From Darkness to Light
One dark February night in 1998, I found myself in the deepest misery I could ever imagine. I knew, from all the times I had to get up from the black holes I always fell into, that my life was a little unbalanced. But this...! My lifes biggest drama was happening. It was so insane, so hilarious, that in between the flow of tears I had to laugh. This couldnt be real!
Im not saying that being a teacher is the worst thing ever just very close. I was working in two different schools 60 km in distance from each other one day here the next there. When I decided to get involved in these two jobs, I still had some reserve energy left, and I still believed that I had to say yes to whatever was offered, and sacrifice myself to the society.
Of course, soon I was overworked, trying to do it my way in the political school system. And as a teacher of art and creativity, I hoped to open all the pupils eyes towards the beauty of existence. Soon I woke up in the morning stiff as a bamboo, with head aches and intestinal problems, and a strange feeling of living inside of something too small. But as the strong and hardworking person I was always told to be, I was never too sick to stay in bed to relax except on the weekends and holidays of course! Months passed and my mind was overloaded, ready to explode any time. My work, my life in fact, had become a burden, heavy as hell. I definitely was no longer capable to receive whatever existence had to offer. The political seriousness which was supposed to lead the pupils to their final exam was totally surrounding me. I became a bureaucrat, compromising my own truth whatever that was. I had lost it somewhere.
Finally, one cold winter night, I couldnt keep the reality away any longer I was dying and I needed help. I cant remember if I fell to my knees, but I certainly dropped my weapons for the first time in my life, when I begged God to take over and lead me wherever he wanted. I was 25 and extremely tired.
After this first real experience of my total blocked situation, things slowly started to change. First of all I wanted to live! And that gave me the courage to continue my teaching. After all spring was about to come.
Id never considered myself as spiritual in any sense, even though my whole life Id been wondering about all the mysteries of existence. So I felt a little lost when, a few weeks later, I entered my first alternative marked with all kinds of spiritual stuff. I wasnt looking for anything in particular, just something drove me there. I wandered around looking at this and that feeling strange, as if everybody could see that I was not a part of this game at all. So I was about to leave when I decided to just have a look in one hall in the end of the market. And there I met Shakila. She did palm reading, and was the kindest and most beautiful person Id ever met. I wondered a little bit of her name thought maybe she had a foreign background or something. I didnt ask. Anyway she told me what I already knew, that I had to choose between life and death, light and darkness. The time was now right to take a jump into the new and finish the old. When I walked home that evening, it was like everything around me had changed. I guess something had clicked in me.
Later on I had a longer session with Shakila. And for the first time I heard about Osho. She told me about the Commune, where she had got her sannyas name. About Oshos meditations, different groups, creative activities and so on. And if I had the opportunity, this would be a nice place for me to visit, she said. This was all new to me. I hardly knew what meditation was all about, and now she told me, very kindly, that this was the only way out of my thick fog. All I could do was trust her. After all I had surrendered! And I had to find out if I could learn meditation, if my mind could stop boiling, if my heart could open and the clouds before my eyes dissappear. If I could be happy.... And after a couple of months, I joined my first meditation group with Shakila, and an old sannyasin who had been around Osho for many years, Vasant. During that group I realized many things, for instance that I too had had a master for many years: Mr. Mind. I found my heart behind a wall of armed steel, I realized that I was not at all connected to my body. My roots were weak I dived into the ocean of sorrow and all the tears that had just been waiting to be released. During the different meditations, Dynamic, Kundalini, Nadabrahma, etc., I knew that I really was on my way back to something forgotten myself. And another click happened inside. I felt deeply connected to these people and Osho. When Vasant talked about the master I felt connected to him too. I guess he had already invited me to become one of his flowers.
After this group things, happened very fast. I quit my jobs and decided to visit this place in India which Shakila had talked about. And 6 months later I walked into Osho Commune International, open for whatever should happen. I guess someone must have heard my cries that dark night. So quickly my life changed from total despair and darkness to the taste of light and celebration.
I now know that nothing is in my hands. I can only watch my good old mind and patterns, and receive all the gifts existence that are showering upon me. I am. And thats enough.
Ma Gyan Vistara
By Ashvina Vakil
Inhibition the crippling inability to let go, to hang loose without any thought to societal disapproval.
Almost all of us suffer from an involuntary freeze frame when it comes to dropping our everyday mask to allow underlying emotion to express itself. Rigid conditioning controls our lives and only the very brave dare to scoff at established patterns of behavior.
We seethe, we simmer, we stew helplessly but very rarely do we give in to the urge to rave and rant and generally make an exhibition of ourselves.
Our stresses get more deeply ingrained as a result, and suddenly life in a chaotic city or odious office becomes unbearable. Meditate, say the new age practitioners and other semi-enlightened souls. Sit silently and look inside. Witness. If youre open to suggestion you might darken the room, sit in a lotus position and try to blank out all thoughts from your mind. Its not easy. In fact its downright impossible. Little snatches of conversation will float in and out, unholy thoughts persist, distractions abound. All the hidden traumas rear their ugly heads. the transition from overactive mind to no-mind proves to be an absolutely arduous task.
In mid-June, a worldwide phenomenon was initiated whereby more than 200 Osho centers across the globe assisted people in the practice of Dynamic Meditation, the most effective cathartic meditation introduced by Osho. The 21-day meditation is ideally suited to modern man, burdened with the tensions of a fast life, conditioning, repressions and violence which cannot be released by merely sitting silently.
Silence is only a small part of the hour-long, 5-stage Dynamic. The first three stages are quite riotous, a total shedding of inhibitions as participants undergo ten minutes of chaotic breathing, followed by ten minutes of total let-go, during which they can laugh, scream, cry, jump or do whatever comes to mind. This is the real catharsis an ejection of all repressions.
The third stage involves jumping with raised arms, loudly shouting the Sufi mantra Hoo!
The expiration caused by the exclamation creates a vacuum above the sex center, causing energy to flow upwards. When done with utmost totality, no energy is left static within so that the mind has no more energy left to create disturbing thoughts or dreams.
And then the fourth stage happens meditators are required to freeze in whatever position they find themselves. The sudden stop throws a person to the inner center he becomes an observer, a witness of his body and mind.
The final stage is a celebration a harmonious blend of music and dance; an acceptance of grace. "You feel a wonderful weightlessness, as if youre flying, exclaims Swami Prem Atul, an avowed Dynamic practitioner. "Dynamic Meditation sets the stage for silent meditation.
Dynamic meditation helps clean at all levels, ridding the self of pent-up emotions, tensions and conflicts, after which silent meditation happens. The technique causes no harm to self or others and is increasingly being used all over the world to solve stress situations. It was even introduced in the Tihar Jail in 1993!
Interestingly, effective though it may be as a form of group therapy, it is this very aspect of Dynamic that might inhibit first-time practitioners. To shout, scream or laugh insanely in a group might prove difficult to most. However while Dynamic can be practiced in solitude, the combined energy of a group of people is said to be beneficial to the process.
The Osho Commune has long tried to lead people into meditation and they certainly know how to attune themselves to the times. It is becoming increasingly evident that a worldwide awakening is happening and more and more people are turning inwards to seek answers or a better understanding of themselves. The accumulation of a lifetimes baggage can weigh heavy on anyone, unnecessary obstacles that are better done away with. A catharsis may be a new beginning.
Courtesy: Society, Bombay India, July 1996
|OSHO: Master, Mystic And Mad Man
The World in a Grain of Sand
Trying to define Osho is like to imprison a rainbow or catch a cloud thats floating through your room.
Like sand, he slips through your fingers; like a sparkling drop of dew, his magic vanishes with the rising sun of definitions.
Samuel Johnson, in his Preface to Shakespeare is not a pretty garden, but a great forest, a forest that is wild and wonderful.
So is Osho. And it is his wildness that is his greatest flavour. A trip with Osho is no picnic for socialites or fingernail-clicking namby-pambies. Oshos sweep is as vast, as majestic, as diverse, as unpredictable as life itself.
There is majesty here, but danger too. Far past the comfortable backwaters of respectability, morality, ethics and so-called sanity, we find ourselves on the high seas of life, with no any buffers between us and the elemental powers of the universe.
