I can teach you the art of living; that implies the art of dying – you need not learn it separately. The man who knows how to live, knows how to die. The man who knows how to fall in love, knows when the moment has come to fall out of it. He falls out of it gracefully, with a good-bye, with gratitude – but only the man who knows how to love.
People don’t know how to love, then they don’t know how to say good-bye when the time has come to say it. If you love you will know that everything begins and everything ends, and there is a time for beginning and there is a time for ending, and there is no wound in it. One is not wounded, one simply knows the season is over. One is not in despair, one simply understands, and one thanks the other, “You gave me so many beautiful gifts. You gave me new visions of life, you opened a few windows I may never have opened on my own. Now the time has come that we separate, that our ways part.” Not in anger, not in rage, not with a grudge, not with any complaint, but with tremendous gratitude, with great love, with thankfulness in the heart.
If you know how to love, you will know how to separate. Your separation will also have a beauty and a grace. And the same is the case with life; if you know how to live, you will know how to die. Your death will be tremendously beautiful.
The death of Socrates is tremendously beautiful, the death of Buddha is tremendously beautiful. The day Buddha died, in the morning he gathered all his disciples, all his sannyasins, and told them, “The last day has come now, my boat has arrived and I have to leave. And this has been a beautiful journey, a beautiful togetherness. If you have any questions to ask, you can ask, because I will not be available to you physically anymore.”
A great silence fell on the disciples, a great sadness. And Buddha laughed and said, “Don’t be sad, because that’s what I have been teaching you again and again – everything that begins, ends. Now let me teach you by my death too. As I have been teaching you through my life, let me teach you through my death too.”
Nobody could gather the courage to ask a question. Their whole life they had asked thousands and thousands of questions, and this was not a moment to ask anything; they were not in the mood, they were crying and weeping.
So Buddha said, “Good-bye. If you don’t have any questions then I will depart.” He sat under the tree with closed eyes and he disappeared from the body. In the Buddhist tradition, this is called the first meditation – to disappear from the body. It means to disidentify yourself from the body, to know totally and absolutely, “I am not the body.”
A question is bound to arise in your mind: had Buddha not known it before? He had known it before, but a person like Buddha then has to create some device so that just a little bit of him remains connected with the body. Otherwise he would have died long before –he would have died forty-two years before. The day his enlightenment happened, he would have died. Out of compassion he created a desire, the desire to help people. It is a desire, and it keeps you attached to the body.