Audio for Bardo part 16 (click to play or right click to download)

In the culmination of meditation, in samadhi, the meditator dies of his own accord. And because he has embraced death of his own free will he realizes the truth – that his inner self is separate from his physical body. Once this ultimate truth dawns on him, death ends for him and then he understand life. The real experience of life and the end of death happen together, because as soon as death ends for a man he understands the fullness of life. This is really saying the same thing in two different ways.

This is why I look upon religion as the art of dying. But you may say you have also heard me call it the art of living. Yes, I do say both things. And I say them in the same breath, because only one who knows how to die knows how to live life as it should be lived. And so, religion is both the art of dying and the art of living.

If you really want to understand the true meaning of life and death then you must, by your own effort, learn the art of withdrawing your life force from the exterior body and focusing it on your inner self. Only then will you be able to grasp the true meaning, the real significance of life and death. And remember, this energy can be controlled and redirected quite easily. It is not a difficult task at all. This energy is motivated by your own will and can move outwards or inwards as you direct it. This energy is the offspring of your will.

Make up your mind to do this, and for half an hour every day concentrate on diverting your life force to your inner being. If you make up your mind to dive, to drown in yourself, and you withdraw your energies from the outside, you will achieve what you wish. But this requires consistent, daily practice. Then you will find that your energy, your life force has begun to move inward. You will feel that the physical body has relinquished its hold on you and that it is quite separate from you.

If you follow this technique continuously for three months, you will find one day that your body is lying outside of you, separated from you. This you can see. At first this is perceived from inside, but after more practice, after the application of more courage, you can bring the inner spirit out and from the outside you can see your own body lying outside you, quite separated from you.

Let me tell you about a remarkable experience that happened to me. Up to now I have never mentioned it anywhere. I have suddenly recalled it, so please listen carefully.

Some twelve or thirteen years ago I had the habit of meditating at night while sitting in a tree. Whenever I meditated on the ground I felt that my body was the more powerful, that it had the upper hand. This is perhaps because the body is made of earth. The fact that yogis go to mountain peaks or high up in the Himalayas to meditate is certainly not without reason. It is definitely based on scientific principles. The greater the distance between the body and the earth, the less the force of the physical body is and the greater the power of the inner force becomes. That is why I used to climb a tall tree to meditate for hours every night.

One particular night I became so lost in deep meditation that I did not notice when my body fell out of the tree. I looked around me with mistrust when I finally notice my body lying on the ground. I was quite surprised. How it had happened that I was still sitting in a tree and my body was lying on the ground I could not comprehend at all. It was a very strange experience. A bright line, a glittering silver cord running from the navel of my body was joined to me where I was perched in the tree above. I was at a loss to understand this or to foresee what would happen next. I was worried how I could return to the body.

How long this experience lasted I do not know. But nothing like this had ever happened to me before. That day, for the first time, I saw my own body from outside, and since then the idea that my life was merely the physical existence of my body has finished for me. From that day on death also ceased to exist for me. That day I experienced that the body and the spirit are two different things, quite separate from each other. This was the most important moment in my realization of the spirit that dwells within every human body. It is really very difficult to say how long that experience lasted.

As morning dawned, two women carrying milk cans from some nearby village passed and noticed my body lying there. From the top of the tree where I was sitting I saw them looking at my body. They approached the body and sat down beside it. They touched my forehead with the palms of their hands and in a moment, as if by some tremendous force of attraction, I returned to my body and opened my eyes.

After that experience I had another.

I began to see that a woman could create an electrical charge in a man’s body and that a man could do the same thing in the body of a woman. I pondered over the touch of the woman on my forehead and my instantaneous return to the body – how and why had this happened.

Many more experiences of this sort happened to me and then I understood why those Indian yogis who experiment in the realms of samadhi and death enlist the aid of women. If in deep and profound samadhi the spiritual self has left the man’s physical body, it cannot return without the help and cooperation of a woman. In the same way, if it has left a woman’s body it cannot return without the assistance of a man. As soon as the bodies of a man and a woman come into contact a current is established, an electric circle is completed, and at that very instant the departed spirit returns.

I experienced this phenomenon six times within the next six months. And during that eventful half year I felt my life span lessen by ten years. That is to say, if I had been supposed to live seventy years I would now, because of those experiences, live only sixty. And the experiences of these six months were extraordinary. The hair on my chest even turned white! Yet I failed to grasp the full meaning of what had happened.

After much thought I finally realized that whatever connection or link there is between the physical body and the spiritual being had been interrupted, that the natural adjustment between them had been broken. And then I understood why Shankaracharya died at the age of thirty-three and Swami Vivekananda at thirty-six. Their deaths took on a different meaning for me. If there is a disruption between the two, between the visible body and the invisible spirit, it is difficult for the body to remain alive.

From Osho, The Long, the Short and the All, Chapter 5

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