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.

 

A scene from a group in Poona

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 which I took a couple of tokes off of 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 story is from the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

Don’t Fight the River

The first indication my life was about to change was the engine in my Cadillac El Dorado blowing up in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was at the end of a road trip taking orders for waterbed products. I took a bus back to Kansas City.

The second was when I learned while away, my friend Charlie, my parakeet, had been killed by the cat that belonged to my friends who were house-sitting.

Charlie was a real character and he used to fly out of his always-open cage and land on my nose to wake me up in the morning. That’s what did him in. Charlie had been given to me by Scottie. Scottie was my oldest friend, not that I had known him the longest, but he was over 60. I was in my early twenties. He had named Charlie after Charlie Parker, a personal friend of his. Scottie was into Jesus, jazz, going to the horse races, and smoking pot.

The final straw, however, was that my apartment was broken into. The thieves took my stereo and speakers but fortunately left my album collection. I could either fight, or let go and go with the stream. I decided on the latter and endeavored to get ahead of the curve.

Soon everything that had any value, which wasn’t much really, had been sold. It mostly consisted of the records and two Chinese rugs. The money was going to Europe with me. I was leaving behind my interest in a business I had built up over the past two years. I wasn’t even going to tell the other principals involved; they could have what was left. I was concerned I might be persuaded to change my mind.

We had been applying for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan in order to take our waterbed frame manufacturing business to the next level. We were getting orders, I had brought back plenty, but we needed capital in order to produce at a level that made money on our sales. When the SBA loan fell through, I knew that meant we would have to drop back and punt. But I was burnt out. I had had a nervous breakdown at 21. I was drinking 10-12 cups of coffee a day and smoking three packs of cigarettes. If this was life, I wasn’t interested. I was ready to chuck it all in and go to Europe with whatever cash I could assemble and see what happens.

Six hundred dollars is what I would be landing in Luxembourg with after buying a cheap Icelandic Air flight. The last ride I got hitchhiking to New York was with the equipment truck for the rock band Seals and Crofts. Here was the first sign of what lay ahead. Seals and Crofts were into Baha’i and the driver of the van was a devotee of the young Guru Maharaji.

Soon, I was lying in the grass on the side of the road waiting for the sound of a car so I could jump up and stick out my thumb. The destination for the day was not known only the direction; in the meantime, I was feeling the ground beneath my back, smelling the green grass and listening to the sounds of the birds flying nearby. I was reminded of Saint Francis.

Here, in stark contrast, was the difference between becoming and being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This story is from the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

Kopan and Kathmandu

It was the most amazing New Year ever, crossing into Nepal in a bullock cart at sunrise. The sky was ablaze, the haze and dust in the air heightened the reds and oranges of the sun. It was New Year’s Day 1976, sure to be a super year, and as it turned out, it was.

During that last term in Madagascar, I had heard from my friend Peter. He was now in Nepal studying Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Yeshe at the Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. Randy Dodge, who was still living at the house, was attracted to going to India and Nepal. He had been practicing Yoga for several years and was also interested in Buddhism. I was interested in Nepal but somehow fearful of India. I knew deep down that it could grab me and not let me go. By this time, Voahangy had gone to Brussels to join her U.N. boyfriend. Rickey was making arrangements to go to university in France. Randy and I were busy changing Malagasy francs into U.S. dollars with the Indian money changers and making preparations for our trip to the sub-continent.

Randy and I had discovered there was an Indian passenger ship that traveled from Mauritius to Bombay and so made plans to go to Mauritius and leave for India from there. I said goodbye to my home for two years and a people that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Thirty-three years after first arriving in Madagascar, I finally made a trip back with my wife Amido in 2006. She loves the place as much as I do. Many things looked the same, although Tana was a bit of a shock. In 1975, the population of Madagascar was around eight million; in 2006, it was sixteen million and most of those are now in Tana. I have never seen so many kids.

The ship we took had several classes of travel. I think Randy and I took the next to last. It was not too bad really, dormitory style with bunk beds. The food was good. There was both a vegetarian line and a non-vegetarian line. We used the vegetarian line for lunch and dinner and the non-veg for breakfast because we wanted eggs. The trip took several days, and on the way, we were treated to Indian movies. That was the first time I had ever seen a Bollywood production. Treated is probably not very accurate because the sound system was terrible and it was way too loud. The days were spent on the deck watching the sea go by and reading Herman Hess’s The Glass Bead Game. So, after another trip across the Indian Ocean we arrived in Bombay, India.

