Understanding the Fear of Death

fear of death

We are all going to die. Each day, each moment, brings us closer to death, yet it remains the single biggest fear in our lives. Isn’t it time we came to a deeper understanding of this major, and inevitable, event?

“Death is always close by. It is almost like your shadow. You may be aware, you may not be aware, but it follows you from the first moment of your life to the very last moment. Death is a process just as life is a process, and they are almost together, like two wheels of a bullock cart. Life cannot exist without death; nor can death exist without life.

“Our minds have an insane desire: we want only life and not death. We don’t look at the existential truth, we always cling to our own insane desire. Any desire that goes against nature is insane. And this desire is in almost every living creature, not only human beings. Even the trees are afraid of death, but trees can be forgiven. They are not conscious beings, they are only unconscious – fast asleep.

But you are a little bit awake: you can sense the presence of death. Hence the possibility opens for a deeper understanding: life and death are both together, two extremes of one energy.

“Life is the active force and death is the inactive force. Life is the positive electricity and death is the negative electricity, but they cannot be separated.

“You are saying, ‘When I was coming for discourse, my heart was trembling with fear; I felt as if I was going to die.’ Those who are aware are aware that death is possible at any moment – the very next moment and you may be gone. This awareness is going to help you to live this moment as deeply as possible, because death can cut your roots without informing you, without any previous intimation of ‘I am coming.’ It simply comes. You know only when it has happened. But it is not the greatest misery. The greatest misery is when there was the chance and the opportunity, you did not live – you went on postponing.

“Life is an opportunity. Death is the end of the rope. If you understand death, your life will become intense and total. But instead of understanding death, you become overwhelmed by it. Hence the heart starts trembling with fear. Fear is not going to help at all, fear is going to cloud your mind even more. There has never been any understanding out of fear.

So whenever you feel fear, it is a tremendous opportunity to understand that life is momentary.

“It is ephemeral, it is made of the same stuff as dreams are made of. How real the dream looks when you are asleep – in fact, more real than your experiences when you are awake. You may have never thought about it, but while you are awake you can doubt: ‘Perhaps what I am seeing may be just a dream.’ I may be a dream, you may be a dream, this whole communion may be happening just as a dream. Soon you will be awake and you will find, ‘My God! It was just a dream.’

“There is a possibility when you are awake to suspect, to doubt the reality that surrounds you. But when you are asleep, you cannot even doubt the existence of the dream. It is so real, it is more real than reality. Have you ever doubted any dream, thinking that perhaps what you are seeing is a dream? The moment you doubt, you are awake, and the dream is immediately finished. The dream can remain there only if you are totally asleep, so deep that no doubt, no suspicion, can arise in you.

“But to those who have understood both life and death as nothing but two aspects of one reality, the dream and the so-called reality of your waking consciousness are not basically different. Just as in the morning you wake up and the dream life is finished, one day in death you wake up into another reality and all that was real up to then – for seventy years – becomes just a dream. Not even a trace of it is left anywhere in your consciousness.

Death is a constant reminder – ‘I can come any moment. Be prepared.’ And what is the preparation? The preparation is: live life so totally, so intensely, be so aflame with it that when death comes there is no complaint, there is no grudge.

“You are absolutely ready because you have lived life so totally, you have known all its mysteries – there is no point in living anymore. Death has come exactly at the right time, when you may have thought to die yourself. I call that death perfect which comes at the moment when you yourself may have thought, ‘It is enough.’

“Death comes, and you understand that life has been lived totally, so now there is no point to go on breathing and go on waking and sleeping unnecessarily – because nothing new is going to happen. Now everything is past and there is no future. In such a moment, death is a welcome guest. And unless you are ready to welcome death, know well that you have missed life. Those who feel sadness and fear about death are the people who have missed the train. But in our unconsciousness, we are all continuously missing the train. The train is moving every moment, just in front of you, but somehow you go on missing.

“I have told you about those three professors, all belonging to the Department of Philosophy…

“They were talking, standing on the platform. They had come to send off one of them on a long journey. But they got so involved in their talking and discussions that the train left. It was only when the last compartment was moving just in front of them that all three became aware of it. They all ran. Two jumped into the compartment, one could not.

“An old man, a porter on the railway station, was watching the whole scene. And this man standing there was looking so sad that the old man said, ‘I can understand that you missed the train, but don’t be worried, because within two hours another train will be coming.’

“He said, ‘I am not worried about myself. I am worried about those two fellows who have entered the compartment. They had come to send me off…’

“But such was the rush – and everything had to be done so quickly.

“This is our state. It can happen to anybody, just because our actions arise out of our unconsciousness. Your heart trembling with fear is nothing but your misunderstanding. As far as death is concerned, what you experienced is true for everybody, every moment, until you die. It is not true only for those who are already dead. In one thing they are better off than you: they cannot die anymore – no fear, no trembling of the heart. They just lie down and rest in their graves. Nothing is going to happen to them anymore.

“But as long as you are alive, the possibility of death is absolutely certain. Only the timing is not certain. But the happening is absolutely certain. What does it matter whether you die after seven days or seven years or seventy years? One thing is certain: you are going to die.

Life is not something that you can go on missing. Otherwise at the moment of death you will feel the greatest misery and pain, the deepest agony, from missing the whole opportunity that was given to you.

“Existence gives so abundantly, it is not miserly. You are just not alert enough to use the opportunity to transform yourself into something immortal, eternal, into some experience which will make you beyond the reach of death. Just fearing death is not of any help. If you see that death is following you, it is time to start searching deeper into yourself for that point which is beyond death. We have been calling that point sat-chit-anand: the truth of your being, the ultimate consciousness of your life, and the tremendous blessing of your coming to flower.”

To read this complete talk and see all the available media formats:
Osho, Sat Chit Anand, Talk #16 – God Is Your Concentrated Fear 

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