Part 2 of a life story: from Amsterdam to Italy, Greece, Pune and back home
In 1985, I joined the crew of the Osho Commune in Amsterdam for a while. During a few months I was part of the in-crowd for three days a week. We did Dynamic Meditation early in the morning, and once I cooked potato soup for 60 sannyasins. It was great to be busy for the entire day with and for others. Abhivandan took care of me in the early days of my sannyas.
I received my name and mala on November 11, 1985 – Archan Sukhita means ‘Balance the silence of the desert with the songs of a garden’, or ‘Let pleasure be your prayer’. I had written my request to be initiated during the time Osho was in prison in the US and had not expected an answer. I remember my joy when Alok told me that a letter had arrived for me… there in the streets of Amsterdam, in utter ordinariness, Alok hung my mala with Osho’s photo around my neck.
Alok and I often struggled with the difficulties of a relationship. The challenge to be alone was strong in both of us. We both being a river, while travelling there were never obstacles between us. We saw quite a lot of Europe in those days before the war in Bosnia began. In March 1987 we went off on a journey in a blue Volkswagen van and went to France to see Arles and Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer. Alok sang ‘Amazing Grace’ in the centre of Arles and several old ladies gave us coins to thank us. It was there that I learned street painting from a professional artist.
We travelled to Cannes, Antibes, and Nice, where we stayed to sing for the tourists on the beaches. Great time, lots of success and pure health to breathe. We stayed almost always in the open air. We continued to Italy, and in Ancona, Sirolo and Porto Recanati we were welcomed with Italian enthusiasm and generosity. Alok sang the sound-mix show and after the concert I went around with a hat. The Italians were generous; other nationalities appeared to be sometimes real skinflints.
After a few weeks we headed for the very south of Italy in the heel of the land. It was remarkable to see that whenever we were in need of something we were given food, drinks, grapes, or ice-cream to make it more comfortable for us. We were loved there. For 6 weeks we were part of the crew of ‘Ristorante Universo’ near Lago Alimini, close to Otranto, in the most south-eastern point of Italy. I painted in the Universo’s dining room and Alok sang his heart out and I sung the harmony so to say, of ‘Let it be’ from the Beatles, or ‘The Rose’ from Bette Midler. A painting of mine is still hanging there as a memory of the golden times we had there with a real feeling of connectedness to the Italians.
Moving on to Greece on the ferry towards Patras, we were lying on the upper deck during the night and watched the stars in the overwhelming beautiful sky. Entering Greece, it felt like coming home. We stayed for one month in Corinth where 2,000 years ago the Greek people received Apostle Paul’s letter about Love, 1 Cor.13. It was a silent adaption period to being in Greece. From Athens we went by boat to Crete, where we parked our van next to the beach at the end of the boulevard in Rhethymnon. We enjoyed it there.
At the end of a pier that stretched out into the sea was a monument of two dolphins in a dance of love with each other. That was Alok’s logo…. He sang his show every day in one of the restaurants near the beach while I painted near the van on large aquarel paper and washed it in the Aegean Sea. I divided the paintings into parts and sold them on the boulevard for a few drachmas. There were a lot of students there who loved the colours I used. That period in Rhethymnon was very special. We were invited to dinner with a doctor of the hospital there, receiving stunning hospitality and love for our work and I sold a few paintings there too.
One day it was clear we had to go back; I longed to hold my kids again after such a long time. We travelled back by train from Athens and came home in November 1987. Our journey had lasted eight and a half months and we had taken the responsibility to earn our own bread in doing what our hearts told us to do.
In January 1989 I took the jump to fly to Pune where I was in Osho’s presence for seven weeks. I remember the heat that felt like a wall when we landed in Mumbai, and the hot and crowded Dadar Station where we arrived at 5 o’clock in the morning. A man seemingly from 5,000 years ago wearing only a loin-cloth and a beautiful turban walked around, carrying a 5 meter long plank, and next to him moved a modern Indian family all wearing jeans. We went to Pune by bus, where we arrived in the late morning. My god, what a sensation to be in the vicinity of Osho.
I remember that I arrived at the ashram gate. Outside it was terribly hot and as soon as I entered the ashram there was a delicious coolness that was refreshing. Osho did not talk every evening but then there were videos to watch or meditations to do. It was a new world I walked into and it took 3 weeks to adapt and feel at home there. I was there with thousands of ex-Christians sitting in Buddha Hall at Osho’s feet. I saw him now with my own eyes and I felt so much energy between him and me.
Osho was in a beautiful flow, answering questions on Christianity and the living truth of Zen. I remember that Osho thanked us for the crystal-clear honesty that was in our hearts. I had taken a cold and coughed suddenly which was forbidden, but I could not help it. Osho talked from 7 till 11 o’clock for two weeks every night!
The next evening, it was already dark, I chose to stay outside Buddha Hall because I had that cold. I stood in the queue of sannyasins waiting to see a glimpse of Osho on his way to Buddha Hall. When I saw his car coming closer from his garden, I jumped out of the queue into the lights of his limousine, yelling “Osho, Osho!” He saw me and shone his lights on my belly, on my guts, and I exploded with joy. His radio antenna had flickering colours winding up and down. What a Master!
I took part in Ninad’s group, ‘Oil painting in Zen’. It was a 10 day-group with ten other people from all over the world. And great it was! We showed the paintings on March 21st in Enlightenment Hall – there was a dazzling beauty in the paintings, even the new painters had made a great jump in the world of colours and paint. After another week we went for a short holiday to Goa to have holidays there and relax somewhat. It was very beautiful and I enjoyed the lush green and the magnificent ocean. To be for the last day with Osho we went back by bus and tried to feel again how it was to be a normal human being, going back home. I remember I was happy to go home.
22 years have passed since that time and I have lived quite a turbulent life. I belong now to the veterans. I have meditated and felt thoughts; I have painted and worked in my gardens. I live alone in my dear apartment with my cat Sjakie. I enjoy life, its challenges and surprises. My children are in their thirties; my eldest is 40 years old. They all fare well and have their own questions about life. I am a grandmother of three cute and lovely grandchildren who make my day with their way of doing things and the charm of their happiness. Life has not spared me from sicknesses but I overcame those and got new ones. With Osho, never a dull life!
I have recently shared a few paintings on Osho News in the Art Gallery under Archan: The Hands of Zen.
I have grown up to be a painter and to the songs of a garden. I feel connected to the Light of the world. I rejoice in Osho, who knew me by heart and taught me to dive in.
Text by Archan, edited by Bhagawati