After a recent visit to Osho Tapoban in Nepal, Deva Dosa writes that the parks are so compelling, one seeker no longer asks if there is life after death, but is there death after life?
Anand Arun’s creative contribution of Death Parks to the world of light-hearted entertainment theme parks, normally dominated by Disney and others, marks a dramatic shift in human consciousness. Arun has literally given seekers a dedicated place where they can make more space in their hearts for death.
Attracting seekers from all over the world, Nepal is now home to two Death Parks, designed by Arun, founder of international ashrams Osho Tapoban, Osho Upaban, and Osho Jetban, and numerous meditation centers. His first Death Park was installed in 2017 at the stunning Osho Upaban in a rare setting of flowering gardens and Himalayan peaks. This second one was dedicated recently in Kathmandu during Navaratri 2018.
Set amid the towering trees of Nagarjun Hills, a mysterious triangle of monuments creates a vortex of transformational consciousness at Osho Tapoban. In an area in size less than one city block, visitors can stroll around Osho’s Samadhi, Shivapuri Baba Temple, and the brand new Death Park.
The park’s wheel-like structure is reminiscent of a large prayer wheel through which local and international seekers walk, ponder, pray, meditate, and study visual displays with beautifully rendered quotes and photos of Osho and other famous masters and poets. Death Park shines a peaceful light into the soul, accelerates grieving, and relieves existential suffering. These powerful, transformative parks are unique, helpful, and educational.
The central feature of both Death Parks is an uncanny burning ghat with a life-size sculpture of Arun’s likeness in repose and ready for the fire. At night the ghat lights up with orange flame lights flickering underneath. The effect is truly shocking, but infused with humor and a sense of playfulness.
With so many people who love Arun, it seems he may have actually built the Death Parks out of compassion for his lovers and friends. Every time visitors walk to the Osho Tapoban kitchen for a meal, they see Arun’s likeness on the ghat. It’s a powerful mind-bender for those who are close to him. Many experience massive grief when faced with losing him, and feel that the creation of a mysterious Death Park, was, in part, to ease the final let go, when the time comes…
Arun is many things – author, publisher, meditation facilitator, humanitarian, designer, builder, civil engineer, a lover of Osho – but his truly original Death Parks demonstrate he is also an artist, and their creation may be Arun’s most marvelous artistic contribution. While many are just dreamers, Arun, a Templeton Price nominee, is a doer. In a recent satsang, he told the large gathering, “The easiest thing in the world is to criticize. It’s the hardest to build. If you have a great idea, build it. You’ll see.” Arun speaks from experience; Osho Tapoban, thrives after 28 years of applying faith, love, and creativity.
The concept of the Death Park seems to have roots in Buddhism as well. According to Osho, “If someone came to Buddha and said, ‘I am afraid of death, I have found this out,’ Buddha would say, ‘Then go to the burning ghat, go to the cemetery, and meditate on a funeral pyre. People are dying daily – they will be burned. Just remain there at the marghat – cemetery – and meditate on the burning pyre. When their family members have gone, you remain there. Just look into the fire, at the burning body. When everything is becoming smoke, you just look at it deeply. Do not think, just meditate on it for three months, six months, nine months.’” ¹
I visited the Death Park frequently, and watched visitors from all over the world enjoy this bold and original theme park. Walking through it, we all touch our common denominator. With participants from Russia to Pakistan, Nepal to Spain, Sweden to USA, Germany to India, we come away in tears, in peace, in acceptance. Some walk away baffled, and some laugh like crazy. All come away changed. I can’t help but imagine Osho saying, “Far out.”
The much-needed public participation parks are very helpful and even therapeutic for people facing loss and life’s deepest concern, the hereafter. We live in a time when outmoded mechanistic-reductionist scientists still clash with legitimate holistic researchers of consciousness on disparate paradigms. But if the reductionists could actually consider the mountains of evidence against their inherited model of the way things are, they may no longer ask if there is life after death. The new question for our time is: Is there death after life? One visit to a Death Park, and a few laps around it, you will feel truth emanating from the Enlightened Ones represented on all sides.
Deepest gratitude to Arun for thinking outside the coffin. His Death Parks offer freedom from fear and unfitting views.
As a fascinating side note, USA Today reports a strange fact. For as much as theme park creators distract humanity from death, Disney-goers continue to make their own kind of Death Park:
“Custodians at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, claim the famous parks are a preferred place for guests to scatter their loved ones’ ashes, according to the Wall Street Journal.”
Clearly, people everywhere are grappling with intimations of immortality in the very theme parks built around a cultural denial of death. The time for the Death Park has come.
¹ Quote by Osho from
Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, Ch 4, Q 1
Photographer Beni Waiba Tamang
Logistical Support Prabin Koirala
Article by Deva Dosa