(reflections based on a talk with participants in The Universal Experience near Berlin, June 2013)

You only have to endure emptiness and nothingness until you can surrender to it. Then there is nothing to endure! Annihilation – becoming nothing – is what the fear of death is really all about. When you fear the void it is only natural to resist it in every way you can. Your fear itself is the barrier, and because of it you keep yourself busy with everything in the world. That keeps the fear at bay, and also fills the void. Do you know how many people cannot bear silence? They fill it with chat and TV and music – anything to kill the silence! – and silence is only the first step towards the great unknown. Osho used to say to us, “You are all so afraid of nothingness. You think that anything is better than nothing. You have to discover that nothing is better than anything.”

Of course, you have to let go of everything to discover the truth in what he said, and you can’t make this let-go happen simply by believing it. Believing may help, but only by inspiring you to actually make friends with your fear. Until you do so you have no choice but to endlessly fill up the emptiness, and you can do that your whole life long, but only up until the final breath of your life. Then there is no escape and you are at the mercy of your fear. Unprepared for something – or rather, NOTHING – that you have learned to trust, you are confronted instead with your fearsome grim reaper.

To befriend your fear may seem like an ordeal, but actually the ordeal only exists as long as you are resisting your fear. When you surrender – when you dare to embrace your fear instead of fighting it – you open your way into all kinds of inner resources, insights and revelations. You can get hooked on them too because they are quite wonderful, or you can go on surrendering and trusting your way into this ultimate mystery: what Osho called “the zero experience”. The trusting that you learn in doing so brings its own gifts, not only to how you depart this life, but to how you live it in every moment.

One more thing. Surrendering to this nothingness is how real spiritual awakening happens. Ironically, religious beliefs are generally only another way of avoiding the void. Your belief may protect you from your deepest fear, but protection is exactly that – a defence against fear. It does not guide you through it. Spiritual beliefs, and all those amazing spiritual experiences that I wrote about a few weeks ago, often serve only to keep you from befriending the fear that can transform both life and death – once you say hello to it.