Question - Beloved Osho, You have recently said that most of humanity is Vegetating, not Living. Please explain to us the Art of Living so that Death may become also a Celebration.
Osho - Suraj Prakash, man is born to achieve life, but it all depends on him. He can miss it. He can go on breathing, he can go on eating, he can go on growing old, he can go on moving towards the grave -- but this is not life. This is gradual death from the cradle to the grave, a seventy-year-long gradual death. And because millions of people around you are dying in this gradual, slow death, you also start imitating them. Children learn everything from those who are around them, and we are surrounded by the dead. So first we have to understand what I mean by `life'.
It must not be simply growing old. It must be growing
up. And these are two different things. Growing old, any animal is
capable of. Growing up is the prerogative of human beings. Only a few
claim the right. Growing up means moving every moment deeper into the
principle of life; it means going farther away from death -- not towards
death. The deeper you go into life, the more you understand the
immortality within you. You are going away from death; a moment comes
when you can see that death is nothing but changing clothes, or changing
houses, changing forms -- nothing dies, nothing can die.
Meditation means going into your immortality, going into your eternity, going into your godliness. And the child is the most qualified person because he is still unburdened by knowledge, unburdened by religion, unburdened by education, unburdened by all kinds of rubbish. He is innocent.
But unfortunately his innocence is being condemned as ignorance. Ignorance and innocence have a similarity, but they are not the same. Ignorance is also a state of not knowing, just as innocence is. But there is a great difference too, which has been overlooked by the whole of humanity up to now. Innocence is not knowledgeable -- but it is not desirous of being knowledgeable either. It is utterly content, fulfilled.
A small child has no ambitions, he has no desires. He is so absorbed in the moment -- a bird on the wing catches his eye so totally; just a butterfly, its beautiful colors, and he is enchanted; the rainbow in the sky... and he cannot conceive that there can be anything more significant, richer than this rainbow. And the night full of stars, stars beyond stars....
Innocence is rich, it is full, it is pure. Ignorance is poor, it is a beggar -- it wants this, it wants that, it wants to be knowledgeable, it wants to be respectable, it wants to be wealthy, it wants to be powerful. Ignorance moves on the path of desire. Innocence is a state of desirelessness.
But because they both are without knowledge, we have remained confused about their natures. We have taken it for granted that they are both the same. The first step in the art of living will be to create a demarcation line between ignorance and innocence. Innocence has to be supported, protected -- because the child has brought with him the greatest treasure, the treasure that sages find after arduous effort. Sages have said that they become children again, that they are reborn.
In India the real brahmin, the real knower, has called himself dwij, twice born. Why twice born? What happened to the first birth? What is the need of the second birth? And what is he going to gain in the second birth? In the second birth he is going to gain what was available in the first birth but the society, the parents, the people surrounding him crushed it, destroyed it.
Every child is being stuffed with knowledge. His simplicity has to be somehow removed, because simplicity is not going to help him in this competitive world. His simplicity will look to the world as if he is a simpleton; his innocence will be exploited in every possible way. Afraid of the society, afraid of the world we have created ourselves, we try to make every child be clever, cunning, knowledgeable -- to be in the category of the powerful, not in the category of the oppressed and the powerless. And once the child starts growing in the wrong direction, he goes on moving that way -- his whole life moves in that direction.
Whenever you understand that you have missed life, the first principle to be brought back is innocence. Drop your knowledge, forget your scriptures, forget your religions, your theologies, your philosophies. Be born again, become innocent -- and it is in your hands. Clean your mind of all that is not known by you, of all that is borrowed, all that has come from tradition, convention, all that has been given to you by others -- parents, teachers, universities. Just get rid of it.
Once again be simple, once again be a child. And this miracle is possible by meditation. Meditation is simply a strange surgical method which cuts you away from all that is not yours and saves only that which is your authentic being. It burns everything else and leaves you standing naked, alone under the sun, in the wind. It is as if you are the first man who has descended onto earth -- who knows nothing, who has to discover everything, who has to be a seeker, who has to go on a pilgrimage.
The second principle is the pilgrimage. Life must be a seeking -- not a desire, but a search; not an ambition to become this, to become that, a president of a country or a prime minister of a country, but a search to find out "Who am I?"
It is very strange that people who don't know who they
are, are trying to become somebody. They don't even know who they are
right now! They are unacquainted with their being -- but they have a
goal of becoming. Becoming is the disease of the soul.
You become so sensitive that even the smallest blade of grass takes on an immense importance for you. Your sensitivity makes it clear to you that this small blade of grass is as important to existence as the biggest star; without this blade of grass, existence would be less than it is. And this small blade of grass is unique, it is irreplaceable, it has its own individuality.
And this sensitivity will create new friendships for you -- friendships with trees, with birds, with animals, with mountains, with rivers, with oceans, with stars. Life becomes richer as love grows, as friendliness grows. In the life of St. Francis, there is a beautiful incident. He is dying, and he has always traveled on a donkey from place to place sharing his experiences. All his disciples are gathered to listen to his last words.
