A Footprint in Consciousness

After watching the entire seven-hour documentary on Netflix, Wild Wild Country, the following poured out. Pranam to ALL. 

Does anyone, after hearing directly from the U.S. Attorney; Oregon State Attorney General; Bill Bowerman; and then there were those who we did not hear from in the series but have been documented in A Passage to America (by Max Brecher) such as Edwin Meese, (US Attorney General); Pope Benedict before he was pope (Joseph Ratzinger); and many more; after hearing from these people, does anyone really believe if we had been a little more ‘good neighborly’ that they would have allowed us to continue? Perhaps if all we had wanted to do was have a communal farm for a couple of hundred friends. Maybe. But I am doubtful even of that.

Osho wanted to build a city/commune, a place where thousands could gather and meditate together. In order to create that space, there was a lot of work to be done, but this work was to be done with awareness, with love. This was only possible because of someone like Sheela and her “gang” who created a protective shell around the community for the meditators/workers to carry on. Her job was to keep the forces that colluded from day one to close us down at bay long enough to for us to finish the job. You see, I do not subscribe to the belief that Osho ever intended Rajneeshpuram to be an ongoing, permanent community. It was as Osho has said about his community “an experiment to provoke God.” We were creating a “footprint” on the Earth. A footprint of consciousness. Just the effort to create such a community was an opening in the consciousness of the world. It has been attempted before to lesser degrees and with each attempt the ball has moved forward. But this attempt was not scorning the use of science and technology. This attempt was not renouncing the world; it was an attempt that would bring Zorba and Buddha together in harmony. It would ultimately bring 10,000 meditators together in a city that they had created for themselves. And in that work of creation, the effect would be that many of those who had worked on the project were transformed.

But in order to create this Buddhafield, someone was going to have play defense so that the work could continue. Most of us inside the Ranch did not know the extent of the opposition to our very presence until the bombing of Hotel Rajneesh in Portland. And, this event was a wake-up call for Sheela too. If we were going to survive long enough to complete the experiment, we would have to be able to protect ourselves. And the best protection was in showing the outside world that we were willing to protect ourselves, and had the means. That was a language they could understand. We very publicly displayed our resources and even filmed our abilities at the shooting range. This was enough to create doubt. And in my mind, this is why nobody was ever shot at, no one was ever hurt by firearms.

In the Wild Wild Country series, you hear Shanti B. describe what it was like to be in the meetings with Sheela and crew. They would gather around and problem solve. For example, we weren’t allowed to have commercial activity at the Ranch; okay we’ll do it in Antelope. We weren’t allowed to do it in Antelope; okay we’ll buy up properties in order to control the decision making. We weren’t allowed by Wasco County to carry on our activities; okay we’ll bring in more voters to the county. Where can we get more voters? How about the homeless people? Good idea, and then we can do two things, we can help the homeless and elect out representatives too. They were just problem solving to the best of their abilities. All the while “running interference” so that the work at the Ranch could continue.

In life we have projects that we are working on, and if we are very determined, we try every avenue to success, but sometimes we just have to recognize when “the jig is up” and let go. In hindsight, it appears that being about to lose the Wasco County Commissioner election was one of those times. Many will say that we shouldn’t have tried to affect the election with the Share-A-Home program and that is probably true. But just as it is one-sided to talk only of the benefits of the program, (bringing homeless off the street, exposing street people to meditation, giving a sense of self-worth to those who felt abandoned, etc.), without talking about the well-known ill effects, so too is it one-sided to ignore these benefits. By the way, yes, there were some who were forcibly removed but there were also some who remained to the very end, long after many of us had found new homes.

But clearly, when we were not able to affect the election with our new found comrades, that was the time to realize we had done all that we could do. And Sheela should have been willing to let go of her position if that is what it meant. It is interesting that Osho decided to begin giving discourses again the very night we had a voter rally with the homeless. I think he knew “the jig was up.” We would be able to continue with the momentum created for just one more year.

Now, how to unwind this experiment that many had mistakenly thought was a permanent utopian dream?

Fortunately, Sheela provided the answer for most of that too. It was her own unwillingness to accept defeat, to let-go of power, that would be the means for unwinding the commune. The crimes that were committed in order to hang on to power were the means that allowed the external forces to extinguish the experiment. But the experiment had already succeeded. We had already created a city of 10,000 meditators. We had created a beautiful eco-friendly community in the desert. And in the process, all of us were transformed to varying degrees. It was time to let go.

Osho saw the situation and very wisely left the Ranch which avoided the confrontation that the Oregon National Guard, FBI, State Police, and local law enforcement feared.

Osho returned to India with a few stops along the way. Many sannyasins joined him, to listen to his talks for a couple more years. (He still had a few things to say). Others took whatever light had been ignited in “the experiment” and went out into the “marketplace.”

Do you really think that if it had been someone different in Sheela’s place the result would have been better? Personally, I doubt it.

It goes without saying that none of this would have taken place without Osho. I bow down. But perhaps, what is not so obvious, is that each and every actor is essential in this play.

