The more I delved into Nietzsche, the more apparent – and uncanny – were the many parallels between his creation, called Zarathustra, and Osho.
The impact of the world tour, and the lessons learnt through it, were still strongly present with me: how Osho had travelled to so many countries, so-called democracies, and been refused entry; how he’d been deemed so ‘dangerous’ when transitting in the UK that he’d been jailed overnight; the incident Amrito had recounted to me of how, when Osho was being escorted from Greece, he was temporarily held in a small room in Crete. Women, simple villagers – black scarves around their heads – had come to the window where Osho was sitting and, reaching out their hands, had said, ‘We are so sorry for what is happening! It is not what we want. We love you … we want you to stay here in our land”! It had been so clear that it was the politicians, not the people, who were against Osho.
So when I read out to Osho, and the many sannyasins sitting before him, the passage called, ‘Of the New Idols’ – which spoke of the state, of politicians who say ‘I am the people’ and who are in fact hated by the people – it resonated strongly. It was my lived experience. “Only … where the state ceases does the man who is not superfluous begin: does the song of the necessary man, the unique and irreplaceable melody begin,” I read, as that same man, that irreplaceable melody, looked at me with his imperturbable, loving gaze.
Back at Rajneeshpuram, at the time of Osho’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment in US jails, we’d seen TV footage of Osho that had made many of us gasp with shock. Osho, whom we had only ever seen resplendent in his gown, hat, and hand-made velvet-strapped chappals – attire made with so much love by his people – was now seen bare-headed, in ‘prison greens,’ and shackled. Curiously, I found his innate grandeur and beauty only more evident; his enlightenment seemed to shine through only more clearly because of the sharp contrast of it with the drabness of his clothing and the sterile environment. That inner strength was indomitable.
Yet, as those of us with him on the world tour were to see, his physical body had taken a beating. In discourse, those sitting close enough could not help but notice his sometimes struggling to walk to the podium, how he very gingerly lowered himself into his chair, the deep shadows under his eyes and the pallor of his skin.
Why do we destroy our lighthouses? I wondered. And how is it that Osho’s stature is self-evident to thousands of people, and yet not to others? I felt like a lioness in my wanting to protect Osho, and that fierceness fueled me as I read out the passage, ‘Of the flies of the marketplace’:… “Flee into your solitude! You have lived too near the small and pitiable men. Flee from their vengeance!…. They are innumerable and it is not your fate to be a fly-swat. I see you wearied by poisonous flies, I see you bloodily torn in a hundred places, and your pride refuses even to be angry….”
When I was reading questions, sutras or passages such as this to Osho, I would always look up to him every few seconds … always look up to find his beautiful eyes on me, unblinking. Now, inwardly, I was full of tears; yes, and of outrage and protectiveness, too; I was silently pleading with Osho to take care. Emotional as I was, I recognized that these were my own, very subjective feelings, and I struggled not to let them colour my voice, as I read:
“Your silent pride always offends their taste…. Have you not noticed how often they became silent when you approached them … and how their strength left them like smoke from a dying fire? Yes, my friend, you are a bad conscience to your neighbours: for they are unworthy of you.”
“…What is the meaning of being angry with small people?” Osho would respond. “They are doing what they can do – their vengeance, their revengefulness. They can kill Jesus, they can poison Socrates. And it has been thought that because Gautam Buddha has attained to a state where it does not matter whether he is insulted, humiliated, it is out of his silence and peace that there is no anger.
“But perhaps Zarathustra is more right – it is just the pride of the great man. You cannot pull him down to your level and make him angry. He will not fight with you, because you are too many, and he will not even be angry with you because you are pitiable, you are sick and pathological. You need all his compassion, even though you are doing every kind of harm to him….
“The small man is ninety-nine point nine percent, the great man is only once in a while. But all the progress and all the evolution and all that is beautiful in life and in the world is created by those few great men who can be counted on fingers.
“The small man has not contributed anything. He is just a burden. And I would like my people not to be small, not to be a burden, but to be creators, contributors, making life a little more beautiful, a little more juicy, a little more loving, a little more musical.
“Zarathustra is right when he says, ‘I can believe only in a God who can dance’. I would like to add, ‘If you can dance, you become a God unto yourself.’ ”
It was during a later series, that I happened to find a passage from another of Nietzsche’s books that made me almost fall off my chair with excitement, for it so exactly described Osho and, not only that, but the phenomenon of discourse itself.
I submitted it, along with my question, for discourse:
“Nietzsche writes, in Ecce Homo: ‘Here there speaks no prophet, none of those gruesome hybrids of sickness and will to power called founders of religions. One has above all to hear correctly the tone that proceeds from this mouth, this halcyon tone, if one is not to do pitiable injustice to the meaning of its wisdom…. Here there speaks no fanatic, here there is no preaching, here faith is not demanded: out of an infinite abundance of light and depth of happiness there falls drop after drop, word after word – a tender slowness of pace is the tempo of these discourses. Such as this reach only the most select. It is an incomparable privilege to be a listener here’.
“Osho, this is certainly about you,” I wrote, “Was Nietzsche your forerunner?”
“Yes,” Osho responded, “I can say all these statements are my statements, made by Nietzsche. It doesn’t matter who makes them. You are asking, ‘Was Nietzsche your forerunner?’ Yes, but I do not agree with Nietzsche in all his statements….”
What I had really meant to ask was: ‘How could it be that Nietzsche – who died before you were even born – could write more lucidly about you than I, who has lived physically close to you, who has sat only feet away from you for the past many years, and who is completely devoted to you?’
I did not ask that question, and never did find an answer. Yet, probably more significant was Osho’s providing an opportunity for me to speak Nietzsche’s words to him, and my discovering in Nietzsche the medium for me to express that which was both so profoundly in me and yet so achingly beyond me.
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