You cling to life and try to avoid death

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Osho speaks on a doha by Kabir about death.

Osho giving a discourse in Chuang Tzu, 1975

Kabir says:

Death – the whole world fears.
Death – my heart overjoys.

Why does this not happen to you? Why are you not overjoyed at the prospect of encountering the death the whole world fears? No one is safe from the clutches of death. Everyone has to die. Even if you run away, even if you hide yourself somewhere, at the end you will surely face the jaws of death.

Since death is such a definite part of life why not accept it in an easy and natural fashion? Why can’t you see the joy in death? Why are you running from it? Stop running.

There are some very subtle reasons why this does not happen. The first reason is that the mind is accustomed to dividing a thing in two and then looking at it. The mind is unable to look at the whole. This is the limit of the mind, that it is only able to look at part of something. If I give you a small stone you will not be able to look at it at once in its entirety. At first you will only see one side, and when you turn it over you will see the other side – but then the first side will be hidden from you. You are not even able to look at the whole of the tiniest particle of sand at one time. The capacity of the mind is such that it is only able to see a thing in an incomplete form.

The mind also clings to the part it has seen. It becomes attached to the part it has seen and rejects the other part in fear it may be opposed to the part to which it has already become attached. Because of this difficulty you pass your whole life in tension and unease. You cling to life and try to avoid death. You want to live; you do not want to die. You do not even realize that life and death are just two aspects of the same coin, and so you remain as bereft of life as you are afraid of death. But they are just two sides of the same coin! You spend your time trying to save yourself from death, but at the same time you are missing the chance to live life properly.

You will never be able to live life in its true sense in this way. Look at your past. Have you enjoyed life up to now? Or have you lived in fear? Have you lived properly or have you just been busy making arrangements to live well in the future? If you had learned how to live properly and had lived accordingly, you would most certainly have seen that death is an inevitable part of life, that there is no way to escape from it. If you want to live, then death is definitely going to be part of your life.

The mind looks at things in opposition; it sets one thing against another. The mind says that day and night are two separate things. It says that the night is dark and that the day is bright, that there is sun during the day and no sun at night. Day and night are one. The day becomes night and then the night becomes day. But you are afraid of the night and want to cling to the day.

The mind looks on love and hate as opposites, as separate. This is a mistake, a false belief, an illusion. They are but two aspects of the same coin. You want to hold on to happiness and avoid misery, but they are two sides of the same coin as well. And so you are perplexed; you are in a great dilemma. But this state of perplexity is not because of the world, it is because of your mind. The way your mind looks at things is partial, biased, prejudicial.

And what Kabir says today is relative to this. If you can see the whole, you will be liberated. Then you will be willing to meet death, because life and death are just two different names for one and the same phenomenon. They are two banks of the same river. The man who is not attached to life is not afraid of death. Such a man knows how to live and he knows how to die. He harvests joy and happiness from life and from death as well.

In asking this question, Kabir is saying he has gathered as much nectar as possible from life, that life has given him nectar in abundance:

When will I die and give myself
in ecstasy complete?

Kabir says the taste of life is unique and that the grace of God is also unique. He says now he has achieved both, now he knows them both, and that he is now ready to experience the taste of death. And if the taste of life is unique, the taste of death will be even more unique because it comes at the end of life. Death is the highest climax in life. It is the highest peak, the Everest of life. And when a man can attain such happiness in life, when he can uncover so many secrets from so insignificant a life, then at life’s final peak what doors will open to him!

Osho, The Great Secret, Ch 5 (excerpt, translated from Hindi)

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