So, I bow down to everyone who participated in whatever way you did and I don’t exclude anyone. Everyone played their part, which includes the residents, the RHT workers, the festival workers, all of the visitors, those that stayed and those that left, those who never managed to make it to the Ranch, and those that stayed to the very end. And how can I bow down to Sheela and her crew without also bowing down to the residents of Antelope and Wasco County, the government officials, and the Rajneesh Hotel bomber, because without any of you, there may not be that “footprint of consciousness” in the Oregon desert.

-purushottama

That Which Took Us to Rajneeshpuram

Rajneesh Mandir

I am sure that whatever I say will not make one iota of difference to anyone, but still it has to be said.

It seems appropriate to ask ourselves what it was that took us to Rajneeshpuram.

If we were attracted by the idea of creating a utopian community and that is the only reason we went then it is natural that we are disappointed that the experiment did not deliver the goods. And I suppose then there is some benefit in reviewing the history and events that took place so as to do better next time.

Perhaps we were attracted by the idea of being with a “godman”, some saintly character that would conform to our own ideas of “enlightenment”. Just the idea elevated our own status. We were one of the chosen few. Is this anything more than an ego trip? And of course we were headed for disappointment. Masters do not conform to anyone’s ideas of enlightenment, Gurdjieff did not, J. Krishnamurti did not, and certainly U.G. Krishnamurti did not, just to name a few more recent examples. And it is natural that our egos would be bruised when we realized that life did not live up to our expectations.

And then there were some that were lured by the prospect of opening ourselves to the unknown, of diving deep into our own inner depths, of examining every aspect of ourselves, both the dark and the light. There are not many in this group who were disappointed, Rajneeshpuram delivered on all accounts for many.

Whatever it was that took us to Rajneeshpuram, what we can take away, even if only beginning at this moment, is meditation.

We can forget all about Osho, but if we forget about meditation, the whole journey was for naught.

If we persist in meditation (and by meditation I mean observing the contents of the mind without pushing them away or without jumping into the fray) then we rediscover that space, that magical space of silence and love. From here it is hard to be anything but so overwhelmingly grateful for the one who spent his entire life pointing towards this door to no-mind. And, in fact, it is THIS no-mind, this oceanic space of silence and love that is Osho, this very moment.

-purushottama

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 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 Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva

Now available in four versions (see below).

From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva is a travelogue of the heart, a diary of the soul, and a handbook for meditation. Combining From Lemurs to Lamas with the author’s second book, Here to Now and Behind, and adding some new content, makes this a collection of stories, essays, poems, and insights spanning more than fifty years of inquiry.

The book first relates stories of the mysteries of life and travels on an overland journey through Africa, Madagascar, Nepal, and India, finally arriving at the Shree Rajneesh Ashram in Poona. There are stories of the magic of Being in the Poona ashram, the opening of a Rajneesh Meditation Center in the heart of the USA, and the transformation of living life to its fullest in Osho’s Rajneeshpuram, Oregon commune of Wild Wild Country fame.

In addition to the stories of the journey to Osho, and life in his communes, the book relates stories of meeting several masters, teachers, and misfits, including: the 16th Karmapa, Jean Klein, U.G. Krishnamurti, and Vimala Thakar.

Layered throughout the book are essays, poems, insights, and photos that have occurred along the Way, on this journey, Here to Now and Behind.

From the Foreword:

As the editor of From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva, I have had the pleasure of reading this book several times, from varying perspectives. I coined the term ‘mediting’ to describe attempts to really get to the meaning of the more potent essays. Before I could even attempt to consider what little tweaks I could make to optimize readability and comprehension, I had to first accept the invitation to consider a slew of questions that occur on the pathless path.

Purushottama from at an early age experiences the futility of a life spent in the material world, the outer world where ambition, wealth, power, etc. beckon. He has a glimpse of the riches found in the interior, through grace, through LSD, through discovering a heart connection with Meher Baba. This prompts a leap into the unknown – into a life of more immediate experience – embarking on a journey that took him to India where he met the living master he sought.

From Lemurs to Lamas details the insights that occur in all stages of his life. Descriptions of life in the Buddhafield that emanated from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later named Osho, evoke the very presence itself, the magic and the melting. Every aspect of life in the ashram in Poona, India, and later at the ranch in Oregon — from the therapy groups to the actual assigned job to interactions with fellow workers and bosses, not to mention daily discourses and occasional darshans – supported a deeper understanding and an opening of the heart.

The second section of this book distinctly turns from out to in. The gifts of the master and commune have been embraced and internalized. Now Purushottama finds the inner guru. His musings, poetic expressions, aphorisms, and essays are compelling. He thoroughly examines the questions that arise from his inward exploration, for example, what is turning in.  With impeccable logic he uncovers the meaning of I am not the body. He acknowledges the human desire to help others and illuminates the pitfalls of such intent.

The most significant overarching theme, however, is the steady encouragement for each of us to begin the journey, or to pick it up again if it has paused, that permeates these essays. He so clearly conveys that in meditation one is always beginning for it is the reverse of accumulation. Wherever we are on the journey is the place to begin.

