My Deepest Secret

What to do when my heart and mind are in the midst of tremendous turmoil, confusion, anger, disappointment?

I find a not uncomfortable place to sit and in that sitting just give a little space and time for all of the turmoil to completely reveal itself, the swirling thoughts, the clouds of despair, the murkiness of confusion, the fire of anger, and without turning away, I remain staying with it all. And the key, the most important key, is that I do not try to end any of this. I do not engage in thought to rationalize, I do not push away that which is uncomfortable, nor judge my feelings, I do not analyze why all of this is happening, nor jump onto the bandwagon and go for a ride into the maelstrom, but simply allow all of the thoughts and even more importantly all of the sensations and feelings that come along. And these too are allowed without judging, without hanging on to those that I like and without pushing away those that are uncomfortable. There is no spiritual bypassing of anything that arises. It is all welcome.

But of course, this is not true, I do, do all of those things. I do judge, I do push away, I do grasp, I do analyze, but by seeing that I am doing them, a little space opens up for love. And again, I am back to watching the whole drama but with just a little bit more awareness, a little bit freer of the grasping clutches of mind and emotion. But once again, the cycle repeats itself, not just once or twice but many times. But with each return to center the gap has widened.

And sometimes, there does come those special moments when the thoughts subside completely, when the hot feelings turn into “a peace that passeth all understanding.” In those moments there are no conclusions, just a remaining in a vast unknownness, and there is a gratefulness to all that has preceded, all that has contributed to creating this opportunity, to all that has led to this moment and I bow down to existence.

This secret is the art of watching, the art of witnessing, and it is the greatest gift that I received from Osho, but it is not unique to him. Below is a post where the Zen Master, Charlotte Joko Beck, who lived for some time in Prescott, AZ, describes a similar process which she names, get “a bigger container.”

-purushottama

A Bigger Container – Charlotte Joko Beck

Not Twoness

One summer day when I was Junior High School age, I must have been 13 or 14, I was sitting across the street from the house of two brothers who were friends of mine. They were eating lunch and I was waiting for them to finish so that we could continue on our day’s routine of playing in the neighborhood, riding our bikes, smoking in the woods, all the things that we liked to do.

While I was sitting on the ground under a big tree with stick in hand and drawing circles in the dirt, time stopped, and for a brief moment a window of nowness opened. In that moment, all movement of time came to a standstill, and I was being in the eternal now. It was as if a portal into reality had opened. I knew it was significant but that was all I knew. It only lasted a couple of moments, seconds probably, but it made a deep impression in my consciousness. Of course, at the time, I would not have used such terminology as eternal now, portal, consciousness. In fact, I didn’t even mention the experience to my friends when they came out of their house, but this was my first experience of what we could call Oneness. In that moment, there was no separation, no demarcation, only beingness, conscious beingness.

Looking back, I can see that this experience unconsciously became a litmus test, a North Star, that guided my life on through experimentation with drugs, psychedelics, and finally, to discovering meditation. I would be willing to bet that every one of us who has found themselves interested in a life of discovery, anyone who is reading this now, has had some brush with naked reality.

It is clear that this reality I stumbled upon is always present, it is only that most of the time I am not present to meet it and dissolve into it. Meditation has been the key to shining a light on what it is that is standing between my consciousness and this experience of nowness, and that is mind, thought. It is thought, the me, which obscures the perception of reality. It has been my experience that through meditation the movement of thought becomes illuminated. And it is this ‘seeing’ of thought that is the exit.

For many years following this first awakening, I was unconsciously searching to replicate that profound happening, beginning with becoming unconscious through alcohol. Unconsciousness is a type of oneness, as is sleep, but it is unconscious, and so is missing a key element of the experience that had happened years before. Next it was on to smoking marijuana, certainly much closer to the happening but dependent on a foreign substance, not a natural state. Then it was on to psychedelics, which were incredibly helpful in seeing how mind works, first in seeing thought in action, and then in seeing that I was the one who was supporting the movement of thought through identification.

This discovery of the workings of mind inevitably led to discovering meditation, first through the teachings and being of Meher Baba, and eventually, of course, to Osho.

I arrived in Poona in 1976 and every nook and corner of the Ashram was exuding Oneness. Upon entering the gate, one was absorbed into the vastness that lived in Lao Tzu house. We sang in Music Group and were lost in ecstasy. We did our groups and had glimpses of being outside of our little ego selves. We did the active meditations and rays of sunshine would find their way out from the center of our being. And, of course, we sat in discourse and darshan and the sun itself lovingly dismantled all the clouds obscuring the brilliance of our inner light, the Oneness within.

