Meditation of the Month: Body Burns to Ashes

Osho’s commentary on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra sutra:
“Focus on fire rising through your form from the toes up until the body burns to ashes but not you.”

fire

fire

Focus on fire rising through your form from the toes up until the body burns to ashes but not you.

A very simple technique and very wonderful, very easy to do, but some basic requirements are to be fulfilled beforehand. Buddha liked this technique very much; he initiated his disciples into this technique.

Whenever someone was initiated by Buddha, the first thing was this: he would tell him just to go to the burning place and observe a body being burned, a dead body being burned. For three months he was not to do anything, but just sit there and watch. So the seeker would go to the burning place of the village. He would stay there for three months, day and night, and whenever a dead body would come there he would just sit and meditate. He would just look at the dead body; then the fire would be created and then the body would start burning. And for three months continuously he would not do anything else – just look at dead bodies being burned.

Buddha said, ‘Don’t think about it. Just look at it.” And it is difficult not to come upon the thought that sooner or later your body is going to be burned. Three months is a long time, and continuously, day and night, whenever there was a body to be burned, the seeker was to meditate. Sooner or later he would start seeing his own body on the burning pyre. He would start seeing himself being burned.

It will be helpful; if you want to do this technique, go to the burning place. Watch – not for three months – but at least watch one body being burned; observe it. Then you can do this technique easily with yourself. Don’t think: simply watch the phenomenon, watch what is happening.

People go to burn their relatives’ bodies, but they never watch. They start talking of other things, or about death; they argue and discuss. They do many things. They talk many things and gossip, but they never watch. It should be made a meditation. No talking should be allowed there, because it is a rare experience to see someone you loved being burned. You are bound to feel that you are also burning there. If you are seeing your mother being burned, or your father, or your wife, or your husband, you are bound to see yourself also there in the flames. That experience will help for this technique. The first thing.The second thing: if you are very much afraid of death you cannot do this technique, because the very fear will protect you. You cannot enter into it. Or, you can just imagine on the surface, but your deep being will not be in it. Then nothing will happen to you. So remember, the second thing: whether you are afraid or not, death is the only certainty.

It makes no difference whether you are afraid or not; it is irrelevant. In life, nothing is certain except death. Everything is uncertain; only death is not accidental. And look at the human mind. We always talk about death as if it is an accident. Whenever someone dies we say his death was untimely. Whenever someone dies we start talking as if it has been an accident. Only death is not an accident – only death. Everything else is accidental. Death is absolutely certain. You have to die.

And when I say you have to die, it seems in the future, very far away. It is not so – you have already died. The moment you were born, you died. With birth, death has become a fixed phenomenon.

One part of it has already happened – the birth; now only the second, later part has to happen. So you are already dead, half-dead, because once one is born, one has come into the realm of death, entered into it. Now nothing can change it, now there is no way to change it. You have entered into it. You are half-dead with birth.

Secondly: death is not going to happen in the end; it is already happening. It is a process. Just as life is a process, death is a process. We create the now – but life and death are just like your two feet, your two legs. Life and death are both one process. You are dying every moment.

Let me put it in this way: whenever you inhale, it is life, and whenever you exhale, it is death. The first thing a child does is to inhale. A child cannot exhale. The first thing is inhalation. He cannot exhale, because there is no air within his chest; he has to inhale. The first act is inhalation. And the old man, while dying, will do the last act, which will be exhalation. Dying, you cannot inhale – or can you? When you are dying, you cannot inhale. The last act cannot be inhalation; the last act will be exhalation. The first act is inhalation and the last is exhalation. Inhalation is birth and exhalation is death. But every moment you are doing both – inhaling, exhaling. Inhalation is life, exhalation is death.

You may not have observed, but try to observe it. Whenever you exhale, you are more at peace.

Exhale deeply and you will feel a certain peace within. Whenever you inhale, you become intense, you become tense. The very intensity of inhalation creates a tension. And the normal, ordinary emphasis is always on inhalation. If I tell you to take deep breaths, you will always start with inhalation.

Really, we are afraid of exhaling. That’s why breathing has become shallow. You never exhale, you go on inhaling. Only the body goes on exhaling, because the body cannot exist with inhalation alone. It needs both: life and death.

Try one experiment. The whole day, whenever you remember, exhale deeply and don’t inhale. Allow the body to inhale; you simply exhale deeply. And you will feel a deep peace, because death is peace, death is silence. And if you can pay attention, more attention, to exhalation, you will feel egoless. With inhalation you will feel more egoistic; with exhalation you will feel more egoless. Pay more attention to exhalation. The whole day, whenever you remember, exhale deeply and don’t inhale. Allow the body to inhale; you don’t do anything.

This emphasis on exhalation will help you very much to do this experiment, because you will be ready to die. A readiness is needed, otherwise the technique will not be of much help. And you can be ready only if you have tasted death in a certain way. Exhale deeply and you will have a taste of it. It is beautiful.

Death is just beautiful, because nothing is like death – so silent, so relaxing, so calm, so unperturbed.

But we are afraid of death. And why are we afraid of death? Why is there so much fear of death?

We are afraid of death not because of death – because we don’t know it. How can you be afraid of something you have never encountered? How can you be afraid of something that you don’t know?

At least you must know it to be afraid of it. So really you are not afraid of death; the fear is something else. You have never really lived – that creates the fear of death.

The fear comes because you are not living, so you are afraid – ‘I have not lived yet, and if death happens then what? Unfulfilled, unlived, I will die.’ The fear of death comes only to those who are not really alive. If you are alive, you will welcome death. Then there is no fear. You have known life; now you would like to know death also. But we are so afraid of life itself that we have not known it, we have not entered deep into it. That creates the fear of death.

