The mystic’s response to positive thinking that takes us beyond identifying with all dualities.

Woman letting bird fly out of a cage


Osho was asked the question:
‘I believe thinking positively can play a part in getting better. So I have the attitude that I am not dying of cancer but living with cancer. If I think about the chance of my dying it feels that that is like inviting death. It feels more healthy to concentrate right now on living.’

What follows is an extract from his response:

‘Equilibrium is when you don’t choose, when you see the fact as it is. Life is not an either/or question, there is nothing to choose. It is all together. 

‘By your choice, nothing is changed. By your choice, you only get into a kind of ignorance. That which you choose is part, and that which you are not choosing is also part of reality. The unchosen part of reality will remain hanging around you, waiting to be accepted. It cannot disappear; there is no way for it to disappear. If you love life too much and you don’t want to see the fact of death…death is there hanging around like a shadow.

‘…See both – they are one piece, they are together. Seeing them together, without any choice, without any prejudice, you transcend them. Seeing them together, you are no longer identified with life and no longer identified with death. When you are not identified, you are free, you are liberated.

‘Identification is what imprisonment is. Let this be understood perfectly, because that is the root cause of all our misery, slavery. Identification – this word is very significant. It means you get identified with a part. You become one with one part of life; that part you start thinking of as if it is the whole. Nothing is wrong with the part as such, but the part is the part; it is not the whole. When you start thinking of the part as the whole, partiality arises. When you start claiming the part as if it is the whole, you are becoming blind to the whole. Now you will be in conflict with reality. 

‘And you cannot win against reality, remember it. You cannot win against reality. It is impossible. You can win only with reality, never against reality. If you are with it, you will be a winner; if you are against it, you are going to be a loser. And we are all losers; we have been fighting. 

‘We choose a small part and claim that this is the whole. We choose life, we take life out of its basic context – death – and we say, ‘This is me. I am life.’ Now you are getting into trouble. You will be encaged in this identification. How will you manage death then? – it is there, it is happening every moment, and it is going to take you unawares one day.

‘You get identified with the body, “I am the body”; then there is trouble. You get identified with the mind, “I am the mind”; then there is trouble. Getting identified is getting into trouble. Identification is the very stuff ignorance is made of. Once identification is dropped, once you don’t get identified with anything, you simply remain a witness – not saying, “This I am” or “That I am”. You simply remain a witness. You see life as passing, you see death as passing; you see sex as passing; you see frustration, joy, success, failure….. You go on seeing; you remain a pure seer. You don’t get hooked with anything; you don’t claim “I am this”. Without claiming, who are you? Without confining and defining yourself, without giving a limitation to yourself, if you can remain flowing, just seeing, there is liberation. There is great liberation.

‘Unidentified one is free. Identified, one is encaged.

‘Don’t be identified with anything whatsoever. And then, naturally, transcendence happens. You see misery coming and you remain a watcher. You see misery arising, engulfing you, surrounding you like great dark smoke, but you remain a watcher. You see it, you don’t judge. You simply see this is the fact, that there is misery. Then as it had come one day, one day it starts disappearing. Clouds had gathered and now they are disappearing, and there is great sunshine and happiness. You don’t get identified with that either. You just see that sunshine has come back, clouds have disappeared. You simply go on watching.

‘Many times it will happen – misery will come, happiness will come. Many times you will succeed, many times you will fail. Many times you will be depressed and many times you will feel very high. Watching all this duality, by and by you will see that you are beyond all these dual pairs of things.

‘Life and death is also a pair; mind and body is also a pair; the world and nirvana is also a pair. All are dual, pairs. When you can see thoroughly, when you can see transparently and you don’t choose, you are something transcendental – the witness. That witness is never born and never dies.

‘Death and life come into that witnessing vision, but that witness is eternal. It was there before you were born and it will be there when you are gone. You have been coming into the world millions of times and you may yet be coming – and still you have never come. The world appears in you just like a reflection appears in a mirror.

‘This mirror- like quality is what is meant by witnessing. And that’s why the mirror remains clean of all impressions. It goes on reflecting, but no impressions are collected on it. This is the state of awareness. This is what meditation is all about. 

‘Watch, see, be alert, but don’t choose. And don’t get into any part. The part is not the whole. The part is part, and sooner or later the part will go, because the part cannot stay long enough. And when it goes you will be miserable because you will not be willing to leave it; you will cling to it, because you got identified with it. But it will have to go, and you will feel miserable and you will cry and you will weep – but that is your creation. If you had remained like a mirror there would be no problem. Whatsoever happens, happens. You remain undisturbed and undistracted.

Courage and fear sign at OSHO Sammasati

‘…You have become attached to life. You think it is very valuable. And because you become attached, you think of death as the enemy, the robber. Death is coming and it will rob you of all your gold, of all the precious stones that you have carried all along. It will take all the dust off your mirror – and that’s all you have been thinking is your life. Hence, you are afraid.

‘If you see the point, death is a friend…in fact, a far greater friend than life itself.

Why do I say so? I say so because in life you get attached, you collect dust. Death takes all your attachments and all your dust away. If you can see the point, you will feel tremendously grateful to death. What you cannot do, death does for you. That’s why if you can do it, then there is no death for you; then there is no need for death. If a man can clean his consciousness through meditation, then he will never die. 

‘I’m not saying that he will not die in the body – that is a natural thing. But he will never come across death. Death happens only to the dust that collects on the mirror. The mirror never dies! The mirror itself is undying. This witnessing is an undying process, it is eternal. The traveler continues; only the clothes become torn and rotten, and they have to be changed. The traveler continues; only dust gathers on the body and you have to take a bath.

‘Death is a great friend, it unburdens you. It unburdens you of all that you have accumulated. Once this unburdening is allowed voluntarily, death becomes samadhi. If you don’t allow it voluntarily, then death is not a samadhi, it is a pain. Now see the point: The same thing can be utter pain can be utter joy. It depends on your interpretation – how you look at things, how you penetrate a certain experience, how deep you go into it.

‘If you are a clinger, very possessive, then death will be very painful and will be a great anguish. You will suffer. You will not suffer because of death; you will suffer because of your clinging, because of your possessiveness, because of your attachments, because of your greed, and all that.

‘But if you are not a clinger, you are not very possessive, you are not greedy, you are not egoistic, you are not aggressive, suddenly death’s quality has changed. It comes and cleanses you. It gives you a great rest much needed. It purifies you. It takes you into the eternal source from where you will rise again. 

‘Death brings a great lesson, far greater than life. And death brings a very intense possibility to understand, because life is spread long range – death comes in a very, very potential way in a very short time. In a single moment it shakes you. If you are not alert you will miss that moment, the moment is very tiny. If you are alert, then that very moment becomes a door into the divine.

‘Once you are not attached to death, once you are not afraid of death, death becomes a game, a play.

(Zen: The Path of Paradox, Volume 3)

Access Your
Free Guide