At the Ranch we witnessed Oneness in action. We saw what could happen when a group of meditators worked without the need for approval or compensation. We worked and loved the working, but this oneness was a group oneness, a collective. It did give us another opportunity to experience a certain type of oneness, but because it was a group oneness, it was a oneness that was by definition opposed to the ‘not group,’ to the outside, and therefore could not be sustainable, definitely could not be eternal.

It was after the Ranch that I realized I had to dive deep into inquiry, into meditation. I had to find that oneness that had been experienced so many years before for myself, without the aid of drugs or others. I had to rediscover exactly what was standing in the way of my own experiencing of oneness in this moment.

And so, it was time for doubling down on meditation. It was time to discover for myself what is this ‘witnessing’ that Osho keeps talking about. Do I really know for myself? And in this quest, I became deeply attracted to self-inquiry and the path of advaita, non-duality.

In one of the discourses where Osho is talking about advaita, he says something that had a strong impact on me. He says, and I am paraphrasing here, that advaita means not-two, and so it is easy to translate that as one, or oneness, but he says that there is a difference in how the two words or phrases feel or act on you. When you say or think the word ‘one’ or ‘oneness,’ there is a contraction, a solidification, it feels like an object. But when you say ‘not-two,’ there is a letting go, and so is a much better pointer to the actual experiencing of oneness.

Similarly, in a workshop that Jean Klein, a Western Advaita teacher gave in Boulder, Colorado, in one of those moments when meditation is exuding all around, I asked Jean, “So is this it, just more and more subtle?” And Jean responded, “I would say less and less conditioned.”

And that is the key. It is not that we need to be searching for this thing called ‘oneness,’ but that we have to simply see what it is that is preventing us from Being in this Eternal Now that we refer to as oneness, or perhaps better described as not twoness. And that takes me back to meditation.

By meditation, I mean closing my eyes, sitting in a not uncomfortable but alert position and watching whatever appears on the screen of my consciousness. Sometimes it is a cacophony, and sometimes it is just a meandering quiet stream. But whichever, I watch, and every time that I forget and I become aware that I have forgotten, I am back to watching. Slowly, slowly I discover how to watch without judging, without grasping, without rejecting, and without analyzing. And in this watchingness, the flow of traffic decreases and occasionally gaps appear, gaps in which there are no thoughts. And when there are no thoughts, there is no movement of time, there are no obstructions to experiencing this same Eternal Now that was stumbled upon so many years ago. But this time it is conscious, it is not accidental, and it does not depend on any circumstance, substance, or any other person. And these moments cannot but infuse our everyday life with more lightness of being.

-purushottama

This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

From the Lowlands to the Highlands

The coast of Madagascar was a sight to see, miles and miles of white beaches, palm trees with the mountains behind, and not a soul in sight. We pulled into a small village in the north of the country which had a French-run sugar mill. We were picking up cargo which would be dropped off in Majunga. There was a party at the company that night and we were invited by the French management. I don’t think I have ever seen a group of guys as drunk as we were. We were all young lads and had been days at sea. The Comoros was a Muslim country so we didn’t have any refreshments while there. Whiskey was the drink of choice. I’ve never been much of a hard alcohol drinker, which I reaffirmed that night.

The boat had navigated an estuary to the small village and in order to leave we had to time the tides exactly. We didn’t, so ended up aground and leaning to one side. We had to wait for the next high tide. Another couple of days sailing down the Madagascar coast and we finally arrived in Majunga.

Majunga harbor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Majunga is a dusty port town. This part of Madagascar is mostly made up of people of African and Arabic descent. All of the buildings were bleached white and reflected the hot sun. Peter and I were anxious to get on our way so we didn’t linger long. We hitchhiked out of town. The journey from the coast to Antananarivo, Tana for short, is beautiful; from the dry desert landscape near Majunga to the highlands of central Madagascar. When you reach the highlands, you begin to see the terraced rice fields of the Malagasy. On the second to the last day, a French expat couple picked us up and offered us a room in their house for the night. Wine and cheese in the evening and an omelet in the morning were quite a treat after so many days at sea.