The last words of a man are always the most significant that he has ever uttered because they contain the whole experience of his life. But what the disciples heard, they could not believe.... St. Francis did not address the disciples; he addressed the donkey. He said, "Brother, I am immensely indebted to you. You have been carrying me from one place to another place with never a complaint, never grumbling. Before I leave this world, all that I want is forgiveness from you; I have not been humane to you."
These were the last words of St. Francis. A tremendous sensitivity to say to the donkey, "Brother donkey" and ask to be forgiven.
As you become more sensitive, life becomes bigger. It is not a small pond, it becomes oceanic. It is not confined to you and your wife and your children -- it is not confined at all. This whole existence becomes your family, and unless the whole existence is your family you have not known what life is -- because no man is an island, we are all connected. We are a vast continent, joined in millions of ways. And if our hearts are not full of love for the whole, in the same proportion our life is cut short.
Meditation will bring you sensitivity, a great sense of belonging to the world. It is our world -- the stars are ours, and we are not foreigners here. We belong intrinsically to existence. We are part of it, we are heart of it. Secondly, meditation will bring you a great silence -- because all rubbish knowledge is gone. Thoughts that are part of the knowledge are gone too... an immense silence, and you are surprised: This silence is the only music there is.
All music is an effort to bring this silence somehow into manifestation. The seers of the ancient East have been very emphatic about the point that all the great arts -- music, poetry, dance, painting, sculpture -- are all born out of meditation. They are an effort to in some way bring the unknowable into the world of the known for those who are not ready for the pilgrimage -- just gifts for those who are not ready to go on the pilgrimage. Perhaps a song may trigger a desire to go in search of the source, perhaps a statue.
The next time you enter a temple of Gautam Buddha or Mahavira just sit silently, watch the statue. Because the statue has been made in such a way, in such proportions that if you watch it you will fall silent. It is a statue of meditation; it is not concerned with Gautam Buddha or Mahavira. That's why all those statues look alike -- Mahavira, Gautam Buddha, Neminatha, Adinatha.... Twenty-four tirthankaras of Jainas... in the same temple you will find twenty-four statues all alike, exactly alike.
In my childhood I used to ask my father, "Can you
explain to me how it is possible that twenty-four persons are exactly
alike? -- the same size, the same nose, the same face, the same
And he used to say, "I don't know. I am always puzzled myself that there
is not a bit of difference. And it is almost unheard of -- there are not
even two persons in the whole world who are alike, what to say about
You have observed it yourself, but you have not been alert. When you are angry, have you observed? -- your body takes a certain posture. In anger you cannot keep your hands open; in anger -- the fist. In anger you cannot smile -- or can you? With a certain emotion, the body has to follow a certain posture. Just small things are deeply related inside.
So those statues are made in such a way that if you simply sit silently and watch, and then close your eyes, a negative shadow image enters into your body and you start feeling something you have not felt before. Those statues and temples were not built for worshipping; they were built for experiencing. They are scientific laboratories. They have nothing to do with religion. A certain secret science has been used for centuries so the coming generations could come in contact with the experiences of the older generations -- not through books, not through words, but through something which goes deeper -- through silence, through meditation, through peace.
As your silence grows; your friendliness, your love grows; your life becomes a moment-to-moment dance, a joy, a celebration. Do you hear the firecrackers outside? Have you ever thought about why, all over the world, in every culture, in every society, there are a few days in the year for celebration? These few days for celebration are just a compensation -- because these societies have taken away all celebration of your life, and if nothing is given to you in compensation your life can become a danger to the culture.
Every culture has to give some compensation to you so that you don't feel completely lost in misery, in sadness. But these compensations are false. These firecrackers outside and these lights outside cannot make you rejoice. They are only for children; for you they are just a nuisance. But in your inner world there can be a continuity of lights, songs, joys.
Always remember that society compensates you when it feels that the repressed may explode into a dangerous situation if it is not compensated. The society finds some way of allowing you to let out the repressed. But this is not true celebration, and it cannot be true. True celebration should come from your life, in your life.
And true celebration cannot be according to the
calendar, that on the first of November you will celebrate. Strange, the
whole year you are miserable and on the first of November suddenly you
come out of misery, dancing. Either the misery was false or the first of
November is false; both cannot be true. And once the first of November
is gone, you are back in your dark hole, everybody in his misery,
everybody in his anxiety.
Transform small things into celebration. For example, in Japan they have the tea ceremony. In every Zen monastery and in every person's house who can afford it, they have a small temple for drinking tea. Now, tea is no longer an ordinary, profane thing; they have transformed it into a celebration. The temple for drinking tea is made in a certain way -- in a beautiful garden, with a beautiful pond; swans in the pond, flowers all around... guests come and they have to leave their shoes outside. It is a temple.
