The Spiritual Life - Topic Twelve
Death is a celebration of thanksgiving
One Zen Master, Lin Chi, was dying. Thousands of his disciples had gathered to listen to the last sermon, but Lin Chi was simply lying down—joyous, smiling, but not saying a single word.
Seeing that he was going to die and he was not saying a single word, somebody reminded Lin Chi—an old friend, a Master in his own right; he was not a disciple of Lin Chi, that’s why he could say to him—“Lin Chi, have you forgotten that you have to say your last words? I have always said your memory isn’t right. You are dying … have you forgotten?”
Lin Chi said, “Just listen.” And on the roof two squirrels were running, screeching.
And he said, “How beautiful,” and he died.
For a moment, when he said “Just listen,” there was absolute silence. Everybody thought he was going to say something great, but only two squirrels fighting, screeching, running on the roof … . And he smiled and he died.
But he has given his last message: don’t make things small and big, trivial and important. Everything is important.
At this moment, Lin Chi’s death is as important as the two squirrels running on the roof, there is no difference. In existence it is all the same. That was his whole philosophy, his whole life’s teaching—that there is nothing that is great and there is nothing that is small; it all depends on you, what you make out of it. p.xx
Osho teaches that death is no big deal. It is simply saying “goodbye” and moving on. Why do we make such a big deal out of it? Why are we so afraid on the one hand, and so sad on the other? Because we haven’t dealt with our ego.
As the Buddhists teach, we become attached to our ego. This attachment to the ego causes suffering especially if our spirit has to be pried loose.
For some people this detachment from the ego has been a gradual process and it has already been shed. For these people death is nothing to be feared because it has already occured.
Lin Chi, in Osho’s story about him, has nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. He has no more poignant last words. He’d rather listen to the squirrels on the roof.
How about you? How will you spend your dying moments: terrified or listening for the music of the universe?
Osho teaches that death should be a celebration of thanksgiving for the wonder and awe that has been our existence here.
As George Burns used to say, at the end of the Burns and Allen show, to his wife and comedy partner, Gracie Allen, “Say goodnight, Gracie,” and Gracie would say, “Goodnight, Gracie.”
Burns and Allen brought a lot of humor and comfort and joy to the world. They both, now, have died but their memories live on as surely as any spiritual masters.