Chono and friends write about the recent opening party and the centre’s history.
The sun was warm and shining onto the Welcome Desk and it was enjoyable to receive guests and friends for our opening celebration on 19th June 2016, the day before this summer’s solstice full moon. I saw nearly 100 people pass by my table, many I knew from the old centre days but there were also new friends and curious next-door neighbours who wanted to check out our new place. We have 210m² ready to be filled with life; a 70m² events hall with a mirrored and curtained wall, very sunny and with a gorgeous view onto a quiet, green backyard. And in the basement we have our 45m² energy cave, ready to host all future catharsis.
Among the many faces walking past the desk there was suddenly an elderly white-haired stranger who smiled at me and said, “It was me who laid the dance floor in that room, in 1989, and the lady dancing on your centre’s logo is Pashyo. She was my girlfriend at the time.” My hair rose on the back of my neck because I was reminded that a previous sannyas place had been built in this very place. I felt the magic of a circle closing after 27 years.
The opening celebration started with a Nataraj Meditation at 1pm and a Family Constellation session afterwards. We also organised an open space so that guests could meet the members of the OM e.V. Association, who are responsible for the new Osho Mauz. Already some established event organisers had appeared and put their claim on the next few months’ empty spaces in our time table for their Tantra workshops, Voice and Movement, Contact Improvisation, Kundalini Yoga and different kinds of meditations.
At 4pm there was Kundalini Meditation with 30 people making the house shake behind steamy windows. Later, much laughter and the tempting smell of vegetarian BBQ filled our sunny backyard where people waited for the highlight of the day: the concert of the Maharaj Trio from Varanasi. The Trio, formed by a father with his two sons – Pandit Vikash Maharaj with Abishek Maharaj and Prabhash Maharaj, are musicians with a lineage of 15 generations who have played with Wise Guys, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and in front of 50 million people at the Ganga Festival. They told us that they felt honoured to inaugurate our centre because Osho had taken vocal and instrumental lessons at their family’s place and the connection has been close ever since. Just before the concert the ‘white-haired stranger’ – I later came to know that his name is Anupam – stood up and gave a short but touching speech, illustrating a few details about the early days of our new home…
The blissful day was then rounded up with a dessert of delicious dance-wave music served by DJ Avahan.
To write this article I connected, on various occasions, with Alvina, Anand, Dominik, Peggy, Anando, Esther (Parmodini), Avahan, Daniel, Pashyo – and Anupam whom I met at the inauguration – to try to piece together the history of our centre. It was hard to figure out how exactly Mauz began because so many people were involved.
1970-1995, First Osho Centers and Pashyo’s Dancing Place, Reichenberger Strasse, Berlin-Kreuzberg
Historically and energetically, the centre’s roots reach far back to the end of the seventies during the ‘wild days’ of Berlin’s Anandlok and Vihan Meditation Centres.
During the eighties, Berlin-Kreuzberg, located at ‘the eastern end of the western world’, was a famous melting pot of progressive culture. When, in 1984, Vihan moved from there to the more established neighbourhood of Berlin-Charlottenburg and founded the Institute at Ku-damm which closed 4 years later, regular Dynamic Meditations ran the risk of disappearing from Berlin. So those who lived in and around Kreuzberg started practising Dynamic Meditation in the basement of Pashyo’s Dancing Place at the Reichenberger Strasse, next to the Kottbusser Tor.
“After attending one of Veeresh’s Marathon groups in the Netherlands I founded ‘Pashyo’s Dancing Place’. That group had given me the courage to start a centre on my own without even having any money. Anupam lent me what I needed for the renovation and many sannyasins helped redecorating the rooms. The Berlin commune named ‘Dörfchen’ (little village) was still going strong, Osho was still in his body, the Wall fell while we assiduously kept on renovating.
”Initially the daily 8am Dynamic Meditation, which I led myself, had only little resonance; sometimes only one or two people came, sometimes no-one at all. But after struggling for the first year the meditation was well attended and the room often fully packed. A lot of new people joined who later took sannyas.
“After three years I played with the idea of selling the place because I had too much trouble with the neighbours. The Dynamic plus my drum classes collided with the quiet artists on the fourth floor and some neighbours. These were Christians who associated our drumming with satanic rituals. They even prayed for me! I was fed up of leading the centre on my own and went to Pune for six months. Nirjan, one of the Dynamic fans, rented the basement from the dancing school and kept the Dynamic Meditation running. I felt relieved that it could continue without me.”
1995-2013, Osho Tarusha – Mauz, Paul-Lincke-Ufer, Berlin-Kreuzberg
After Pashyo had decided to close her place in 1992, there were long discussions about creating ‘our own place’. This spurred Nirjan to take the initiative and start a new centre. In 1995 he found a small place with a 50m² hall at Paul-Lincke-Ufer along a beautiful stretch of water, the Landwehrkanal. Friends supported him with labour and financial contributions to make it reasonably soundproof. “It only had a small window which was completely barricaded to allow us being really noisy during Dynamic. It was a dynamic lion’s den but with a very warm-hearted atmosphere”, remembers Anando. The name given to the place was Osho Tarusha.
