Osho on Meditation and Ego

Question – Why do you prefer to call meditation the art of dying rather than calling it the art of growing?

Osho – Because I know your ego will like it very much if I called it the art of growing. The art of dying comes like a shock.

Let me tell you an anecdote. One day Mulla Nasrudin saw a crowd gathered around the town well. A Moslem priest with a huge turban on his head had fallen into the water, and was calling for help. People were leaning over and saying, ‘Give me your hand, Reverend, give me your hand!’ But the priest didn’t pay attention to their offer to rescue him. He kept wrestling with the water and shouting for help.

Finally Mulla Nasrudin stepped forward: ‘Let me handle this!’ He stretched out his hand towards the priest and shouted at him, ‘Take my hand!’ The priest grabbed Mulla’s hand and was hoisted out of the pond.

People were very surprised and asked Mulla for the secret of his strategy. ‘It is very simple, ‘ he said. ‘I know this miser would not give anything to anyone, not even his hand. I know this miser would not give anything to anyone, so instead of saying, “Give me your hand” I said, “Take my hand, your Reverence.” And sure enough, he took it.’

I know you would like it to be called the art of growing. Then your ego would feel perfectly good. ‘So it is a question of growth; so I am going to remain and grow.’ That’s what the ego always wants. I have knowingly called it the art of dying. Meditation is the art of dying. Then your ego will be shocked. And it is also truer to call it the art of dying, because your ego is not going to grow, your ego is going to die in meditation.

These are the only two possibilities: either your ego goes on growing more, it becomes stronger, or, it disappears. If your ego goes on growing and becomes more and more strong, you are getting more and more into the mud. You are getting more and more into fetters, you are getting more and more into the imprisonment of it. You will be suffocated. Your whole life will become a hell. The growth of the ego is a canceric growth. It is like cancer, it kills you. Meditation is not growth of the ego, it is death of the ego.

Source – Osho Book “The Art of Dying”

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