And our captain, far from sheltering and consoling us in this our first essay into the world of the uncharted, pushes us into the danger. He removes our props, throws away our crutches, destroys our conditioning, tramples on our most cherished beliefs and abandons us, naked and unprotected, to the gigantic waters of the cosmos.
Most of us are too scared to even allow him to take us thus far, and run away, often without even trying to find out what he is really saying. But even amongst those of us who walk some steps with him and encounter the utter nakedness of floating on the high seas of life, almost none of us can deal with the feeling of being unprotected, unguarded, unprepared. We are terrified and rush back, often swearing never to go again.
But there is something haunting about the experience. Almost against our will, we wander into this boundless ocean again. An ocean called meditation, where we turn inward to face ourselves. Despite the confusion. Despite the darkness, the absence of the comfortable, the familiar.
Slowly, hesitantly, we enter this space. Where with William Blake, we see "the world in a grain of sand, heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of our hand and eternity in an hour. This is ocean world. The world that is Osho...
Where does one begin? At the beginning? One wonders. Because this story is as much about time and space as it is about here and now, about eternity. Because this is the story of one who was never born, never died. One who visited Planet Earth briefly, and left his gentle imprints on the measureless sands of time.
As a child growing up in the grace and openness of total freedom, a gift from his wonderful grandparents. As a young adult, exposing the stupidity of a bankrupt educational system, with the scalpel of an incisive mind and penetrating insight. As Acharya Rajneesh, roaming the vastness of this subcontinental land, to encounter people, to enchant them with his incomparable oratory, to help them transform themselves with the Dynamic Meditation he devised for our troubled age. As Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, immobile in Pune, the wanderer in him dissolving into the sage, creating a vibrant Buddhafield, a crucible of the spirit where countless seekers absorbed the energy and used the techniques made available to trigger the process of self-discovery.
As Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the Oregon days, when he and his sannyasins transformed the face of a timeless desert into a green and beautiful land before (according to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Poisoned by Ronald Reagans America by Sue Appleton) a bigoted government threatened by his extraordinary insight unparalleled courage, used every foul means at its disposal to poison him with long-acting thalium, deport him, in the ugliest way possible. As Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh of the World Tour days, when nation after nation passed beneath the wings of a plane, and his fiery discourses in Greece, in Uruguay startled a shell-shocked world into awareness.
As Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, in the days when he returned to his commune in Pune, his discourses were initially as fiery as those delivered during the Oregon and World Tour days. But they soon mellowed into the most deeply meditative ones he had ever given they veered towards Zen and, for the first time, began to include group meditation. A couple of years after he came back home, the Acharya who had Bhagwan became Osho, the oceanic one.
And thats all there was, because soon the thalium administered to him by the US authorities when he had been arrested without a warrant and spirited away to parts unknown (as documented by Appleton), began to take effect. His failing health started affecting his work. His regular discourses were interrupted repeatedly. Eventually, he surrendered to the effects of the poisioning; a life cut short, when the world could have benefited from fresh insights and his unique wisdom for many more decades.
These details are insignificant trivia. Like looking at the grooves on a gramophone record reveals no mysteries about the music they contain, these biographical benchmarks say little about the spirit, the genius and the effortless ebullience that is Osho. The tense I use is important. His leaving the body has had little effect on his living presence. Whether in the Osho Commune International in Pune, at other communes and meditation centres around the world or wherever his sannyasins and lovers gather in his name, hear him, read him, or talk about him, Osho is tangibly present.
What he called the Buddhafield in Pune is the very matrix of the energy field he created around him and has a very powerful and immediately tangible presence even today. His is a presence that pervades the world.
Everyday, new people take their first hesitant steps towards him and slowly slip into the silence of his presence, the fathomless depth of his insight, the healing aura that emanates around him.
Like most enlightened masters, Osho was continuously misunderstood by small minds soaked in prejudice and fell prey to the gratutious violence of man like Jesus, Socrates and Mansur before him. His truth was too incandescent, his candour too blind for men who had lived in darkness all their lives.
He held the mirror up to us, to reflect our follies, our prejudices, our superstitions; our implacable and adamantine conditioning that holds us prisoner all our lives. But we were too fainthearted to look. And a vast majority of those who looked, looked briefly, were terrified of their reflection and railed against the mirror.
It is far easier to break the mirror and not have to see our tortured reflection. To look, accept, admit and begin the arduous journey of transforming oneself is difficult, well-nigh impossible. When the mirror that was Jesus reflected us, we crucified him. When the mirror that was Socrates reflected us, we poisoned him. And when the mirror that was Mansur reflected us, we decapitated him. A similar fate was reserved for Osho. We human beings certainly have a strange way of saying thank you to the enlightened beings who make their effulgence available to us.
What did Osho do? He told us to give up our phoney adherence to an ossified past that haunted us, and live in the moment, use the alchemy of meditation to transform ourselves to become Christs, not Christians; Krishnas, not Hindus; Buddhas, not Buddhists. His crime was that he spoke the truth.
He dared to tell us that sex was the first rung of the ladder to super-consciousness; that unless we accept the rung and use it as stepping stone, we would be stuck forever the very energy that is sex is transmuted into super consciousness. We continued to sweep sex under the carpet or indulge in it, and called him Sex Guru.
He dared to expose the deep nexus between priests and politicians that has kept humanity ensalved from beginningless time. He showed us how the priest uses the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell in the matrix of a psychologically non-existent past and future, how he creates the guilt and fear and then provides panaceas for it. How the politician divides us into fragments and then speaks of uniting us; creates hatred and ill-will, then talks about universal brotherhood; creates and espouses the divisiveness of nation states and then gives it a sanctity that can demand sacrifice. We continued to run like frightened rabbits into the warrens of a bankrupt society and organised religion, and called Osho dangerous, the anti-Christ, the unbeliever.
Prophets are often ahead of their time, but Osho was centuries ahead of his. When his majestic vision showed us a brave new world, we hung on to the apron-strings of society and church, tradition and conditioning, and huddled deeper in the cavern of our own little selves.
In his masterpiece, A Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake says that if the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite... but man has closed himself up till he sees all things through the narrow chinks of his cavern. But it is never too late.
The italics in as it is are mine. Thats what Osho said again and again all his life, but our conditioning didnt let us hear. He said we were all Buddhas, gods in exile; that God was not separate from existence, but immanent in existence only God is and all is God.
Osho may not be in the body, but his spirit is ever present, ever available, his Buddhafield of transformation a tangible reality. Never born, never died just visited Planet Earth. He can still catalyse an unprecedented change in your life today.
All you have to do is visit his Buddhafield in Pune, read a book, listen to a TAPE. And watch the magic unfold within you.
"Life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived.
Oshos basic message is no message. His basic teaching is no teaching. He doggedly opposed the creation or following of philosophies and ideologies. Although he spoke on more scriptures than anyone else in the history of human consciousness and with the greatest authority on subjects and people ranging from sub-atomic physics to Vincent Van Gogh, Karl Marx to Freud he warned against following scriptures and underlined the great danger of knowledge; he repeatedly emphasised the importance of ones own experience and the danger of imitating others, no matter how enlightened.
This applied as much to him as to anyone else. Although he emphasised the need for a guru, he stressed that it was not the truth, but a necessary evil. That, after crossing the river, the raft becomes a hindrance if still carried. Thats when more gross and mundane obstacles have been overcome, the guru becomes the obstacle and has to be transcended.
He spoke on almost every mystic this world has had the priviledge to witness with such insight that they sprang to life; their presence became a living reality while his enlightenment breathed life into them again. And yet he offended more people by criticising messiahs and prophets than anyone in the history of humanity. He did this with the professed intention of what he used to love calling hammering a process of deep deconditioning by challenging and uprooting the deepest and most cherished beliefs of a person. It is only a wholly de-conditioned person, he said, who has the innocence, the fluidity, the effervescence to dissolve into the totality, without a struggle, without leaving a trace.
One of Oshos most significant contributions to the seeker of this age, and ages to come, is the breathtaking clarity he brought to the critical, perhaps preeminent, importance of the here-now.
Osho was controversial and reviled purely because he lived this insight he didnt just talk about it. He repeatedly said that there is only one world, one space, the here and now. That it is journeying from one place to another, not this so-called phenomenal world, that is real sansar. That being here-now, not journeying at all, is the end of sansar.
