Osho on Enlightenment in the Moment of Death

Question – Beloved Osho, sannyasins who are dying in your presence discover their enlightenment. Why is it so difficult for those of us who are still alive? Is it that life comes so close to death, and we are afraid of dying yet still not capable of being alive in this precious moment?

Osho – It is an important question. It may have arisen in many people’s mind: “Why, when a person dies, is it easy to become enlightened? The same person when he was alive was not capable of becoming enlightened.”

The reason is very simple. When you are alive you cannot drop your ego, you cannot drop your jealousy. You cannot drop your hatred, anger, greed, because you think these are all that life consists of. If you drop all these, what is there to live for? You cannot drop your ambition; otherwise your life will be simply meaningless. That is your reasoning. And enlightenment requires as a basic condition that all this luggage should be thrown. You should stand absolutely in purity, without any luggage, without even any clothes, just naked.

Those who can gather that much courage can become enlightened any moment. But when a sannyasin is dying it is easy for him. Now he knows that he is dying: what use is ambition? What use is hatred? What use is jealousy? What use is greed? What use is the ego?

Death standing in front of his eyes makes it clear that now he can drop all that unnecessary luggage: anyway, death is going to take all that away. It happens in a single moment — the whole idea, the revelation that now there is nothing to be lost — so why not try? “Bhagwan has been saying, `Drop this, drop that.’ I could not do it while I was alive, but now there is no problem. Take a chance — see whether he was right or wrong.”

And this is not a long process of thinking. It is a simple experience in a single moment before death. And the person simply slips out of the old, rotten bag in which he has been living; now he can feel the stink and everything. Death immediately becomes enlightenment.

Then death is no longer ordinary death, then death is a door to the divine. You can do it while you are living, there is no problem. In fact, to do it when you are dying is not of much use: you never got to enjoy it. While you are alive, if you can do what I say, you will have time to enjoy enlightenment. And enlightenment is not something that is given to you, handed over to you. Enlightenment is a growing process in you. The man who becomes enlightened at the moment of death has missed much. He has missed all the joys of life, which are available only to the enlightened consciousness.

He had loved, but that love was simply phony, American. If he had had the chance to love after enlightenment, he would have known the tremendous beauty of it, the ecstasy of it. He has been eating tasteful, delicious food all his life, but he was asleep, he had no sensitivity. He was never in the moment; while he was eating, he was somewhere else faraway — perhaps on the moon. The enlightened man is always in the moment; hence, every experience becomes intense, enjoyed to the fullest. It is better to die enlightened than to die unenlightened. At least there is one thing left for you to experience as an enlightened man: that is death. But much more you have missed.

So I will not suggest to you to wait for death. Certainly those who are with me are going to become enlightened at the moment of death, but why wait for it when you are young and alive and full of juice? Becoming enlightened at the time of death, you are just a dry bone, there is no juice left; otherwise why should you die? When you are full of juice, full of life, with all the dimensions available, become enlightened.

And the process is so simple that even a dying man can manage it. It is really a shame that you are alive and you cannot manage it. Perhaps you only think you are alive. Perhaps you only dream you are alive, and death is such a shock that you wake up. But I am here to give you any kind of shock you need. I am giving you them already without asking your permission, because the moment you become a sannyasin I take it for granted that now I do not need any permission to give this man a shock — any kind of shock.

Drop all that nonsense which is holding you back from experiencing life in its totality. Drop all that which is keeping you in a narcotic sleep. And what I am asking you to drop is worthless, perhaps worse than worthless. It is poison that you are not dropping, that you are holding on to: Jealousy is poison, hate is poison, greed is poison. The ego is perhaps the most dangerous poison.

Just the other night I was talking to a woman journalist. She had come directly from Billy Graham — she had been covering Billy Graham for three weeks, and of course she asked about him. And I said, “He is a worthless man. None of my sannyasins will be impressed with that idiot, and none of his audience is going to understand me. His audience consists of retarded people. His face itself looks retarded. Whenever I see his photograph I simply close my eyes. He looks like a chimpanzee, well shaved.”

I told her, “My work and his work are totally opposite, diametrically opposite. He is giving consolation to people so they can sleep better. He is telling them, `Have faith in Jesus Christ, he is the savior. He can do anything, he is the only begotten son of God. If things are not happening to you, if miracles are not happening to you, that only shows your faith is not enough. Have more faith and your life will be filled with miracles.'”

This is consoling people, helping them to go into deeper sleep. My work is totally different. If you are asleep and snoring perfectly, I will do everything that can be done so that you have to jump out of bed. I know you will try every possible way…. I will tickle your nose, and you will throw my hand away. I will tickle your feet, and you will pull them in. I may tickle with a hair in your ear, and you will turn to the other side. To protect yourself you will pull the blanket over yourself. But nothing is going to help, no blanket can save you.

And sooner or later you are going to get tired of all these things that I am doing to you. You will have to open your eyes and see what is happening. Those who are not courageous enough to wake up, those camels start moving on the county road which goes to Santa Fe, with all their blankets, with their sleeping bags. Only courageous people can remain with me, because I may throw ice-cold water over you. And if nothing else works, then some electric shock. But I am determined to wake you!

Source – Osho Book “From the False to the Truth”

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