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Letting Go into Life and Death
by Archa Kate Robinson RGN

Q. How did you become interested in this subject?

I have always hated lies and secrets, and I think death has become the biggest secret in our society today. It is a taboo subject, seen as a failure, a catastrophe, even avoidable!. I have, all my life, wanted to check it out--- what is it? Why is it hidden, what are we afraid of, or, if we say we're not afraid of it , why do we cover it up so much? 26 years ago this quest led me to India to a spiritual teacher, Osho, who answered many of my questions -

Death is not the enemy. It appears so — because we cling too much to life. The fear of death arises out of the clinging, and because of this clinging we are unable to know what death is. Not only that, we are unable to know what life is too. I see now death as the canvas that life is written on, and, as an artist does, we need to choose and prepare our canvas carefully, so we can then create our lives as we really want them to be.

As a young nurse I specialised in cancer and spent several years on a terminal care ward at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Friends said, "don't you find it depressing?", but I loved it. I felt that I was in a totally privileged position to be with people in their last weeks, the pinnacle of their life. It became obvious to me, from being with some people nearing their death, that the way people lived was the way they died - people who were afraid of living were tense and fearful around their death which carried over to their friends and family too. Some held on to their fears, emotions and thoughts to protect themselves or their loved ones - hence a tension around an 'untold secret' arose. They approached their death in physical and spiritual isolation, not encouraged to open their hearts and mind to their loved ones. They found themselves unable to trust their own inner nature so removed from life itself, they entered, with painful insecurity, confusion and fear, into death. People who have such a fear often do not want to be conscious as they die and choose to have a lot of medication which can make their last days/moments just a haze. I found it rather sad to see patients and relatives unable to communicate in those last days. I don't think there is anything wrong in this, but I would like to see people realise that they have more choice than this, and not to be so held by their fears, so that they can be more prepared for whatever might be next in their lives, be it death or sickness, grief or joy..

I also saw people who approached their impending death in a more open , accepting way - feelings expressed led to a relaxation - a letting-go, which is what death is, and also that which frightens us. There seemed to be much less suffering for those who had led life fully, in a wholeness that included death. These people seemed to have had some experience of themselves that had produced a confidence or realisation of who they were. This doesn't mean that they were 'religious' or 'spiritual' in the obvious sense. I feel that no one can judge where anyone else is spiritually in this life. However there are people who have lived life so fully that they are not threatened by their imaginings of non-existence. Their deaths are an inspiration to all those around them.

To die, we have to 'let-go', but it happens anyway. We don't have a choice, but we do have a choice between fighting it or dying uptight and unresolved or "going-with-it", and dying in a relaxed wholeness. Few people die in wholeness. We mostly live confused and small lives, or at best, much less than our potential. We are conditioned to think we own our bodies and few recognise it as just a temporary borrowed "suit" which we must eventually give up... Those who can see themselves as a passenger in the body are more able to let go lightly. It seems to me that people who live life to the full, enjoying each precious moment, spontaneously, relishing the unknown and not just clinging to the side, trying to keep life safe and static(dead), are the ones who will accept death more easily when it comes. This doesn't mean they will give up and just 'go with it', but they will approach their death as they approached their life, with honesty and awareness. They haven't denied their lives and they won't deny their deaths.

Death is happening each moment; to be in THIS moment, we have to let-go. Mini deaths/let-goes are happening all the time. Chance and impermanence are part of life, in fact what makes life. When we choose changes we usually like them, but are we so good at being with them when they come along unexpectedly ? This is where I think it helps to practise being more aware.

What will a partcipant get out of your workshops?

Many people say, "I'm not afraid of dying, the way I die maybe, but not of actual death". This is because mostly people don't want to really take too close a look at it — how will it be for them? And most people, faced with death, really start facing their lives. While you are enjoying life, letting go of your ego is not something many people want to do. However it is usually in our life, precisely at that time that we do let-go, when we experience ourselves as who we truly are. We feel a wholeness, and at peace, in touch with our true nature.

Everyone of us is on our own solitary path. We travel together for parts, make friends, lovers and maybe enemies, but we are on our own — when we come into this life, during it, and when we go out of it. No one can tell anyone "the truth" — it is there for each one to find their own... it is totally individual. This is one of the reasons why the workshops are "in silence" . There is hardly any sharing. Everyone gets to value and travel their own path, although the group energy is also very supportive. The workshops help create this reflective space, where it is safe to go as far as you want into the unknown, an exciting exploration, your own inner journey in this life.

Processes are set up in which you choose to go as far as you like. There is nothing "taught" on the workshops, as I feel we all have our own truths to find and experience. These processes will help you take more steps along this unknown path in a very reflective way, to get a glimpse into the biggest secret - to face your fears around death and consequently throw you back into Life itself.

Next Workshop: 14th eve, 15th, 16th February 03 - Residential

Osho Leela , Nr. Gillingham Dorset. £115.00, includes food and accommodation