Maneesha tells us about being the question-asker in Osho’s discourses
What follows is the first of a series of articles in which Maneesha writes about being the asker-of-questions-and-reader-of-sutras in Osho’s discourses. One article will be featured each month.
It was while in Kulu-Manali – at what would be the start of Osho’s world tour in 1986 – that my role as the question-asker in Osho’s discourses began. The following is extracted from the last book in the trilogy I wrote*.
To briefly set the scene: The Western sannyasins who had travelled from the US with Osho – including Osho’s doctor Amrito (aka Devaraj), and his caretakers, Nirvano (Vivek) and Shunyo (Chetana) – had been obliged to leave India several weeks into their arrival. Indian sannyasin, Neelam, was called to Kulu to act as Osho’s caretaker and Vadan, Iti and I were asked to join her. Anasha (a former fellow medium), who had accompanied Laxmi to India, was also there. Reporters had been converging on the Spa Resort, where Osho was staying, and Vadan was asked to take care of the press. Once a reporter had worked out what he wanted to ask, Vadan should give me their questions and I would ask them of Osho, while the reporter sat nearby.
Once we were settled on the floor of the sitting room, Osho would walk in from his bedroom, namasteing us before sitting down. The room could only comfortably accommodate eight of us at the most. I was in the enviable position now of attending all occasions on which Osho spoke, because it was my job to ask the questions; the others came according to their turn on a rotation system.
On this particular occasion Vadan, noticing that the journalist was a smoker, offered him some jintan, the little silver pellets that work as a breath freshener, just before we entered the living room. The journalist gratefully took them, but after the interview with Osho he took Vadan aside and asked him where he had got the drug.
“What drug?” asked Vadan.
“You know, the drug you gave me,” said the reporter. “It must have been Ecstasy or some such.”
Vadan couldn’t work out what the reporter was talking about, and then, as it dawned on him, he burst into laughter. “Oh, you mean the jintan! They’re not a drug; they just sweeten the breath!” he exclaimed.
The reporter gave him a ‘Don’t-kid-me-I-know-better’ kind of a look. “You can tell me the name,” he said confidentially to Vadan. “I know it is a drug – I could feel the effect while I was sitting with Osho: I was high, really stoned, for the whole of the interview.”
I guess his reaction was understandable. How else could he make sense of the great space he had been in, brought about just through listening to someone talking?
Some days later Neelam came to me with a message that Osho would not be talking to the press anymore, but wanted us to formulate questions which he would answer in discourse. They were to be ‘deep, disciple questions’ he’d said.
That night, Anasha and I sat in Iti and Vadan’s room, while the four of us racked our brains for some suitable questions. What was a ‘deep’ question? we asked ourselves, and could we supply enough of whatever they were to engage Osho’s interest for over an hour twice a day, as was the plan? The next morning we submitted a dozen or so questions, and that evening Osho began to answer them. These discourses later became part of two books, titled Light on the Path and The Sword and the Lotus.
Putting myself in the shoes of the majority of sannyasins who were not present, or anticipating a time when I might not be with Osho, on one occasion, I asked the question: ‘More than anything I want your vision to happen. When I am not with you, and I am out in the world, alone, what part can I play in helping your vision to happen?’
Years later Osho was to tell me that I still retain something of a Christian conditioning. Looking back at this particular question I can see my religious zeal burning bright!
Christians would certainly disapprove of Osho’s response. He replied: “Just be yourself, utterly yourself,” and then he went on to say “And never think in terms of how you can help my vision to happen in the world, because that’s what makes a missionary – and I am against missionaries. They are the poisoners. Their intention is good; they want to spread something which they feel is immensely valuable. But a missionary does not know that what he is trying to spread is not his own experience.”
“…Just be yourself. Be meditative, be loving, be human, be respectful, be accepting of everybody; don’t be judgmental. And something will start radiating from you, and that will be my word. And it will not be just an empty word; it will be full of meaning and full of fragrance.”
During those discourses in Manali, I must have been sitting less than three feet away from Osho, and he looked at me, and only at me, for the entire hour or hour and a half. At first I was horribly self conscious, blushing like a schoolgirl and swallowing down my nervousness. I felt seen through and through, and I was not sure that he would like what he was seeing.
For several discourses my mind trampled all over any possibility of silence, raising the most obscure questions and finding all sorts of problems on which to ruminate – anything to keep itself occupied, anything other than just quietly evaporating or going on hold for a bit. It was insane: as soon as I sat down in front of Osho I would be caught up in something like a football match commentary.
Then, without consciously trying to, I began to stand back, inwardly, from my mind’s noise. Simultaneously, the sense of self consciousness disappeared; in fact a sense of self had dropped. Now, when my eyes gazed at Osho there was the sensation of there being no one behind his eyes and no one behind my eyes. We were, during those moments, two vast skies, only superficially defined by a body shape and bounded by skin. And in feeling so vast, I had no prickly, rough edges of fear. I felt utterly exposed and vulnerable, and it was an exquisite feeling, and made those discourses the most beautiful so far.
Weeks later we had relocated to the Oberoi Hotel in Kathmandu where Osho continued to respond to our questions. We had joined Amrito, Nirvano, Shunyo, Rafia and others, so had more people on whom to draw for questions.
Each discourse was more enthralling that the last. Sitting in Osho’s suite, day after day, I felt as though he were serving us up the most delicious of dishes, each more exotic than the former, each titilatting the palate in different ways. I would emerge from each discourse feeling wholly satiated, feeling that I had been touched at my very centre. There could not be a deeper depth than the one I’d be plunged into; I couldn’t expect to emerge another time feeling so delightfully heavy with whatever it was that seeped with such potency into every cell of my body. Each time I wondered how Osho could possibly better that particular discourse.
He couldn’t. But he did.
* excerpt from Bhagwan: One Man against the Whole Ugly Past of Humanity by Juliet Forman – published by Rebel Press and available through www.amazon.com
Text by Maneesha
When Maneesha asked Punya what she should write about, the immediate suggestion which popped up was: “How was it to sit in front of Osho and read the questions? I would have been scared stiff.” The answer to this became a series of articles which we have published during our first year. Here are the links to all of them:
13 – Osho Making Fun of our Seriousness
12 – Women’s Jealousy
11 – The Barbarous Mind
10 – The Bursting of the Boil
9 – The Device
8 – An Old Sinner
7 – Living with a Contemporary Koan
6 – The Irreplaceable Melody
5 – The Incomparable Privilege
4 – Our Final Questions
3 – The Whispered Transmission
2 – An Experiment: Mind Over Matter
1 – Reading the Questions to Osho: How It All Started