That ethics and morality and respectability are false coins. That people who give you goal no matter how laudable are your enemies, because goals create future, and trigger the debilitating mechanism of desire. That people who tell you how to become, what to become are the poisoners.
Such a person cannot draw lines between the good and bad, the sacred and the profane. Osho always said that divinity is not separate from existence, it is immanent in existence. As Blake said, all that lives is holy. He also continuously emphasised that the divine is not separable from existence, like a painter from his painting. It is integrally connected with existence, like a dancer with his dance. Which is why he used to say again and again that, if there is such a thing as the divine, it is not a noun but a verb; not a persona but a process; not a creator, but creativity.
To a person who exists in the here-now of this awareness, both the prisons disappear the prison of repression and the prison of indulgence. The pendulum stops swinging between opposites, and the shackles of psychological time created by past and future disappear in the incandescent eternity of the moment.
A person like him has eyes to see. He can see that there is only one energy. It can be blocked or freed. The energy freed from the repression of sex, or indulgence in it, can become the ladder to superconsciousness. He can see that energy always flows towards the source of the greatest joy when the window of meditation opens, the energy that was sex, was attachment, was greed, gets absorbed and subsumed by it. That prejudice, no matter how ancient and hallowed, must be destroyed if one wants the authenticity that is the first prerequisite to the unfolding of our hidden splendour.
Osho also revealed a great secret to us do not fight with darkness. It is non existent and therefore impervious to struggle. He used to say that when we want light in a room, we do not push the darkness out, we merely light a candle. And the darkness of a million years has no resistance; in just a moment a small candle dispels it. Osho likens all our negative qualities to darkness, and calls all ethics and morality an effort to fight with darkness and therefore doomed to fail. The nature of all ignorance and all uncosciousness is the nature of darkness. The only way to dispel it is by bringing light in the light of love, the light of meditation.
Another very critical contribution from Osho was a strong insistence on change in daily life. He repeatedly said that one should renounce the mind, not the world; that those who renounce the world are nothing but escapists. A monk renounces the world, the crowd for 30 years, but he still remains a Hindu, a Christian, a Buddhist. And to be a Hindu, a Christian, a Buddhist is to be a part of a crowd. The individual can be a Christ, but not a Christian.
This is reflected in his notion of sannyas, which he called Neo Sannyas. It is revolutionary. There are no vows, no bindings. The only vow an Osho sannyasin takes is a commitment to himself, to meditate. Osho always said that his sannyasin is truly like lotus flower. She lives in the world, but the world does not live in her, just like the lotus rises above the dirty water of the lake it grows in.
Osho revolutionised as we know it. He contributed scores of new and innovative meditations to the world.
Osho felt that, in the days of old, sitting meditations were beneficial to large number of people, because life was less stressful, living simpler. In modern conditions, the mind and body rebel against it. And any force is unnatural and harmful. It leads to what Osho called a state of inner civil war, which dissipates energy and is very destructive.
Oshos dynamic meditations begin with activity like: jumping or dancing. After some time, when the body is naturally tired and the mind calm with physical activity, the meditator sits, or lies down, to meditate in consonance with nature, not struggling against it.
Osho brought laughter back to the religion. He used to be very fond of saying that guilt is a state of sickness, that seriousness is pathological. Far from the somnolent and lethargic atmosphere one still associates with religion, his commune and his discourses were distinguished with laughter, ebullience and vivacity. Words like joy, celebration, fun and festivity are key words- not in terms of significance, but in their actualisation in the here-now he inhabited.
No one used as wide as variety of jokes and anecdotes with the consummate still Osho, to slip skilfully past conditioning and break down barriers. His discourses, whether on masters and mystics or responses to daily life questions, were filled with vitality and energy they throbbed with intensity and passion.
Oshos discourses, meditations, and the energy he shared with his sannyasins and lovers did more than give a delightful freshness, an enticing now-ness to the quest for self-awareness. His words and his life exemplified another unique ability: the ability to simplify, deconstruct and explain some of the most nagging mundane problems that beset humanity. He was also without doubt a psychotherapist beyond its own frontiers helping a person adapt to a neurotic society into the vistas of meditation, freedom from all conditioning, and enlightenment.
To me, Osho represents the omega point of the entire spiritual history of mankind. He is the first enlightened master who had the environment and the ability to assimilate the million facets of our spiritual heritage into a laser-beam-like precision, without losing the flavour, the richness, the diversity. In a world that had become a global village, Osho had the ability to soak himself in all the religious, social, cultural and intellectual traditions of mankind. And he had the inner depth, breath, expanse and insight to transmute them into a vision both uniquely his own and mans heritage since eternal time.
Some centuries from now, when a more placid humanity views Osho in tranquility, they will see him as he is, always was and will be: a world in a grain of sand. For a grain of sand hides the subatomic dance. And it is a grain of sand that makes our spectacular universe a living reality.
Sangham Sharanam Gacchami
"I want to sabotage that stupid idea of an ashram: that it should be dead, people should be inactive, dull, uncreative, against life, against love...
One of the most famous tourist landmarks in India is no monument weathered by age, or the ruins of a city made famous by some bloodthirsty army or empire. It is the Osho Commune International in Pune.
Located in Koregaon Park, the Osho Commune attracts thousands of sannyasins and lovers of Osho who make up a sizeable portion of floating population in the city.
Who are these people? Why are they attracted to Osho? Why are they so controversial? And what exactly happens in the Osho Commune to make people flock there?
One of the most significant aspects of Oshos vision was his notion of the New Man, who would be integrated and total. Such a man would be beyond belonging to a religion, a nation, a caste, even the gender that the phrase implies. The New Man would also be free of the schism between the inner and the outer. He would, in Oshos words, be Zorba the Buddha. Combining the deep meditative core of the Buddha with the passion and intensity of Zorba the Greek, he would be a true individual, free of social programming centred and equanimous, yet full of zest and love of life, with great inner and outer richness.
The Osho Commune is a concrete example of this synthesis, this holistic view of life. William Blake says that as that caterpillar lays its eggs on the fairest leaves, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys. The commune is a celebration of freedom from schism between body and spirit, artificially created and exploited by priest and politicians. The New Man says yes to both and no to nothing. Thus, he is a wholeness, a totality not torn apart by conflict. And in him, the seed of a new future begins to take birth.
The commune is an exemplification of communism with a spiritual base. It is a gathering of individuals, not a crowd of people. Individuals coming from the space of freedom to experiment with freedom. This creates what Osho called a Buddhafield, a place where individual seekers can gather with other individual seekers in the voyage of self-discovery.
In the commune, distinctions are dissolved. Indentities and conditioning slip away. Religion and race, nationality and caste, gender and status, colour and creed disappear in the oneness of meditation and inner exploration. Everyone functions simply as a human being, growing and evolving into the divinity that is their true nature and birthright.
The commune is a model, a family of the future. A relationship within the existing family structure is not possible because it is a relationship of mutual possessing and being possessed, with love and freedom sacrificed at the altar of dependence and expectation. People become roles and functions, and relating becomes an impossibility. This is a new family structure, free of possessiveness and expectation, based on interdependence, on interconnectedness. The growth of the commune is the growth of individual, and the growth of the commune. This is what makes the difference. The commune is an authentic space, not a conditional reflex.
One of the most significant aspects of this dissolution is the dissolving of gender. For the first time perhaps in the history of humanity, women can lay down the yoke of subservience and be truly creative. Osho used to often say that, with the suppression of women, 50 per cent of the worlds creativity has not been allowed to blossom. If this hadnt happened, our world would have been a different place. In the commune, a woman can do anything from welding to Japanese gardening, free of role expectations and gender stereotyping.
Being a part of the commune also involves a change in gestalt. We normally look for what we can get, not what we can give. In the commune, two primary principles operate. Contribution. And meditation. Both help the individual and the commune, but in different ways.
Contribution allows the seeker to give her time, her energy to the needs of the commune but this benefits her immensely too, because it has strong therapeutic element. In the easy confluence of the sangha, it is easier to empathise, to drop the ego, to surrender totally.
Meditation helps the seeker in her own development. But the atmosphere, the energy of meditation permeates the space and contributes in a large measure to the Buddhafield which nourishes the entire community.
The commune is a laboratory of the spirit, free of respectability, so-called morality and ethics, of meaningless outdated taboos that still torment an unconscious humanity. In the commune, the seeker has access to a wide variety of meditation as well as an incredible range of group therapies to unburden guilt, dissolve age-old fears, obsessions and prejudices.
