Terry Hodgkinson experiments with whirling at the Osho Meditation Resort and meets Samvado, Sufi Sam as he calls him
A lot of people think that Osho’s commune was full of sex orgies as this was the reputation the media had bestowed upon him, even going as far as calling him the ‘sex guru’ while he was still alive. Well maybe it was like that back then but I didn’t see anything to live up to that during the few weeks I was there. I personally believe Osho liked to play the rebel and be extremely contrary as much as he could. He bucked at the conservative norms of the time and thus developed such a reputation, which I’m quite sure he relished in.
It was during one of the daily scheduled meditations that I met my Sufi teacher, Sam. There were easily a hundred meditators seated, most who were still and perhaps in some state of inward contemplation, waiting for the teacher to appear and begin the scheduled meditation. We were in the old Gautama, the Buddha Auditorium, as this was before the newer Osho Auditorium was built. There was one lady up front who was moving as she whirled around like there was no tomorrow and no one else in the room. She appeared to be at total harmony, in total bliss. She reminded me of a child who spins around and around for the fun of it, only she was spinning with such grace that she appeared to have such an angelic presence. Then shortly afterwards, Sufi Sam entered the room. He introduced himself, said a few things about the meditation called “whirling” and said “Sufi Whirling is one of the most ancient techniques used by Sufi Mystics.” He went on to say: “Sufi master Jalaluddin Rumi had specially used this technique and he became enlightened while doing this whirling meditation. It is believed that he did whirling for 36 hours continuously non-stop, before he became awakened. Whirling is a very powerful technique and a single experience can bring a big transformation.”
Sufi Sam looked the part. He wore the long flowing gown and the head dress as well. I had heard from people that before he came to the ashram, he was an agent with the FBI or CIA, but gave it all up to be a sannyasin and pursue a spiritual journey. Eventually he found his way to Osho’s commune, or in those days it was known as Rajneesh Ashram before he changed his name to Osho, and Sam never left. I talked to him recently and he said that he would be there till the day he physically died as there was no other place that he would rather be!
Before we were to begin the meditation he instructed us to keep our eyes open and feel the center point of our body. We were to lift our arms to shoulder height, with the right hand palm up to connect with heaven and the left hand low, palm down, that connected with earth. We then were to start turning clockwise, turning on our own axis. He said we were to let our body be soft and relaxed. Then to start turning slowly and as time went by to begin to increase the speed of whirling. After a while we would simply notice a blur as we were spinning and that it would be hard to make sense of this blur, which was perfect. As we continued to spin for duration of time, we would become aware of our centre, our core, and the rest of what no longer was needed would spin off into the blur.
What a treat it was to be instructed by Sufi Sam and a delight. I can tell you from that day I never missed a chance to do the whirling meditation with Sufi Sam and as I got to know him I realized he was living his meditation. I remember on one occasion before the meditation started he gathered everybody around and said “someone asked me the other day about my pink toe nail” I looked down and around some of the people sitting in front of me and sure enough he had his big toe nail painted pink. He said “the reason I do this is because sometimes I get spinning and as I’m really spinning well I feel my masculinity pumping and can kind of get lost in it sometimes. However, when I look down I catch a glimpse of my pink toenail I’m instantly reminded that I have a feminine side as well.” We all let out a laugh while bathing in his playful, illuminating energy. He then said “after all we all have both aspects, both polarities, within us” then we began the whirling meditation, once again.
I had the opportunity to spend quality time with Sufi Sam while I was at the commune. We had many talks and I enjoyed the meditations he led. While I enjoyed Osho’s resort and commune it wouldn’t have been the same without Sufi Sam. Now at the age of 81 I hear he hasn’t slowed down much and still loves to lead meditations. I look forward to enjoying his lead in meditation in the near future, when I return to that part of India. It might not be until he’s 90 but at the rate he’s going, I don’t think he has any plans of whirling down anytime soon.
In this video another Sufi teacher is explaining the meditation:
Here is your quote to contemplate and meditate upon:
“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.”
Note: Sam left his body on 29th April 2018 – see his tribute page
Terry Hodgkinson teaches martial arts and meditation. He is also a personal coach, hypnotherapist, inspirational speaker and the author of the book ‘Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja, Walking the Path of Enlightenment’. In addition to his book Terry has created 8 nature inspired guided audio meditations. Terry has owned and run a lifestyles improvement centre in Toronto, Canada for 12 years, helping people create positive changes. chungfumartialarts.com