Maneesha has read our questions to Osho during the discourses, says Veena.
Maneesha must be the most heard of person in our sannyas world as it is her voice that we most recognise reading the sutras to Osho for his discourses, or asking the questions sent in by so many sannyasins. Whereas in the Poona 1 days Osho used to end his discourse with the words ’Enough for today!‘ – now a catch phrase used by sannyasins around the globe! – in Poona 2 he always ended by addressing Maneesha. I found that very touching and I felt that, by using her name, he was emphasising that he was talking personally to his sannyasins, not just giving arbitrary intellectual lectures.
Osho once called Maneesha ’my bard‘ and it is to her that we owe a huge debt of gratitude for recording his words during the evening darshans in Poona 1. Because Darshan was such an intimate personal time with him, there were no video cameras or microphones as there were in the discourses, so the only record that exists of these incredibly precious evenings were Maneesha‘s transcripts, later published as the Darshan Diaries. I used to watch her sitting there writing away and wonder that she could keep alert enough to write down and remember so much because to be that close to Osho was to totally ‘space out‘. He obviously had complete trust her in ability to do two (or more) things at once. An amazing sadhana.
And it is again thanks to Maneesha that this website exists! It came about when Phoebe and Vivek wanted to advertise her meditation group and realised that there was no real vehicle chronicling events in the UK and connecting sannyasins here together. From Phoebe in Brighton the trail went to Punya in Glasgow, to Yoga Christopher in London and then back to Punya with an enthusiastic yes to the idea of a new website. So although we usually only do profiles of UK sannyasins, we felt like doing one of Maneesha because, in addition to being the impetus for the creation of our OSHO in UKwebsite, she is now spending part of her busy life in the UK leading meditation groups here.
In fact, it was in London that sannyas began for her way back in the early seventies. Therapists like Veeresh, Sudha, Anam and many more from new-age personal growth centres like Kaleidoscope and Quasator were suddenly wearing orange and changing their names after doing a new ‘dynamic‘ meditation at a place called ‘Nirvana Meditation Centre’ in the basement of Shyam Singha’s clinic in Bell Street. At the time Maneesha was not particularly interested but, having read Osho’s book ‘Dynamics of Meditation’, she did arrange a stop-over in Poona on a flight back to Australia, her home country. After meeting Osho in darshan soon after she arrived, her air ticket was immediately ditched and her life changed course forever.
Throughout the time spent with him in Poona 1 and 2, on the Ranch and on his ’World Tour’, she continued to write for him and to edit his words. On many occasions she was also a ‘guinea pig’ for testing his meditation techniques. Newer sannyasins may not know that each meditation technique that we now use was the result of months, sometimes years, of Osho painstakingly formulating and reshaping the technique to get it exactly right. He worked with his musicians and sannyasins, observing and asking continuously for feedback, until he felt that the technique and the music were finally perfect for whatever spiritual process he wanted us to achieve. This is a very unique experience that she can bring to her work as a meditation leader.
It was after Osho left his body that Maneesha began investigating the subject of death. As a nurse in Australia and later in England, she had watched people die, had ‘laid out’ their bodies, and tried to comfort devastated relatives. She had also been present at the death of Anna Freud when she left her body. This experience, along with all she had heard Osho say about the connection between death and meditation, made a huge impression on her and she started to give sessions and lead groups to address people‘s issues around their own death and that of family and friends.
But, she says, she began to see that the very best preparation for dying consciously, graciously, and with gratitude, is to live consciously, graciously and with gratitude. And the best way to do that is through meditation. Hence her desire to help people along the path of meditation. She says: ‘When communicating with people about the inner journey, it is a tremendous thrill to see someone’s eyes light up with comprehension, or another‘s suddenly fill with tears because they have been touched, or are simply too full to contain themselves. It is an enormous privilege to witness the softening, the letting go, the sprouting upwards, the radiant emergence from silence and the leaping into joyous dance!’
Maneesha has written 5 books about Osho and meditation, created half a dozen guided meditation Cds, a website about Osho’s Dynamic meditation in (www.activemeditation.com) and a website about her work (www.maneeshajames.com). Trained in Hypnotherapy and, more recently, having obtained a degree in Psychotherapy and Counselling, Maneesha is based in Sydney, building up a private practice and facilitating meditation-based workshops for nurses, volunteers, student therapists and qualified therapists. She returns to Europe next year to facilitate workshops in Italy, the UK (Osho Leela), The Hague, France, Roumania, and Sweden. (www.maneeshajames.com/Workshops).
Text by Veena
First published in OSHOinUK, October 2006 – updated September 2010 – reproduced with permission