One day Zen master Shosan said of a certain individual, “So-and-so is a great practitioner, is he not? He says that no matter what kind of plague he may die from, he wants to die as calmly as if he were taking a walk in the neighborhood.”

One of his students in the group said, “He just thinks that way – he’s not the kind of man to do Zen practice.”

The master said, “Even if that is so, still he is a man with the seed of great Zen practice.”

Live Totally

Zen master Shosan was saying that the person who got the insight that he wanted to die peacefully as if he were taking a walk in the neighborhood had started his journey towards himself. He is in the right direction.

Death cannot be denied by repeating that death does not exist. Death will have to be known, it will have to be encountered, it will have to be lived. You will have to become acquainted with it.

Our fear of death is based on a misunderstanding of its nature, but that dying is a tremendous opportunity for inner growth. Death is not an event but a process – and one that begins with birth. Each exhalation is a small death; each inhalation, a rebirth. When life is lived consciously and totally, death is not a catastrophe but a joyous climax.

Death is the most misunderstood phenomenon. People have thought of death as the end of life. That is the first, basic misunderstanding.

Death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life. Yes, it is an end of something that is already dead. It is also a crescendo of what we call life, although very few know what life is. They live, but they live in such ignorance that they never encounter their own life. And it is impossible for these people to know their own death, because death is the ultimate experience of this life, and the beginning experience of another. Death is the door between two lives; one is left behind, one is waiting ahead.

There is nothing ugly about death; but man, out of his fear, has made even the word, death ugly and unutterable. People don’t like to talk about it. They won’t even listen to the word death.

The fear has reasons. The fear arises because it is always somebody else who dies. You always see death from the outside, and death is an experience of the innermost being. It is just like watching love from the outside. You may watch for years, but you will not come to know anything of what love is. You may come to know the manifestations of love, but not love itself. We know the same about death. Just the manifestations on the surface – the breathing has stopped, the heart has stopped, the man as he used to talk and walk is no more there: just a corpse is lying there instead of a living body.

These are only outer symptoms. Death is the transfer of the soul from one body to another body, or in cases when a man is fully awakened, from one body to the body of the whole universe. It is a great journey, but you cannot know it from the outside. From outside, only symptoms are available; and those symptoms have made people afraid.

Those who have known death from inside lose all fear of death.

Learning from the story The Seed: Live Totally

Experience Learning

Instead of death being an ugly and fearful thing, it changes into one of the purest, most silent, and most sublime experiences. You experience yourself for the first time without your prison, the body, an experience of absolute freedom…unhampered, uncaged….

There is only one depth that has to be touched, whether through love or through meditation or through creativity. The depth is that you are no longer your physical body, and you are no longer your mental body either – just a pure awareness, a pure sky without any clouds, unbounded. Even a simple glimpse into it and death becomes a glorious experience….

Zarathustra says: Still the doctrine sounds strange; ‘Die at the right time.’ One who has lived rightly, intensely and totally, is bound to die at the right time. His death is nothing but a ripening, a harvest. His death is nothing but a fulfilment.

He lived so much, he loved so much, he used all his energy in being creative, he enjoyed it so much, that a point comes where he wants to rest. His cup of life is full. There is no need to go on lingering on the earth. He has come to the place where he was destined to come.

Die at the right time can be understood only by those who live, and live totally, without any inhibitions, naturally; not according to dead scriptures, but according to the living sources of their own being. They certainly reach a tremendous ecstasy of fulfilment; their death is a completion – the circle has become complete. Their death has brought them back to another birth.

Unless you die at the right time, you will never experience the beauty of death…

Die at the right time: thus Zarathustra teaches.

For Zarathustra, death is the actualization of your whole potential.

Now there is no point of – being in the body. You can die joyously, with a smile on your face, with a tremendous mystery in your eyes. Your death will not be felt as untimely; almost 99.9 percent of deaths are untimely, either too late, or too early….

For a man who has lived fully, death becomes a decision: it is up to him. Death does not come to him; he himself makes his body available for death….

The story is beautiful: Buddha closed his eyes and said, “I have taken the first step – I am no more the body.” And then, “I have taken the second step – I am no more the mind. I have taken the third step – I am no more the heart. I have taken the fourth step – I have entered into my consciousness.” That very moment his breathing stopped, his heartbeat stopped. This is a totally different kind of death – so easy and so relaxed, so fulfilled, so grateful to existence….

This kind of life is the only right life, and this kind of life can have a crescendo of a right death. Right death has to be earned by right living….


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