In Bombay, we stayed at the Salvation Army Hostel. On the streets were quite a few wasted westerners wandering around. We didn’t really expect that to be our fate but it was a good heads up. We were both interested in getting to Nepal as soon as possible and decided to take a train out to a good place to begin hitchhiking from. We didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t hitch in India. On our very first ride we had a surprise. A truck stopped. It was open in the back and we just needed to climb up and jump in. We threw our backpacks over the rail and climbed up and landed in a truck bed of manure. It wasn’t very wet so we just shrugged our shoulders and we were on our way.

After a couple of days travelling, we were ready to enter Nepal. We had arrived in the border town too late to be able to cross that day. We would have to wait for the next day. It just happened to be New Year’s Eve. I don’t think we participated in any festivities but just awaited our trip into Nepal in the morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathmandu, Nepal

After arriving in Kathmandu, we found our way to Freak Street where I knew Peter was staying in a guest house. Randy and Peter had never met. Peter had already left Madagascar by the time Randy showed up. Peter was very much into his exploration of Tibetan Buddhism. He was involved in a course that was being offered at the Kopan Monastery on the outskirts of the city. One day we went with him to visit and had a short chat with Lama Yeshe over a cup of tea. He offered his cup which we shared. He was a very kind man with a boyish grin. There were many westerners involved in the meditation teachings at the time but for some reason I wasn’t drawn to joining.

Randy and I went on to Pokhara in order to do a trek. In those days Pokhara hadn’t really become a big scene like it is today. On the edge of Lake Phewa were a few guest houses. Nearby was a Tibetan refugee camp and so a few Tibetans would set up on the paths and sell their goods. I bought a Tibetan mala and some pieces of coral with holes drilled in them for stringing on a mala. The guest house was very simple but I remember a nice garden and of course the views were incredible of both the lake and the majestic Himalayas, a truly idyllic scene. There was a Japanese couple staying in the guest house that I noticed. She was very sweet and soft and he was intense with the stern look of a samurai. I would meet this couple again and they would get new names and become Geeta and Asanga.

 

This story is from the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

 

 

After Awakening Before Enlightenment

Back in 2011 the essay Awakening Before Enlightenment came gushing out onto the computer screen. I was very reluctant to edit it much at all because it didn’t feel like my writing. It just poured out.

Now almost seven years later it seems like perhaps it is time for a check-up.

In the last paragraph it was written:

So here we come to the point that has been the fuel for this inquiry for all these years. Without exposure to the presence of an Enlightened Master and, unfortunately for some, even with, it is very easy to believe that the “awakening of the witness” is the end of the journey, is itself enlightenment. Some fellow travelers might very well believe that there is no ending of the mind, because that is the limitation of their own experience.

What is the landscape now at this time? What has changed?

Through these last years I have spent even more time exploring coming out of mind. I have experimented with many of Shiva’s 112 Meditation Techniques explained by Osho in The Book of Secrets. And with each I have discovered that same core that Osho points us to again and again, witnessing.

And it is from here that the mind is witnessed, that one sees all the ways to get entangled, and these are not just seen once or twice but again and again. But each time that seeing happens the strength of the proclivity is lessened. It becomes easier to come out, easier to let go of grasping, easier to remain with that which may be uncomfortable.

And yes, there do come more moments, and longer in duration, where one is without thought.

When thought subsides one is capable of exploring the region of feeling. Not feeling with a tour guide who is naming all the sights but feeling just in feeling. Feeling the very sensation of moods, sometimes the feeling of burbling, gushing raw emotion of some long forgotten happening.

And yes there also comes moments when all thought and feelings subside and one is left with only a sense of being.

And this sense of being, this wavering in the belly, is witnessed, is seen and in that very seeingness, when the seeing is total even that sense of being, that ripple comes to rest. In these moments there is “an ending of mind.”

Surely this momentary “ending of mind” is “samadhi with seed.” It is seed because the seed remains and because the seed remains it invariably re-sprouts. Nevertheless in this moment I am refreshed.

So now I can revisit the post and still say yes, for me, it is true that “awakening of the witness” is not “the end of the journey.” In fact it is the real beginning. The beginning of the end of “me.” And in this witnessing there is “a knowingness” that exists without any support. It is self-evident.

