Chapter 1: No Bigger Lie Than Death
This is very strange, remember: we always accept the opposite of what we go on repeating. When someone says he is immortal, that the soul is immortal - when he repeats this he is simply indicating that he knows, deep down, he will die, he will have to die. If he knows he will not die then there is no need to go on about immortality; only one who is frightened keeps on repeating it. And you will see that people are more scared of death in those countries, in those societies, which talk the most about the immortality of the soul. This country of ours talks untiringly about the immortality of the soul, and yet is there anyone on earth more scared of death than us? There is no one more afraid of death than us! How can we reconcile these two?
Is it possible for people who believe in the immortality of the soul to become slaves? They would rather die; they would be ready to die because they know there is no death. Those who know that life is eternal, that the soul is immortal, would be the first to land on the moon! They would be the first to climb Mount Everest! They would be the first to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean! But no, we are not among those. We neither climb the peak of Everest, nor land on the moon, nor explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean - and we are the people who believe in the immortality of the soul! In fact, we are so scared of death, that out of the fear of it we go on repeating, “The soul is immortal.” And we are under the illusion that perhaps by repeating it, it will become true. Nothing becomes true by repetition.
Death cannot be denied by repeating that death does not exist. Death will have to be known, it will have to be encountered, it will have to be lived. You will have to become acquainted with it. Instead, we keep running away from death.
How can we see it? We close our eyes when we see death. When a funeral passes by on the road, a mother shuts her child behind closed doors and says, “Don’t go out; someone has died.” The cremation ground is put outside the town so it rarely meets your eyes, so that death won’t be there, right in front of you. And if you ever mention death to somebody, he will forbid you to talk about it.
Once I stayed with a sannyasin. Every day he would talk about the immortality of the soul. I asked him, “Do you ever realize that you are coming closer to death?”
He said, “Don’t say such ominous things. It is not good to talk about such things.”
I said, “If, on the one hand, a person says that the soul is immortal, but he also finds it ominous to talk about death, then this confuses the issue; something is completely amiss there. He shouldn’t see any fear, any omen, anything wrong in talking about death - because for him there is no death.”
He said, “Although the soul is immortal, I nevertheless do not wish to talk about death at all. One should not talk about such meaningless and threatening things.” We are all doing the same thing - turning our backs on death and escaping from it.