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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
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Chapter 6: Understanding Comes in Mid-sentence

The moment one becomes conscious of himself, he is no longer a mortal; he becomes an immortal. He has always been an immortal but because of his misunderstanding, he degraded himself into being a mortal, into someone who is going to die. Although the life within you and the consciousness within you is eternal and immortal, still you go on being afraid of death because you see somebody dying every day. And everybody’s death reminds you of your own death.

The poet sings, “Never ask for whom the bell tolls, the bell tolls for thee.” In Christian villages, it is an ancient custom that when somebody dies, the church bell starts tolling, informing the whole village, the people who have gone to the farms, or the people who have gone to the orchards, or the people who have gone to their wine presses, to come back; somebody has died.

The poet is saying, “Never ask for whom the bell tolls, it always tolls for thee.” He has some truth to convey to you. Every death is symbolic. It shows that you are standing in the same queue and the queue is becoming shorter and shorter. Every day you are coming closer and closer to death. In fact the day you were born was not the day of your birth; it was the day you started dying. And since then you have been dying every day. Every birthday, your death has come one year closer.

It is an absolutely certain fact that people die, animals die, trees die, birds die. How can you avoid the fact that you are also going to die - maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow? It is only a question of time.

But still, those who are aware of their being know that nobody dies. Death is an illusion.

You have seen people die; have you ever seen yourself dying? And when you see somebody dying, are you really seeing somebody dying? All that you are seeing, and all that your medical science can see is that the man has stopped breathing, that his pulse has disappeared, that his heart beats no more, and they declare that he is dead.

Just a few days ago, a man in the part of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan, for the third time deceived his friends, his colleagues, his family. At the age of one hundred and thirty-five, he died for the third time. People were very suspicious because two times before he had played the trick; he died. Diagnosed by the doctors as dead, certified as dead, he woke up, opened his eyes and started laughing. So when he died this time, people were very cautious. Doctors were very cautious, but there was every certainty of his death; there was no question.

They said, “Perhaps before he may have deceived you, but this time he is certainly dead. As far as medical science can know, he fulfills every requirement of a dead man.” And the moment the certificate was signed by three doctors, the man opened his eyes, started laughing and said, “Listen, next time when I am going to die, I am going to really die. I just thought one time more..”

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