And as you enter the temple, you cannot speak; you have to leave your thinking and thoughts and speech outside with your shoes. You sit down in a meditative posture. And the host, the lady who prepares tea for you -- her movements are so graceful, as if she is dancing, moving around preparing tea, putting cups and saucers before you as if you are gods. With such respect... she will bow down, and you will receive it with the same respect.
The tea is prepared in a special samovar which makes beautiful sounds, a music of its own. And it is part of the tea ceremony that everybody should listen first to the music of the tea. So everybody is silent, listening... birds chirping outside in the garden, and the samovar... the tea is creating its own song. A peace surrounds....
When the tea is ready and it is poured into
everybody's cup, you are not just to drink it the way people are doing
everywhere. First you will smell the aroma of the tea. You will sip the
tea as if it has come from the beyond, you will take time -- there is no
An ordinary thing -- just tea -- and they have made it a beautiful religious festival, and everybody comes out of it nourished, fresh, feeling younger, feeling juicier. And what can be done with tea can be done with everything -- with your clothes, with your food. People are living almost in sleep; otherwise, every fabric, every cloth has its own beauty, its own feel. If you are sensitive, then the clothing is not just to cover your body; then it is something expressing your individuality, something expressing your taste, your culture, your being.
Everything that you do should be expressive of you; it should have your signature on it. Then life becomes a continuous celebration. Even if you fall sick and you are lying in bed, you will make those moments of lying in bed moments of beauty and joy, moments of relaxation and rest, moments of meditation, moments of listening to music or to poetry.
There is no need to be sad that you are sick. You should be happy that everybody is in the office and you are in your bed like a king, relaxing -- somebody is preparing tea for you, the samovar is singing a song, a friend has offered to come and play flute for you.... These things are more important than any medicine. When you are sick, call a doctor. But more important, call those who love you because there is no medicine more important than love. Call those who can create beauty, music, poetry around you because there is nothing that heals like a mood of celebration.
Medicine is the lowest kind of treatment. But it seems we have forgotten everything, so we have to depend on medicine and be grumpy and sad -- as if you are missing some great joy that you were having in the office! In the office you were miserable -- just one day off, and you cling to misery too; you won't let it go. Make everything creative, make the best out of the worst -- that's what I call `the art'. And if a man has lived his whole life making every moment and every phase of it a beauty, a love, a joy, naturally his death is going to be the ultimate peak of his whole life's endeavor. The last touches... his death is not going to be ugly as it ordinarily happens every day to everyone.
If death is ugly, that means your whole life has been a wastage. Death should be a peaceful acceptance, a loving entry into the unknown, a joyful goodbye to old friends, to the old world. There should not be any tragedy in it.
One Zen master, Lin Chi, was dying. Thousands of his disciples had gathered to listen to the last sermon, but Lin Chi was simply lying down -- joyous, smiling, but not saying a single word. Seeing that he was going to die and he was not saying a single word, somebody reminded Lin Chi -- an old friend, a master in his own right.... He was not a disciple of Lin Chi. That's why he could say to him, "Lin Chi, have you forgotten that you have to say your last words? I have always said your memory isn't right. You are dying... have you forgotten?"
Lin Chi said, "Just listen." And on the roof two squirrels were running, screeching. And he said, "How beautiful" and he died.
For a moment, when he said "Just listen," there was absolute silence. Everybody thought he is going to say something great, but only two squirrels fighting, screeching, running on the roof.... And he smiled and he died.
But he has given his last message: don't make things small and big, trivial and important. Everything is important. At this moment, Lin Chi's death is as important as the two squirrels running on the roof, there is no difference. In existence it is all the same. That was his whole philosophy, his whole life's teaching -- that there is nothing which is great and there is nothing which is small; it all depends on you, what you make out of it.
Start with meditation, and things will go on growing in you -- silence, serenity, blissfulness, sensitivity. And whatever comes out of meditation, try to bring it out in life. Share it, because everything shared grows fast. And when you have reached the point of death, you will know there is no death. You can say goodbye, there is no need for any tears of sadness -- maybe tears of joy, but not of sadness. But you have to begin from being innocent.
So first, throw out all crap that you are carrying. And everybody is carrying so much crap -- and one wonders, for what? Just because people have been telling you that these are great ideas, principles... You have not been intelligent with yourself. Be intelligent with yourself.
Life is very simple; it is a joyful dance. And the whole earth can be full of joy and dance, but there are people who are seriously vested in their interest that nobody should enjoy life, that nobody should smile, that nobody should laugh, that life is a sin, that it is a punishment. How can you enjoy when the climate is such that you have been told continuously that it is a punishment? -- that you are suffering because you have done wrong things and it is a kind of jail where you have been thrown to suffer?
I say to you life is not a jail, it is not a punishment. It is a reward, and it is given only to those who have earned it, who deserve it. Now it is your right to enjoy; it will be a sin if you DON'T enjoy. It will be against existence if you don't beautify it, if you leave it just as you have found it. No, leave it a little happier, a little more beautiful, a little more fragrant.
Source - Osho Book "Beyond Enlightenment"
Related Osho Discourses on
Death and Dying: