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.

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.