No one was a greater lover of all that is aesthetic than Osho and his commune reflects it, reveals it, resonates with it. Interwoven with vegetation and peopled with creatures coexisting with seekers in their natural habitat, the commune is an aesthetes paradise.
The Buddha Hall which can seat as many as 10,000 people used to play witness to Oshos discourses. Today, it is the main centre of meditation through the day, followed by an evening celebration called White Robe Brotherhood, in which seekers, Osho lovers and sannyasins dress in white robes and gather to sway to live music, dance and submerge themselves in the here-now, before they see a video recording of an Osho discourse.
Apart from the aesthetic environs, the commune is a nerve-centre of creative activity. Theatre, music, dance, painting are woven into the life of the commune. There is tennis, called zennis, swimming, the martial arts... the commune is buzzing with activity. Everywhere, energies are creating, whether in the silence of meditation or the music of relating and creativity.
The commune is perhaps one of the very few places in the world which are truly modern. Here, the anachronistic baggage of the past that we tend to carry with us is truly forsaken, as are the taboos and conditioning we have too long taken to be ourselves. It is a centre of freedom and love, where the individual vibrates in harmony with other individuals and the Buddhafield they create around each other. In an easy and fluid atmosphere, seekers contribute, meditate and grow, in the grace of individuality in the beautiful environment of their sangha.
|Innermost Core of Eternity
Easter, 1973 had brought me to Berlin in the footsteps of an ordinary love affair. I had left my teenage-love husband behind in Vienna which seemed so provincial then, so made to suffocate me and my ambitions. The promise lay somewhere else: the poets and media people, the filmmakers and theater directors amongst whom my much older husband-to-be moved successfully and which held the promise of new horizons, food for thought, unheard of revelations...in short, they, the cultured ones, would save me, the dumb little Austrian who knew she was a big talent and would never find recognition at home. Yes, success came and with it the money which I was ashamed of possessing. Having had a rather neurotic background of Irish Catholic grandparents from my fathers side and a Stalinist-Communist one from my Austrian-Bohemian mothers side, I did not know how to deal with money and felt I did not deserve it. What kind of work was this I was being paid for? a hundred times more than an average factory worker gets 50 times more than a teacher. Just for some words which pop into my head, stories some unknown force invents inside my brain....
Other people my age fought for womens equal rights whom they thought underprivileged, for power for the industrial workers, no matter if they asked for it or not, and they took to the streets with banners demanding the end of war. They simply knew what the world had to look like and they wanted it now.
Everybody had the same right to be as happy, rich and content as we were. Were we? Was I? What had happened that, out of the blue, made it impossible for me to leave my beautiful house in the posh part of Berlin-Grunewald without suffering an attack of anguish and fear? What made my palms sweaty? Why did my heart hammer screamingly against my breastbone in a wild and painful rhythm? What made me faint at parties, collapse on stage at the height of my career, having been handed one of the highest awards in Europe for my stories? What made me feel like a creep amidst the crowd of hypocrites smiling at me, wanting to grasp some of my fame? I could see their pretension, their fakeness... surely they could see mine, too! Because thats what I was a pretender, a faker. I just looked like a successful author. For sure, someone must see through me, find the anxious little girl about to wet her pants any minute...I will be found out..I will be found out... I have no right to be here, no right to prizes and awards, no right to be rich, no right to be famous, because I am nothing. I am hollow. I am... I dont know who I am! Probably anyone else did know his or her own identity only I did not, so I thought. I felt alienated, fallen from grace. All of a sudden a veil had been pulled away which had concealed the ugliness and emptiness out there, and concealed my own ugliness and emptiness.
Later I learned that I was showing symptoms of depression. Then it was just deep despair. And much later I heard the expression: The Deep Dark Valley of the Soul. And I felt so lonely. Nobody there to listen. Nobody there to understand.
The search began.
Yes, I was looking for a father. I was looking for god. I was looking for the savior.
The savior had a white beard like a story book sage and deep dark brown eyes like an Indian lake. Angels surrounded the savior. How else should I call those beautiful, long haired, long legged women who were standing behind the chair of the master, smiling beatifically. They were real angels, full of beauty. Not short and chubby like me.
I wanted to be like them. I wanted to stand next to the One. Be loved by him. Be saved.
But the stories about him were ugly. They called him the Sex Guru, a devil in disguise, a monster, exploiting his admirers, taking away not only their money but also their hearts, souls and bodies. The stories were very exciting and gave me the creeps. Never, ever would I fall prey to such a guru. I, after all, was intelligent. But why was it then that I felt a strange draw...it was not only India calling. It was a sudden realization that maybe there, amongst the angels, I would find peace. And an instinct told me that the sensational stories in the Western press about this man they called him Bhagwan and translated it as God werent true.
At the same time some acquaintances returned from the East, clad in red. They were changed. They were more... well, more of everything. More intense, more honest. A book with an orange cover showing a mala appeared in the stores and became a scandalous bestseller. A film called Ashram in Pune was shown all over the country. To tell you the truth, I never managed to watch it. But the book I read. I drank... I sucked the words. It was a page-turner...it was a mind churner... it was a heart burner. And was just the taste of the real thing millions of words by the master. And even more real: the gaps between the lines. But that I only understood much later.
My mind was set: India it had to be. For sure the guru would wait for me like he had waited for so many others. He would welcome me with open arms and save me! And then I would live happily ever after.
I bought a ticket to India. I got sick and had to postpone. I bought a ticket to India. My husband fell ill, he didnt want me to leave in the first place.
I bought a ticket to India. The papers were full of the Masters departure for America missed. Sobbing I went back to my Freudian analyst for another round of heavy-duty therapy. I read the Gita Methas Karma Cola, to get rid of my Indian dream. I saw him behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce heavily guarded. I must confess I was disappointed. Why did he not get out of the car, welcome me, hug me and take me for a ride...
He took me for a ride. A bumpy one. No promises were made. He did not seem keen on saving my soul. He did not especially ask from me to be called God. He did not ask me for money. Although some of the beautiful women did, as we were building a city.
My breathing eased. My tension faded. I was holding him responsible for my learning process. He refused to be held responsible for anything. I met a lovely man: we were sure that this was Bhagwans doing. Everything seemed meaningful then, everything initiated by the master, nothing happened by chance, nothing without a reason. He was the creator of the stars: it didnt matter that he refused to be god. For us he was, in a sense. It took a while for me and for many of us to realize what the master was doing: he was not doing anything. He gave us only the opportunity of looking at ourselves through a magnifying glass. First through therapy for the Westerners, who needed it then through meditation. We saw ugliness. Fear. Stupidity. But also the potential for love and compassion. And glimpses of peace.
He is not in his body any longer. He has been gone for 10 years now. The part in me which was looking for the savior still misses him sometimes I like the child inside missing the father, the dreamer hanging onto his favorite dream.
The being this innermost core of eternity, which is the name he gave me does not miss anything. Not him, not any master. But the being is grateful. Without boundaries.
No, he, Osho, was and is no savior.
But yes, in a sense, he is.
I can still hear him chuckling.
Osho has said that his sannyasins are rebels. The very salt of this earth.
A twenty-five year association with the Osho Commune has driven home the truth of this statement. Oshos people are unique in the way they approach life.
Let me explain.Im a freelance journalist based in Mumbai, and have been in and out of the Pune Commune since its inception. I still cannot forget my very first visit to the Ashram as it was known then, in 1974.Those were the days of freedom, no AIDS test, no gate-pass, no food-pass, no forms to be filled, not even a Welcome Center.There was the "gateless gate that was open from 6a.m. to 9p.m. Walk in, walk out at your pleasure.
I remember, I came the first time ever as a journalist, in my teens and asked to be shown to Bhagwan. The lady at the counter was dismayed. "You want darshan? She couldnt believe it. "Anyway all the darshan dates are closed for the week. I wanted to interview Bhagwan, as he was then known, and couldnt understand what this darshan meant. On the way to the gate I saw a sannyasin from the West, sitting silently on a cane chair. He seemed out of this world to me, so serene, amidst all the hustle-bustle of the Ashram. I knelt before his chair and said, "You see sir Ive come from Bombay for an interview with your Master, and they are saying hes busy the whole week? Instantly came the reply, "Optimistic! Simply throwing this adjective at me, he went back to his peace. As I got up, dismayed at his response, and began to walk towards the crowded gate, I heard him shout from the back, smiling,"Come back again.