When Peter and I arrived in Tana we were quite shocked. First by the architecture — the city was built on hills and the houses were two stories high made with brick and had wooden balconies, unexpected in Africa. Apparently, some Scottish fellow helped plan the city and put his stamp on the look. Below the hills was a small lake surrounded by jacaranda trees. On one side of the lake was the Hilton Hotel, the only high-rise building in the country. But most surprising to us were the women. The highland Malagasy people are of Indo-Malay descent: long, straight, black hair; dark olive skin; and almond-shaped eyes. Considering we were off the S.E. coast of Africa, we were quite surprised. On that very first day wandering around the city, I heard myself say, “This is a place I could get stuck in for a while.” It proved itself true.

At that time (1973), very few travelers ventured through Madagascar, so those travelers who were living in Tana knew very quickly new blood was in town. We were introduced to an American with shoulder-length hair, about our age, named Derek. He was teaching English at the American Cultural Center. He offered us a place to stay until we found something else and mentioned they needed a substitute teacher for an evening class at the center. I explained that I had never taught before and he immediately reassured me that it didn’t matter. “You just need to look over the lesson before you teach.” That was the beginning of my English teaching career. I substituted that evening and was offered a job for the next term which would begin in a month. We checked in with the American Embassy to let them know we were in town and also to get a recommendation for a doctor. The Consul General was a young, very light-skinned African American, a really nice guy; Skip was his name. He pointed me towards the embassy doctor and welcomed us to Madagascar. There was an American NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) listening post on Madagascar at that time so a few American expats living in Tana. The Malagasy doctor gave me antibiotics for the gonorrhea and I was careful to explain I had already been given a dose in The Comoros but apparently not strong enough. I wanted to be sure to get a strong enough one this time so that I wouldn’t have to come back again.

Jacaranda trees blooming in Antananarivo (Tana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I did have to go back again. It returned. So, so did I, to the doctor and got another dose. By this time, I was on my third dose of antibiotics and it was beginning to take its toll. After the third dose had run its course and I still wasn’t rid of the gonorrhea, I was wasted. And, my pee was no longer burning but it was brown. Somehow gonorrhea had morphed into hepatitis. Probably what had happened is the antibiotics had played havoc with my liver and perhaps caused a reoccurrence of the hepatitis I had had several years earlier in the States. But regardless, my pee was brown and I couldn’t stay awake nor eat a thing. Fortunately, we had met some French school teachers who were going on holiday and had offered us their flat while they were gone.

By this time, I knew I was going to stay in Madagascar to teach the next term, but Peter wanted to continue on to South Africa. After all, he had a friend waiting for him there, with work. He made arrangements for a flight to Johannesburg. Peter did stick around and look after me until I was on the road to recovery. I was pretty useless but amazingly only for a short while. The forced down time was an opportunity to read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.

After only a couple of weeks, I was getting better. We calculated what I owed Peter and I said I would send the money to him after I started working. By buying dollars on the black market, I managed to send all the money I owed him in pretty short order. I ended up staying two years in Madagascar, teaching and traveling, and it became a crucial point in my life.

What I found in Madagascar was a reconnection with life: living, being, enjoying. Life was good. Eventually there was a girlfriend, Voahangy, a beautiful Malagasy. She helped me find a big house to rent and many of the Center’s English teachers ended up living there communally. We also had a room for the travelers coming through. Randy Dodge was on the top floor in a kind of attic space. Keenan, an American, wanted to have the verandah with his Malagasy girlfriend and I had the room on the other side of the wall from his verandah. One of my windows looked out into his space. There was also a New Zealander and an Australian. Randy’s girlfriend was named Rickey, a very young, extremely beautiful and smart Malagasy girl. I think she was 18 or 19 at the time. She was one of my English students from book two through book six and into the advanced class.

Voahangy didn’t need to be an English student. Her English was perfect. She was my age and a doctor. Her sister was married to another of the center’s teachers, and in fact it was he who I replaced.

Unfortunately, I had to share Voahangy. She already had a boyfriend when I met her at a party at Skip’s, the American Consul General. Her boyfriend worked for the FOA, the United Nation’s Organization for Forestry and Agriculture, and so was always traveling around the island, fortunately. We spent the time together that we could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had two visitors from Kansas City while in Madagascar. The first was a previous girlfriend. It was terribly awkward. Our relationship had finished a year before I left the States, although I did visit her on the way out. It was very difficult for me and extremely uncomfortable for her. I just couldn’t pretend. It didn’t help that she had put on 20 or 30 pounds since I had last seen her, but really, we were done. I hoped she would meet a Malagasy guy. She didn’t stay very long. The second was someone who I didn’t really know very well. We had gone to high school together and she was one year behind me. She had a great time and became a teacher and stayed quite some time. I don’t remember if she left Madagascar before me or after. Her name is Donna Price. We’ll meet up again.

