Maneesha remembers Osho’s answer to her writers’ block and reading for Osho from Nietzsche’s Zarathustra
Right back in Pune 1, when Osho was speaking Sufis: The People of the Path, (and long before I was the official discourse question-asker), Osho had responded to a question of mine that represented what was to become a theme for me.
To set the scene: My daily work – and joy – for seven years was the creation of the darshan diaries. Along with recording and editing Osho’s dialogues of the evening darshans or meeting, I was creating commentary for the books too. This was needed to set the scene and to create a sense of continuity.
What an extraordinary privilege, what an amazing education it was to be in darshan each evening, night after night, listening and learning, as a seer responded to a wide range of questions from the vastly diverse seekers that came to him. Not only that, being present in darshan allowed me ample time to just gaze at Osho – as his hands moved in such elegant gestures, as he smiled in greeting, listened with such utter absorption and respect, and spoke with such infinite sensitivity, wisdom and humour; as he lowered his head to write down the name of a new sannyasin, as he gently bent forward to lassoe him or her with the mala; as he entered and left the darshan area, his slim hands together in Namaste – that lovely gesture of ‘I salute the God in you’ – while his gaze moved over us. I grew to know his face in more detail, to find it more familiar than my own.
Yet the more deeply immersed in the whole experience did I become, the less I was able to find words for it…and I had to find words! So I wrote:
“I am suffering from writer’s block! I wonder, how is it that lately, as I feel more and more overwhelming gratitude and love, I become less able to express it? It pains me that I cannot share what I am experiencing.” And I signed myself, ‘Your love-sick bard, Maneesha’.
“It happens, Maneesha. The more you feel for me, the more you will feel incapable of expressing it. Superficial feelings can be expressed easily; words are adequate for them. Deeper feelings cannot be expressed adequately; words are not adequate for them. Words are too superficial. When the feeling goes very deep, it goes beyond words. You can feel it, you can be thrilled by it, you can feel the pulsation all over your body and being, but you cannot put it into words. You can try and you can feel that you have failed. When you put it into words something very tiny comes up – and it was so huge when you were experiencing it, so enormous. It was so overwhelming. Now you put it in a word and it is just a drop – and it was an ocean when you were feeling it.
“I can understand Maneesha’s problem. She is my bard and the deeper she goes into me and into herself, the more and more difficult it will be for her, the more and more incapable she will feel: But that’s a good sign. That’s a sign that something really tremendous is happening.
“Go on trying to express – because even if it cannot be expressed, it has to be expressed. Even if you cannot put the ocean of your heart into the words, don’t be worried. If even only a few drops get into them, that’s good – because even those few drops will lead people towards me, even those few drops will give them a taste, a taste of the ocean.
“And remember one thing, even a single drop of the ocean is as salty as the whole ocean. And even a single drop of the ocean is as much water as the whole ocean. It may be small but it has the same flavour. It may be very small but it has the same secret. If you can understand a single drop of water you have understood all the water that exists on the earth or other planets. Even if water exists on some unknown planet, it will be H20. We don’t know, but if water exists on some unknown planet, it will be H20 and nothing else. We know the secret. A single drop of water has the secret.
“So don’t be worried. The song is going to become and more difficult. The deeper you go, the more you will feel dumb. The deeper you go, the more you will feel that silence is needed, the more you will want to sing the song in silence. But silence will not be understood by people. And Maneesha is my bard so she cannot be allowed.
“So let the writer’s block be there. I will go on hammering on it and destroying it. And you go on singing your song.”
Osho, Sufis: The People of the Path; Vol 2, Ch 1
Usually, the longer we are around someone, the more we can claim to know them. Yet still, today, over thirty-six years later, when someone – a new sannyasin, perhaps – says to me “I hear that you knew Osho” or some such, I am pulled up short. Convention and logic suggest I should agree; yet I cannot. I find myself carefully replying, “I was lucky enough to live close to him for the last 15 years of his life.”
Over the years the ‘song’ did, indeed, become more difficult as the sensing of who Osho is and what was happening to those of us around him – through his words, through his simply being with us – deepened. The longing to be able to express all that I felt for Osho was, as I had written in that question, almost painful. And then, in the period we came to call ‘Pune 2’, along came Nietzsche.
Osho had decided to talk on Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, and I was to read the book in his library, and select passages from it, on which the discourses would be based. When I had first discovered Nietzsche in my late adolescence, I had been inspired by his passion, his use of words, the rhythms, the pacing – the pure musicality – of his expression. Apart from the aesthetic appreciation, repeating aloud words of beauty gives me so much physical pleasure: the taste of such words, having them move about in my mouth, stretching my lips and using my tongue to enunciate them is utterly sensuous. So the invitation to read Nietzsche to Osho thrilled and excited me.
I can still recall those words, the pure poetry, of The Prologue: “And one morning he rose with the dawn, stepped before the sun, and spoke to it thus: Great Star! What would your happiness be if you had not those for whom you shine!”
Discourses for those many weeks took on a particular joy for me. I was infused, for that entire time, with an energy not unlike that of when I am in the first flush of a deep love affair. I’d wake each morning, instantly excited, hardly able to wait for the moment when I could be in discourse, with Osho and Nietzsche, in our spiritual ménage à trois!
After each discourse, in preparation for the next, I’d select a passage and then rehearse reading it out loud, not only because I wanted to render it as clearly as I could for the next discourse but because so often its beauty, its poignancy, its passion reduced me to tears. I would rehearse in this way until I could speak it without my sobbing drowning out the words.
One especially touching passage appears at the end of the first block of discourses, when Zarathustra declares: “It is night: now do all leaping fountains speak louder, and my soul, too, is a leaping fountain…. It is night: Ah! That I must be light! And thirst for the things of night! And solitude! It is night: only now do all songs of lovers awaken, and my soul, too, is the song of a lover. Something unquenched, unquenchable is in me that wants to speak out.”
How enraptured I was to read Zarathustra, through Nietzsche, echoing, far more eloquently that could I, my own longing when he cried: “It is night: now my longing breaks from me like a well-spring – I long for speech.” (Zarathustra: A God that can Dance, Ch. 23)
There was so much for which I longed to find words to express, knowing even as I searched, that they would always fall very short of what I had meant to convey. Yet Osho had said that, difficult though it was, it was the trying that was significant. And, besides, I had no choice: like a child in the womb, the longing had its own impetus, its own life force, and would not allow me to forget what I carried inside.
Text by Maneesha (first published in Osho News)
When Maneesha joined Osho News she 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