I disappeared into the crowd, nervous from this encounter with a rather peculiar and eccentric soul.
The same afternoon, walking through the gate, an ice-cream cone in hand, another sanyasin from the West suddenly bowed down before me with folded hands. My ice-cream cone almost dropped out of my hand as I too bowed down to him. Such beautiful and lovable encounters with Oshos sannyasins have continued through the last quarter of a century, each time shocking me with their awareness, love, spontaneity.
On my recent visit to the Commune in summer 1996, I found myself at the Welcome Center, wanting to get a day extended on my gate pass. As I told the sanyassin at the counter "One day, and as if finding it a kind of mysterious mantra or something, he went on repeating after me "one day, yes my dear sir, one day............ Oh yes......yes.......one day.........., I smiled, but my old nervousness returned.
In 1984, when Osho was away at Oregon I came to stay at the Commune for two days. I had the good fortune to be recommended to the Ashram staff by none other than Swami Anand Maitreya who knew me as a jounalist.He told me, "Be here as much as you can, and instructed the staff, "give him some cheap accommodation. This quality of getting to the root of everything, touching the core of life, and concern for fundamental issues is what sets Oshos people apart from the rest of the world!
In 1986, I was at Kulu, as a representative of The Daily, a newspaper in Bombay. This time I did get an interview with Osho, for a couple of hours at his feet. It was in Kulu that Osho laid his eyes on me for the first time. There too, a sannyasin from the West, Swami Vadan took good care of all journalists and treated me to an exquisite coffee in the snowy mountains.
By and large, major Indian journalists have loved Osho and his people. Shobha De has written about the Osho Times in her columns, Arun Shourie has been a regular Osho Commune visitor and so has Pritish Nandy. Vinod Mehta has had a love-hate relationship with Oshos people, finding them perfectly juicy topic for his columns. And that grand old man of Indian journalism, Sardar Khushwant Singh has much to say on the Master! Much of the language press too like Hindi and Gujarati has always published Oshos discourses.
In my career too, as a journalist, Osho has ignited my imagination and infused me with a trust in life. Oshos people, like Osho himself, are truly magnetic. They ttract people to them with their laughter and mystery. Sardar Gurdayal Singh, the king of laughter, Swami Veeten and his insanities, all of those pages will always remain with me, Swami Subhuti and his well researched, in-depth analysis of various modern phenomena, Swami Prem Amrito and his enlightened voice, and Swami Chaitanya Keerti, that lovable editor of OTI, with whom I have always kept in touch for a kind word of advice and a little joy.
My first question to Osho at Kulu was,"Why am I afraid to take Sannyas? Osho said there are psychological fears and social fears of becoming an outsider. And in the end he said, "I hope the fears dont win... I can see what Osho means when he says,"Sannyas is for lions. To live like a mirror, totally awake, taking full responsibility for ones life, is truly a lions job. We in the world live a sheltered, protected life, and then of course lifes splendor is hidden from us.
Osho has said,"Youll find me alive in my people. Oshos people have proved him right.
|An Affair not of this world
Osho is my love affair since my childhood. I feel very strongly that it was not just an accident that I was born in the house where Osho was loved so much. I really feel that I chose my parents. The day my mother, Neelam, knew she was pregnant with me was the same day she met Osho for the first time. Both of my parents fell in love with Him. My mom started meditating while I was in her womb. Osho saw me the first time when I was four months old. I have no memory of that, but I have heard from my mom that He looked at me and said to her, "She is my child. I will take care of her. He named me Priya, which he expalined means The Beloved One. I have vague memories of sitting on His lap and playing with His beard and pulling the hair on His chest. I remember feeling very secure and warm there. At that time a group of people called a kirtan mandali traveled with Him while He led meditation camps all around India. I was four years old when this group came and stayed in my house, and it was my first exposure to saffron clothes and mala.Doing kirtan on the road, they looked so divine, as if they were possessed by the unknown. Their faces were glowing with freedom, devotion, bliss and ecstasy. They looked so radiant with something I fell in love with madly. I developed a strong bond with this group, which I still have. I was studying in a christian convent school because that was the best school available at that time in my city. Where I lived was just the opposite. I have beautiful memories of my home: It was loving, aesthetic and meditative house where Oshos discourses were being played all the time. I used to look at Oshos photograph and feel a deep longing in me. It was as if this longing was not of this life but had roots from many lives before. I could never give this longing a name or explain it to any of my friends in school. I kept it to myself. The contrast between school and my home kept on growing as I grew older. I would go to Pune during my holidays. I remember my fisrt evening darshan with Osho. I was six years old. He touched my third eye very strongly and for a long time. Nothing was said in words. It was a strong energy communion that has no expression. Just before every holiday my mom would ask me, "Should we go to Pune this time or maybe somewhere else for a change? My answer would always be Pune. I would be counting days to be in His presence again.I was seven when I took sannyas. It happened in a very natural and spontaneous way. I was sitting in the evening darshan with my mother and my father, Amarjeet, right next to me. Osho was talking to somebody else and suddenly I got up and said "Bhagwan, I want to take sannyas. The gaurds came running over to me because I had disturbed everone. My parents were in a state of shock. I had lost all my manners. Osho called me and said, "So, now my little Priya wants to take sannyas. I screamed loudly Yes! Because I was not on the list of people taking sannyas, Luxmi had to quickly go inside and get a mala for me (which was so long that I had to fold it twice). Osho said to me, "I like your name Priya, so from now on you will be called Ma Deva Priya, which means the Beloved of the Divine. He gave me a little box with His hair in it and said, "Every night sleep with this box on your heart. I will always be there for you. I felt so close to Him. It is then that my journey as a sannyasin began.Things were getting very difficult for me at school. I could see the jealousy, competiton and the constant comparison between friends. I was seeing things that no one of my age could ever understand. I started becoming very unhappy. I felt like a total misfit in the world.And then came the Ranch, which I consider the best time of my life. I was 12 years old by then. I felt so expanded there. I learned so much there that I could have never learnt in any school ever. My father did not like the Ranch; he wanted to leave, which meant that my parents would be separating. Osho had presumed that I would live with my father because I was very attached to him. But it came to Him as a surprise when I decided on my own that I was going to live at the Ranch even if my mom wanted to leave. I was very assertive with my decision. I think I even impressed Osho because He mentioned this story three years later in a discourse.The first year Osho really took care of me. He would stop His car often and give me gifts. Once he gave me a set of toothbrushes that play music while you brush your teeth. Another time He gave me a gold Omega watch. The third time I recieved a little toy, and that driveby was filmed for the video The Way of the Heart. I was not even on the list of people planned for the gifts that day. I had just joined in the queue after seeing my mom standing there. While He was giving gifts to other people, I had heard a little voice in me saying, "Bhagwan, what about me? I am standing here. And then I saw his finger pointing to me and beckoning him. I was so touched and surprised how He could read my thoughts. I became very attached to the ranch I thought it was going to be my home forever. But sadly enough that also had to finish. In the middle of the night, I got a message that I would be one of the people leaving with Osho to return to India in the early morning. I remember that night I looked at the ranch with different eyes. I was happy to be with Osho but sad to leave my friends and the beautiful ranch. And then we were back to India, in Kulu Manali. I was 16 by then, the youngest one around. There were very few of us taking care of Osho. The press and the photographers would often surround me. It was a special time for me because it was very intimate. I would ask Him questions about the confusions I felt at that age. He had started giving early morning discourses. For few days I did not show up; I was sleeping. The message came: "Tell Priya not to be so lazy. She should come every morning to discourse. I had a heard time escaping from Him. Osho wanted me to go back to my father and start studying. I went there and came back in a week, crying. My father had married again and my step mother was not nice to me. My home was not the same anymore. I did all my tantrums with Osho, but nothing worked. he simply grinned and said, "If everything works according to you, Priya, you will never learn. Sometimes in life you have to do things that you dont want to do. Only then growth happens. I cried but I understood. It was painful to be separated from Him. He went on His world tour and I was sudying in a hostel close to where my father lived. At times I felt betrayed by Osho because I felt myself in such a mess, and on other hand I knew that He couldnt possibly take me with Him. He himself had no home when He was in Greece, He sent a message to my father asking, "How is Priya? She should study and do exactly what her father wants her to do. I was happy that Osho had thought about me in Greece but I did not like that He said that I should do exactly what my father wants me to do. I understood it many years later when he expalined it to my mom "I wanted Priya again to be close to her father. He could fulfill all her desires at that age. It is good for her to have a healthy relationship with the father because otherwise she will be searching for that in her boyfriends her whole life. And moreover, her father has a deep wound of leaving you both. Who will heal his wound? She will become a bridge for him to feel me again. My immature mind could have never understood. When Osho came to Bombay, I escaped from my school and came to see Him. I had lost His gold watch He had given to me at the Ranch. I was feeling very abondoned and lost in the world. I wanted to be physically close to Him. So, I did my tantrums once again. I cried and fought with Him. He smiled and asked one of the Bombay sannyasins to buy for me the best watch available. The next day He gave me that watch and said "Priya, go back. I am always with you. Broken-hearted but at least with a new watch, I left. When Osho came to Pune and the commune started again, I knew that now I would not leave Him. Even if He would ask me to I would not listen to Him. I was so clear. I sent the message with my mom. Before she could say anything Osho said, "Priya can stay here now. She will study in Pune and live in the Ashram. Give her a room in the Ashram from today. I invite her. She has learnt what I wanted her to learn. She had lost sight of the world very early. I wanted her to know the miseries of the world and then come here so that she is rich in her experience.He chose all my subjects and my college. Surprisingly, I did very well in those subjects. I came first in the university. I sent Him my marksheet because I was so proud of myself. Osho looked at it and said to my mom, "Neelam, I told you that she is my child. I will take care of her. She should see both the worlds together. She should have all the degrees of the world and still have the quality of meditation. This is the new man I am talking about rich in every dimension. I was 21 when Osho left His body. My years with Osho have not been just an ordinary life. I feel I have lived many lives in these twenty one years. Now I am 30. I do miss Him, but for me He has always been more of a presence than a person. My love affair with Osho keeps growing and growing. It has no end. It is an affair that is not of this world.
