THE WAY OUT OF LIFE-AND-DEATH IS NOT SOME SPECIAL TECHNIQUE.
To go beyond life-and-death there is no certain technique. The essential thing is to see through to the root of life-and-death. Do you know you have roots? You know perfectly well any tree uprooted is going to die. Roots are hidden underneath the ground. Just because you don't have roots in the ground, because you walk here and there...
Have you heard about trees in Africa which walk? Not very fast, no traffic rule is needed, but they go on moving towards the sources where more water is available. What will you say - their roots are their legs? Nothing can exist without roots.
In the same part of Africa where trees move - sometimes miles from their place - another kind of tree also exists: the cannibal tree. It has big leaves and a very intoxicating fragrance so that any bird that comes close is bound to have a little desire to experience it. And the flower is so full of juice that it is irresistible. It has not yet been heard of that any bird has renounced and passed beyond the tree; no bird can do that. The bird simply sits on the flower, drinking. While the bird is drinking the juice, the flower closes and crushes the bird.
Rather than the bird drinking the tree, the tree drinks the bird. And as the bird is completely squeezed out, the flower opens again, throwing the dead body outside, waiting for somebody else. Its flowers are very big - even a human being can be caught in them - and very strong, very muscular.
It has eaten a few human beings! Ordinarily it does not happen because those flowers open too high up... unless some fellow like Mulla Nasruddin climbs the tree and tries to look inside the flower - what is happening there? But it will eat birds of any kind, any size. Once in a while if some accident happens - perhaps in a high wind the tree has fallen and a man is passing by... You cannot go away without having a closer look, because so much fragrance you have never smelt, and it is so intoxicating, alcoholic. When you come close the flower gives you a good hug, but then you cannot get out of the hug. He sucks all your blood and leaves you just as an empty shell. Have you ever thought that you are an empty shell?
But Bukko and Gurdjieff both insist... although they know everybody has the potentiality of becoming a buddha. But that does not mean that you can simply remain believing it. You have to be awakened, and you cannot be awakened unless you are really shocked. This is their way of shocking people into awakening.
Once you start looking inwards, you will find your roots. Those roots are not in the earth and those roots are not in heaven. Those roots are in your own being, connected with the universal being. Neither can you see your own being, nor can you see the universal being. But once you feel your roots, you have come to a place from where you can take the jump into the universal life.
Then fire does not matter. Then you are beyond ordinary material things. Then no sword can cut you and no fire can burn you. Now there is no life and no death, but a totally new phenomenon which is beyond.
The other ordinary fallacy is that by being spiritual you will overcome death. But you don't understand that you can overcome death only if you overcome life also. They are both part of one coin, two sides; you cannot have a coin which has only one side. The moment you transcend death, in the same moment you transcend life. Then what remains? All that we know is our mundane life... and then one day people are carrying you towards the burning ghat. We don't know anything at all beyond life-and-death.
Bukko's approach is:
THE WAY OUT OF LIFE-AND-DEATH IS NOT SOME SPECIAL TECHNIQUE; THE ESSENTIAL THING IS TO SEE THROUGH TO THE ROOT OF LIFE-AND-DEATH.
From where this life is arising, from the same place death will arise. To be more accurate, life and death both are walking together. They are two wings, or two legs - side by side.
Every day you live, every day you die. It is not that after seventy years, one day suddenly you die. It is not possible so suddenly, for no reason - just lying in your bed and you die. And what have you been doing for seventy years? Seventy years' training of life ends in a single moment? No, the more accurate account is that you start dying the day you are born.
Every day you are living and dying, living and dying; both processes are together. At a certain point in the journey - seventy years, eighty years, ninety years - the energy that was carrying you is finished. The roots no longer support you, the roots no longer nourish you; you shrink, you close your eyes and you die.
All the meditations are in fact in the search for the roots from where the life has arisen and to where the life goes back - to where? If we can find the roots, we can find from where it is getting its nourishment. And to know the universal life as your nourishment, you have gone beyond life-and-death. This is the authentic Zen experience.
That root is not something that fell from heaven or sprang up from earth. It is at the center of the functioning of every man, living with his life, dying with his death, becoming a buddha, making a patriarch.
Whatever you do, at the center of your being is the root that is connecting you with the universal life source.
These are all in dependence of it, and one who goes into zen has to pierce and break through this thing.
What is called Zen sitting is not some sort of operation to be performed, and to take it so is wrong. In our line, it is simply realizing what one's own true heart really is, and it is necessary to pledge oneself to the true heart.
