“Acceptance becomes a beautiful experience if it is at the same time enjoyment,” states Osho.
Can you talk a bit more about acceptance?
Chintan, I understand your question…
Chintan is on the verge of death. The doctors have told him that he cannot survive more than two months, and almost one month has passed. He had inquired of me when the doctors had said he has some canceric growth which was not operable, and was growing fast. Naturally, he was shocked. A young man who has not seen life yet, has not yet lived, just in the middle… naturally he was very shocked.
He wrote to me and I told him, “There is no need to be shocked. You are fortunate because you know the exact time when your life will be finished. Others are not so fortunate; they don’t know. Their life may be terminated tomorrow. Because you know exactly that within two months you are going to die, live these two months as intensely and as joyfully and as meditatively as possible. You cannot postpone. Others can postpone because they are not aware when they are going to die. You are in a good situation because you cannot postpone. You have to do everything now.”
He understood and he has been very happy, very joyous, meditating, dancing, singing. And his friends have written to me, “We could not believe such a change. His doctors are in wonder; they have never seen anybody taking his death so beautifully, so lightly.”
His question needed this context for you to understand, when he says, “Can you talk a bit more about acceptance?”
Human languages are very poor. The word ‘acceptance’ has a hidden reluctance. You may not have looked into the word, but when you say, “accept it,” there is a hidden reluctance, a kind of compulsoriness, because there is nothing else to do. So why make fuss a about it – accept it.
This kind of acceptance is not true and authentic. I would say, enjoy it. Unless your acceptance is enjoyment, unless your acceptance is wholehearted – without any reluctance, not out of any compulsion, not out of a particular situation but out of your understanding…
Acceptance becomes a beautiful experience if it is at the same time enjoyment. You are not accepting under the pressure of circumstances; you are accepting on your own accord, with joy, with a deep welcome. Then only you understand what acceptance can do to your being. In a single moment it can change you, transform you from an ordinary human being into an awakened human being.
But don’t accept reluctantly. That is deceiving yourself because deep down you don’t want to accept. Just after two months you are going to die? And naturally, when somebody said, accept it, what else to do? There is nothing. The doctors are doing the chemotherapy – they are doing everything that is possible. But they know that nothing is going to help; the cancer has gone beyond the limits of their cure.
Seeing the situation you can accept it, but there will be a negativity inside you. You are accepting because nothing else can be done. If there was some possibility to try you would not accept it. I don’t call this authentic acceptance. Authentic acceptance has no negative tone in it, no reluctance, no resistance, no compulsiveness. It is not because of the pressure of things and situations and our helplessness. Don’t accept out of helplessness; accept out of your strength.
Two months are so much to live. One can live as intensely and totally in one second as people live in their whole life. But their living is very thin, spread all over a long time. That does not mean that they are the fortunate ones, because authentic living needs great intensity and great totality, not a thin layer. A lukewarm survival is not living. But if you know that the next moment you are going to die you will drop everything that you were involved in, and the only priority will be to know yourself.
Before death comes at least be aware who you are. You don’t have time to postpone.
It happened that one man used to come to a mystic, Eknath, for many years. He was a devotee but there was a doubt in his mind that was continuously pinching him. And because there were always many disciples he could not ask. So one day he came very early, before sunrise. Eknath was just coming out of the river. He had taken a bath before his morning meditation in the temple. He reached Eknath and said, “Forgive me for disturbing you at this time, but I have been carrying a question my whole life.” And he was a young man, healthy, strong; he said, “And I cannot dissolve it, it continues. It is a disturbance between me and you.”
Eknath said, “What is the problem?”
He said, “The problem is that I have seen you for many years, but I have never seen you sad. I have never seen you angry, I have never seen you jealous; I have never seen you in any negative state of mind. You are always smiling and always joyous and relaxed as if there is no worry in the world, no problem in the world. You don’t seem to be concerned even about death. You take it so lightly.
“And the problem is that a doubt arises in me whether you are an actor or you are really enlightened? One can manage to act smiling, always showing joyousness, taking everything lightly, never seriously. Is it just a discipline? Have you trained yourself for it? Or is it something that has happened to you – it is not your doing but a natural, spontaneous understanding that has arisen out of your meditations? That question has been bothering me, because one man can manage to pretend. You see actors in films and you know they are the most miserable lot in the world, but in the film they look so joyous, so happy, so loving, so peaceful, so courageous. If this is possible to do in a film or in a drama, then why is it not possible to do in real life? You need just a little control not to show your real feelings but always to go on acting.”