Ma Deva Priya
|An inner and outer adventure
I had just finished my final exams for the primary school and it was vacation time in December 1977. My mum asked us if we wanted to visit my aunt, Indian Mukta, at the Osho commune in Pune. I was 12 and my sister was 15 and we thought it would be an adventure to go to India on our own from Nairobi, Kenya.
The flight to Bombay, the train ride to Pune and being in India was a wild and exciting experience. We were amazed at the poverty, the smell, the color, the people and the sounds of India. This was the beginning of our adventure.
As we walked through the communes gateless gate, a whole new world opened up. Born and brought up in a Gujarati community in Kenya, we had lived a very happy but sheltered life and here there was so much to explore. We loved the freedom and thoroughly enjoyed all the new experiences. The commune was such a melting pot of different people from all walks of life and all over the world. We eagerly awaited every morning for Osho to come and deliver his morning discourse. We tasted all the meditations and decided that we loved heart dancing the most. It was so much fun to sing, dance and celebrate. Just like, todays work meditation, we helped with odd jobs in various departments of the commune.
Just a week before we were leaving, I decided to take sannyas. It just happened. At that time, Osho used to give sannyas himself. We were so excited to finally meet Osho in person. I remember sitting close to him and looking into his eyes. He placed a mala around my neck and added prem to my legal name. He asked me if I had any questions. I had none. My sister did not take sannyas as she did not want to be restricted to just wearing orange clothes.
My mum was completely surprised when she heard that I had taken sannyas because I had not been very supportive of her sannyas. Our traditional Jaina community is not known to be open to anything new from outside the Jaina establishment and did not respond well to my mum having a master. It was a very courageous decision on my mums part to take sannyas as all of our relatives were against it. However, a seed was planted and everyone in our immediate family eventually took sannyas. There were some ten Gujarati families in Nairobi where the wife/mother first introduced Osho in their family and then all the kids and husbands took sannyas.
After my sister and I returned to Kenya, it was the beginning of my inner and outer adventure. People reacted one way or another when they saw the mala and my orange clothes. Some asked if it was a picture of my dad, others just made fun of me. In Nairobi, there was a very beautiful Osho meditation center and we spent a lot of weekends meditating and having fun with the other sannyasin kids. In 1979, my sister decided to take sannyas in Nairobi since she was ready to wear the orange clothes.
We continued with the so called normal life. That is we completed high school and then completed university education in the USA since Osho was also there at that time. It was wonderful to participate in the festivals in the commune in Oregon. I remember waiting in line for Osho to drive by in the afternoons and everyone was having such blast dancing and singing. After we had got our degrees we decided to get jobs in the USA instead of returning to Kenya. By now, both my sister and I were considered as the black sheep in the extended family. We could not do the so called normal things and it was because Osho had touched our lives in every aspect.
We settled in Austin, Texas, and loved our complete freedom away from the community we grew up in Nairobi. We were very fortunate that there was an active Osho meditation center there. It is here where we met a sannyasin couple and we started our outer adventures. Any time we had a long weekend we would go hiking and camping all over the USA national parks. One day, we found ourselves trekking to the base camp of Mt. Everest. It was so beautiful to be surrounded by the highest snow covered peak in the world. Any direction, we looked there was one magnificent peak after another. Then we trekked up the second highest peak of Mt. Kenya and finally all the way to the highest point of the African continent on Mt. Kilimanjaro at 19340 feet. The last few steps were the most gruelling and it took all my determination and energy to make it to the peak. Once I was there, it was one of the most thrilling moments in my life.
Living in the states, we achieved success in our professional careers. However, I realized I was mostly using my left brain and had become very logical. Suddenly all the questions started arising and it was important to know the meaning of my name. Osho had not changed my legal name and therefore had not explained the meaning. Fortunately, the question would dissolve whenever I heard Oshos discourse or read one of his books. Whatever I heard or read always seemed so relevant. There was a need to meditate as my mind was working all the time and I had no control over it. I could see that it was important to slow down and bring some silence in my daily life. I have noticed that whenever I return to the Osho commune it is much easier to revive the art of silence. It is also an opportunity to use the right side of the brain by participating in creative activities. The aesthetics, the simplicity of the commune are so inspiring and allow us to be more sensitive to sounds of the birds, the trees and nature.
It is really great that Osho International is keeping up with the technology today. The Osho website is such a useful resource not only for information about meditation but all kinds of other information as well. Whenever we travel all over the world, we always look up the Osho centers on this website because through them we can connect with the right people. This year when we were planning a vacation in Alaska, I looked up the Osho centers in Alaska and was amazed to discover that through one of the centers we could arrange a sea kayaking and camping trip through them. I know that with sannyasins we are guaranteed to have a great adventure. An adventure we did have! We had never kayaked in our life before. The trip really pushed us to our physical and mental limits. However, it was worth the experience of gliding in the frigid Alaskan bay surrounded by glorious mountains and feeling so alive.
It is now 21 years since I took sannyas and we are here for the Osho 2000 celebrations. To get here was another adventure. We had a train ride from hell from Mumbai to Pune! By mistake we bought second class non-ac non reserved tickets on a long distance train and we were in for a surprise. We felt like cattle trapped in a ladies compartment where there was no place to sit or store our luggage. Every time the train stopped there was a fight to get a place to stand or sit. All we could do was laugh and watch. However, a single moment of dancing in ecstasy in the Buddha hall of the Osho commune is worth such a train ride.
The Osho commune provides an environment to express ourselves without inhibitions and such a fertile ground for our hidden talents. I know I am fulfilled and nourished when I start sleeping and eating less. There is so much love around and one can get lost looking into the twinkling and radiant eyes of young and old alike. Sannyas has enriched both our inner and outer lives. Each day brings something new.
|Swami Nivedanos Letter
OH! Blessed One, presence filled,
sanctuary of this beautiful existence
Who comes to sing its songs of
At Your feet OH! Blessed One, Im living
these moments, filled with gratitude and
May the glory of Your light spread
everywhere in the cosmos and touch
every form of intelligence.
OH! Blessed One, I have nothing to offer
to You now, but this ignorance,
therefore, forgive me for not being faster,
May the afflictions of Your temporal
form remind us of this transient existence
May the blessings of Your songs remind
us that the ancient New Man has come.
