How does it feel to witness something incredibly small uniting with something indefinably vast? A first-hand experience used to happen to me sporadically when I was around eight years old. Lying in bed at night and waiting for sleep to arrive, I was dropped totally into this very thing: I became those two spaces as one – both very very vast, and infinitely small, a single vanishing point. The intensity of it was such that in the morning I often wondered that I had fallen asleep at all. It was never my own doing or imagination – therefore I often found myself waiting in frightened fascination to see if this stunning phenomenon would visit me again or not. Only decades later I had a sudden insight that this could have been a memory impression of the moment when the soul enters the womb. Looking back to these episodes, it was a sense of a boundless space anchoring itself to a microscopically small something.
I have heard Osho say, that sometimes a person has memories of his or her very early childhood, even their birth. It seems that I am one of those, as I recall clearly a few incidences before my first birthday. One, when my father, who mainly kept a safe distance from me during my baby years, must have been asked to bottle-feed me one day. I still recall how it felt to have a little body and be handled by those giant-like adults – and also my surprise at my father being unexpectedly involved with me. Avoiding to do anything that could make him nervous and spoil the venture, I decided not to show my astonishment, and to act as if being fed by him was an insignificant matter. It wasn‘t, because we both came closer that day. And we did well, though I had noticed how uneasy and embarrassed he actually felt.
I also remember my own birth. It was an entirely terrifying procedure. A violently resolute force set in, took over and the immense physical pressure upon my body was a devastating experience. It was an encounter with an incomprehensible threat and seemed an unending process that I feared I would not survive.
Osho said that one could go back in memory to being in the mother‘s womb and then even further, to recall the death of one‘s previous life. I once tried to approach these realms, but they remained closed to me. It seems those memory impressions from my deep past were gifts, and whenever I made attempts of my own, all doors remained shut.
When the guided meditations of Osho Bardo became available, I decided to change direction – instead of travelling back into the past and trying to experience previous deaths, to turn towards my future death.
Osho commented on the Tibetan Buddhist method Bardo Thodol as an experiment of great significance for the transitional process of death. Just as there are midwives to assist our arrival into this world, it certainly completes the circle of life if we are accompanied skilfully and lovingly on a spiritual level when leaving behind our physical existence on this planet. Osho Bardo is a contemporary version of the ancient scripture using simple but powerful words that lead to deep relaxation where we can connect with our inner center. This enables us to create a distance to all that is happening on the periphery while an uplifting and almost festive atmosphere is unfolding as we rehearse the transition.
Being guided through this process, death became more tangible for me, more real and factual – not just a blurry myth I don‘t really want to look in the face and see clearly. By rehearsing death I met the same mysterious transitional force as experienced during birth, but this time ever so gentle, serene and light. Again it felt like something small was touching an unfathomable vastness. All turbulences and dissonances vanished. All polarities had melted into one single entity. Arriving at the other side was like coming to a sphere that was in total accordance with me – and I therefore dissolved into it naturally, without losing myself, but instead becoming that realm itself. Nothing was lost. All was one, and I was the one at the same time.
In my sannyas letter the quote by Osho says: “Sannyas is the transcendence of all boundaries.“ For many years I puzzled and pondered about this sentence. Which boundaries? Where are they? Are they my own? Or are they all outside of me? And how to transcend? I have possibly found the answer. There are no real boundaries. And to recognize this, is their very transcendence.
Illustration by the author
- On the Bardo on Osho News