Death Can Be a Celebration

celebrating death

“Death is the most misunderstood phenomenon. People have thought of death as the end of life. That is the first, basic misunderstanding.

“Death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life. Yes, it is an end of something that is already dead. It is also a crescendo of what we call life, although very few know what life is. They live, but they live in such ignorance that they never encounter their own life. And it is impossible for these people to know their own death, because death is the ultimate experience of this life, and the beginning experience of another. Death is the door between two lives; one is left behind, one is waiting ahead.

“There is nothing ugly about death; but man, out of his fear, has made even the word, death ugly and unutterable. People don’t like to talk about it. They won’t even listen to the word death.

The fear has reasons. The fear arises because it is always somebody else who dies. You always see death from the outside, and death is an experience of the innermost being. It is just like watching love from the outside. You may watch for years, but you will not come to know anything of what love is. You may come to know the manifestations of love, but not love itself. We know the same about death. Just the manifestations on the surface – the breathing has stopped, the heart has stopped, the man as he used to talk and walk is no more there: just a corpse is lying there instead of a living body.

“These are only outer symptoms. Death is the transfer of the soul from one body to another body, or in cases when a man is fully awakened, from one body to the body of the whole universe. It is a great journey, but you cannot know it from the outside. From outside, only symptoms are available; and those symptoms have made people afraid.

Those who have known death from inside lose all fear of death.

“Instead of death being an ugly and fearful thing, it changes into one of the purest, most silent, and most sublime experiences. You experience yourself for the first time without your prison, the body, an experience of absolute freedom…unhampered, uncaged….

“There is only one depth that has to be touched, whether through love or through meditation or through creativity. The depth is that you are no longer your physical body, and you are no longer your mental body either – just a pure awareness, a pure sky without any clouds, unbounded. Even a simple glimpse into it and death becomes a glorious experience….

“Zarathustra says: Still the doctrine sounds strange; ‘Die at the right time.’ One who has lived rightly, intensely and totally, is bound to die at the right time. His death is nothing but a ripening, a harvest. His death is nothing but a fulfilment.

“He lived so much, he loved so much, he used all his energy in being creative, he enjoyed so much, that a point comes where he wants to rest. His cup of life is full. There is no need to go on lingering on the earth. He has come to the place where he was destined to come.

“Die at the right time can be understood only by those who live, and live totally, without any inhibitions, naturally; not according to dead scriptures, but according to the living sources of their own being. They certainly reach a tremendous ecstasy of fulfilment; their death is a completion – the circle has become complete. Their death has brought them back to another birth.

“Unless you die at the right time, you will never experience the beauty of death…

“Die at the right time: thus Zarathustra teaches.

For Zarathustra, death is the actualization of your whole potential.

“Now there is no point of being in the body. You can die joyously, with a smile on your face, with a tremendous mystery in your eyes. Your death will not be felt as untimely; almost 99.9 percent of deaths are untimely, either too late, or too early….

“For a man who has lived fully, death becomes a decision: it is up to him. Death does not come to him; he himself makes his body available for death….

“The story is beautiful: Buddha closed his eyes and said, “I have taken the first step – I am no more the body.” And then, “I have taken the second step – I am no more the mind. I have taken the third step – I am no more the heart. I have taken the fourth step – I have entered into my consciousness.” That very moment his breathing stopped, his heartbeat stopped. This is a totally different kind of death – so easy and so relaxed, so fulfilled, so grateful to existence….

“This kind of life is the only right life, and this kind of life can have a crescendo of a right death. Right death has to be earned by right living….

“Only the inner, your interior being, your subjectivity, has the power to make your life a dance, and your death the last and the final and the greatest dance….

“Everyone treats death as an important matter: but as yet death is not a festival.

“Perhaps I am the only person, after the twenty-five centuries since Zarathustra, who has made death a festival.

Only my people celebrate death; otherwise everywhere it is a mourning.

“Everywhere it has to be a mourning, because a life unfulfilled, unlived, a wastage…. What is there to celebrate?

“But if your life has been of love, of creativity, of sharing, of joy, if you have not left any part of your being unlived, your death needs to be a ceremony, a festival.

As yet, men have not learned to consecrate the fairest festivals.
I shall show you the consummating death, which shall be a spur and a promise to the living.
The man consummating his life dies his death triumphantly.

“Death should be a triumph, a victory, a coming home. But for that you have to transform your whole life. You have to live differently – not like a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan – but like a natural human being, without any fear and without any greed….

“It is a well-known fact in the East that most great sages announce their death beforehand, and people have misunderstood it: people think that they are predicting, but it is not prediction. They know that they have come to fulfilment and there is no more in life and there is no more to be discovered – their journey is complete….

“Zarathustra is incomparable in many of his insights. This can be one of the greatest lessons: that if you want a glorious death, not an ugly and contemptible one, you should start living from this very moment. Totality should be your concern: living totally, burning your torch of life from both ends together. By the time you feel fulfilled, you will be able to die totally. You will not cling to life.

“I have seen many people die. They die like beggars, clinging; they don’t want to die because they have not lived yet, and death has come. But when there was life, they wasted it. Now that death has knocked on their doors they have become aware of the wastage of life.

“But a man who has lived totally will open the doors, will welcome death, because death is not your enemy. It is simply a change of house: from one body into another, from one form into another or, ultimately, from form to the formless life that surrounds the earth. A religious man not only lives religiously, he dies religiously. A man of art lives artfully, and lives not only artfully, but dies too with great art….

To die in such a beautiful way, as if you are playing, should be a simple thing for all those who have lived perfectly and totally.

Excerpted from: Osho, Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance, Talk #16 – Of Voluntary Death

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