- and it is just an idea right
now, not your experience -- with just an idea that death is
certain, you are calm and quiet. If you can experience it....
And you can, because it is a fact. I am not talking about
theories; I don't deal in theories.
This is a simple fact. Just open your eyes and watch it. And
don't try to avoid it; there is no way to avoid it. In avoiding,
you miss. Accept it. Embrace it. And live with the consciousness
that each moment you die and each moment you are born. Allow it
to happen. Don't cling to the past -- it is no more, it is
already gone. Why go on carrying dead things? Why be so burdened
with corpses? Drop them. And you will feel weightlessness; you
will feel unburdened.
And once you drop the past the future drops on its own accord,
because the future is nothing but a projection of the past. In
the past you had some pleasures; now the mind projects those
same pleasures into the future. In the past you had some
sufferings; now the mind projects a future in which those
sufferings are not allowed to happen. That's what your future
is. What else is your future? Pleasures that you enjoyed in the
past are projected and miseries are dropped.
Your future is a more colorful and modified past, repainted,
renovated, but it is the past. Once the past drops, suddenly the
future drops -- and then you are left here and now; then you are
in existence, you are existential, and that is the only way to
be. All other ways are just to avoid life. The more you avoid
life, the more you become afraid of death. A person who is
really living is not in any way afraid of death. If you are
living rightly you are finished with death, you are already too
But if you have not lived, then the constant worry continues, 'I
have not lived yet and death is coming. And death will stop all;
with death there will be no future.' So one becomes
apprehensive, afraid, and tries to avoid death. In trying to
avoid death, one goes on missing life. Forget about that
avoidance. Live life. In living life, death is avoided. In
living life, you become so fulfilled that if this very moment
death comes and the future stops, you will be ready. You will be
happily ready. You have lived your life; you have delighted in
existence; you have celebrated it; you are contented. There is
no complaint, no grumbling; you don't have any grudge. You
welcome death. And unless you can welcome death, one thing is
certain -- you have not lived.
I have heard one anecdote.
Two Hungarian noblemen fell into a deadly quarrel. But since
neither was anxious to risk his life with either sword or
pistol, a bloodless duel was decided upon. Each was to speak a
number, and the one presenting the higher number would be
adjudged the winner. The seconds were of course at hand, and the
excitement and suspense were extreme as the two noblemen, seated
at opposite ends of a long table, bent to the task of thinking
of a high number. The challenged party who had the privilege of
going first. thought long and hard. The veins on his temples
swelled, and the perspiration stood out on his forehead.
'Three,' he said finally. The other duelist said at once, 'Well,
that beats me.'
When you are afraid of death even the number three is the
ultimate. When you are afraid of death you go on finding excuses
for how to go on living. Whether your life means anything or not
one simply goes on finding excuses to prolong it. In the West
now, there is a craze about how to prolong life. That simply
shows that somewhere life is being missed. Whenever a country or
a culture -- starts thinking about how to prolong life, it
simply shows one thing -- that life is not being lived.
If you live life, then even a single moment is enough. A single
moment can be equal to eternity. It is not a question of length,
it is a question of depth; it is not a question of quantity, it
is a question of quality. Just think: would you like one moment
of Buddha's life or would you like a thousand years of your own
life? Then you will be able to understand what I mean about the
quality, the intensity, the depth. In a single moment
fulfillment is possible: you can bloom and blossom. But you may
not bloom for one thousand years, you may remain hiding in the
This is the difference between the scientific attitude towards
life and the religious attitude.
The scientific attitude is concerned with prolongation -- how to
prolong life. It is not concerned with significance. So you can
find old people in hospitals, particularly in the West, just
hanging on. They want to die but the culture won't allow them.
They are fed up with just being alive; they are simply
vegetating. There is no significance, no meaning, no poetry,
because everything has disappeared, and they are a burden to
themselves. They are asking for euthanasia but society does not
allow it. Society is so afraid of death that it does not allow
death even for people who are ready to die.
The very word 'death' is a taboo word, more taboo than sex. Sex
has by and by become almost accepted. Now death also needs a
Freud to make it by and by accepted. Now death also needs a
Freud to make it accepted so that it is no longer a taboo and
people can talk about it and share their experiences about it.
Then there is no need to hide it and there is no need to force
people to live against themselves. In hospitals, in old people's
homes, people are simply hanging on because the society, the
culture, the law, won't allow them to be.
If they ask that they should be allowed to die, it looks as if
they are asking for suicide. They are not asking for suicide. In
fact, they have become dead corpses; they are a living suicide
and they are asking to be rid of it. The length is not the
meaning. How long you live is not the point -- how deep you
live, how intensely you live, how totally you live -- the
quality -- is. Science is concerned about quantity; religion is
concerned about quality. Religion is concerned with the art of
how to live life and how to die life.
Seven years, seventy years or seven hundred years -- what
difference will it make? You will go on repeating the same
vicious circle again and again and again. You will simply get
more and more bored. So change the focus of your being. Learn
how to live each moment and learn how to die each moment. Both
are together. If you know how to die each moment, you will be
able to live each moment -- fresh, young, virgin. Die to the
past. Don't allow it to interfere with your present.
The moment you have passed it, let it be no longer there. It is
no longer there; it only goes on in your memory, it is just a
remembrance. Let this remembrance also be released. This
psychological hang-up should not be allowed.
I am not saying that you should forget everything that you know.