Eknath said, “Wait a minute. Before I answer your question I should not forget something that I wanted to tell you. I have been forgetting for three days, and it is important; so first I will tell you that thing and then I will answer your question. Just three or four days ago I happened to look at your hand, and I was very shocked. Your lifeline is finished; just such a small fraction has remained so that you may be able to live seven days at the most. On the seventh day as the sun will be setting you will be dying. This I have been forgetting and this too is as important as your question. Now we can discuss your question.”
The man stood up. He said, “I don’t have any question and I don’t have any time to discuss. If death is coming within seven days why should I worry whether you are real or unreal. That is your business; it is not my problem.”
The man started going down the steps. There were many steps to the temple, and Eknath watched him. Just five minutes ago he had come so strong, so young, and now he was going just like an old man, wobbling, taking the support of the railing that he had never taken before, afraid to fall. And when he reached home he simply went to bed directly, even though it was not the time, it was morning – he had just got up from the bed. He collected the whole family and told them what Eknath had said.
It was inconceivable that Eknath will lie; there is no point in lying. So there was crying and weeping, and that man stopped eating. What is the point now when you are not going to live?
But a strange thing started happening as he became settled with the idea that death is coming and nothing can be done. “Why not use this time for the meditation that I have been postponing for many years? Eknath goes on saying every day to meditate, put your energy into discovering yourself, and I have been postponing it, because what is the hurry? I am a young man and these things, meditation and knowing yourself belong to the old people when they have nothing else to do. Anyway they are out of work, retired. That is the right time to meditate and find out who you are. Right now you have to find out many other things – money, power, prestige, respectability. This is not the time to waste in finding yourself. That you can do at any moment when you will not be of any use in life, and life will reject you by retiring you.”
It is strange that everywhere when people are retired, their colleagues gather together just to say goodbye to them, and they always give them a pocket watch. That I cannot believe… what is the idea? But now I know. They give them a pocket watch as, “Not much time is left to remind you, but now, do the essential things that you have been postponing.”
The man lay down, started watching his mind for the first time and became utterly silent within two or three days. But the whole family and other relatives and friends from far away arrived. They were even more disturbed. Death is coming; that is a shock. And what has happened to this man? He does not open his eyes; he does not eat; he does not take any interest. This was a time to meet the family, the friends, because who knows when you will ever meet these people again; there is not much chance.
But he is not interested in anything. He did not even allow them to call a physician. By the fourth day they could not believe that he was looking so beautiful, so graceful, so silent. His whole bedroom almost had the same quality which exists around a man of silence or which exists in a living temple, where not only statues are, but some living master is also present.
People came with great words prepared, dialogues which one needs to say, because it is very embarrassing to come to a man who is going to die. What to say to him? You cannot talk about movies, you cannot talk about politics, you cannot talk about football games, you cannot talk about boxing. What is there to talk about? It is very embarrassing if somebody is dying and you have to leave. Then one prepares a dialogue to console him, “Don’t be worried; everybody dies. It is not that it is happening only to you. And then there is God: you have been a virtuous man, and your heaven is absolutely guaranteed.”
One has to prepare things like that because now the worldly things that one gossips with each other are of no point. But as they entered, even this dialogue was not possible, the man was so silent. On the seventh day he opened his eyes and asked his family, “How much time is left for the sun to set?”
Reading this story I remember why that pocket watch is given to people: so they don’t even need to ask anybody else; just look at your pocket watch and be finished. Never present a pocket watch to anybody, because that simply means that you have taken it for granted that this man is gone. The pocket watch is the last present.
And the people said, “The sun is just about to set within a few minutes.” And he was showing such grace, such joy, such blissfulness, that the family could not believe the metamorphosis that these seven days have been. They all knew he was an ordinary man. The wife knew, the father knew, the brothers knew that he had nothing special, but in seven days he has gone far beyond them.
Exactly as the sun was setting they all started crying and weeping. And he was saying to them, “Be quiet. There is nothing to worry about.”
At that moment Eknath arrived. The whole family touched his feet and told him, “Save him. Can you do anything?”
Eknath said, “With death there is no possibility. Just let me see him.”
