Bodhena leaves Pune for good…
The only thing I was really into during those times was my work. I had always had a strong tendency to be a loner, and now even more so. My social contacts were largely limited to occasional chats over a cup of coffee with old friends, but I took less and less interest in what else was going on in the commune. Everybody else was totally excited about the Mystic Rose, a new therapeutic-meditative group Osho had just created, but not me. There was also a lot of Tibetan stuff going on that was getting quite popular – but pulsing? I could care less. In a way, I slowly withdrew from the commune, yet, I still had my time in Osho’s garden to keep me going.
After half a year in India I flew to Bangkok to get a new visa. We were doing everything by the book now, no more overstaying your visa…. And you had to be careful when entering India again. If the immigration officials at the airport found out that you were a sannyasin or were going to visit the ashram, it was very likely that you were refused entry, I’ve known a few cases. They also had lists of sannyasins that were persona non grata, possibly dating back to the final days of Poona I. One of them beat the system by going on to Nepal, and then entering India on the land route. I managed fine, though, came right back from Bangkok and continued guarding at Lao Tzu.
During that time, it was coping with the Indian reality outside the ashram that was getting at my nerves more and more, the whole dirt and stink and noise and, of course, the omnipresent babas that were hassling me. And I started to miss California. One night, I was sitting with one of the other guards, a relatively ‘young’ sannyasin, at the gate, and I was getting a bit into a sharing mode, bitching about living in India and about a couple of things that were bugging me at the ashram. He looked at me, and said, “I don’t know what you mean, I totally love it here.” That clicked something in me. Back in Poona I, I had felt exactly like him, nothing else had mattered at all, and it slowly began to sink in that my time here might be coming to a close. It was Osho and his garden that were the main factor still keeping me here.
Towards the end of 1988 I felt increasingly that Poona was not the place I wanted to be. This did not mean that to me Osho was any less enlightened. Rather, from the omnipotent, all-knowing master he had been to me during my earlier years as a sannyasin (and I had obviously needed that then) he had turned more into a very dear spiritual friend on the path. Somehow or other it became clear to me that it was time for me to bid farewell to him and the commune and to continue on my own, ‘out in the world’.
Probably the hottest privilege we got being Lao Tzu guards was that about every two weeks we’d get a front row seat at discourse. And not just any front row seat, but in the first row, and way over on the side, the last seat on either the left or the right side. This counted as a guarding position, and we had to keep our eyes open and be on the alert should anything happen that might endanger Osho. No spacing out there, swami. We took turns covering that position, during times that we were not on shift.
I had worked until the last day before I was to leave, and had managed to arrange that for my last discourse I could sit in the front row, as a kind of a farewell treat. I ended up taking the seat on Osho’s right side. From there, I could also see behind the partition that was in front of the actual exit of the hall, a freestanding marble wall behind his chair. At the end of the discourse, Osho would give his namaste, and then walk over to his left, around the corner of the partition, and then, in a right-hand turn, exit the hall to get into the waiting Rolls-Royce that would take him back to Lao Tzu House. So, from that seat, I could see Osho after he’d gone behind that partition, just before leaving the hall. Normally, after being done with his namaste, he’d lower his hands and walk out, not doing anything in particular, just walking and minding his own business. On that evening, however, behind the partition, he looked up, briefly, and straight into my eyes. And there was no expression in that look, he was just totally, one hundred percent present, there.
By all appearences, I was entering a new phase as a sannyasin, from career sannyasin to free agent. I’ve never had the impression that I was ‘dropping’ sannyas, or that anything I had learned or experienced was suddenly of no value any more, or had been wrong. On the contrary, every day I’ve spent with Osho and the commune has been a blessing, and I wouldn’t want to miss even a single one. My years with him have been the defining time of my life, and I feel I’ve hit the jackpot with that one. (Sometimes I wonder whether I needed all those years with Osho because I’ve got such a thick head … ) Now my time had come where I had to continue without that supportive and protective environment, like a young bird that has gotten kicked out of the nest of its parents. The nature of the teaching had changed, I had to be able to recognize it in whichever disguise it might appear on my path, on my own.
Sure, on some level I miss the commune an awful lot (particularly the ma-department!). To this day, I have dreams about Osho and sannyasins, sometimes even about distinct people I’d known then. Often I wonder where all my friends are today, and I hope they’re all doing fine (ultimately, I know they are). The commune had consisted of an incredible collection of people, where it had been more than nourishing enough to just be amongst them. It’s that aliveness, openness and rebelliousness, that willingness to look at oneself and deal with whatever comes up that I find conspicuously absent out here. It’s an emotional desert, not much love and laughter. And by this I mean more the general climate than the exceptions that are there, too.
I have never been back to Poona. To some extent, I have been following what has been happening there, and from what has been coming across, how the way of being in Osho’s energy field is manifesting itself nowadays, I have not felt that it is my place any more, in particular since his mahaparinirvana on January 19, 1990. On the outside, the ‘meditation resort’ feels a bit too glitzy to me, and maybe that’s only because I’m still a hippie at heart and have never made the transition to being a yuppie. As far as the inner substance is concerned, I don’t know whether Osho’s teachings are being watered down (‘Osho Lite’), or whether they are getting adjusted to the needs of our present time. Maybe what is happening there is what is always happening to a Buddha’s teaching once he is gone, if an organization consisting of unawakened people is taking care of the ‘inheritance’. But much more importantly, the torch is being carried by each individual sannyasin in his or her being true to what Osho has imparted to them. That is his real legacy.
I have seen some interviews with members of the ‘Inner Circle’ on video or in print and, to be honest, the general energy has totally put me off. What they are lacking in humbleness they are making up for with a beaming self-righteousness. Like good pundits, they always have a suitable Osho quote ready to support their argument, and, by all means, you can find an Osho quote to suit almost any purpose – but the quote is not worth much without the context it had originally been given in. What makes me most suspicious that there is a nigger there somewhere in the woodpile (as they used to say in the old West) is that being associated with Osho is becoming a respectable thing. Osho never gave a damn about respectability, he only kicked ass, whatever the consequences.
I was feeling rather incredulous when I heard that in 2001 there had been no celebration at the ashram for Osho’s birthday, which would have been his 70th. Now, what’s wrong with that? After all, he had been here in his body to teach us, so why not celebrate the day of his birth? Is this what a ‘guruless ashram’ or ‘religionless religion’ is all about? Gimme a break!
Nonetheless, it is good that the place exists, as it is. From what I heard, it is still a beautiful environment to meditate, and a lot of seekers are getting help on their path. And it is good that the old place is gone. No, I didn’t burn that bridge, it is just not there any more, and that makes it easier for me to go on ahead.
From Bodhena’s Adventures in Samsara (soon to be published in book form) – read more excerpts…
Bodhena took sannyas in the late seventies in Pune where he worked first as a handyman for the group department, then as a Krishna Guard. After living in Geetam for a few months, he was invited to the Ranch where he worked in construction, security, Magdalena Cafeteria, Chaitanya (accounts) and as a paralegal at Rajneesh Legal Services. In early Pune II he worked for the Rajneesh Times, and then again as a guard at Lao Tzu House. In recent years, he has been living in Clausthal, Germany, practising nowhere to go and nothing to do. bodhena (at) hotmail (dot) com