In 1998, Nirjan and Zia, who in the meantime had joined the leading team, decided to leave Berlin and handed the centre over to Parmodini and Yogas, shown next to Pashyo on the centre’s logo. In those days Osho centres were still required to ask for HIV-tests from their visitors but, facing the highly politicised Berlin-Kreuzberg area, it meant that this regulation became hard to explain and kept potential meditators away. Parmodini and Yogas decided to drop the procedure, accepted the loss of Osho’s name and renamed the centre ‘Meditation am Ufer Zentrum’ (in short: MaUZ – transl. Meditation at the Riverside Centre).
In 2004 Mauz was then passed on into the care of Toni (aka Ghandraj) and Udo who led the centre for about five years.
“My most touching memory of the old Mauz is the AUM. The tiny room was boiling hot, as if we were in the tropics; even standing still made you sweat like hell. I don’t want to mention names, but I remember one night when we had just started dancing to warm up (!) a guy rolled ecstatically on the floor and then suddenly, after a mere three minutes, jumped on top of a very pleased female. The energy was so incredibly high. We screamed our lungs out even before the first, ‘I hate you’ stage had started. Oh, how I loved it!
“That evening two couples stayed on after the meditation and spent the night in the meditation room, exploring how the after-AUM-energy could gain fire in their love life, an adventure which one of the women had received as a birthday present from her lover. Those were really wild times! When Sambodh was there, the AUM used to be unconventional and not well-behaved. After he took over the centre, unfortunately he didn’t have the time to be part of the leading team any longer – which I still regret. People used to say that he crossed the borders – which is true – but it was such magic. This total eruption of life energy used to make me fly for the whole weekend.”
It was in 2009 when Sambodh had taken over the centre with all its responsibilities; he followed his own vision of how to develop the place. Three years later a new investor bought the building and began to renovate and gentrify it. When our 50m² hall had been halved because of the restructuring work, Sambodh talked to the new landlord and seized the opportunity to add a new 100m² room which could be connected to the old one. Also some space in the basement was added. Sambodh had the idea then, that if we were building and investing anyway, we could even have a sauna! The sauna eventually never made its way into existence, instead some powerful Dynamics and Dance Waves took place there. Sambodh and others put in a lot of effort and work during that period but soon they were confronted by the fact that the rent was steadily rising to astronomical heights and, in proportion, also the noise sensitivity of the new tenants in the building, especially since the enlarged room had no sonic insulation whatsoever. After nearly 20 years, in March 2013, to move out was the only option.
2013-2014, Osho Mauz, Hasenheide, Berlin-Neukölln
In a short time span the centre moved to a 450m² location in a traders’ courtyard at Hasenheide, which was quite close to the previous location. With this amount of space Mauz had the opportunity to become an events place where Osho’s energy not only nurtured meditations and various workshops for personal and spiritual development, but where also trainings, concerts and dance events for up to 200 people could be hosted. There was also space for one-on-one sessions. The centre, which meanwhile had readopted Osho’s prefix in its name, integrated great offers from outside organisers in tune with Osho’s spirit: Contact Improvisation, Biodanza, Five Rhythms, live concerts and a lot of other highly energetic happenings.
This was also the first time I came across this magic field of lively, happy people.
However, as great as things were, they also seemed to be star-crossed. Once again huge investments of labour and money went into centre renovations. Sadly, and unforeseen, the surrounding premises in the courtyard were being rented out not only to traders (for whom they had been built in the first place) but also to private tenants who lived in the buildings, some right above us. Very soon many noise complaints piled up. One and a half years later, in December 2014, we were forced to leave again.
2015/2016, Osho Mauz, Reichenberger Strasse, Berlin-Kreuzberg
Until that time, all organisation had happened more or less around Sambodh who had been the driving force with all responsibilities, including financial matters. After the closing, the core team of 10 to 15 people decided to create a more structured and stable organisation and to spread the responsibility to everybody. We founded a non-profit association named OM e.V. to manifest the upcoming new centre onto our visionary horizon. The members of the managing board are: Alvina, Peggy, Anand, Sarlo, Dominik and Avahan, supported by Mashuk, Bert, Jayen, Sambodh, myself and a few others.
Nobody knew that there was going to be such a big challenge ahead of us. It took fourteen months, full of ups and downs, hopes and tears, and back and forths – that nonetheless strongly bonded us – before a suitable new space came up. It happened the very week when all formalities of our founding process had finally been accepted by the authorities.
It was a dance studio at the Reichenberger Strasse, none other than Pashyo’s former Dancing Place with its charismatic basement floor, where everything had begun. It was already equipped with a complete sonic insulation for us to take over. Ready to be rented at a very fair price. Wow! It was sheer magic to receive such an incredible big Yes from the universe. This big gift seemed so inconceivable to us all – we were speechless.
Everybody immediately agreed to accept this present; we packed our bags and moved in. Financially we started from scratch and still a lot of renovations were necessary; new toilets and showers, the walls needed painting, the setting up of a tea kitchen, a lounge area to be separated from the big room, and other smaller changes. Sarlo was our construction manager, and what a great job he did with his well thought-through and exact ways! We got many motivated volunteers who did fantastic work and with our crowdfunding campaign we were able to finance the biggest slice of the cake.
We also decided to offer our regular meditations on donation basis to support the flow and exchange of love, energy and appreciation instead of becoming a business. We are supported by a pool of meditation facilitators for our daily Dynamic, Kundalini and many more of Osho’s meditations and, although we have a managing board of 6 people chaired by our warm-hearted Alvina, all decisions are made via democratic processes.
We welcome all Osho lovers and friends from around the globe and a big Thank You! to everyone who has supported us or will do so in future!
Article by Chono and friends