It is also important to emphasize that “the ending of me” does not come about by any doing on my part. I am not dissolving or evaporating my mind.  Any such activity would only strengthen the doer, the “me.” The mind does dissolve, it does evaporate not because of any doing on my part, on the contrary it does so because in those moments I am no longer contributing to its survival. My energy is with that “knowingness.” And because I am residing at home (in those moments) there is no energy feeding the “me.” And I am perfectly happy to let all of the un-entangling, all of the exposing, all of the evaporation proceed without any interference and bask in the moments of “now-here” that appear on their own.

And still the refrain, “charaiveti, charaiveti .”

-purushottama

Here you can find  Awakening Before Enlightenment.

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.

Dis-identification

Dis-identification can still see identification but identification cannot see dis-identification. No-Mind can see mind but mind cannot see No-Mind. In identification one is not aware of being identified, but in dis-identification one is still aware of the possibility of identification. Jean Klein used to say “that in order to know who one is, it is first necessary to know what one is Not”. Just to say that there is no Not doesn’t cut it. Talley ho.

-purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Sumati and I finally arrived at the Ranch in Oregon in either late November or early December. We had started out from New Jersey on September 1st and crisscrossed the U.S. as well as driven into Canada.

Rancho Rajneesh, Rajneeshpuram, OR

All along the way, we stopped in bookstores and visited distributors taking orders for Osho’s books. The response was very, very good. Of course, all the publicity surrounding his coming to the States did not hurt. Neither did the ads that Chidvilas had placed in Time magazine with his quotes. People were very curious and going into their bookshops wanting to find out more.
It was also a tremendous learning opportunity finding out exactly how the book business worked, and what the bookshops and distributors wanted from us in order to aid them in the sale of the books. Many strong connections were forged that lasted for years.
Every couple of days, we would call Vidya and check in. Occasionally, she would relay something Osho had said concerning the selling of the books.

When we did finally arrive, I had a bit of a debriefing session with Pratima, who was in charge of book publishing. We had gathered a considerable amount of constructive feedback that we could use to chart our course with publishing.

After a couple of days, we were invited to Lao Tzu House to see Osho. This was the first time I had had such an intimate (Osho, Sumati, myself, and I think, Sheela) meeting with him, except for when I had programmed the VCR at the Castle. He gave both Sumati and me gifts; mine was a leather cowboy hat. I don’t remember what she received but it might have been the same.

Then it was down to business and he asked when we would be going out again. This was rather ironic. In Poona, when anyone arrived back from the West, the first thing he would ask was, “How long will you be staying?” In this case, it was, “When will you be leaving?”

I explained that now was not a good time to be out selling books because the stores had already made their orders for the holiday season. It would be best to wait until at least mid-January. He nodded and that was the end of the discussion.

Many times later, I would look back on that situation. If I hadn’t been so involved in the book distribution, and so very interested in doing it right, I might have answered Osho’s questioning with more of a desire to say what I thought he would have wanted to hear. But as it turned out, I was not tuned into that at all. I simply told him how I saw the situation and he understood. I give this as an example not of how I was above wanting to please, I’m sure I can come up with many examples of that, but rather of what happened if one did not.

This was one of the lessons that so many of us learned at the Ranch — we had so many opportunities. On the one hand, everyone wanted to stay close to the master so they would do whatever was necessary to make that happen. But the reality is to be true to yourself (and by yourself I do not mean the whims of your mind or the pitfalls of the ego, but that silent inner voice) is the way to be close to the master.

Another of these situations involved Sheela. Rama was the coordinator of Buddhagosha (the book distribution department). Because I was the one most involved with the bookstores, I would often suggest things that we should do to support the stores. One time, (I think it involved a catalog or other marketing material) I had made a suggestion to Rama, but he was concerned with how Sheela would react. He hesitated to pass it on. For one coordinators meeting with Sheela, Rama was ill and so I had to stand in for him. During the meeting, I made the proposal to Sheela and she accepted without hesitation.

It is important for us who were at the Ranch to look to what our own experience was. What do we know from our own experience? After the Ranch, it became increasingly apparent that we had not all had the same experience. We have different conditionings, resistances, proclivities, needs and desires, and because of that, found ourselves in differing circumstances.

This is not just a lesson concerning the Ranch but this applies to life. It illustrates how the commune was a large laboratory, a stage for learning about ourselves, and the inner obstacles that prevent us from living a life of love and understanding. The commune provided opportunities for lifetimes of growth in both.