It was the assassination of President Ratsimandrava on February 5, 1975, that set off a series of events that would eventually lead to my leaving Madagascar. The killing was blamed on a political group from the coast and the battle raged in Antananarivo for days. For a couple of days, we all just stayed in the house and listened to the gunfire. I remember running to the bathroom and ducking under the windows, just in case shots came through. Actually, we found it quite exhilarating. We had never been in a coup d’état before and were young and thought we were invincible. When the shooting died down, we went out on the street to survey the situation and had to run for cover into the American Embassy when the shooting started up again. We spent the night at the embassy and a great bond was formed with everyone there: the marine guards, the staff, and us traveler teachers. A curfew was established and we had to change the hours of our classes and begin at 6:00 a.m. in order to be able to close before curfew.

During the curfew, one night I went home with a lady expecting to stay the night only to find she wasn’t a she but a he. The curfew had already begun and I found myself out on the street when I shouldn’t be. Fortunately, one of my students was a Colonel in the Gendarmes, and it was he who drove by in a jeep and kindly dropped me off at home.

The political scene was very unsettled for months and every Malagasy who could was making plans to go to France. After Didier Ratsiraka was installed as the President in June, things got even dicier, especially for the Americans. He was much more of a socialist and had strong ties to both China and Russia. It was known he would be closing the NASA post so all of the Americans working there started making plans too.

In the middle of the fighting in Tana between the rival factions, the prison just outside of town was closed and all of the inmates were released. They were to be interred at a later date when it was safer. One of the beneficiaries of this situation was an American businessman, George Reppas. He had been arrested for some kind of fraud involving his business exporting Malagasy beef. Apparently, they were contrived charges in order to get him out of the picture so that his Malagasy partners could take over the business. He had kept himself fit in his tiny cell by practicing yoga daily. Because of the closing of the prison, he had been released into the care of the American Embassy who was responsible for his whereabouts. He was staying in a room somewhere in Tana and had a young Malagasy girlfriend who had looked me up. By this time, the semester at the Cultural Center had finished and I was planning a trip to Mauritius and La Reunion.

The expat scene in Antananarivo at that time was very small and everyone knew just about everyone else and what they were up to. George’s girlfriend, who coincidentally was leaving the island with her family, which was a jazz group, and also going to La Reunion, proposed that somehow, I help George escape from Madagascar. He had made some arrangements for a boat to pick him up from Majunga in the north. We made arrangements that he go with a friend of ours who had rented a car and would drive him up to Majunga while myself and a buddy would make our way south to Fort Dauphin, where we could catch a boat to La Reunion. Because everyone knew that Ginger, my Australian buddy, and I were going to Fort Dauphin, we thought that it would act as a decoy for George.

Ginger and I hitchhiked to the south of the country. Southern Madagascar is very rugged terrain with terrible roads, even today. In Fort Dauphin, there was an American school operated by the American Lutheran Church, and was a place American expats went for R & R. When George went missing, and knowing that Ginger and I were traveling to Fort Dauphin, the embassy assumed that he was with us and figured they would get hold of him there.

Arab dhow of the coast of Madagascar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: I received the following email from George Reppas and so will let him correct the record. When Ginger and I arrived at the American School after traveling for several days everyone asked us where George Reppas was. But by that time, he had slipped out of the country in the north. It was only the next year when I returned to the States that I heard the full story from George. He did manage to escape onto the awaiting boat after somewhat of a hair-raising chase. Randy Dodge and I had lunch with him in San Francisco. He was meeting a movie producer who he was trying to convince to make a movie of his great escape. Recently I googled George Reppas and found that he is still pursuing his dream of making the movie and had started a production company. Good luck George.

Good hearing from you, I always wondered what has happened to you and your Madagascar commune friends.

Craig Jones, our camp archivist, did a search of my name and ran across a section of your story. It was not quite right.

We were not released, as you wrote, but I took a chance that I would not be shot if I walked into the fire between the FRS and the army, and I took Professor Hercourt with me.  When we got through the women prisoners followed and then the rest.  I had instructed our guys to let the Molotov cocktails fly before leaving.  They didn’t do a thorough job and that’s why the prison was back in repair after 6-weeks.