So they all respectfully moved and gave way to Eknath. The man was sitting silently with closed eyes, looking almost like a marble statue of Gautam Buddha… in just seven days, and he was an ordinary person. Eknath called his name and said, “I have come to see you and to tell you that it was only a device. You are not going to die. You have a lifeline that is very long. You will live almost as much as you have lived. You have lived only half the lifeline, so there are many years to live. This was a way to answer your question.”
The man said, “My God. I never thought that this is a way to answer my question.”
Eknath said, “There was no other way. Whatever I would have said to you, you would have remained with doubts. A man who can pretend for years to be happy can also lie that he is enlightened. I wanted to give you some experience of it, that it is not acting. And these seven days have given you the experience. Have you received the answer or not?”
The man stood up, jumped out of the bed – for seven days he had not left the bed at all – touched the feet of Eknath and said, “Your compassion is great. Unless your compassion was so great, you would not have lied. But you have answered my question. Now there is no doubt at all. And I cannot see that any doubt in the future is possible. I have known the space in which you are living.”
Eknath said, “It does not matter whether you are going to die after seven days or seventy years. Once you become aware that you are going to die, it does not matter when.”
The awareness of death makes you live life as totally, as joyously as possible. Death is not your enemy. In fact, it is an invitation for you to live intensely, totally, to squeeze every drop of juice from every moment. Death is a tremendous challenge and invitation. Without death there would not have been any Gautam Buddha, any Jesus, any Lao Tzu, any Tilopa. There would not have been any Kabir, any Raidas, any Mansoor, any Sarmad.
It is death and its awareness that makes you live as totally, as deeply, as consciously as possible. Before death knocks on your doors you should be able to see the eternal life within you. Then there is no death; death is a fiction. It is a reality only to those who have not lived, not lived in its completeness, in its entirety.
For those who have lived there is no death.
It is only a change – just changing the house.
I am reminded…
One night a thief entered into Mulla Nasruddin’s house, and Mulla Nasruddin was trying to sleep. He had only one blanket, so half was used as a bed and half to cover himself. But sleep was not coming because the mosquitoes were so interested in keeping him awake. They are great teachers who are continuously making an effort that you should not fall asleep. Their whole teaching is awareness. I always thought that these mosquitoes seem to be old masters trying their old teaching. Now they cannot speak, but they can manage to keep you awake.
So Mulla was turning and tossing, and then suddenly, he saw a thief entering. It was a dark night and the door was open. The thief was amazed. He hardly figured out that some man is sleeping; the house seems to be completely empty and all doors are open – a great opportunity. So he entered inside the house and went on going to the innermost room, not being aware that he is being followed by Mulla Nasruddin.
Suddenly Mulla stumbled on something so the thief became aware. Mulla said, “Don’t be worried. I have been living in this house for thirty years; and I have not found anything up to now. But perhaps with your expertise… we can both try to find something. Fifty-fifty?”
The thief could not believe it. What kind of man is this? It is his own house. The thief became a little afraid; this man seems to be either mad or very dangerous. And Mulla said, “Don’t be worried. If you are not agreeing on fifty-fifty, you can have sixty, I can have forty – or whatever you want. I have wasted thirty years searching and searching and I have not found anything. So whatever you want me to give, even five percent commission will do. You try. And I have brought a candle.”
He lit the candle and he said, “Because it is dark it will be difficult for you. So I will keep the candle and you search.”
The thief said, “I have also been stealing for the same time, thirty years, but I have never met a man like you. You amaze me.”
But there was nothing at all, so they went around the whole house. They could not find anything. Finally the thief said, “You are right, there is nothing to find.”
As he was going out – he had been into other houses before and he had left all the things that he has stolen from other houses outside the house – Mulla went with him, threw his blanket also in the pile. The thief said, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Nothing. I am coming with you, just changing houses.”
The man said, “This is an unnecessary trouble and this man seems to be a little crazy.” He said, “You can take your blanket.”
He said, “No. Either fifty-fifty…”
But he said, “I have stolen these things from other houses.”
He said, “That does not matter… otherwise the police station. Fifty-fifty? This is my only business. I keep my house open and the thieves come; they do the business.”
The man said, “You seem to be the greatest thief in the world. You never go out; thieves come by themselves.”
He said, “It has been happening. But if you want I am prepared to come with you, because what is there in this house?”
The man became so afraid of Mulla because he could not put him into any category. He said, “You can keep everything, just leave me… And I will never come back.”
