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Chapter 16: Rising in Love: A Partnership in Meditation

I said, “This is strange. You arranged everything so well, but still there was a loophole, the swimming. You should not have started to swim. You should have remained there and died.”

He said, “That’s just it - dying is not so easy. When I saw the gun had misfired, when I saw the water had put the fire out, it became clear: God wants me to live. And moreover, I know how to swim! It is impossible when you know swimming not to swim. Next time, some other arrangement.”

Nobody wants to die. And it is true that life is a drag. But it is not life that is a drag, it is you - you have not learned the art of making life a joy, a thing of beauty, a piece of art. Unless a man is creative, he cannot find much joy in life.

So the first principle is: Be creative.

Don’t bother whether you become a world-famous artist or not; that is not the significant thing. But create something: a beautiful song, a little music, a dance, a painting, a garden. And when the roses blossom. You cannot say that life is a drag with so many roses blossoming. A beautiful painting. You cannot say life is a drag, because this painting has been created for the first time in the world and for the last time. Nobody has done it before, and nobody will do it again; only you were capable of doing it.

Express your uniqueness in whatsoever you do. Express your individuality. Let existence be proud of you. Life will not be felt like a drag; it will become a fragrance. Not only will life be a joy and a dance - for a creative person, for a meditative person, even death will be transformed.

I have always loved a story about Bokuju, a Zen master.

He was ninety years old when he died. Three days before, he informed all his disciples: “If you want to come for the last good-bye, then come. In three days’ time I am going to leave the world.”

So thousands of his disciples came - and he was one of the most unique masters Zen has produced. On the third day, in the morning there was a great gathering in his garden, and he was lying under his most beautiful tree.

He suddenly asked, “Just tell me one thing: in what way should I die? - because I don’t want to die like everybody else. Ninety-nine percent of people die in their beds.” He said, “That is out of the question. Remove the bed from here!”

The bed is the most dangerous thing. Ninety-nine percent of people die there, and every night you go to bed without thinking of the danger. When the light is turned off, just put your mattress down on the floor. Then there is some chance of surviving - death may try to search for you on the bed and may not be able to find you.

Bokuju said, “Take this bed away from here, and suggest something, something unique, worthy of Bokuju.”

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