Featured On the Go — 10 January 2017

Amano Samarpan joins the “Never Born” Osho Meditation Camp, December 8-11, 2016, conducted by Chaitanya Keerti at Osho Tirth near Kuchwada, Madhya Pradesh, the village where Osho lived the first seven years of his life.

We take a night train from Delhi. Nizamuddin, home to Sufis, has a station that is thronging with people, a mass of seething bodies pushing their way to and from the platforms. We are almost carried to the waiting train but for the bags we carry. There is an overpowering stench of bodily fluid.

“You should be wearing your robe,” jokes Keerti, “people would touch your feet!” His partner, Ma Shivam Aparna is relieved that we have a decent carriage and are not in cattle class. Swami Bodhisattva Chaitanya Keerti as he is known, settles down for the journey.

We wake the next morning but not in Bhopal as expected; in fact, we are not even halfway there. Fog is given as the cause of delay. The 8 hour journey has becomes a 20 hour one but in the evening we do arrive and are met by friends. Namita joins us for the drive to Kuchwada but not before a visit to Manohar’s, a sweet shop and café.

After a three-hour drive in the dark during which we pass through a teak forest and disturb an owl on the road that flies up on our approach, we reach the small commune in Kuchwada, the place where Osho was born and lived for the first seven years of his life. Actually, Osho said he was never born and only visited planet earth so I begin to wonder what has actually brought me to this part of the globe, Madhya Pradesh, often dubbed the heart of India.

Street sign to Osho Tirth
Keerti on the road to Kuchwada
Lily Pond Osho Tirth
Water Lily
Meditation Pyramid at Osho Tirth
Leave shoes and mind...
Meditation
Chai Break
...and cookies
Approaching Osho's Birth House
Entrance to Osho's Birth House
Taking Sannyas
White Robe Brotherhood
Bhopal Lake

The commune itself, Osho Tirth, is built a bit like a fortress with high walls topped by strands of barbed wire; the iron gates are kept firmly locked. The compound itself, however, is beautifully laid out with a large pond visited by a noisy kingfisher and a silent contemplative heron. Water lilies bloom. There is even a pyramid in which we meditate and an Osho tower covered in terracotta panels of local design from which hang several large pendulous bees’ nests with swarms of the creatures flying around. There are also three buildings for accommodation, an art gallery and a cooking area where we eat.

Dynamic Meditation in the morning. The first day is seldom easy but neither is it difficult and the following sessions glide by. I need to be deeper in the process yet the mind starts to take over, congratulating me in being in such a wonderful place but there is also the grit, the knowledge that I am human, a mortal being huffing and puffing his way through a session that ultimately leaves me feeling uplifted. Yet I feel a long way away from the reality of who I am, even further away than I am from the comfortable life to which I have become accustomed.

The chai at breakfast is uncomfortably sweet; I don’t want to get diabetes. Ma Urja comes to the rescue with an offer of freshly ground coffee which she makes on the spot. She is an ayurvedic doctor and it is good to connect with someone who is obviously in touch with her body. My room-mate is not so easy a fellow. A railway engineer by profession, he sees me reading Gogol’s Dead Souls and seems to think I might be some sort of Christian theologian with a bent for the paranormal. I explain that the book is a novel, a satire on nineteenth century society in Russia. It was in fact Osho’s literary tastes that encouraged me to read more of Russian literature though a teacher at school had already turned me on to Dostoevsky. I had wanted to buy an Osho book before coming but, while there was enough money for robes, owing to the currency crisis afflicting India, my rupees had run out and I find myself surviving on the kindness of friends.

The language medium for the camp is Hindi and I do not know enough to understand what is going on. Keerti is leading his Tantra-Prana sessions and I sit these out, literally, in my room. The inner exhaustion I have been feeling of late starts to ebb as a flow of consciousness begins to rouse me.

In the afternoon, there is Kundalini to shake one into awareness while on another day, Keerti asks me to facilitate Gibberish meditation. I introduce myself, Swami Amano Samarpan, the amano referring to no-mind which is what gibberish can help bring about if one goes for it and those present do go for it. I am surprised at the crescendo of roaring that follows (even Keerti, who is in an interview with the Press elsewhere, hears it) as participants let go into a high energy experience that is suddenly punctuated by a Gurdjieffian stop and a silence that embraces those present. This takes a little doing though; Ma Aparna is also present to help translate, and shouts “stop!” in both English and Hindi while I fiddle with my phone attempting to get the gongs playing through the Bose minilink that is loud enough to penetrate the wall of sound that soon subsides into a wave of silence. Sitting on a chair facing the attendees, I feel a wobble of ego, as I contemplate gurudom; yet this soon fades into the unreality of being a foreigner. Ah well… at least the UK no longer rules this part of the globe.

