Alexander’s last words: “All is vanity.”

1001 Tales Discourses

Osho states: “He was a conqueror. He was pushing the river of life according to his desires… Please, flow with the river. You are a part, you cannot impose yourself on the whole; the whole is infinite.”

Alexander the Great dying

I was reading about Alexander the Great and about his last words. The last words that he uttered are tremendously significant. Remember them. The last words that he uttered do not look like Alexander’s, but he has come to an understanding – of course, very late. But even then it is never too late. Even if you come home when the sun is setting, then, too, it is not too late.

The sun was setting, Alexander was dying. He was dying in his golden palace. He had the most beautiful palace that anybody has ever had before or since. He had all the power that a man can have and all the riches and all the beautiful women. He had all the greatest physicians of the world to take care of him and he was not very old, but he was dying.

And the physicians said, ‘Now we are helpless.’ He wanted to be alive at least twenty-four hours more, just twenty-four hours, because he wanted to see his mother. He had promised his mother that he would come back. He had to go and conquer the world, but when he was leaving he promised his mother that he would come back. And the distance was very little but at least twenty-four hours were needed to reach there, or for the mother to be brought to him. And he only wanted to live for twenty-four hours more – with all the wealth of the world and all the power of the world – but the physician said, ‘It is impossible. You cannot live for even twenty-four minutes. Life is disappearing, slipping away. We are sorry but we cannot do anything.’

Lying on a golden couch studded with valuable diamonds, how helpless Alexander must have felt. He was just asking for twenty-four hours – not much. Not much at least for an Alexander. He was not a beggar. Twenty four hours for a man like Alexander was not too much but even that was not possible.

And when the last flicker of life was disappearing he opened his eyes, looked-at his gold palace, his generals standing around him, his immensely costly couch on which he was dying – a poor man, a beggar – and he laughed at the whole ridiculousness of it. And he wanted only twenty-four hours!

These were his last words. He said, ‘All is vanity,’ closed his eyes and died.

‘All is vanity.’ And he struggled his whole life for this vanity. He died a poor man, empty, exhausted, utterly disillusioned.

He was a conqueror. He was pushing the river of life according to his desires. He wanted to impose himself on existence.

Please, flow with the river. You are a part, you cannot impose yourself on the whole; the whole is infinite. It is as foolish as a small wave trying to direct the whole ocean, trying to dominate the whole ocean, trying to pull the ocean in a certain direction, to certain goals. It is not possible. How can a small wave be in control of the vast ocean? And we are not even waves, we are just ripples. For one moment we are there, another moment we are gone.

With this momentary life the only thing that you can learn is to surrender, to be in a let-go, not to push. Pushing, you will be moving in a wrong direction, the direction of the ego. Surrender.

Osho, Sufis, the People of the Path – Talks on Sufism, Vol 1, Ch 12, Q 2 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

Comments are closed.