At the US embassy I hooked up with Slater, a British agent, and he coordinated with Jackie Cauvin who had a trimaran in Majunga.  You guys did the fake ID and lined up the Swiss driver that got us through.  The Malagasy sent a hitman to the Comoros apparently to either bring me back or to hit, but he was stopped by Interpol and they took him away. I never saw any of them again, obviously lined up by The State Department.

Your story did not have it right, but I recognized that it was done by someone who knew but was without all the facts. -George

-purushottama

This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

 

Mombasa and Moroni

Moroni

In Nairobi, Kenya, while lying on my bunk in a youth hostel, a big blonde American guy entered the room and walked right up to me. His name was Peter. I wasn’t the only one in the room, there were quite a few travelers that afternoon, but somehow, we were like long lost friends. We immediately hit it off, and as is so common with solo travelers, we decided to join our wagons for a while. He was on his way to South Africa to make some money. He had a friend working there, and in those days if you were white, you could easily get a job, especially in JoBurg. I was certainly in need of money.

By the time I arrived in Kenya I had forty dollars to my name. Not bad really, considering I had left the States four months earlier with about six hundred dollars and had spent nearly three months traveling in Europe, including a month on Crete, and had traveled overland through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and finally to Kenya. I had looked into teaching English in the Kenyan countryside and calculated I would need to stay two years in order to save enough money to enable me to resume my travels. The pay was around forty dollars a month.

Peter and I made the arrangement that he would front me the travel money and I would pay him back in South Africa. In those days it was not as easy as it is today to pass through the countries that were on the way to South Africa. Several of the countries, if I remember correctly Malawi and I’m pretty sure Rhodesia, required that you show a certain amount of cash to be able to enter. I don’t remember how much it was but because of this fact we decided to look for alternative routes into S.A., and I got out my map. When we looked at the map, we could see this country off to the east (an island) that if we entered from the north and traveled to the south we would be just across from Lorenzo Marques, Mozambique, just a hop, skip and a jump into S.A. We knew absolutely nothing about Madagascar and that was part of the intrigue.

We did a little checking and found we should be able to get some kind of cargo boat from Mombasa to Majunga, Madagascar. Having secured our Madagascar visas, we headed off to the coast. It really was quite exciting to explore travel options in a port. We went to the harbor master and learned about a cement boat going to Madagascar by way of The Comoros. We arranged passage on the deck and decided to go up north to Lamu Island and enjoy the time before departure. A few other travelers were taking the same boat, a tall lanky English guy and a big Canadian from Ottawa named Doug.

Everyone bought supplies for the trip: sardines, papayas, bananas, oats, biscuits (cookies), etc. The night before cast off, we all went out to experience the bar scene near the big tusks in Mombasa. It seemed appropriate sailor behavior. I think all of us ended up with a lady of the night; I know I did. The next morning, we met up at the dock and set sail. It really is a nice way to bid farewell to a place — by boat. The Mombasa harbor is quite beautiful with the fort on one end and the old city, a mix of colonial and Arab architecture. I haven’t been back to Mombasa since then but I understand it has grown immensely. Apparently, the old city remains as it was. The new city just grew around the old.

I remember the first morning, the English guy was eating papaya with oats sprinkled on top and I joined in. Not long after the sea started to take its toll. The boat was quite small and so was tossed pretty well by the swells. It wasn’t until almost twenty years later I could smell papaya without starting to retch. For three days I lay in the hammock that someone had offered. Then finally, I regained my sea legs and began eating again. That was the end of my seasickness, and I was pretty damned hungry.

We slipped into a kind of timelessness on the deck of this boat — the blue, blue water of the Indian Ocean, the vast sky. If I remember correctly, I read the entire Lord of the Ring series on that trip, including The Hobbit. Peter and I also passed some time creating very elaborate board games. We created a version of battleship with extensive rules of engagement. The crew usually had a line hanging off the back of the boat on which they caught fish and often offered some to us. They also supplied us with rice. Rice and fish, I couldn’t think of a better meal at that time.

A day or two before arriving in The Comoros, my chickens came home to roost. While standing off the side of the deck relieving myself, it was anything but a relief — burning pee. That is one very uncomfortable sensation. I knew immediately what it meant and thought back to my night in Mombasa harbor. We were out at sea and there was nothing I could do until we docked in Moroni, the capital and port of The Comoros.

In port after being cleared by immigration, I immediately went in search of a medical facility. I found a clinic being run by some very nice French nuns. They provided me with the necessary antibiotics and relief was gained. After a couple of days exploring Moroni and the beaches to the north, we were again on our way on the sea of timelessness.