The evening meetings have a different flavour – nationalities dissolve as do skin shades, the bliss of being part of the dance, the eternal dance that leads nowhere except further within, discovering space we always know is there but tend to ignore. I do not have the money for a trip to the moon should they become available but the journey to the centre of being is surely more mysterious and inviting. Ground control to Major Tom, breathe deep and put your meditation robe on. The Hindi discourse from Osho sounds OK but is beyond my ken yet Keerti is a Bodhisattva and makes sure there is also English video discourse once the sound assistant has engineered his way through the various files on the computer disk.

On the third day, it is Osho’s birthday, and there is a procession of sorts to the house where he was born. The house stands empty now and the interior is clean and devoid of any furniture though I doubt it ever had very much; wooden knobs protrude from the walls for hanging items from. Everyone crowds into the room where Osho was presumably born but since there is limited space, I wander upstairs and sit near to where the earthen stove is still to be found in the floor. I cannot help but reflect that Osho probably spent time here as his family cooked.

We have been asked to stop photographing but it is not long before someone wanders into the room from below and wants a selfie with me. I reflect a little on photography, the way it invades our lives, a tool used to persuade us to buy what we don’t need or even want.

Outside, children crowd around; they call out “OshoOshoOsho!” It is not any kind of religious conversion they have undergone rather they are hoping for candy, toffees in particular. They are good children though and don’t bother one; later we share a photo-session. I have no rupees, no toffees either, but they do not seem to care.

The Press want to interview me. OK, I am up for it. No doubt I shall be misquoted and made to look like a fool, but what does this matter? I brush my hair or at least try to mould it into some sort of shape as my brush is in my room too far from the tree I am now sitting under. A couple of large microphones are shoved in my face bearing the markings of TV channels. The usual questions… What is your name? What are you doing here? Then something of interest… What is meditation!? I am not able to answer this though as everyone wants to be a guru and another camp participant, a Swami sitting nearby, interjects. I hear him say that “Relaxation is Meditation!” before he breaks into Hindi and starts a discourse. The interviewers do not seem very interested.

Please listen friends for a moment though, perhaps you do not need to! Relaxation is not meditation but if meditation is not relaxing it may not be meditation at all, possibly just an exercise to torture you into believing you are spiritual. India is full of people sleeping under trees believing they are going to wake up enlightened. OK!? Reality check over. Back to the present.

The interviewer turns to me after the Swami’s discourse and asks what I think of the currency crisis; this seems to be the question to fire at foreigners these days. A week before, I saw an eminent ornithologist who had just arrived from abroad being interviewed by another TV crew; they were asked the same question yet the ornithologist being on an expenses paid trip had little knowledge of rupees. Why not ask them about the state of birds in your country, mate? The next question however concerned the status of Narendra Modi; is he handling the crisis about which you know nothing, well or not so well? My answer to the currency crisis question was blunt… “I am a pauper in your country!” At which point the interview was terminated.

The meditation camp ended on a blissful note. Friends made, yet perhaps never to be seen again, although there are mobile phones and various media by which to stay in touch. We say our farewells; Swami Teerth, an Indian who has made the money while in Japan to set up this commune, is not in evidence but there is a throbbing crowd of incessant huggers and one’s departure is not so much a leaving, rather a meeting. A taxi takes us bumping along a dusty country road and different kinds of birds can be seen by the roadside.

Soon we hit the tarmacked road and we are heading back to what some call civilisation. Ma Krisna greets us in Bhopal and we are treated to snacks and a short tour of the city before driving to the airport. Apart from feeling nourished, I am aware of being a little less attached to the busy mind with which I tend to identify. There have been no bolts of lightning and yet awareness is not necessarily felt like that, it can be more of a gradual flow and that is what seems to be intoxicating me now.

 

amano-samarpan-tnAmano Samarpan, born into 1950’s post-war Britain, is a trained photographer who is responsible for three illustrated books – one about meditation and the others about birds; he is currently working on another bird book while doing a B.A. in photography. He came into contact with Osho in the 1970’s when meditation came to be an essential part of his life and took sannyas in 1994 in Jabalpur. He lives mostly in the southwest of England. amanosamarpan.com

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