I’m the one with the short beard.

When I was not working with the books, I was a Peace Force (police) officer. This mostly involved driving around the Ranch and dropping in for tea at different locations. This provided another opportunity to bring the bliss down into the real world. As you can see from the photo above, Osho did not make it easy on those who were charged with keeping his body from being mobbed. You can also see that he enjoyed the whole affair.

Krishnamurti Lake
Krishnamurti Lake

Sometimes our duties became more serious. During the last festival (1985), while on patrol, we were called to an emergency at Krishnamurti Lake. There had been a swimming accident, apparently someone had drowned. When we finally got the body out of the lake, to my surprise, I found it was Adinatha. He was the Japanese sannyasin Sumati and I had stayed with for some time in Tokyo. The investigation showed it may not have been accidental. He might have just allowed himself to sink into the timelessness of the lake and never resurface.

This story is from the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

The Second Zen Stick

Deeksha in Vrindavan
Deeksha in Vrindavan

My first Zen stick happened when I was around three years old. It is one of the earliest memories I have. Of course, I had never heard the term and it would be another twenty-three years or so until I would. I was sleeping in my bed in a room with no one else present. Suddenly, how could it be otherwise, I felt a whack on the top part of the back of my head. I sat up and looked around the room. There wasn’t anyone there.

Twenty-five years later, I met a ferocious Zen master who carried a Zen stick made out of her words. Her name was Deeksha. Deeksha was the boss, the mom, the coordinator of the Vrindavan kitchen in the ashram.

Sumati and I arrived from Japan with our pockets full of money saved from working and wanted to make a contribution to the ashram. Sheela gladly accepted but suggested we keep some for our own expenses and then assigned both of us to work in Vrindavan. Deeksha was not only in charge of the public ashram restaurant but also had her own band of handymen for whatever projects came up. It was almost as though she had her own empire within the ashram; this certainly was no secret from Osho. Sumati went into the kitchen and I became a handyman.

Deeksha was known for her passion, energy, and insults as well as being extremely capable of organizing work. She was also one of the most generous people in the ashram, often using her personal money to come to the aid of her friends and workers. But no one wanted to be called on the carpet by Deeksha. One day you could be leading a crew of carpenters working on building bookshelves for Osho’s library; the next day you could be banished to the offsite bakery away from the ashram.

On one particular day during the lecture, deep meditation had descended. It was one of those discourses where Osho would take you by the hand and lead you ever deeper into your interiority.  With this sense of being came a peace that knew no fear. I lingered longer than usual after the discourse bathing in the majesty.

When I left Buddha Hall, someone had been summoned to find Purushottama and bring him to Deeksha. I knew what awaited me but there was a calm, easy feeling that accompanied my walk. I remember that she was standing with her back to the kitchen wall and she let fly all of her arrows. She was extremely animated and I have no idea what she said, but what I remember is this: it was as if love was pouring from her in what would look like anger to an onlooker. The energy that issued forth just washed over and through and yet didn’t touch me. I was a witness to a raging Zen master but inside was the same peace that I had left Buddha Hall with. From that moment, I knew it was possible to be in the marketplace but not of the marketplace. I remained untouched.

Years after we had left Poona and even after the Ranch had closed, I would think about Deeksha and feel some regret that she had not had a Deeksha like I had. Deeksha offered me an opportunity that no one else in the ashram could. It is easy to see why Osho gave her so much freedom and so much responsibility.  In his Buddhafield, even the wildest, fiercest expressions were love.

-purushottama

This story is from the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.

Earworms and Meditation

EARWORM6

A few years ago, sitting and chatting together after a Satsang Meditation, one of the guests brought up the subject of earworms. I suggested that the earworms were asking for attention in order to be released. I find that often we say something with much truth in it but don’t really listen to it ourselves. This time I did listen to what had been said and began to consciously explore this earworm phenomenon. You know earworms, we’ve all experienced them; usually fragments of a song that just keep repeating themselves in the mind, and they become really pesky because they won’t leave us alone.

So, I decided to pay more attention when one next appeared and found that if I gave it full attention without either singing along or rejecting, it very quickly evaporated. It seemed as if a piece of consciousness had gotten unconsciously attached to a bit of music. And that the only way to release it was to make that piece of unconscious consciousness conscious. It works, at least for me, and it works every time. If it doesn’t, it is telling me that I have not given full attention and when I do, poof! It is important to note here that we are not to do anything with the earworm itself. It is the unconsciousness that we are dealing with.

