"Religion is the art of dying consciously. Religion is the science of entering into death in total understanding and awareness. And the person who enters death consciously, for him death disappears forever because by dying consciously he knows that he is not dying at all. Dying consciously, he knows that what is dying is the body - it is not more than when you discard old clothes - but his inner flame of consciousness is burning bright even in death; even the storm is unable to blow it out."
"At the age of fourteen, my family again became disturbed that I would die. I survived, but then I again tried it consciously. I said to them, 'If death is going to occur as the astrologer has said, then it is better to be prepared. And why not give a chance to death? Why should I not go and meet it halfway? If I am going to die, then it is better to die consciously."
Glimpses of a Golden Childhood
I am fortunate. When my father died, I was there with him. When Vipassana died, a disciple, a friend and fellow resident of the Commune, I was there with her. And when my mother died, I was there with her. In fact I made her promise that she wouldn't die unless I was there.
My father's death felt like a death. He was fighting. Yet I came away from that experience feeling that death is the cleanest and most honest event that I had ever witnessed. No bargains, no games, no compromises. It just comes.
Vipassana was the first to die in our gathering of disciples, of a brain tumor. It was at this time that Osho gave us his vision of celebrating death. When Vipassana left her body, I could hear her laughter! It was very different from the way my father left this world. Hers did not feel like a death.
When my mother died I was completely identified. The whole dysfunctional quality of our relationship exploded before my eyes. I did not to let here go. I had since childhood felt that I have to take care of her - because this is the message that she gave me - in spite of all the psychological work I had done on myself I tried to die for her. I did not want her to hurt or to fear. It took me several years to process her death. Yet when she left her body here, I could sense that she was perfectly okay. The fight was my own.
As a child I had a fascination about death. I remember staring at the body of my ninety-three year-old aunt, who o loved, and wondering, "What's going on here? Why is she so still? If she's gone, as all the grown-ups are saying, who is that? Where did she go?" In the very back of my child's mind these questions continued to trouble me.
After many twists and turns on my life's journey, I found Osho. I became his disciple. He gave me the name Ma Yoga Sudha, "elixir of union" - the deathless.
The first meditation camp that I attended was led by Osho. The discourses were in Hindi, but occasionally in English to explain a meditation technique. There were about twenty or so Western disciples at the time, and hundreds of Indians. The discourses were on The Kathopnishad, the book you are now holding in your hands. I have had the great fortune to edit the master's words of my first meditation camp. Life never ceases to amaze me.
In India, The Kathopnishad is read to people when they are dying or after they have died. But as Osho says, this is now an empty ritual, not dissimilar to Christian rituals that have long since lost any possibility to transform our lives. These discourses resurrect the true life of The Kathopnishad. As Osho guides us through the mystery of death, it becomes clear that he is speaking from his own experience. He is a master of life…and of death.
The Kathopnishad is a teaching story. Circumstances take a small and very intelligent boy, Nachiketa, to a situation where he is the guest of Yamaraja, the Lord of death. Nachiketa has asked many questions…
And fortunate it is that that Osho is here to answer these questions and penetrate the fog of conditioned fear and ignorance that the word 'death' triggers in each of us. We think it is the end, the darkest eternal chasm; or we console ourselves with fairy stories of heaven and hell and a life thereafter. Either we escape into despair or into illusion. Or we try to ignore the whole thing.
"The fire by which you will attain to immortality is hidden within you. You will find the great joy where there is no sorrow. You will attain to the ultimate freedom, which is liberation - but that fire is hidden in the inner sanctum of your own heart. You have not to go somewhere else to find that fire. You have not to ignite that fire somewhere outside you. It is always burning within you and you are the owner of it. You are immortal - but you don't know it, you are not aware of it."
When Osho left his body in 1990, it was his greatest gift. I was there. Seeing that my immediate reaction of pain was an old habit, pain left me alone. I did not want this moment to find me indulging in old habits. It became purely a matter of fact. I no longer knew if what was happening was good or bad.
As I watched the body of my beloved master go up in the smoke of his funeral pyre, I heard him say. "Love is the only experience which transcends death." Ah, so this is what it means that the buddha leaves no footprints…
You are fortunate to have found this book. May it bring you light and transform your life.
Ma Yoga Sudha