On 2nd June Osho UTA in Cologne, Germany, celebrates its 30th anniversary
Can this be true? Osho UTA Institute, bang in the middle of Cologne, is turning 30 this June! It is one of the oldest and by far the biggest European Osho Meditation Center. The original seed was planted in Pune early 1976, when Swami Ramateertha took sannyas from Osho.
On his leaving darshan, Osho, on hearing that Ramateertha was going back to Cologne, suggested to him he should “help my people there.” When he replied that he himself would be Cologne’s very first sannyasin, the master asked him to create a meditation center there. Ramateertha, who was yet to finish his studies as a doctor, remonstrated: “I don’t think I’m up to this kind of challenge, and besides, I have no money!” But Osho wouldn’t hear of it, explaining that this would be very helpful for his own growth and that he should just rely on his trust.
Back home, he mustered all his best friends and fellow seekers to get a meditation center started. “Easier said than done,” he thought when nothing worked. In fact, it took several years before he found a suitable place; but all of a sudden, things moved very fast: a flat of 140 square meters, plus a subterranean meditation room with a small reception, fell in his lap.
He remembers: “One day, I walked down Lütticherstraße in the heart of the so-called Belgian Quarter and saw a stately 19th century house that was being restored, just walked in and addressed someone who seemed to be in charge there and asked whether I could rent a flat here. The man looked me up and down, carefully taking in my red clothes, long hair and the mala, and invited me to come to his office next morning to talk things over.”
Here, the first Kundalini and Dynamic meditations in Cologne took place. And sannyasins led their first workshops and groups. More and more people came flocking to Cologne after having met Osho in Pune and joined them in order to create something together – and to live and meditate together. Over night, the Belgian Quarter was flooded with lively and cheerful people in red clothes.
“When I look back on these last 30 years, I remember the most the commune’s peak times in the early eighties,” he continues. “By then 400 sannyasins had come together from all over the world; working, meditating, eating, laughing, crying and dancing together. There were doctors’ clinics, two discos, building firms, a publishing house, a kindergarten, cleaning teams, one vegetarian restaurant called ‘Zorba the Buddha’, an antiques dealer and several other creative businesses, some of them doing very well – but we just considered those our playgrounds for activating our hidden talents.”
When the premises of the Center in Lütticherstraße were overbrimming, the community moved on, a few blocks further down to Venloer Straße where the Osho UTA Institute still resides to this day. The natural growth continued as the challenges grew. Two new group rooms became available when the UTA Academy was founded in 2009, offering a space for trainings and further education courses relating to body, mind, and soul.
Those who have been to UTA know what an alive place it is. Over these thirty years it has become a veritable meeting place for fascinating people from all walks of life. And it never becomes stale, simply because it keeps renewing itself. There’s always some renovation or other going on. Recently the small, flagstone paved garden in the inner courtyard – with the gold fish pond under the wary eyes of a Cambodian Buddha – has been replanted. Oh, by the way: from the end of July til the end of August we will have to shut down the whole house, because our Buddha Hall – which is also our biggest workshop room – is due for a total overhaul.
But before then, we would like to celebrate with all our friends and invite you to our 30th birthday party on 2nd June! We will meet at the ‘Tanzbrunnen’ in Köln-Deutz, right across the Rhine from Cologne’s famous cathedral. The celebration will start with a sitting meditation accompanied by the music played by our UTA band.
Followed by Peter und Aneeta Makena who will lead participants into a space of deep relaxation full of poetry, love, and wisdom with another of their much appreciated Heart Dances – in memory of those Pune 1 years when they invited us to sing, dance and laugh from the depths of our hearts – and what an unforgettable experience of unbounded love for life it was!
After a lunch break – when everybody can meet up with friends while picknicking or walking on the green river bank – the programme picks up with Chin Meyer, the country’s most spiritual comedian ever. He promises to lead us to enlightenment within 45 minutes!
After that, Swami Ramateertha, the founder of the Osho UTA Institute, and Swami Satyananda, the author of the bestselling book Ganz entspannt im Hier und Jetzt (Relaxed in the Here and Now) will face the question: “Is Osho still contemporary today?”
At 7:30pm, as a festive conclusion, Deva Premal, Miten and Manose will give a live concert – a marvellous opportunity to celebrate yourself and celebrate life.
Text by Nirvano