I suspect you have already guessed where this is going and yes, you are right. This is the whole story of watching the mind, exactly the same. We let the comings and goings of the mind appear without either singing along or rejecting them. We make the unconscious consciousness, tangled up in the impressions of the mind, conscious. And again, we are not to do anything with the thoughts themselves; it is our own unconsciousness that we are transforming. And the transformation happens by itself; as J. Krishnamurti said, “Seeing IS transformation.”

-purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.

Becoming vs. Longing

It is important to know the difference between becoming and longing. Becoming has to come to a standstill but longing has to fully blossom. Becoming is moving away from our Self and longing is moving into our Self.

There are those who for the sake of ending Becoming quash Longing. This is criminal.

-purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.

Jean Klein: Master of Listening

klein2The last time I saw Jean Klein was in 1996 in Santa Barbara, California. Amido and I had gone with him and his wife Emma, to see the parade downtown. We had spent the weekend helping to care for Jean, giving Emma a break. Jean had had a stroke and was also suffering from dementia, although suffering is not the right word; I couldn’t find another. He really didn’t seem to suffer though it was clear that the conditions were affecting his body/mind.

Enlightenment with dementia, not two words you expect to experience together. Jean said he was not the mind. I found myself thinking, although unreasonably, that it would not be possible to have dementia with enlightenment. But if we are not the body and not the mind why should that be so? We know that Ramana Maharshi suffered from cancer. J. Krishnamurti’s bodily sufferings are well known. But the mind suffering, somehow that seemed different. So, it was a good experience to see, from the outside anyway, enlightenment with dementia. The body, the mind were both suffering from the stroke and the dementia, and yet sitting with Jean, or just being around him, was as before. The lightness of being that was Jean was always present.

In fact, I received the strongest teaching, the sharpest Zen stick from Jean, during that weekend.

I first came to know about Jean Klein when a friend dropped by my new age music shop, Mysterium, in Boulder, Colorado. He handed me a copy of I Am and offered to leave it with me. After reading the back cover I immediately accepted.

What you are looking for is what you already are, not what you will become. What you already are is the answer and the source of the question. In this lies its power of transformation. It is a present actual fact. Looking to become something is completely conceptual, merely an idea. The seeker will discover that he is what he seeks and that what he seeks is the source of the inquiry.

            Even before Osho left his body, I had become deeply interested in self-inquiry, in advaita. I was reading Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ramana Maharshi. Some shift had happened. Up to that point, meditation consisted of awareness focused on phenomena, sensations, thoughts or feelings, but now awareness was turning on itself. This felt to be the beginning of ‘inquiry,’ and inquiry seemed to be the entire teaching of Jean. Also, it was compelling for me that here was a Westerner who was a living master.

Discovering that Jean lived part of the year in Santa Barbara, I immediately made contact with the organization and was informed that a weekend workshop would be taking place in Joshua Tree, California, in a couple of months. Amido and I participated in the workshop. Later, we also attended one of his weekend gatherings in Santa Barbara. Soon we were making arrangements for Jean to come to Boulder.

During the question period in the Boulder workshop, I asked Jean, “So is it this, more and more subtle?” He responded, “I would say less and less conditioned.” Through the years I have found that statement to be extremely significant.

For me, the most important word in Jean’s teaching is ‘listening.’  He uses it in much the same way that Osho uses ‘witnessing.’ Do you notice how similar the two words are?

We cannot precisely say what this listening is, because it is not a function. It is without intention. Being free from intention also means being free from concentration. In both we are looking for a target, looking for a result, but in listening we are simply open, directionless.

In listening there is no grasping, no taking. All that is listened to comes to us. The relaxed brain is in a state of natural non-function, simply attentive without any specific direction. We can never objectify listening, because that would mean to put it in the frame of space and time. It is listening to oneself.

In listening to oneself there is no outside and no inside. It is silence, presence. In this silence-presence there is a total absence of oneself as being somebody.

In listening we are not isolated. We are only isolated when we live in objects, but free from objects we live our essence where there is no separation. In listening there is not a you and not another. Call it love.

