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