Shunyo shares with us what she thinks are the most important points in Osho’s vision.
Being with Osho is a totally unique and personal experience for everyone. There are three areas of his work that are the most important for me – watching, celebrating life and death, and love and awareness growing together.
Watching for me begins by being aware of what I do while I am doing it. It sounds so simple. It is simple, but not easy to remember, again and again, to be alert and present. Bringing awareness to the movements of my body and the many sounds and sights around me, brings much joy to the simple things of life. For example, even walking can be a wonderful experience – to simply be aware of what is happening in the moment. To be aware of what is, and not be lost in dreams of the past or future makes small actions satisfying and fulfilling. And also to know that this feeling of being present is available all the time. It is just that I am not always available to experience it, in particular if I am lost in the yakety-yak of the mind.
I remember when I came to Osho I believed that everything happening in my mind was the ‘essential me’. When I first heard him speak of ‘the mind’ as though it was separate from ‘me’, and the ego as something that was ‘false’ and had to ‘disappear’, I was both puzzled and a bit horrified. After all, was not my mind my companion? Did it not keep me entertained, did it not keep me safe? Was it not what made me who I am?
I did not understand Osho intellectually, but by doing his meditations, I felt a great shift in the quality of my life. I was more relaxed, happier, and had moments of great sensitivity that brought a fresh breeze along. Whatever the meditations were doing, it felt right and I felt more real.
I started to question myself – or my old ideas about who I was – and what this mind was. My support throughout this process of self discovery has been meditation and one of the meditation methods that are important to me is listening to Osho.
Osho tells us that his talks are a meditation in themselves, that his message is in the silent gaps between the words, and what he actually says is not so important. Yet what he says is so relevant today, it is timeless wisdom and a great indicator on the path of meditation. It is understandable that people who attended Osho’s talks with a view to analyse or write a newspaper article about him would say that it seemed as though he was hypnotizing his audience. My observation is that Osho’s calm and totally relaxed way of being helped something in my body and mind to settle down. Thoughts ceased racing, tensions left the body or melted.
It is known that the subtle electric waves of the brain change from beta, which is what we know when we are awake and active, to the alpha rhythm that we experience when we are passive, relaxing; awake but passive, in deep relaxation. There is a third state when the activity of the mind slows down so much that it is almost on the verge of sleep, though alert. Like falling asleep awake. Today, listening to Osho or watching an Osho video, the same phenomenon can happen.
Celebrating everything, even death
I was brought up in England where death was never mentioned; even when my grandmother was dying, it could not be mentioned and the doctors would not tell us what was happening. I was not permitted to see her dead body.
Participating at a death celebration in Pune for the first time I experienced something that Osho often speaks about, namely when someone dies a great energy can be released and it is a time to meditate and celebrate. It was during the hot season in Pune, when someone I knew in passing died. We were all encouraged to go to the death celebration. A few hundred of us gathered in our meditation hall and the body was brought in on a stretcher, covered with flowers and we celebrated with music, singing and dancing.
We then carried the body to the burning ghats, dancing and singing all the way through traffic and curious onlookers until we reached the place close to the river where bodies were burnt, out in the open. Not hidden away as in the west. The body was placed on the funeral pyre and was lit and we sang songs and sent him on his way in celebration. I remember feeling an ecstatic upsurge of energy, like something so much greater than I was taking over.
During the years with Osho in India there were several death celebrations we experienced so when he died we were ready to celebrate even our master leaving his body.
My understanding from Osho is that death is not against life, it is part of life and to be able to celebrate life we must also be able to celebrate death. As Osho says,
… life and death are walking together. They are two wings, or two legs – side by side. Every day you live, every day you die. It is not that after seventy years, one day suddenly you die. It is not possible so suddenly, for no reason – just lying in your bed and you die. And what have you been doing for seventy years? Seventy years’ training of life ends in a single moment? No, the more accurate account is that you start dying the day you are born. Every day you are living and dying, living and dying; both processes are together.”
The Language of Existence, Ch 4
We are unable to celebrate death, however, if we cannot celebrate life. I know that life is challenging and many people today have a difficult time relaxing, let alone celebrating. We worry about the future; we have so many things to do and think we will never be able to keep up with everything. Life seems to be moving too fast and sometimes this can cause stress. The only medicine is meditation.
Love and Awareness growing together
Another important part of Osho’s vision is that love and awareness can grow together. During my life I have swung from one extreme to the other – from being a lover to devoting all my time to meditation. It seemed impossible to combine the two, as though living both would diminish both. I now understand that both love and awareness are needed in my life. In answer to a question about this Osho says:
The effort to create a synthesis between love and awareness is my contribution to the world because I would like you to be as aware as Gautam Buddha, but not so dry.
I would also like you to be like Meera — so juicy that even today her songs are unparalleled. She is like a garden in the spring. And I don’t see that there is any contradiction. Why have people chosen only one? They have chosen one because it is simpler to manage one. To manage both is a little difficult, but it is worth it. If you can grow roses on top of Everest, you have fulfilled my dream of being a new kind of sannyasin, a new seeker of truth. And love and awareness together means you don’t have to renounce life.
Love will prevent you from renouncing life, and awareness will help you to be in the world and yet not be of the world. As I see them, they can be complementary and we can create Zorba the Buddha – whose feet are on the ground and whose head is touching the stars.”
The Razor’s Edge, Ch 23, Q 3
I remember a story of Buddha: when he was asked if he had shared all his knowledge he held up a handful of autumn leaves and said he had given this much, but see how many more leaves there were in the forest. I think Osho has given us the whole forest for each one of us to take what we can.
Article previously published in the Italian Osho Times
Originating from London, Shunyo travelled to India in the seventies. Her training in awareness began whilst living close to Osho for fourteen years, as part of his household. She has been practicing Osho’s meditation techniques for over thirty-five years. Shunyo now shares her experience, facilitating meditation courses and groups for women as she travels to many countries. She also conducts trainings for people who would like to teach meditation to others. www.lifetrainings.com