Osho, Buddha, Rilke, Donne, Sachs and Leunig – just a few of those whose wisdom expresses so eloquently what death can teach us.
Whenever anybody dies anywhere, death knocks at your doors too. And not only a human being: a dog dies, a crow dies, or a leaf becomes pale and dies and drops from the tree – you are dying, because we are involved in each other, we are parts of each other, we are members of each other.
(Osho: The Revolution)
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray
for a little more time to live their lives over again
in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.
(The Teaching of Tecumseh)
Give us strength. Strength to hold on
and strength to let go.
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
…What is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
(Kahlil Gibran The Prophet)
I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.
(Oliver Sacks, at his diagnosis [metastic melanoma] )
In trying to avoid death, one goes on missing life.
Live life! In living life, death is avoided.
You welcome death. And unless you can welcome death, (please close space between this and next line)
one thing is certain – you have not lived.
(Osho: Ancient Music in the Pines)
Let life be as beautiful as summer flowers
And death as beautiful as autumn leaves.
It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so universal as death, should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Live each day as if it’s your last. One day you’re gonna be right!
The greatest mystery in life is not life itself, but death. Death is the culmination of life, the ultimate blossoming of life.
When the mind thinks of death, it looks at nothing and calls it something, to keep from experiencing what it – the mind – really is. Until you know that death is equal to life, you’ll always try to control what happens, and it’s always going to hurt. There’s no sadness without a story that opposes reality.
The way to value life, the way to feel compassion for others, the way to love everything with greatest depth is to be aware that these experiences are destined to be lost.
(I. Yalom Staring at the Sun)
It is better to spend one day contemplating the birth and death of all things than a hundred years never contemplating beginnings and endings.
We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practise death is to practise freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.
….Ultimately the body’s not going to make it. This is good news – it’s over, forget it, let’s work with what we have. (Byron Katie)
What is dying?
I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!” Gone where?
Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone,”
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,
“There she comes” – and that is dying.
(The Sailing Ship,’ Bishop Charles Henry Brent)
On the day I die, don’t say he’s gone. Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets, and the moon sets but they’re not gone.
Death is a coming together.
The human seed goes down into the ground like a bucket,
and comes up with some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here, and immediately opens
with a shout of joy there.
Being against death means you will miss the greatest mystery. And being against death also means that you will miss life itself – because they are deeply involved in each other; they are not two. Life is growing, death is the flowering of it. The journey and the goal are not separate; the journey ends in the goal.
Of all mindfulness meditations, that on death is supreme.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.
I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.
My cheek like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. ….
Whoever rightly understands and celebrates death, at
the same time magnifies life.
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
There’s no decision in death. People who know that there’s no hope are free. The decision’s out of their hands. It has always been that way, but some people have to die bodily to find out. No wonder they smile on their death beds. Dying is something they were looking for in life. Their delusion of being in charge is over. When there’s no choice there’s no fear. And in that, there is peace. They realise that they’re home and that they’ve never left.
Each moment is a birth and a death. You flow between these two banks, birth and death. Your river of life is possible only because of birth and death – and it is each moment that it is happening.
…We imagine that death is a state of being or a state of nothingness, and we frighten ourselves with our own concepts…It’s our beliefs about death that scare us to death. (Byron Katie)
Death and love go together; they are aspects of the same energy. When death fulfills your love, and when in love you are ready to die – when they have the same taste and the same flavour – then for the first time you have really become aware of the mysteries of life, love and death.
(Osho The Revolution)
Until we know that death is as good as life, and that it always comes at just the right time, we’re going to take on the role of God without the awareness of it, and it’s always going to hurt. Whenever you mentally oppose what is, you’re going to experience sadness and apparent separation. There’s no sadness without a story. What is it. You are it.
When you fall in love you die. Love is death – death in its purity. And only those who are ready to die will be able to love. If you are afraid to die, you will also be afraid to love. That’s why love is missing in the world.
The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.
We think we’re afraid of the death of our body, though what we’re really afraid of is the death of our identity. But through inquiry, we understand that death is just a concept and that our identity is a concept too, we come to realise who we are. This is the end of fear.
Everybody dies but no one is dead
Love and death are the greatest gifts given to us.
Mostly they are passed on, unopened.
As long as we believe that we’re a body, we don’t have to know that we are infinite.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear or embarrassment or failure – these just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
This is the miracle of meditation, that it transforms death into God. And if meditation can transform death into God, what to say about life? It naturally transforms life into great ecstasy.
Death is different from what
Anyone knows, and luckier
(Walt Whitman from ‘Song of Myself’)
The great thing about death is that you do it on your own. Finally you get to do
something completely on your own.
Friend, hope for the guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive.
Think … and think … while you are alive.
What you call “salvation” belongs to the time before death.
If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?
The idea that the soul will rejoin with the ecstatic
Just because the body is rotten –
That is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
You will simply end up with an apartment in the
City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next
Life you will have the face of satisfied desire.
So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is.
Believe in the Great Sound!
Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
It is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
Does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.
(Kabir ‘The Time Before Death’)
Existence lives through death, existence renews itself through death. Death is the greatest mystery – more mysterious than life, because life is only a pilgrimage towards death.
There’s no decision in death. People who know that there’s no hope are free. The decision’s out of their hands. It has always been that way, but some people have to die bodily to find out. No wonder they smile on their deathbeds. Dying is something they were looking for in life. Their delusion of being in charge is over. When there’s no choice there’s no fear. And in that, there is peace. They realise that they’re home and that they’ve never left.
You have seen the sun set, so watch it rise.
Does setting bring any harm to the sun or moon?
What seed ever fell to the ground without growing?
Why doubt that the seed of man will grow when it is sown?
You think I have been lowered into the ground, don’t you?
But under my feet are the seven skies.
In this ocean, there is no dying for us.
In this ocean, there is no grief, no mourning.
In this ocean there is all the love you can accept.
This is an ocean of goodness and generosity.
Lay down your you-ness and come,
let me lay down my I-ness and come
Let us meet in the ONE, and dive into the river of truths.
This river, holding whatever is good and beautiful.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother’s milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.
Who thinks that death is sad? Who thinks that a child shouldn’t die? Who thinks that they know what death is?… I say, let’s investigate, if you’re up for it, and see if it’s possible to end the war with reality.
And if, in the changing phases of man’s life
I fall in sickness and misery
My wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
And strength is gone, and my life
Is only the leavings of a life:
And still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me —
then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
He is breaking me down to his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.
(DH Lawrence (from a poem he wrote as he was dying of TB)