Mulla said, “As you wish, but I was always thinking of changing my house. You will also get the blanket and the whole treasure that you have stolen from other houses, and me who can advise you. You are just amateur. You may have been stealing for thirty years, but you don’t know much. I don’t go anywhere and thieves come by themselves and fifty-fifty, sometimes even more, sometimes a hundred percent. Because I am always happy to change the house and they are afraid to take me to their house.”
The man who knows himself knows death as only changing the house. Acceptance is not the right word, but there is no other word; this is the difficulty.
I would say, Chintan, rejoice!
Make all these days a celebration.
And if you can make all these days a celebration, your death will be found to be a fiction. These days of celebration and meditation and silence and joy and love will create in you the capacity to die consciously. And one who dies consciously knows that death is nothing but changing the house. And it is always for a better house because life always goes upwards; it is an evolutionary process.
I was really shocked by the American government particularly, Ronald Reagan’s government. They have prohibited the universities and colleges and schools to teach Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Books on the theory of evolution have been burned or removed from all libraries, because this theory of evolution goes against the Christian idea of creation. You may not immediately get the difference, but the difference is there.
God created everything so there is no question of any evolution. He created monkeys as monkeys, and he created men as men – not that the monkeys have evolved into man; there is no evolution. God has made the world perfect. Evolution is possible only if things are imperfect.
This fundamentalist, fascist, fanatical idea of Ronald Reagan has been imposed on the whole of America, and nobody is protesting that it is against the constitution of America. It is against democracy; it is against freedom of expression. The American constitution makes it clear that religion should not interfere with people’s lives, particularly via government powers: the government should be neutral. But this is not neutrality.
And to stop the whole of America knowing anything about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution is dangerous, because it means you cannot evolve. You are what you are. It is dangerous. I am not saying whether Charles Darwin is right or wrong; that is not my business. I am saying that the idea of evolution should not be taken away from people’s minds. In fact, they should be made more aware that for thousands of years we are not evolving – we should evolve.
And now outside we have got everything. Evolution should take on a different dimension, an inner evolution. But to destroy the whole idea…! Ronald Reagan has done much harm to America, but this is his greatest harm, because this will mean that if the idea of evolution completely disappears from peoples’ minds, then wherever they are, God wants them to be there: in misery, in suffering, in anguish, in angst. But that’s what God wants, and there is no possibility of evolution.
I don’t support the particulars of Charles Darwin, but I support the essential fact that evolution has been happening, because we have seen man becoming a Gautam Buddha. I don’t agree that monkeys have become men. And even if they have, it does not bother me; it is perfectly good.
My concern is for the future, not for the past. I want man to evolve. It does not matter whether monkeys evolve into men or not, but man can evolve into superman, into new man. But that evolution will happen only through deep meditation, watchfulness, waiting and accepting life with joy, and accepting death with joy, with no reluctance, without any pressure, but from your innermost feeling.
Everything that is, is beautiful.
It can be more beautiful – there is no limit to evolution. Particularly for consciousness there is no limit; it can go even beyond Gautam Buddha, beyond Bodhidharma, beyond all the great awakened people of the past, because consciousness has no limits. It is as vast as the sky, as the whole universe.
Chintan, accept with joy and dance and song.
Just a little joke so that you go from here not with serious faces. This temple believes in laughter and I want everybody who comes here to go laughing. Even on the way, when he remembers – a little giggle. In the night, in the middle of the night, then he remembers – a good laugh.
A good laugh is the greatest prayer.
A little boy on a picnic strays away from his family and suddenly realizes he is lost and night is falling. After running around and shouting for a while he becomes very frightened and kneels down to pray with uplifted hands.
“Dear Lord,” he says, “please help me to find my mummy and daddy and I promise I won’t hit my sister anymore.”
Just then a bird flies overhead and shits right into his outstretched hands. The boy examines it, looks up to heaven and says, “Lord, don’t give me this shit, I really am lost.”
Everybody is really lost. Very few people have reached their home. But your pilgrimage of finding your home should not be serious and sad and heavy; it should be of laughter and song and dance. If you can find your home dancing, laughing, it is true finding. By sadness and seriousness you are bound to find some graveyard, not your home.
We need people who are seekers but not serious. That kind of seeking, serious and sad, has not led man anywhere.
Osho, The Invitation, Ch 18, Q 2