-Amido

Now available in four versions.

The two paperback editions and the Kindle e-book are available from these Amazon sites: Amazon.com; Amazon.in; Amazon.co.uk; Amazon.de; Amazon.fr; Amazon.es; Amazon.nl; Amazon.co.jp; Amazon.com.br; Amazon.ca.

Special Color Photo Edition, $29.95

and

Paperback (B&W Photos), $12.95

Kindle E-Book, $7.95

and

PDF for Download

 

 

 

Be a Light Unto Ourselves

Why did Osho change the traditional order used for the Three Jewels? At first, I wondered if it was just a mistake that Sheela had made when introducing us to them, but later I found discourses in which Osho referred to them in the order that was presented to us.

Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami – I take refuge in the Awakened One

Sangham Sharanam Gachchhami – I take refuge in the Community of the Awakened One

Dhammam Sharanam Gachchhami – I take refuge in the Ultimate Teaching of the Awakened One

Traditionally they are said with Dhammam preceding Sangham. Each of us will have our own insight as to why he changed them, but regardless of why, this is the order his work has operated on me.

First it was I bow down to the Buddha, to the Master. This is the easiest. Who cannot but bow down to the Master once the Master is met? For me this is what took place in what we refer to as Poona One. It was all Him. He gave us meditations. He gave us daily discourses. He guided us through our personal issues during darshan. He then began working on us in energy darshans and finally introduced us to Satsang.

Sangham Sharanam Gachchhami was more difficult and for some almost impossible. To surrender to the commune is much more arduous because often it means saying yes to stupidity. But it is that saying yes to stupidity that is intelligence because one understands that it is transformative. It is surrender. Surrender means putting aside the conditioning and saying yes. This then lessens the grip that the conditioning has on oneself. In fact, it lessens the grip of oneself. One can let go of conditioning only with awareness. One does not say yes because of a need for appreciation, a hunger for position or power, but in the understanding that it is here the transformation takes hold. It is here awareness is strengthened and the ego begins to lose its grip.

When I saw Osho take off in the plane from the runway at Rajneeshpuram, I knew at that moment I would never see him again. This was the beginning of Dhamma, the ultimate truth of the Awakened One. What does it mean to surrender to the ultimate truth? It is when one starts being the teaching. One starts living the understanding in one’s own light.

The beginning of living the understanding didn’t immediately start at that moment of watching the plane take off; it took a little time. I was still involved with the distribution of Osho’s books. We had to move the books to Colorado and set up distribution anew. And then because of conflict with the organization, I moved further and further away, until finally I was standing on my own. The call of the inner guru was heard.

For the first time the spark of inquiry was lit. Up to that point, I had meditated but it was witnessing phenomena: sensations, thoughts, or feelings. Now, the consciousness was seeking its source. This is what I believe to be conversion. It is here that surrender to Dhamma begins. To me this means Self-Inquiry. It is the movement from seeking to inquiring. It is the movement from the outer guru to the inner guru. Up to this point, one is living on borrowed bliss. From this point on, one is relying on one’s own light of understanding that has been lit by Buddha, strengthened by Sangha, and is now being stabilized in Dhamma.

This does not mean that one is no longer open to the understanding being expressed through the Masters; on the contrary one is more open than ever. And once the contact with the inner guru is established, there is no fear whether some teaching is valid or not, because it is seen from one’s own understanding. There is clarity. The understanding is experienced for oneself; it is acted upon. Even more accurately, it can be said that the understanding itself, the seeing itself, is the acting, is the transformation. It is in the fire of this Being Understanding that the “me” is consumed, impression by impression, “Gathe gathe para gathe parasam gathe. Bodhi svaha!” (Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond. O what an awakening all-hail!)

Everyone passes through the Three Jewels at their own pace. What is important is that we don’t linger too long on the way and that we continue, until finally, we are living the Dhamma, being a light unto ourself.

Postscript – It occurs to me that there are many who reading “Be a light unto ourselves” will think that it is ironic for those of us who have lived with a master, who have lived as part of a commune, to place importance on being a light unto ourselves.

To those, I would say that is precisely what drew us to the flame. We had become aware that until we were capable of separating ourselves from this conditioning, we would not be that light. We had already discovered that our minds were filled with conditioning – by our parents, the society, the churches, the politicians, and the schools.

We could also see that anyone who has not managed to extricate themselves from that conditioning is simply incapable of being their own light because it is through that conditioning, that mind, which one sees the world, acts and reacts. Is it any wonder that we live in a world in conflict? And we found that meditation is the means of brain washing (de-conditioning). Meditation is not a learning, rather an unlearning, which in the end uncovers the original face.

-purushottama

Be ye lamps unto yourselves,
be a refuge to yourselves.

Hold fast to Truth as a lamp;
hold fast to the Truth as a refuge.

Look not for a refuge in anyone beside yourselves.

And those, who shall be a lamp unto themselves,
shall betake themselves to no external refuge,
but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp,
and holding fast to the Truth as their refuge,
they shall reach the topmost height.

Buddha’s Farewell Message to Ananda

 

Bodh Gaya

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.