A few weeks ago, Amido and I were camping on the bank of the New River in New River State Park, North Carolina, and in the early morning I stepped out of the tent for a sitting meditation and was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of lightning bugs. In this show of twinkling light I realized the tremendous potential in these strange days of COVID-19.
In these times, unprecedented in our lives, we are faced with both a challenge and an opportunity for deepening our meditation.
It is a challenge for many reasons. The most obvious is that it has disrupted our routines. If we had ongoing gatherings for meditation, they have come to a standstill for the most part. And it is also a challenge because of all the distractions that this pandemic has created. We are bombarded with not just the news but also sharings from our friends giving advice and, in some cases, creating confusion as to what course of action we should take. As we get engulfed in the maelstrom of information overload, we may very well overlook the one sure way to bring some clarity and peace into our lives, which is meditation.
But this time has also presented some unique opportunities. First of all, the sheer magnitude of chaos helps remind us of the tools that we already have at hand. As sannyasins we are extremely fortunate to be more prepared than most for such a calamity. We remember the sweetness and joy of a good sit and are inspired to spend more time with our old friend, meditation.
So the suggestion that we stay at home, shelter in place, have minimal contact with others, gives us all the more opportunity to experiment, to explore our inner world. Perhaps in the past we had become accustomed to meditating with friends, in person, in groups. And now that door is not open. But even though we may not be able to go to our usual gatherings because of this pandemic, there are hundreds of opportunities that didn’t exist before but are now available. So many Zoom meditation meetings have sprung up. Many of the Osho meditation centers are offering weekly meditations online. Our local Osho Meditation Atlanta Meetup group is hosting daily meditations, and others are offering a variety of activities.
So, whatever your heart’s desire concerning meditation, music, Osho active meditation, silent sitting – all are available online. And I was surprised to discover how intimate these online meetings can be.
In our O-Meditation Sangha weekly meditation meetings on Saturdays, we have decided to focus on Osho’s The Book of Secrets (Vigyan Bhairav Tantra) and Osho’s meditation of witnessing. The meetings are approximately two hours in length with an Osho discourse and satsang meditation. It is sometimes astounding how profound the silence of here and now can reach. We have a group of regular attendees, but the meditation is open to everyone.
These are only a sampling of what is available for us to rekindle (if necessary) our lamp of meditation. It sometimes brings tears to my eyes when I hear or read our friends referring to “those good old days of Pune or Rajneeshpuram” as if the best days were behind us.
Osho has left us with the greatest gift possible, the gift of being able to come out of this chaos of the mind. And surely it is more important than ever to be able to slip out for some time every day and make contact with the heart, with the whole, with existence in its majesty. Osho has left us such a treasure trove of doors with which to enter into meditation. He created unique active meditations to jumpstart our inner journey. He gave us 80 discourses on Shiva’s 112 meditation techniques in The Book of Secrets, which contain approaches for every conceivable type of human being to enter meditation. And He simplified and made accessible the sometimes-mysterious subject of meditation into its very core, witnessing.
And, for me, the greatest door to meditation is that of witnessing, watching whatever appears, witnessing that which is. First, by watching the body, watching the activities of the body, watching with a two-pointed awareness each and every act I take – walking on the road, drinking a cup of tea, making love, being angry at a customer service representative in a foreign country, taking a shower – all without judging myself, without analyzing.
Second, I have found that by witnessing the wild gyrations of thought, watching the thoughts pass by without judging, without analyzing, without rejecting, and without grasping, I see the difference between thinking and watching thought. I experience existentially how I feel differently with thinking and with watching, and it becomes my own experience.
As I move to witnessing the heart more deeply, I can sometimes allow every mood, every feeling, every repressed emotion to expose itself without judging, without analyzing, without choosing. Watching, without choosing the ones I like and rejecting the ones I don’t, I can allow all to appear, and remain the watcher. And it is in this “seeing” without acting that the identification with my impressions begins to lessen. I don’t know about you, but I find that I forget thousands of times and find myself drawn back into the fray, but with each return my meditativeness is enhanced, and the patterns or ruts of conditioning are filled in. The washboard surface begins to be smoothed out.
Slowly, slowly as my awareness begins to dis-identify with all that it is not – body, mind, and heart – it begins to become aware of being aware, simple Awarefulness.
Recently I came across Osho saying:
Unless something becomes a crystallized experience in your life, it is going to be lost – you will have to start from the very beginning. There will be a little difference, and that will be that in your unconscious a shadow of your past life, a faraway echo – as if you have seen something – will remain. (The Golden Future, Discourse #2)
I think this includes meditation. So, we are fortunate to have this time for a reboot, a time to reenergize, to deepen. Not only do we have more time at home in which to do this, but the world around us makes the invitation to meditation even more alluring. And for many of us, this opportunity couldn’t come too soon. Years are passing by, and one by one many of our loved ones, comrades in dance and celebration, are disappearing into the night.
So, yes, we are fortunate to have a reprieve, to have this reminder and the space in which to rekindle our own individual inner lights. There are many doors with which to enter meditation, but we need to walk through them.
As I was sitting along the river watching the fireflies dance, I imagined sannyasins with their inner flames alight dancing in the darkness of the night, each with their individual lights shining. And what at first appeared as chaos, revealed itself to be a symphony, a symphony of fireflies.
May our inner flame illuminate the way
from darkness to light,
from unconsciousness to consciousness,
from becoming to being.
And from the outer body to the inner body to no body,
from the many to the one and beyond.
Om shanti, shanti, shanti.
This article is published in the Viha Connection Newsletter, November/December 2020.
If you would like to join in our online meditation meetings here is the information:
Osho Dhamma and the Art of Awarefulness
O-Meditation Sangha is hosting Osho discourse, meditation and dialog weekly online meditation meetings on Saturdays from (4-6 PM EDT, New York/1-3 PM PDT, San Francisco/9-11 PM, London GMT+1). These are offered free of charge.
Zoom meeting ID: 812 0832 3098
In these meetings we will explore and experiment with Osho’s The Book of Secrets (Vigyana Bhairava Tantra) meditation techniques and Osho’s meditation of witnessing.
You can also find many more online meditation meetings at Osho Meditation Atlanta.