-purushottama

This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

 

 

Buddhaghosa

Buddhaghosa was a 5th-century Indian Theravada Buddhist commentator, translator and philosopher. He worked in the Great Monastery Mahāvihāra) at Anurādhapura, Sri Lanka of the Vibhajjavāda school and in the lineage of the Sinhalese Mahāvihāra.

His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga (“Path of Purification”), a comprehensive summary of older Sinhala commentaries on Theravada teachings and practices. According to Sarah Shaw, in Theravada this systematic work is “the principal text on the subject of meditation.” -from Wikipedia

At the Ranch, in Rajneeshpuram, I worked in the Buddhaghosa department. Which is the name that Osho gave to the department that was responsible for the sale and distribution of all of Osho’s books. Part of that work included the warehousing of all of Osho’s books. We had three co-ordinators, Ma Prem Gatha, Ma Prem Gyano and Swami Rama. They were a triumvirate of coordination.

Some of the sannyasins who worked there were, Ma Yoga Rabya, Swami Red Hawk, Shailandra and Amit (Osho’s brothers), Swami Keerti, Ma Dharma Jyoti, Ma Prem Kaveesha and these are just a few, there were many others.

So where is everybody these days: Gatha lives full time at the Ramana Ashram in Tiruvanamalai, India. Gyano lives and works at the Insight Mediation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Swami Rama worked closely with the American Advaita teacher Robert Adams in Sedona, Arizona, before Robert’s passing, and has himself passed on a few years ago. Ma Yoga Rabiya lives at a retirement home in Ashland, Oregon, she must be in her 90’s and is still going strong. Red Hawk is a renown poet and author of eight books. Shailandra is leading meditation meetings. Amit is living and working at Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune. Swami Keerti started OshoWorld, is the author of numerous books, and leads meditation camps around the world. Jyoti lives and works at OshoDham in Delhi and also leads meditation workshops. Kaveesha started the Osho Academy in Sedona, and passed away in 1999. And myself, I am maintaining the blogsite Sat Sangha Salon at o-meditation.com which posts the words of many buddhas, mostly from Buddha Osho.

Buddhaghosa was quite the greenhouse for sprouting meditation and interestingly, the word buddhaghosa means voice of the Buddha in Pali.

-purushottama

Here you can download a PDF copy of Buddhagosa’s Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification).

Tathata Means Suchness

In my sannyas darshan, Osho assigned two groups for me to do in the couple of weeks that I would be in Poona before heading to the States. The first was Tathata which was somewhat modeled on the EST trainings. The second was a group with Amitabh called Tao.

 

The Tathata group was my first group experience. Until then I had never participated in groups so I really had no idea what to expect. Two experiences from the group have remained in my memory. The first memorable experience was one of the meditations we did, Osho’s Mandala Meditation. The first stage of the meditation is running in place for 15 minutes. You begin rather slowly and gradually increase the speed and bring your knees up as high as possible. In the group this was accompanied by the group leaders pushing you on like a couple of drill sergeants, shouting “faster, faster” and “higher, higher.” As you can easily imagine this brings up quite a bit of resistance. But the amazing thing was that there came a point when resistance just melted and the legs picked up speed and they were just running on their own. The contrast between the effort needed to fight the resistance and the resistance free running was stark.

Another exercise in the Tathata group that was quite instructive was one where we were lying on the floor with blindfolds on and the group leaders came by and laid a large snake on my naked chest. If one wants to witness fear — that is the way to do it. And you are also able to see the result of fear. The snake would react to fear, but when you let the fear go, the snake was just a cold smooth moving object in your senses. It wasn’t just the dropping of fear that was so instructional, but it was also the perceiving the fear as an object, a perception within my awareness but not my self, something separate from my self.

The Tao group didn’t provide the same degree of insight. Although during one break I went out the front gate of the ashram and someone handed me a joint from which I took a couple of tokes before heading back into the group. It was an interesting mix – the energy of the group and a couple of tokes. At one point, I suggested we sit together in a circle holding hands and just feel the love, which we did. That was the only time I was ever stoned on some substance anywhere near Osho’s presence.

When I arrived at the ashram, I had been outside of the States for three years, and very soon I realized the trip that I had been on up to that point had come to an end. Sannyas was truly the beginning of something new for me and I had no idea what that would entail, but I knew I had to return to the States and to Kansas City where I had left some friends with whom I would have to share what I had found.

