An Eastern Vision on Death – conscious dying, dying with awareness
Since early 2000, The Netherlands has been to the forefront in the dying arena. For example, palliative sedation and euthanasia are easily spoken about and are legalized. Yet even in this progressive country, celebrating death is seldom seen. That’s the case at “Xenia”, the beautiful hospice for young adults in the city of Leiden.
I’ve worked there, as a volunteer and in a paid capacity, for three years. Having explored, through Osho Sammasati, an entirely different attitude to death and dying than the dominant Western medical way, I decided to offer an event through which to share that. On September 13 a group of twenty people – volunteers, nurses and coordinators of the hospice – came together to learn about “An Eastern Vision of Death”.
As facilitator, I took the participants through my own research of what is said will happen to us when we die. That went from Tibetan Buddhism, through psychedelics and anthroposophy to Osho Sammasati’s life (or death:-) -changing workshop, “An Experiential Enquiry into Death.” As you will be aware, the OSHO Sammasati workshops, in fact all aspects of its work, are based on Osho’s contention that there is no death, and his vision of life as a celebration – and death, being part of life, as a celebration too! It was quite a challenge for the participants to hear that death can be seen as a celebration… especially given that the setting was a hospice, and one where people die young, too young from their point of view.
The evening’s program was set up in such a way that bit by bit the pieces of the puzzle where put together: a dialogue about what death meant to them, followed by what you can do now to prepare yourself for a conscious death, the importance of meditation, and experiencing some breathing exercises I had noticed while working in the hospice that breath exercises are easy to do and are a great tool for relaxation. For example, two other techniques Osho has talked about – opening the eyes when breathing in and closing the eyes while breathing out or with closed eyes humming at the outbreath – bring a lot of calmness, useful for when people are in stress. I discovered that if they can put their fingers in their ears the effect is even greater. Last but not least I led them through Osho’s beautiful ‘Watching the gap” meditation, which gave them a little taste of how they could enter the stillness. Most of them had never meditated before and they where rather surprised at how easy it was to enter such tranquillity.
All in all it was a beautiful evening, and one that brought a new perspective on dying to the hospice. The atmosphere was very relaxed and participants curious. In November I will probably start working in the hospice again and will see if the evening has had a longer-lasting effect. Most of the participants really liked the evening, some wanting more. And for me? I felt an enormous gratitude towards Osho for his vision and OSHO Sammasati for translating it into beautiful workshop material that opens up doors to dying consciously.