I bow to You, OH! Blessed One to
whom creation has crowned with its
finest jewels and,
I bow to Your commune, OH! Blessed
One, where this ego is slowly
I bow to Your truth OH! Blessed One,
from where throughout the ages, it has
been the source of liberation.
Budham sharanam gachchhami
Sangham sharanam gachchhami
Dhammam sharanam gachhami
Message from Osho:
"Tell Nivedano that this is one of the most beautiful letters ever written to me.
I was waiting for you
I was born in Brazil and in my early twenties I had a beautiful dream: I was walking in a white cotton robe near a large natural pond in an early morning. Suddenly my eyes faced a bright light, and I entered into a kind of ecstasy, as the light surrounded me and a voice, a male voice so profound, said something so divine that I could only imbibe the essence of it... I woke up in blissful state. I never had experienced meditation or such in those days, but I believed in re-incarnation. At age 30, I moved to America with my daughter who was then 10 years old.
New York was our first home, with a photographer, my second husband. I didnt understand English, so I took some of the spiritual books I had from Brazil and started to translate them into English, with a dictionary. This way a beginning to learn English. We met a few Indian gurus in New York but I lost interest in them.
Finally, in 1972, came a letter from a friend in Brazil, that had a pamphlet saying that a small community of friends of "Osho (Rajneesh) was being created in a place about four hours drive from New York City. I called to investigate and they gave me the telephone of Rabiya, who was in New York. She called me back and asked me to attend to a demonstration of Chaotic Meditation (now Dynamic) in the City. I invited my daughter, who was then 17. There we met Rabiya and Christ Chaitanya, Pratima and Siddhi and two or three more. It was the first group of sannyasins in the US. I bought some of Oshos writings and my daughter, now Yoga Krishna, liked the Dynamic. We also visited the community. There were 5 sannyasins there and Rabiya, Chaitanya arrived too. My daughter took sannyas there, in a small celebration and Rabiya gave her the robe. Lui and I went back to the city and Yoga Krishna decided to stay for the entire month there. Anubuthi came to the city to stay in my daughters room in exchange.
Pratima opened a Meditation Center in a suburb and I went to attend the opening. She did first a blessing around the building with incense and bells, while a group of people, me included, was seated outside on the grass. The bells and the incense awakened within me some past life memories of a life in India. I started crying and felt the need to take sannyas immediately. So as the doors were open, Rabiya dressed me in orange colors and Pratima gave me the name and the mala, as Osho had allowed them to start initiations in the West. I was so happy when the mala was placed around my neck. Ma Krishna went to India two months later and there she stayed for 3 months.... During that time I was seeing Osho in my dreams. I had looked into his eyes and merged and disappeared. When Krishna arrived back, I had a fever and was in bed. Her first words were: Osho wants you there right now!!! As I had a job, I asked for a vacation and by the end of March 1973, I arrived in Bombay. I went to a hotel, took a shower and ran to Oshos apartment. It was 7 in the morning. The door was closed. I sat by the door and waited for Ma Laxmi to arrive. She and a small group of sannyasins, including Satya Bharti, C. Chaitanya, Rabiya and Vivek just came in.
As I entered the Woodland living room, I started crying so loud, that Osho heard me from his room and Laxmi informed him that Seeta had arrived. He said to bring Seeta to him immediately. Laxmi washed my face, and Rabiya holding me on one side and Laxmi on the other side, I faced Osho from the door. He was seated about fifteen steps away from the door in the corner of the room, facing the door. As I looked at him, I stepped backward. He moved his hands so that Laxmi and Rabya would leave me alone at the door. I looked again in his eyes, my arms lifted straight up, I lost consciousness and when I returned, I found myself kneeling at his feet, with my head in his lap, he was stroking my hair saying I was waiting for you Seeta... I was saying, with sobbing voice : I cant believe I made it, I cant believe I made it.... I have many lovely stories about being in his presence that will fill a book if I start!
|Laughter kills stress
Man is a strange animal! Many of us enjoy inflicting self wounds! How? Simple. We all know that laughter kills stress. We also know that there is nothing so cheap and easy to produce as laughter, but still we prefer producing stress knowing very well that it is harmful for us. Mind and body are very well connected. Mind can make the body either sick or well it is upto us. Mind can produce laughter or stress. Start whistling; you will make yourself happy. Make up your mind to laugh at your cares and worries and your stress will disappear.
Laughter is natures greatest tonic. A good laugh shakes up the liver and immediately makes us feel better in every way. How to laugh? Read funny books. Meet funny people. See funny films Charlie Chaplin, to start with. Hear good jokes. Some of these jokes may produce belly laughs and your stress will be eliminated for that much time.
Keep on doing, Keep on trying, Keep on laughing. I have some friends funny ones, like Ravi Bahl.... When you think of him, your mind starts laughing. Refuse to be in the company of men and women, who do not laugh or cannot laugh and will not laugh. Be a sport. Never ever make a jest, if a jest you cannot take. Only then can you expect people to make and tell you jokes which will make you and them laugh. Laughing is infectious. All this is sheer common sense. But then why dont 86 percent of the people follow these simple ways to laugh and reduce stress?!
Joy and laughter as religion: Among all the worlds founders of religious cults, it was only Sri Krishna who set an example proving that a person could propound an immortal code of ethics (the Bhagwad Gita) and, at the same time, like a mortal, enjoy the good things of life: dancing, singing and flirting with pretty girls. It is not surprising that he is the most popular deity in the Hindu pantheon.
To the best of my knowledge, of the hundreds of godmen and godwomen we have had in recent years, it was only Osho Rajneesh who understood the message of Sri Krishna and propagated a religion full of fun, laughter and goodness. Every sermon he delivered (and they were most erudite and well-spoken), ended with a bawdy joke leaving the congregation splitting their sides with laughter. All other preachers of religion were constipated with puritanism and most of what they had to say was in the negative: dont do this, dont do that, pray and lead as dull a life as you can. Not so Rajneesh.
He said, "If you can decide that every year, for one hour, at a certain time, the whole world will laugh, I think it will help to dispel darkness, violence, stupidities. Just the touch of laughter can make life something worth living, something to be greatful for.
Laughter is prayer. If you can laugh, you have learnt how to pray. Dont be serious. A serious person can never be religious. Only a person who can laugh, not only at others but at himself also, can be religious. A person who can laugh absolutely, who sees the whole ridiculousness and the whole game, the life, becomes enlightened in of laughter.
He went on to make fun of people who cant laugh:
"You dont see donkeys laughing, you dont see buffaloes enjoying a joke. It is only man who can enjoy a joke, who can laugh.
"My definition of man is that man is the laughing animal. No computer laughs, no ant laughs, no bee laughs; it is only man who can laugh.
"One should go on laughing the whole of ones life. I am not saying dont weep. They go together, they are part of one phenomenon of being true and authentic.
"Laughter brings strength. Now every medical science says that laughter is one the most deep-going medicines nature has provided to man.
The opposite of song and laughter is seriousness. Osho ridiculed seriousness : "I have not seen a serious tree, a serious bird. I have not seen a serious sunrise. I have not seen a serious starry night.
"Seriousness is illness. Spirituality is laughter, is joy, is fun.
|Gift Of A Beautiful Life
"Our Islam is overcooked. I was seven when I had jotted that down in my notebook. And I was not far from the truth. I had seen my familys religious fervour burn brightest in the kitchen. Every Id, Milad (prophets birthday), birth and death anniversaries of saints were observed religiously, necessitating a fateha ( prayer of thanksgiving). Which, in turn, necessitated a lavish spread. On those gastronomical excesses, my family, of a sudden, turned religious! It said its prayers, read the Quran, and, of course, gorged. The real essence of Islam went up in smoke. Literally. Holy smoke that emanated from the red-bricked chimney of our kitchen.
Islam, in that stifling, orthodox, Hyderabadi home of mine, was nothing but gluttony, with a set of rigid dos and donts thrown in. My clans interpretation of Hadith (sayings of the prophet Mohammed) was nothing short of inanity. Even at a tender age I rejected such trivia passing for Islam. On every questioning of the hollowness of their faith, I was threatened with the infernal rack.