If you want to enter this technique you must be aware of this deep fear. And this deep fear must be thrown away, purged, only then can you enter the technique. This will help: pay more attention to exhalation. And really, if you can pay all attention to exhalation and forget inhaling…. Don’t be afraid that you will die; you will not die – the body will take inhalation by itself. The body has its own wisdom: if you deeply exhale, the body will take a deep inhalation by itself. You need not interfere.

Then a very deep relaxation will spread all over your consciousness. The whole day you will feel relaxed, and an inner silence will be created.

You can deepen this feeling more if you do another experiment. Just for fifteen minutes in the day exhale deeply. Sit in a chair or on the ground, exhale deeply, and while exhaling close the eyes.

When the air goes out, you go in. And then allow the body to inhale, and when the air goes in, open the eyes and you go out. It is just the opposite: when the air goes out, you go in; when the air goes in, you go out.

When you exhale, space is created within, because breath is life. When you exhale deeply, you are vacant, life has gone out. In a way you are dead, for a moment you are dead. In that silence of death, enter within. Air is moving out: you close your eyes and move within. The space is there and you can move easily.

Remember, when you are inhaling, to move inwards is very difficult, because there is no space to move. While exhaling you can move within. And when the air goes in, you go out; open the eyes and move out. Create a rhythm between these two. Within fifteen minutes you will feel so deeply relaxed, and you will be ready to do this technique.

Before doing this technique, do this for fifteen minutes so that you are ready – not only ready, but welcoming, receptive. The fear of death is not there, because now death appears like relaxation, death appears like a deep rest. Death appears not antagonistic to life, but the very source of it, the very energy of it. Life is just like ripples on the face of a lake, and death is the lake itself. When ripples are not there the lake is there. And the lake can exist without the ripples, but the ripples cannot exist without the lake. Life cannot exist without death. Death can exist without life, because it is the source. Then you can do this technique.

Focus on fire rising through your form from the toes up…

Just lie down. First conceive of yourself as dead; the body is just like a corpse. Lie down, and then bring your attention to the toes. With closed eyes move inwards. Bring your attention to the toes and feel that the fire is rising from there upwards, everything is being burned. As the fire rises, your body is disappearing. Start from the toes and move upwards.

Why start from the toes? It will be easier, because the toes are very far away from your I, from your ego. Your ego exists in the head. You cannot start from the head, it will be very difficult, so start from the far away point. The toes are the most far away point from the ego. Start the fire from there.

Feel that the toes are burned, only ashes remain, and then move slowly, burning everything that the fire comes across. Every part – the legs, the thighs – will disappear.

And just go on seeing that they have become ashes. The fire is rising upwards, and the parts it has passed are no more there; they have become ashes. Go on upwards, and lastly the head disappears. Everything has become… the dust has fallen unto dust… …until the body burns to ashes but not you.

You will remain just a watcher on the hill. The body will be there – dead, burned, ashes – and you will be the watcher, you will be the witness. This witness has no ego.

This technique is very good to reach the egoless state. Why? – because so many things are implied in it. It appears simple; it is not so simple. The inner mechanism is very complex. First thing: your memories are part of the body. Memory is matter; that’s why it can be recorded. It is recorded in the brain cells. They are material, part of the body. Your brain cells can be operated on, and if certain brain cells are removed, certain memories will disappear from you. Memories are recorded in the brain cells. Memory is matter; it can be destroyed. And now scientists say it can be replanted, it can be transplanted again.

Sooner or later we will find ways so that when a person like Albert Einstein dies we will be able to save his brain cells. And those brain cells will be able to be transplanted into a child, and that child will have all the memories of Albert Einstein without going through all those experiences. It is part of the body, memory is part of the body, and if the whole body is burned and has become ashes, you will not have any memory.

Remember, this is the point to understand: if the memory is still there, then the body remains and you have been playing tricks. If really you go deep in the feeling that the body is dead, burning, and the fire has completely destroyed it, you will not have any memory in that moment. In that moment of watching, there will be no mind. Everything will have stopped – no movement of thought, just watching, just seeing what has happened.

And once you know this, you can remain in this state continuously. Once you have known that you can separate yourself from the body…. This technique is just a method to separate yourself from the body, just to create a gap between you and the body, just for a few moments to be out of the body.

If you can do this, then you can remain in the body and you will not be in the body. You can go on living as you were living before, but you will not be the same again.

This technique will take at least three months. Go on doing it. It is not going to happen in one day, but if you go on doing it every day for one hour, within three months, some day suddenly your imagination will have helped and the gap will be created, and you will actually see the body gone to ashes. Then you can watch.

In that watching you will realize a deep phenomenon – that the ego is a false entity. It was there because you were identified with the body, with the thoughts, with the mind. You are neither – neither the mind nor the body. You are different from all that surrounds you; you are different from your periphery.

Apparently the technique seems simple, but it can bring you a deep mutation. But first go and meditate on the burning ghat, on the burning ground, so you can see how the body burns, how the body turns to dust again – so you can imagine easily. Then start from the toes and move very slowly. And before doing this technique, pay more attention to exhalation. Right before entering the technique, for fifteen minutes exhale and close the eyes; allow the body to inhale and open the eyes.

For fifteen minutes feel a deep relaxation and then enter into it.

Osho, Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol. 2, Ch. 13, Q. 1  – aka The Book of Secrets, available to buy online from www.tantrashop.co.uk

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