The Barbarous Mind

Remembering Here&Now

Hits upon hits – to understand jealousy: “Whatever I am saying to one person, everybody has to look within himself to see whether that is applicable to him…”

As I recall, it was the first discourse in the Zen series (which would become the first chapter of the book called Live Zen) that Osho started the discourse with my name. On that first occasion, I did start, inwardly, surprised, touched, honoured and somewhat curious that he had done so.

The ongoing impact that was to have on me was to keep me really alert and present, every moment, and also humbled. His saying my name, for what must have been hundreds of discourses, always sounded so intimate and loving to my ear, and I was conscious of his gazing, unblinkingly, at me the whole time I read out the sutra. Yet simultaneously I was always aware of my fellow sannyasins beside, behind and around me, and of the many thousands of others not present now but who would hear his words in the days, months and years to come: they were as much his audience, as much his interest, as I.

It was a delight, too, that he now began to conclude the discourse with an ‘Okay, Maneesha? (which was to become the way some people address me!), or even ‘Can we celebrate, Maneesha?’ I know that so many times when he said, ‘Okay, Maneesha?’ I wanted to burst out with an ‘Okay? More than ‘Okay,’ Osho! Totally amazing/ awesome/ fantastic, Osho!’


Some weeks after the ‘serious Maneesha’ hit, I missed discourse again, this time because of a migraine. This time, though Vimal – my usual replacement – was available, it is Anando that Osho invited to read out the sutra on this particular night. As far as I was aware any charge about her taking my place was gone, and I wondered if he had anything up his sleeve. It could, of course, simply be that it worked better for him to have Anando in this role.

Unlike on the previous occasion, this time Osho chose to address the discourse not to Anando herself but to “Maneesha, Care of Anando”. This upset Anando, Osho was to tell us in a later discourse. And he explained that “I have my own ways of working. In every way I try to find out some secret which needs to be reveled to the person”. Apparently Vimal was upset not to be replacing me, because “Once he has tasted the joy of asking me the questions, and then he has to give back the place, his kingdom is taken away,” Osho explained. However, he’d come back to his ‘right mind,’ Osho continued, and he did not want to disturb him again, so he had had Anando stand in for me.

In addition, in this particular discourse Osho referred to me, saying that in me he had “a better reporter than Ramakrishna had in Vivekananda, or Socrates in Plato,” that “when we are all gone Maneesha’s collections will be remembered for centuries” (a compliment which stunned and awed me: I did not regard these discourses as ‘mine’. What a hugely generous gesture that was!).

This, Osho would say, also upset Anando. “Obviously she thought that Maneesha was being praised – and a subtle jealousy and a female mind…. I wanted that to be exposed.”

Osho’s device was working on at least three of us, then! How Anando responded and all that he said to her following this particular discourse is not for me to discuss. (There is no need – it is part of the public record – and my focus here is on recounting how Osho worked with me, and the lessons I had to learn.)

With Osho speaking of Anando’s jealousy and her reaction to his hit, I felt emboldened, even obliged to reveal my own inner thoughts, unappealing as they were. So, with my migraine gone and me back in discourse, I submitted as my nightly question: “I would be dishonest if I did not say I also have been jealous, I have not always received from you with grace; I have wanted to be your favourite girl. I don’t think I have acted on those feelings but perhaps I have done in subtle ways. It is not that I only became aware of all this last night, or that your pointing out certain things about Anando meant that the rest of us were free of those same things. I know we all have the same failings. I know you know, but I just needed to say all this to you – for my sake, if you will allow me, or for the record.”

Osho responded,

Whatever I am saying to one person, everybody has to look within himself to see whether that is applicable to him…. What I said to Anando is just symbolic – you all have to ponder over it. Perhaps the same tendencies, the same unconscious feelings, jealousies, greed, ambitions, may be hiding in you. Most probably they are. Before enlightenment you all have this barbarous mind. Anando is not an exception, nor are you an exception, Maneesha – and it is perfectly okay…..

“My effort, in different ways – answering your question or telling a joke, or talking about strange sutras of strange people – is simply to help you face your own repressed mind. Once you encounter it, then the only secret to be learned is to witness them….

“It is good of you, Maneesha, that you have taken note of it. Anando is also calming down. Here you are to become buddhas…not stupid buddhas because such a thing has never existed, a stupid buddha….”

(Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen).

In asking my question I had been inviting a hit for my own jealousy, which you might consider brave. But I was half aware that I was proffering myself for the hit before Osho could pounce on me again, taking me unawares. In this way I was in control, so I was psychologically prepared. I bet Osho saw right through my mind’s tricky defense, but he patiently bade his time….

It was a few weeks’ later and the anecdote I found for the evening discourse was about the Zen master, Nansen, ordering that Joshu, a new disciple arriving at the monastery, be given ‘special treatment.’

The idea occurred to me to leaven things by basing my question on the idea of transplanting that situation into the context of the commune. I anticipated some laughs as I wrote: “Whatever Nansen meant when he requested ‘special treatment’ for Joshu, apparently it didn’t mean Joshu moving into Lao Tzu House [Osho’s residence in which some residents, including myself, lived], and having private, daily chats with the master [a reference to the work of Osho’s secretaries]. On the contrary, Joshu’s first job was in Zorba the Buddha Restaurant [the commune’s kitchen], slaving over a hot stove. What is the lesson here for us?”

I imagined Osho might say something along the lines of yes, wherever one is sent to work in a monastery or mystery school is irrelevant: the kitchen is as potential as the master’s house. I detected nothing in what I’d written that implied anything about me at all (except that I had a good sense of humour, perhaps!). So I was taken aback when Nirvano – who clearly had looked at my question, along with the daily sutra, before taking it into Osho – told me of her own volition that I should submit an alternative question. I had another migraine and no inclination to create another question. I couldn’t see what was wrong with the existing one and was mildly annoyed: her role was to convey the discourse work to Osho, not to pass any judgement on its suitability.

But because of her reaction I felt a little nervous in discourse that night, waiting for Osho to reach my question. I was, as the saying goes, in for the shock of my life….

The story continues with: Women’s Jealousy

Text by Maneesha

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

Comments are closed.