An Old Sinner

Remembering Here&Now

Maneesha receives Osho’s loving Zen hits via Niskriya, the bald cameraman

Having read out the daily discourse’s anecdote to Osho I sit, eyes closed, knowing that after his commentary on the anecdote he will address my question. Under my stillness, there is an undercurrent of excitement as he approaches the question – as if I am waiting in the wings of a theatre, until my cue arrives and, suddenly, I am aware of the heat of the spotlight on me.

When Osho does turn to my question, I don’t feel like a prima ballerina about to do a star turn in anticipation of applause, bouquets and chocolates. I feel more like a clown, my job being to blunder my way through some routine that is understood by everyone to be, by its very nature, ridiculous: that is, asking questions about a subject I understand little about and for reasons I cannot fathom.

I am in a theatre but it is one less like that of a dance theatre and more like an operating theatre. I feel as if I am laid out on a table, completely naked, a bright light beaming down on me. In my mind’s eyes, my fellow sannyasins are like medical students peering at me and my interiority from the safety of the observation gallery. Osho, as surgeon, is beside me, the knife of his response poised.

Is his answer going to hurt very much or just a little? If it doesn’t hurt at all, does that mean I have understood him rightly? Or does it mean that I have missed the significance of what he is conveying? And if I’ve got it right, will I be tempted to use that as food for my ego? Or will I be able to simply digest it with grace and gratitude?

I want to have my blind spots exposed, but I know that bringing whatever is hidden to the light might hurt. Each discourse I face the guillotine of Osho’s insight, my mind cowering at the notion and begging for a reprieve, even while another part of me longs for annihilation. As it waits to know its fate, that-which-seeks-obliteration becomes suffused with joy – elation, even – in my laying myself bare, in my giving myself into Osho’s hands, as I do now.

Positioned on my right is the video camera. Its operator, Nishkriya, is renowned for his almost fanatic devotion to his work as cameraman and editor, and especially so when it comes to filming Osho. German, tall and bespectacled, Nishkriya’s most distinguishing feature is his unruly eyebrows that turn up in the center, so that he looks perpetually startled. His completely bald head is kept meticulously shaven – an eccentricity in a commune of long hair and beards.

Since the beginning of the Zen series, Osho has appointed Nishkriya wielder-of- a-Zen stick to hit me on the head, on his behalf. Zen masters carry wooden sticks with which to awaken their disciples. Nishkriya’s ‘hits’ are quite different from the traditional brand. On one occasion when Osho instructs him to hit me, he simply bends down and lightly kisses the top of my head; another time he brushes my head with a peacock feather. One evening, when he comes armed with a conventional Zen stick given him by Osho, he hits himself!

In fact, I did not even recognize his hits as hits. I was expecting the traditional sort, the ones that would hurt, not ones of love and tenderness, and so I missed what I was given. Only in retrospect was I to realize that that itself had a certain significance: I had thought that the work on me – Osho’s work with any of us – would necessarily be hurtful. I hadn’t understood the more subtle working of love.

Niskriya gives a kiss to Maneesha

It was some months later, after a hit from Osho about jealousy, that I asked him:

Has one only received a hit if it hurts? Last night [when Osho delivered the hit] I did not feel hurt. I saw the truth of what you said but did not hate myself or stop loving you. Did I miss? I know you will hit me again if I need it….

“Maneesha, a master hits not to hurt but to heal,” Osho began. “And the disciple receives the hit with tremendous gratitude, not with anger. Unless a hit is received with gratitude it cannot do its work of healing.

“You are all full of wounds, and they need to be exposed to the sun, to the open sky. Unless you allow yourself to be exposed completely, you cannot get rid of those wounds. The normal way in the world is to hide the wounds so nobody knows about them – go on hiding them deeper and deeper in the unconscious, so even you forget them. But to work on the consciousness, cleaning it of all the wounds, is absolutely necessary. Those wounds have to be brought into the open.

“You are asking: ‘Has one only received a hit if it hurts?’ No, Maneesha. If it hurts, you have missed. If it does not hurt but creates a gratitude, a love, it heals.

‘Last night I did not feel hurt’. You are an old sinner, Maneesha. You have been with this strange man long enough….. This is not an ordinary assembly of people; this is not a Lions’ Club or a Rotary Club. We are involved in the greatest experiment of transforming consciousness. If you keep remembering it, you can overcome all the stumbling blocks….. The master hits only when he loves. The master hits only when he finds you worthy enough.

“You are saying: ‘I saw the truth of what you said but did not hate myself or stop loving you. Did I miss?’ No, Maneesha, fortunately you did not miss. ‘I know you will hit me again if I need it….’ I promise you, Maneesha, whether you need it or not, I will hit. Just for the sheer joy!”

Osho, Joshua: The Lion’s Roar

– and then he concluded the discourse with some jokes, followed by gibberish, the ‘falling dead’ phase of the meditation, and the return to celebration.

I was left feeling a mixture of emotions: chastened, through the reminder that a trait I judged as ugly – that of jealousy – was indeed a personal wound, and simultaneously, touched to know that Osho loved me enough, regarded me as worthy enough to expose my uglinesses, albeit it in such a public way.

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

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