Jean Klein – From The Book of Listening, page 130

One night during his stay, Amido made a beautiful pasta dinner which we took to where Jean and Emma were staying. Over dinner we had some time for gossip. Jean said that he had once looked into one of Osho’s books, I Am the Gate, and read where he was talking about Hitler. Osho says that “Hitler was a vehicle for other forces. . .. He was just a means: he was used.” Jean strongly objected to Osho speaking of Hitler in those terms. Jean had helped Jews escape from Germany during the war.

In those days, Poonja was very well known in the advaita circles. Jean didn’t seem to have a very high regard for Poonja, but he didn’t say why. He told us that Poonja had once stayed with him for some time in Europe. A couple of years ago, I ran across the following account of one meeting between Jean and Poonja in David Godman’s book Nothing Ever Happened.

Meera [Papaji’s second wife]: It was a sort of dinner party that was attended by Papaji, Jean Klein and a small group of students from each teacher.

David [Godman]: What happened?

Meera: The disciples of the two teachers got into a debate about the teachings of their respective Masters, but the two teachers themselves kept mostly quiet. Though Jean Klein taught self-inquiry there was a lot of difference between his and Papaji’s approach to liberation. Afterwards Jean Klein advised all his students to stay away from Papaji, telling them he was a dangerous man with a dangerous teaching. He came up to me (Meera, Papaji’s defacto wife) afterwards and told me directly that I should leave Papaji because I would be in great danger if I stayed with him any longer.

Jean Klein’s character seemed to undergo a strange change that evening. There was a hostility and a rudeness in him that I had never seen on any of our previous meetings. He seemed to see something in Papaji that made him afraid. He wouldn’t say what it was, but he did go out of his way to tell all the people there that for their own safety they should have nothing more to do with Papaji. It was a very strange response because he had previously seemed so calm and self-assured. I was very disappointed by his behavior and by the meeting in general. It was not a success.

            After the weekend, Amido and I drove with Jean and Emma to Rocky Mountain National Park which he enjoyed immensely and commented several times on how young the mountains were.

The next year we again invited Jean to Boulder. This time he came with Leif a longtime friend. We were having a difficult time finding the right space to put Jean up. Maitri who was working with the American teacher Gangaji came forward and said he could stay in Gangaji’s mountain house. Gangaji would make other arrangements for herself.

On the day after the workshop, I received a call from Maitri asking if it would be possible for Gangaji to have a meeting with Jean and so it was arranged. At the end of the meeting Maitri phoned to tell me how much Gangaji had enjoyed the meeting. Leif said Jean too had enjoyed meeting Gangaji.

By this time, Amido and I were already planning to sell our house in Boulder and move to Crestone, Colorado. Because Crestone is such an alternative spiritual community, we thought it would be wonderful to arrange a workshop there with Jean.

By the summer of 1995, we had sold our Boulder house, bought a house in Crestone and began scouting out venues for Jean’s workshop. Baker Roshi had started a Zen center and that was one possibility.   A suitable building that was part of the Aspen Institute was another possibility. Before we settled on a site, Jean had a stroke and it was clear that he was not going to be coming to Crestone, probably not taking any trips, and certainly not to 7,500-foot elevation Crestone.

We received a call from our friend Sundro, who had been with Osho as well as Jean, telling us that he had returned from spending some time in Santa Barbara helping out after Jean’s stroke. He told us Emma could use any relief that could be offered. Amido and I made arrangements to go for a weekend and off we went. Despite the circumstances, it was a remarkably intimate time with Jean. We were a small group, a friend of Jean’s who was his caregiver, Amido (who is a nurse), Emma, myself, and of course Jean.

One afternoon, I had taken Jean out on the patio to sit and enjoy the sunshine.  I was sitting with my eyes closed when Jean said to me in a very loud voice, “What do you want from me?” It was startling because Jean was always so soft spoken, often described as having the demeanor of a European gentleman. So, to hear him speak so loudly and sharply was a shock.

I had been in some subtle way begging for his bliss. There was a part of me that was reaching out to receive, rather than diving into myself. I was going to him with a begging bowl, and in that moment, with that Zen stick, I could see very clearly and returned home in myself.

Emma and the aid reassured me that it was just the dementia speaking, but for me it was not. It was just what the doctor ordered, and I was grateful.

Saying goodbye to Jean after the parade, with my hands held in his, gratitude overflowing, and the light of awareness shining bright, I bid him farewell.

– purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.

For more posts on Jean Klein look here.