This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

 

The Goose is Out!

The Goose is Out!

In 2010 a sannyasin wrote “The Final Call” which was “a call to arms” trying to galvanize support for a movement that would counter the organization of the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune.

Below is an excerpt of the response that I wrote. It seems even more relevant today.

My understanding is that Osho’s entire work was to wake us up out of the dream. When I heard that Osho had said to Jayesh “To you I leave you my dream”, initially I am sure that I also felt some tinge of jealousy. ‘You leave it to Jayesh!’ But then it became clear. His work was to bring us out of the dream. End the dream forever. He never suggested that we chase dreams, make goals, live with some intentions. In-tensions can only come out of the past. Dreams can only be an effort to improve upon the past and yet they are still tied to the past. My understanding is that Osho was pointing us to that unknown space where there is no past operating; where action is taken without intent but with complete awareness. So yes, Jayesh can have the dream, I’m opting for the End of all Dreams.

You speak about the “failure” of Rajneeshpuram. Failure means that the goal was not realized. Do you know what or even ‘if’ Osho had a goal? There were many after the Ranch who also felt that it had failed. Everyone who thought that we were creating some kind of ‘utopia’ felt that it had failed. They had grabbed onto the dream of future where things were going to be better than they were now. They were victims of “becoming”. Osho’s whole effort was to take us out of becoming and into “BEING”. All of the activities of the ranch were just an excuse to have us gathered together in some great mysterious energy. And you proclaim “Rajneeshpuram failed”. It certainly did not fail for Swami Anand Maitreya;  It certainly did not fail for Ajit Saraswati; both of which reached their ultimate enlightenment within that Buddhafield and who knows how many more.  Although I cannot testify to the degree that Maitreya and Saraswati could, I can and will say, for me, Rajneeshpuram was not a failure.

My understanding is that Osho’s work was not about a religious movement, or social movement; but rather a movement out of the collective and into individual BEINGNESS, consciousness without a second, the one true ground.

Now you want to harness sannyasins unhappiness with how things are in Pune. Now you want to be a true politician and create a movement, garnering the discontent for your cause. I hope, for your sake, that you do not proceed down that path. With every step taken it becomes increasingly difficult for you to return home. I have watched a few tread that path.

If Osho had wanted to create an organization, a collective movement, I doubt very much that he would have left his dream to Jayesh. I admit that I too was disappointed that Pune was left into his hands. But now, especially now, his wisdom becomes clear. I don’t know if Jayesh has a religious bone in his body; so, who better to ensure that Pune does not become the next Rome. Do you really believe that Osho wanted to create a new Christianity? But now we can see the jostling for position that the early Christians must have experienced. Osho said that he was dissolving into his sannyasins. Individually each is moving into their own light. We do not need a movement. We do not need to centralize the spontaneous happenings that are occurring around the globe. It is not a movement – it is life spontaneously erupting. In fact, a movement is only a distraction from the inner investigation that each of us needs to complete. It is a way to avoid, “If only Jayesh was not in power then I would be Enlightened”. Yeah, you bet. We do not need to ‘belong’ to some greater group than our own individual consciousness, because that individual consciousness Is the greater group, it is the Totality. We will not find our own fulfillment out in some movement but in our own Beingness.

So, let us not get distracted with politics or social movements or religious organization. Let us each complete the work that has been assigned. Come home to our own inner being, then whatever activities that we engage in will be right. But first we must end the tyranny of our own minds and then we will not be interested in how many people approve or how many people disapprove of our actions.  Whatever psychic experiences we have experienced let them not distract us from finishing the task. Enlightenment is not a state that we come in and out of, Enlightenment is not an experience, it is not an object that we perceive. Enlightenment is Consciousness without an object.

Enlightenment is Love without an object. Enlightenment is who we BE. Our work is to become a light unto ourselves. Until we do, let our actions come out of the emerging Awareness that is awakening in each one of us individually. Whether photos of Osho are hanging in Pune or not, has nothing to do with our own BEINGNESS. Let us see that waking up out of the dream is the movement Osho left us.

The goose Is out!

In Love,

Prem Purushottama

A Balance Between Accessibility and Sustainability

Personally, I do not envy anyone who has the job of keeping the Osho Pune Resort sustainable.

We could not have kept the ashram of Poona One going and certainly not the experiment in Rajneeshpuram going without a tremendous amount of donations. It does not take a genius to realize that once Osho left the body the amount of donations coming in would have dropped precipitously. This simple fact is probably the biggest factor on the difficulty of the finances.