Going into Zen is seeing one's original nature, and the main thing is to make out what one was before even father or mother were born. For this one must concentrate one's feeling and purify it, then, eliminating all that weighs on one's thought and feeling, one must go to grasp the self.
We are saying that the self seeks to grasp the self, but in fact it is already the self, so why should it go to grasp the self?
It is because in the mass of knowings and perceivings and judgments, the true self is always so wrapped up in the distinctions and exclusivities that it does not emerge to show itself as it is.
Bukko's way is very special in the lineage of Zen masters. He ends up in the same place but he follows a very different route.
He is saying: first you have to encounter your heart, the very center of your being. And as you encounter it, hold on to it. The holding of your own self is necessary because so many judgments, imaginations, theories, rationalizations have been forced upon you. They drag you away from yourself; otherwise every child is born with a pure self. Just turning his eyes in, he will encounter himself, there is no need to grab. But for you, you are lost in a crowd of many conceptions, many ideas about the self - what it is, how it functions, whether it is or not.
So the first thing is to find the center of your functioning's. One thing is certain, that you are functioning: speaking, talking, walking, breathing. One thing is certain - you are functioning, so we are not moving from any theoretical point.
That is the contribution of Bukko and Gurdjieff both: they always move from a real point, not a point of belief. The only thing that you know about is that you are a functioning mechanism. Your mind thinks, your heart falls in love, you feel hungry, you drink water when you feel thirsty. All that you know about you is so many functions. These are not theorizations; it is not a question of being a Hindu or being a Mohammedan. When you are thirsty, whoever you are, water is needed to quench the thirst. You cannot say, "I am a Catholic - how can water quench my thirst if it is quenching the thirst of the Protestant?"
The actual functioning should be your starting point. Then just look inwards to find the center - from where these functions are arising. From where you become hungry, from where arises the thirst. Where is the point from where the breathing arises? Just choose these functions, any function. For example, Buddha has chosen breathing; it is one of the functions. From where does it arise? When you breathe, just watch. But breathe fully, because nobody breathes fully.
You will be surprised that our breathing reaches only to thirty percent. Seventy percent of our lungs are full of carbon dioxide; they never breathe. Only when you are running or doing some gymnastics do you start breathing more. To breathe one hundred percent without running, just sitting and taking in the breath, in silence, to its deepest source, you will find the roots not only of breathing, but of hunger, of thirst, of intelligence, of everything.
When I say "Go to the center" that's what I mean. Every day we "go in" in meditation. People think that just by closing the eyes you are in. If you were just-born, certainly you would be in. But there is so much garbage, so many scriptures and so many scholars standing in between you and your real self that before you go anywhere they will say, "Where are you going? I have the answer. There is no need to torture yourself. Just say, `I am the immortal self' and you will be back home. Why bother unnecessarily? Aham brahmasmi - I am the ultimate."
I have asked many Hindu sannyasins, "Have you really experienced it - aham brahmasmi - or just read it in a scripture?" If they are alone, without their disciples, they will say, "To be true, we have not reached to that point yet, but someday we will reach. At least we have understood the scripture." It is just scripture. It is not your experience. All religions have managed to turn humanity into parrots.
A bishop used to have a parrot - a very unique specimen. He used to give the whole Sermon on the Mount. And everybody was surprised about his authority, accuracy. The parrot died and the bishop was very sad. He went to every pet shop, and finally at one shop the man said, "I have the right parrot for you, come within. It is very special." The parrot was very beautiful, and the man described him: "Do you see around one of the legs of the parrot a small thread, and around the other leg another small thread?"
The bishop looked and he said, "Yes."
He said, "If you pull one thread he will immediately give you the Sermon on the Mount."
The bishop said, "That's what I have been looking for. And what about the other leg?"
He said, "If you pull the other leg he will give you a lecture on the Koran. He has been trained for both religions, so anybody can purchase him, either a Mohammedan or a Christian."
The bishop said, "This is even better - just for a change..." But the bishop said, "I have an inquiry. If I pull both threads together, what will happen?"
The parrot said, "You idiot! I will fall flat on the ground. What will happen? This way you must have killed your last parrot. I refuse to go with this man."
The owner of the pet shop said, "You have disturbed my parrot - he is a very intelligent person, and you asked such an unintelligent question. If you pull both legs, obviously he will fall."
All the religions have converted everybody into a parrot. And people are perfectly satisfied with being parrots; it is so easy, so simple. But the experience needs tremendous energy to inquire, a great love to find out who you are, where are your roots.
From: Osho, The Language of Existence
- one volume from the Zen set- Zen All Colours of the Rainbow