A faithful companion

Letters / Notes

Suha reflects on transience, life, and making friends with death.

Fontainebleau Forest

When I was an adolescent I used to puzzle over the question, “What am I doing here on earth? Why live?” Then later I stopped thinking about it; but the seed had been sown. In the mysterious, lively mess of an uncultivated ground, this seed was nourished, pampered and caressed by the earth’s smell, the wind’s fragrance and the rain’s tears so it wouldn’t be afraid to grow and push forward with its first shy sprouts. Although I was unaware of this process, a complicitous silence was covering, with its open wings, the slow blooming of the buds into radiantly translucent flowers.

A first answer to my question appeared in an unexpected form and place when I was an adult. I was motionless and absorbed in thought on a large rock in the forest of Fontainebleau, near Paris, where sand paths left by an ancient vanished sea are reminiscent of lunar landscapes. Suddenly I began to feel watched, strangely and persistently. I turned around quickly and discovered behind me, at a discreet distance, an unmoving, faceless figure completely wrapped up in a black cloak. I didn’t have the time to call my hiking mates: the apparition, which was not in the least unreal or threatening, had chosen a moment in which I was alone, and I felt that its attitude was simply that of waiting in a patient, relaxed manner.

After this, death appeared to me not as a bogeyman but as a friendly figure: it still comes to visit me every now and then, when I least expect it. I perceive it out of the corner of my eye while it slips lightly away from my shadow; I barely have the time to greet it respectfully before it disappears.

With death I have a particular relationship: I watch its process in the small things of life as the transformation of an endlessly ongoing cycle. For instance, in the preparation of food: I buy, prepare, cook, eat, digest and eliminate; and so on. Or in friendships: something is born, catches on, develops, reaches its peak, then diminishes and gently goes out; and so on. Or with departed dear ones: the dead never sadden me; on the contrary I feel and talk about them as if they were ‘differently alive’, as if they had never left me. Alive and dead, we all live within the same experience, within the same segment of time in the bosom of memory.

But that apparition above all raised a question in me: “How can I go to meet it? How can I learn to die?” A few stays in Puna in Osho’s commune during the nineteen-eighties were enough for me to realise that before I could learn how to die I would have to learn how to live, yes, but within a new vision that had nothing to do with mine and would require me to get rid of everything I vaguely felt I knew, and of a burden that did not belong to me and uselessly encumbered my heart.

Helped on by the example of a partner who not only was in love with Osho’s vision but had also adopted it as his lifestyle, I gradually learnt to shed the parts of my own clothing that I had outgrown: old, musty frames of thought, the professional bias of a perfect secretary, the remnants of a good, obliging girl with scars of past wounds, the dodges of a submissive woman – just to mention a few.

And wasn’t this a sort of voluntary death? Wasn’t this the paradox of living in order to learn how to die and to arise from one’s ashes? What did that apparition mean to teach me, if not to show me a way to discover the mysterious being that is clothed in my name, wears my face and is the ‘faceless being’ of the apparition itself?

For this reason, I regard death as a faithful companion, although it hasn’t been visiting me for several years… maybe the reason for this is that it has understood that I’m on the right track?

I really don’t remember anything much about my journey into meditation, except for the fact that working on Osho’s texts with other meditators was a great help to me and a precious opportunity to feel that I was beginning to grow wings. And I remember that a playful light-heartedness began to emerge from a previously unexplored underground current: a sign of the life within me that may allow me to honour my name of ‘eternal little star’.

Translation from Italian kindly offered to Osho News by Marta Innocenti

Suha

Suha is a graphic designer, writer and poet. Originally from Italy she now lives in Paris.

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