I am not saying that all memory is bad. It has technical uses.
You have to know how to drive, you have to know where your home
is, you have to recognize your wife and your children. But those
are not psychological hang-ups.
When you come home of course you recognize that this is your
wife. This is factual memory -- useful, enhances life,
facilitates it. But if you come home and you look at your wife
with all the past experiences with her, then that is a
psychological hang-up. Yesterday she was angry... now again you
look with that memory in-between; your eyes are clouded by that
memory. The day before yesterday she was sad or nasty and
nagging -- now if you look through all these psychological
impressions then you are not looking at the woman who is right
now standing in front of you.
You are looking at someone who is not there you are seeing
someone who doesn't exist, you are looking at a ghost -- she is
not your wife. And she may also be looking at you in the same
way. So ghosts meet, and realities remain separate; ghosts are
married, and realities are divorced. Then these two ghosts will
make love, these two ghosts will fight, quarrel, and do a
thousand and one things, and the realities will be far, far
away. There will be no contact; realities will not have any
connection. Then there can be no communication, there can be no
Only realities can love. Ghosts can only make impotent gestures
-- movements, but with no life in them. Drop the past each
moment. Remember to drop it. Just as you clean your house every
morning, every moment clean your inner house of the past. All
psychological memories have to be dropped. Just keep factual
things and your mind will be very, very clean and clear. Don't
move ahead of yourself into the future because that is not
possible to do. The future remains unknown; that is its beauty,
that is its grandeur, glory.
If it becomes known it will be useless, because then the whole
excitement and the whole surprise will be lost. Don't expect
anything in the future. Don't corrupt it. Because if all your
expectations are fulfilled then too you will be miserable...
because it is your expectation and it is fulfilled. You will not
be happy about it. Happiness is possible only through surprise;
happiness is possible only when something happens which you had
never expected, when something takes you completely unawares.
If your expectations are fulfilled a hundred per cent, you will
be living as if you are in the past, not in the future. You come
home and you expected your wife to say something and she does.
And you expected your child to behave in a certain way and the
child does. Just think -- you will be constantly in boredom.
Nothing will happen. Everything will be just a repetition, as if
you are seeing something which you have seen before, hearing
something which you have heard before. Continuously you will see
that it is a repetition of something. and repetition can never
be satisfying. The new, the novel, the original, is needed.
So if your expectations are fulfilled. you will remain
completely unfulfilled. And if your expectations are not
fulfilled. then you feel frustrated. Then you feel constantly as
if you propose and God goes on disposing; you feel that God is
the enemy; you feel as if everybody is against you and everybody
is working against you. If your expectations are never fulfilled
you will feel frustrated. Just meditate upon your expectations:
if they are fulfilled you will feel bored, if they are not
fulfilled you will feel cheated.
You will feel as if a conspiracy is going on against you. as if
the whole existence is conspiring against you. You will feel
exploited, you will feel rejected, you will not be able to feel
at home. And the whole problem arises because you expect. Don't
go ahead into the future. Drop expectations. Once you drop
expectations you have learned how to live. Then everything that
happens fulfills you, whatsoever it is. For one thing, you never
feel frustrated because in the first place you never expected.
So frustration is impossible. Frustration is a shadow of expectation. With
the expectation dropped, frustration drops on its own accord.
You cannot frustrate me, because I never expect anything.
Whatsoever you do, I will say, 'Good.' I always say, 'Good,'
except for only a few times when I say, 'Very good.' Once
expectations are not there you are free to move into the unknown
and to accept the unknown -- whatsoever it brings. And to accept
it with deep gratitude. Complaints disappear; grumbling
disappears; whatsoever the situation, you always feel accepted,
Nobody is against you, existence is not a conspiracy against you
-- it is your home. The second thing: when everything happens
unexpectedly, everything becomes new. It brings a freshness to
your life; a fresh breeze is continuously blowing and it does
not allow dust to gather on you. Your doors and your windows are
open: in comes sunshine, in comes the breeze, in comes the
fragrance of flowers -- everything unexpected. You never asked
for it, and existence goes on showering it on you. One feels God
The proposition 'God is', is not a proposition; it is a
statement of someone who has lived unexpectedly, without any
expectations, who has lived in wonder. God is not a logical
hypothesis; it is an exclamation of joy. It is just like, 'Aha!'
-- It doesn't mean anything more. It simply means, 'Aha!' so
beautiful, so wonderful, so new, so novel, and beyond anything
that you could have dreamed. Yes, life is more adventurous than
any adventure that you can imagine. And life is pregnant, always
pregnant, with the unknown.
Once you expect, everything is destroyed. Drop the past; that is
the way to die each moment. Never plan for the future; that is
the way to allow life to flow through you. And then you remain
in an unfrozen state, flowing. This is what I call a sannyasin
-- no past, no future, just at this moment alive, intensely
alive, a flame burning from both the ends, a torch burning from
both the ends. This is what let-go is.
Source: from book “Ancient music in the Pines “ by Osho
Related Osho Discourses on
Death and Dying:
Osho - Is
there a place for Mourning
Osho - How
can we prepare ourselves for Death?
It is very difficult to
accept cutting one limb of the Body
Beloved Osho, What is
exactly your attitude about death
Life is Purposeless and it is
beautiful that it is purposeless
on Acceptance of Death - Two more months to Live
What happens in
death, In the moment of death much is possible
One should die
celebrating - Guidance on helping the dying person
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