Osho,
You have recently said that most of humanity is vegetating, not living. Please explain to us the art of living so that death may become also a celebration.

Man is born to achieve life, but it all depends on him. He can miss it. He can go on breathing, he can go on eating, he can go on growing old, he can go on moving towards the grave – but this is not life. This is gradual death from the cradle to the grave, a seventy-year-long gradual death. And because millions of people around you are dying in this gradual, slow death, you also start imitating them. Children learn everything from those who are around them, and we are surrounded by the dead.

So first we have to understand what I mean by life. It must not be simply growing old. It has to be growing up. And these are two different things. Growing old, any animal is capable of. Growing up is the prerogative of human beings. Only a few claim the right.

Growing up means moving every moment deeper into the principle of life, it means going farther away from death, not towards death. The deeper you go into life, the more you understand the immortality within you. You are going away from death; a moment comes when you can see that death is nothing but changing clothes, or changing houses, changing forms. Nothing dies, nothing can die; death is the greatest illusion there is.

For growing up, just watch a tree. As the tree grows up, its roots are growing down, deeper. There is a balance: the higher the tree goes, the deeper the roots will go. You cannot have a tree one hundred and fifty feet high with small roots; they could not support such a huge tree. In life, growing up means growing deep within yourself – that’s where your roots are.

To me, the first principle of life is meditation.

Everything else comes second. And childhood is the best time. As you grow older, it means you are coming closer to death, and it becomes more and more difficult to go into meditation. Meditation means going into your immortality, going into your eternity, going into your godliness. And the child is the most qualified person because he is still unburdened by knowledge, unburdened by religion, unburdened by education, unburdened by all kinds of rubbish. He is innocent.

But unfortunately his innocence is being condemned as ignorance. Ignorance and innocence have a similarity, but they are not the same. Ignorance is also a state of not knowing, just as innocence is. But there is a great difference too, which has been overlooked by the whole of humanity up to now. Innocence is not knowledgeable, but it is not desirous of being knowledgeable either. It is utterly content, fulfilled. A small child has no ambitions; he has no desires. He is so absorbed in the moment: a bird on the wing catches his eye so totally; just a butterfly, its beautiful colors, and he is enchanted; the rainbow in the sky… And he cannot conceive that there can be anything more significant, richer than this rainbow. And the night full of stars, stars beyond stars… Innocence is rich, it is full, it is pure.

Ignorance is poor, it is a beggar – it wants this, it wants that, it wants to be knowledgeable, it wants to be respectable, it wants to be wealthy; it wants to be powerful. Ignorance moves on the path of desire. Innocence is a state of desirelessness.

But because they both are without knowledge, we have remained confused about their natures. We have taken it for granted that they are both the same. The first step, in the art of living, will be to create a demarcation line between ignorance and innocence. Innocence has to be supported, protected – because the child has brought with him the greatest treasure, the treasure that sages find after arduous effort. Sages have said that they become children again, that they are reborn.

In India the real brahmin, the real knower, has called himself dwij, twice born. Why twice born? What happened to the first birth? What is the need of the second birth? And what is he going to gain in the second birth? In the second birth he is going to gain what was available in the first birth but society, parents, the people surrounding him crushed it, destroyed it.

Every child is being stuffed with knowledge. His simplicity has somehow to be removed, because simplicity is not going to help him in this competitive world. His simplicity will look to the world as if he is a simpleton; his innocence will be exploited in every possible way. Afraid of the society, afraid of the world we have created ourselves, we try to make every child be clever, cunning, knowledgeable, to be in the category of the powerful, not in the category of the oppressed and the powerless. And once the child starts growing in the wrong direction, he goes on moving that way, his whole life moves in that direction.

Whenever you understand that you have missed life, the first principle to be brought back is innocence. Drop your knowledge, forget your scriptures, forget your religions, your theologies, your philosophies. Be born again, become innocent – and it is in your hands. Clean your mind of all that is not known by you, of all that is borrowed, all that has come from tradition, convention, all that has been given to you by others: parents, teachers, universities. Just get rid of it. Once again be simple; once again be a child. And this miracle is possible by meditation.

Meditation is simply a strange surgical method which cuts you away from all that is not yours and saves only that which is your authentic being. It burns everything else and leaves you standing naked, alone under the sun, in the wind. It is as if you are the first man who has descended onto earth – who knows nothing, who has to discover everything, who has to be a seeker, who has to go on a pilgrimage.

The second principle is the pilgrimage. Life must be a seeking, not a desire, but a search; not an ambition to become this, to become that, a president of a country or a prime minister of a country, but a search to find out: “Who am I?”

It is very strange that people who don’t know who they are are trying to become somebody. They don’t even know who they are right now! They are unacquainted with their being, but they have a goal of becoming. Becoming is the disease of the soul.

Being is you. And to discover your being is the beginning of life. Then each moment is a new discovery, each moment brings a new joy; a new mystery opens its doors, a new love starts growing in you, a new compassion that you have never felt before, a new sensitivity about beauty, about goodness. You become so sensitive that even the smallest blade of grass takes on an immense importance for you. Your sensitivity makes it clear to you that this small blade of grass is as important to existence as the biggest star; without this blade of grass, existence would be less than it is. And this small blade of grass is unique, it is irreplaceable, it has its own individuality.

And this sensitivity will create new friendships for you – friendships with trees, with birds, with animals, with mountains, with rivers, with oceans, with stars. Life becomes richer as love grows, as friendliness grows.

In the life of St. Francis, there is a beautiful incident. He is dying, and he has always traveled on a donkey from place to place sharing his experiences. All his disciples are gathered to listen to his last words.

The last words of a man are always the most significant that he has ever uttered because they contain the whole experience of his life.

But what the disciples heard, they could not believe… St. Francis did not address the disciples; he addressed the donkey. He said, “Brother, I am immensely indebted to you. You have been carrying me from one place to another place with never a complaint, never grumbling. Before I leave this world, all that I want is forgiveness from you; I have not been humane to you.”

These were the last words of St. Francis – a tremendous sensitivity to say to the donkey, “Brother donkey,” and ask to be forgiven.

As you become more sensitive, life becomes bigger. It is not a small pond; it becomes oceanic. It is not confined to you and your wife and your children; it is not confined at all. This whole existence becomes your family, and unless the whole existence is your family, you have not known what life is – because no man is an island, we are all connected. We are a part of a vast continent, joined in millions of ways. And if our hearts are not full of love for the whole, in the same proportion our life is cut short.

From Osho, Beyond Enlightenment, Chapter 28

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