Not only was the management of the resort charged with the task of keeping the resort going, but also, at the same time, to keep as many of Osho’s books in publication as possible, no easy task.

I am sure that it was out of Osho’s wisdom that he made the choice of personnel that he did to see the commune into, and through, the transition.

The effort to monetize the playing of Osho’s videos would appear to be part of that effort. The sale of discourse downloads for $1.99 each seems to be an effort to find the right balance between accessibility and sustainability. To make matters even more difficult, Osho directed that the books be sold as cheaply as possible and still maintain the high quality. I might have used a different strategy to maximize the publication of Osho’s books, but then again, if I had been given the entire picture, I might have concluded that theirs was the best option available.

Another difficulty that management faces is that Osho’s books are being published by others and the income from those books is diverted to support other communes. In addition, there were sites created online in order to distribute audio and video recordings of Osho’s discourses at no cost. While I am sure that all of these efforts were made with good intentions, clearly, they undermine the sustainability project.

In addition, the sustained effort to delegitimize the resort and its management year after year, surely, has to eventually begin to take a toll financially.

And then along comes Covid-19 and suddenly the resort is forced to close its doors to any visitors for almost a year.

So now what do some of us in the sannyas community do? We complain when management tries to find ways to keep the dream alive. Rather than being supportive we are Monday morning quarterbacking. Do you think that Osho would have wanted for us to take a poll, to have a vote?

Personally, I do not have any inside information as to how they are planning to weather this financial storm, but I do truly hope that they are successful, and I am willing to say so publicly.

-purushottama

The management team at Osho International Mediation Resort has written this letter to clarify the current affairs. It was published on OshoNews.

Continuing Preservation of the OSHO International Meditation Resort

And recently the following letter was posted by Rupa FitzGerald on Facebook.

FAREWELL OSHO BASHO
I have just been sent a petition to sign against the “Osho Ashram” being sold. So, I thought I would clarify what is going on from my vantage point in Pune.
The subdivision containing Basho lagoon, tennis courts etc is in the process of being sold.
The Basho subdivision was purchased and developed to Osho’s design after he had left the body and is easily separated from the rest of the resort, which functioned perfectly well without it, for years. Basho was purchased with money donated by a small number of people, none of whom have any objection to it now being sold.
My own experience of Basho is that it is now pretty much a white elephant, even in the highest point of the season it is used very little and must be extremely expensive to run. If selling it is a way to save the Trust from bankruptcy it is the way forward. IMHO.
It is clear to me that the petition is an excuse to cause ill feeling towards those currently running the Resort. I see it this way because it is factually inaccurate – only Basho is to be sold, no other area – and because a suggestion to crowdfund maintenance of the resort until a cash flow is re-established would be a much better way of keeping Basho, if that was the intention of the petition.
AS SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCED RUNNING AN OSHO MEDITATION CENTRE I AM FAMILIAR WITH THE SENSE OF OWNERSHIP THAT SOME SANNYASINS AND EX-SANNYASINS DEVELOP OVER ANY ORGANISATION THAT HAS OSHO’S NAME ON IT – HOW ENTITLED TO CRITICISE AND MAKE DEMANDS, WHILE GIVING NOTHING AT ALL THEMSELVES, EXCEPT OPINION AND RUNNING COMMENTARY.
Farewell Basho.

A Symphony of Fireflies

New River

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.

-purushottama

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.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81208323098…

Zoom meeting ID: 812 0832 3098

Passcode: devalayam

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.

Awaken the Master Within

Meditation is both the means and the goal. It is through meditation that we come to know that which we are Not, thus leaving us free to Be, that which we Are, Conscious Awareness.

Meditation is the goal because real meditation is awareness, our own pure consciousness. We have forgotten our own nature because this consciousness has gotten lost in the world of name and form. It has become identified with the body-mind and because of this identification the body-mind has become the master. The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.

Meditation is also the means to right this wrong relationship—to re-establish awareness, consciousness, as the Master.  It is through the witnessing consciousness that transformation is possible. It is through the awakening of intelligence that meditation brings the transformation. This intelligence is not of the mind. It is from beyond the mind. It is the light behind the mind. Once consciousness reclaims its rightful place as the Master then everything is naturally set right.

Awaken the Master within and see for your Self.

-purushottama

More from the collected and uncollected posts of Prem Purushottama