"Those who question Islam are heretics. Allah shall never forgive them. It was impossible for me to swallow their Islam. Even if it was cooked with such religious regularity, and served on a silver platter! I was sure there must be more to this great religion than what my people assumed. I longed for somebody to spell out its profundity to me. But throughout my growing years, my thirsty heart remained parched. My friends of other faiths were not placed any better. They saw their folks clang the temple bells each Tuesday, watched the pundit perform aarti, chant slokas and pray for them. Or attend church Sundays. Sit through long sermons. Read the Bible like parrots. And feel settled with religion!
I refused to accept empty, outward gestures for religion. I craved for the core. The essence that will raise the level of my consciousness. Will help me understand myself. Will help me understand the mysteries of life. I longed for a taste of spirituality. And I felt it deep in my young heart that only a being who has touched the peaks of human consciousness will be able to enlighten me. A small voice within me kept assuring that someday, somewhere, I will meet that being. The very thought brought so much love, such tenderness surging to my heart. It was such a beautiful feeling. Such a private joy.
Since I had lost respect for every traditional religion, I did not pursue any. And dismissed all religious gurus as charlatans. But mysticism never ceased to fascinate me. I remember when I had first read Herman Hesses Siddharta. I was all of sixteen. The book had me in its spell for years to come. I longed to read the vedas, upanishads, dhammapada, zen, etc. But given my fanatical, Muslim milieu, that was impossible. Then life took a turn. My father died leaving me nothing except a good education. I had just obtained a diploma in painting. Instead of sitting at an easel nurturing my creativity, fate had me sit with a typewriter in a drab, goverment office, earning my keep. My family in particular, and Hyderabad in general, hated me for my independence. For my non-conformist views. For my aloofness from the herd. My fierce individuality came to be resented by one and all.
An year later, with only Rs.300 as my lifes savings, I resigned the job! My stifled creativity burst forth, and I painted day and night. My first exhibition in Hyderabad was something of an event. I sold quite a few works. Could manage, a few years later, to leave Hyderabad for good. I moved over to Bombay. A city I have always loved. In its cosmopolitan atmosphere, freed of the shackles of religion, class and status, I could at last, breathe freely. I lived my bohemian, intellectual lifestyle to the hilt. With a single, one-woman exhibition, I established myself as an artist of national stature. Followed other exhibitions in other cities of India, and a lot of travel within the country. But soon I tired of success and fame. A strange listlessness gave way to ennui. Again I started to long for a deeper meaning of life. Again I felt some beautiful being will enter my life and lead me to light. But I never made a conscious search for a spiritual guru.
One fine day, in my second year in Bombay, a gallery sold all the ten paintings I had given it on consignment! The money helped me realise my cherished dream of a trip abroad. I travelled in Europe for seven months. Came back and held an exhibition in Bombay which was a sell-out. This time I went to London and stayed there for an enjoyable, work-filled two years. I participated in two group shows that won my paintings critical acclaim. I felt all set for a successful career. Then a severe attack of bronchitis brought me back to Bombay for a short treatment of five weeks. But I could never return.
The day I booked my flight back, I was elated. Back to my favourite, throbbing London! Back to friends and intellectual pursuits. I returned home on cloud nine, only to trip and fracture my ankle bone! And that shattered me. The doctor kept assuring that I shall be in London at the end of six months, then nine months, then an year. But that was not to be. The fracture took very long to heal. Gradually I ran out of my meagre savings. And lost every shred of hope.
Instead of the scintillating heart of London, I ended up on the humid edge of the Arabian sea. In a fifteenth floor apartment shared by friends. With one leg in plaster I was utterly helplessness and dependent on others. Given my strongly independent nature, that was unbearable. I became bitter and resentful of everything that moved. Ants and cockroaches turned me green. My friends had, very thoughtfully placed a book-rack close at hand. It was stacked with spiritual literature and fiction. I had a world of knowledge at the stretch of an arm. I did stretch my arm out. But only to pick up Krishnamurthi, Sartre, Camus, Gunther Grass, Virginia Woolf, etc. Never for a guy called Bhagwan Rajneesh.
"He is a charlatan. A peddler of spirituality. Look at his lecherous eyes. Look at those freaks he has for sannyasins. I had dismissed him with this utterly unfounded, highly biased statement when a friend had taken me to hear him in Bombay two years back.
When he started to speak, however, I was floored. Such wisdom. Such insight. But I heard only the sound of his words. Their underlying silence escaped me. My bitterly prejudiced mind would not let me open my heart to Bhagwan. "Dont let a hoax like him lead you up the garden path, it warned me sternly.
Looking back, I realise, I was just not ripe for an enlightened master.
With one leg in plaster, my life dragged itself on the road of despair. Nursing a fractured foot and shattered dreams was not my idea of being alive. Then one day, the unexpected happened. Merely to tease me, one of my friends in the house started to read aloud from Bhagwan Rajneesh. I was furious. I covered my ears, but could not escape the reading. Suddenly a sentence caught my ears and shook me like a reed in a fierce wind. "Even to make ones presence felt is violence. Bhagwan was talking on Mahavira. Where have I heard that before? That was my initial reaction. I felt very restless. But this restlessness had bells chiming in it. My joy was bursting at the seams. I wanted to scream, laugh, dance! All I did was wait patiently for everybody to leave home for their offices. When they did, I grabbed the book, The Ultimate Alchemy. Read it from cover to cover. And was never the same again! The ever present hope that someday, somewhere I will meet a beautiful being who will lead me from darkness to light, was finally fulfilled. I had, at last, found my Beloved, my Master. Tears of joy soaked my cheeks. I was never so totally happy in my life. All that I had wanted from life was there, right in my hands. And for decades I had been hitting my head against rocks.
Fortunately for me, Dom Moraes, the then editor of Sunday Times, assigned me to his papers first ever article on the Rajneesh ashram! I was thrilled to the bone. When I could manage a limp, I came rushing to Pune. The ashram was a lyric in orange and green. Green of its lush foliage, orange of its sannyasins robes. My ten days in it were heaven. I felt totally accepted and loved. It was a strange, a unique feeling of home-coming. Back in Bombay, I felt restless. My feet itched for Pune. My heart cried Rajneesh. I came back for a longer stay. Every ashram day was a blessing. The morning discourse, the meditations. Happy, celebrating, loving sannyasins.
One day, in his taped discourse in Buddha Hall, I heard Bhagwan, (now Osho), speak on Islam. He began with the fundamentals, the tenets, Shariat, Haqiqat, etc. and then went on to the sufis. Mansur, Junaid, Farid, Jabbar, Al Bistam, Rumi et al. It was literally an eye-opener for me. I sat wide-eyed, open-mouthed. Did the religion I had denounced at age seven contain such gems of wisdom, such a deep insight! My old ache for somebody to explain my religion to me had finally found its balm. Oshos talks on Mohammeds life and teachings filled me with immense respect for the prophet. His total trust in existence, his deep gratitude to Allah for bestowing upon him the great gift of life, were indeed, very moving. How totally my people had misunderstood their prophet! It is incredible. Unable to plumb the depths of his teachings, they had reduced Islam to a few convenient rituals. This was the fate, Osho said, of every prophet down the ages. And this was a major reason for his denouncing every established religion.
He has spoken at length on Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Islam. Not as traditional religions riddled with dogma and theology. But on their true essence, their wealth of spirituality and mysticism. Their potential in raising mans consciousness to the heights he is capable of attaining. Oshos sky is very vast. He believes in one humanity and universal love. Not for him the petty confines of religion, race or class. His compassion is boundless. He is the greatest Master the world has ever seen. He is the best gift existence has bestowed upon humanity.
I will never forget the day I took sannyas. The day I died to misery. And was reborn with happiness and celebration as my destiny. It was the 27th of April, 1981. Osho had gone into silence. His sannyasin of many years, Swami Satya Vedant, had initiated me. As he placed the mala around my neck, I felt an immense gratitude towards Osho for accepting me as his disciple. As swamiji pressed his thumb to my third eye, bells chimed in the belfry of bliss. A long passage of silence opened before me. Petal by petal. I felt a strange sense of completeness. Saw the end of a search of many births. I was, at last, united with my Beloved, my Master. My life after sannyas is an uninterrupted happiness. Full of love. Full of meditaion and creativity.
I am always at the feet of my Master for His great gift of a beautiful life.
|back to top|