When Rabbi Birnham lay dying, his wife burst into tears. He said, ‘what are you crying for? My whole life was only that I might learn how to die.’
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 here now
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 here now, 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, 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.
Knowledge makes you stupid
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.
You are the shrine
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, 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.
What is death?
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.
Breathe in, breathe out
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 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.
Understanding life and death
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.
Ego and death are opposites
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.
Carrying your own cross
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.
Love, ego and death
Whenever you come to a total moment of aliveness, suddenly you will see death there also. In love it happens. In love, life comes to a climax—hence people are afraid of love.I have been continuously surprised by people who come to me and say they are afraid of love. What is the fear of love? It is because when you really love somebody your ego starts slipping and melting. You cannot love with the ego; the ego becomes a barrier. and when you want to drop the barrier the ego says, ‘This is going to be a death. Beware!’
Ego is dust
The death of the ego is not your death. The death of the ego is really your possibility of life. The ego is just a dead crust around you, it has to be broken and thrown away. It comes into being naturally—just as when a traveller passes, dust collects on his clothes, on his body, and he has to take a bath to get rid of the dust.
As we move in time, dust of experiences, of knowledge, of lived life, of past, collects. That dust becomes our ego. Accumulated, it becomes a crust around you, which has to be broken and thrown away. One has to take a bath continuously—every day, in fact every moment, so that this crust never becomes a prison. The ego is afraid to love because in love, life comes to a peak. But whenever there is a peak of life there is also a peak of death—they go together.
Death completes life
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.
Coming to the inner light
So 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.
Excerpted from The Art of Dying/ Courtesy: Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com