First-timer Sarvaan experiences the Mystic Rose process with Leela in Corfu

Last month Leela arrived at Corfu’s Buddha Hall to facilitate the Mystic Rose. For months I had entertained the idea of participating, but on the night before the group was to start, I still found myself sitting on the fence.

So as not to get stuck in the land of indecision, I rolled the dice (so to speak) and picked a card from the Osho Transformational Tarot deck. The fateful one I chose was The Journey (# 59). It reads:

”Sorrow and suffering and misery – everything has to be taken nonseriously, because the more seriously you take them, the more difficult it is to get out of them. The more nonserious you are… you can pass through the suffering, through the dark night, singing a song. Make this whole journey from here to here just a beautiful laughing matter.

As if Osho wanted to drive home the point, as I scrolled to the end of the description, my eyes naturally shifted to the next card – Laughter! The auspicious description reads:

”I have heard about three Chinese mystics. They were known only as the “Three Laughing Saints” because they never did anything else; they simply laughed.

“These three people were really beautiful – laughing, and their bellies shaking. And then it would become an infection and others would start laughing. And many felt the key – you can be transformed.”

Even with all signs pointing to yes, I still found room for doubt. Joining would likely spell reduced hours in my role as a cook in Buddha Hall’s kitchen, which would also (for lack of money) endanger my trip to Thailand in the winter.

Still uncertain, I went to the orientation and heard Leela speak for the first time. I can’t recall what was said, I just know that something about her being touched me deeply. And as I looked around the room to see all the familiar faces from our growing community here in the Northwest corner of Corfu, the resounding yes finally arose in my belly.

Mystic Rose Laughing

Laughter

So in the morning I arrived for our first day with a great deal of trepidation and nervous energy. As a child I was quiet and shy, never laughing much and avoiding attention at all costs. The thought of being locked in a room for 3 hours with 25 people while I struggled to locate my funny bone, made me quite uncomfortable.

Once we got started, the fear only intensified, and I found myself wanting to run for the hills. I pushed myself to interact with the others, who immediately turned the hall into a playground and began pulling faces at each other, throwing pillows and making funny noises.

For some people it seemed so natural, while others struggled with me. That first day the 3 hours felt like 6, and though at times I wanted to just lie there and do nothing, I took Leela’s advice to keep digging, to keep moving the energy until something came up. However, more often than not I felt stuck and awkward at having to fake it while I wasn’t making it.

For 7 days I kept digging, hoping beyond hope that the child inside me would be infected by the joyous thrill of laughter. Sometimes I came close, but at the moment of breaking free the mind would always come in and say ”What’s there to laugh about in this sad world?” and I would be knocked back to square one.

Yet I had a lot of fun. There were moments when I really let go and allowed myself to be goofy with myself and others. At one point I picked up my beloved and ran around the hall slapping her on the butt. At other times I skipped and danced my way round and round. And once, just once I was grateful to have my own hearty, uninhibited and un-stimulated laugh. One that came from a place in my belly I have not been in touch with for a very long time.

Crying

Believing that the crying would be easier, I moved into the second week with a sense of relief. Little did I know that it would be just as difficult to dig out the sadness, as it was to find joy. Initially I did well, fueled by some recent suffering I had experienced. I tapped into the memory bank and within seconds the weeping began and lasted for about 15 minutes before the rain stopped and the draught set in. While I felt cleansed and grateful I immediately started to fear that I would not be able to cry again. Fortunately, Leela played a touching song that triggered some anger related to my childhood, and just before the end of the day I was able to shed some more tears.

For the next two days, however, it went downhill, becoming more and more difficult to access the iceberg of sadness I knew was hidden beneath the surface. At the end of the third day I went to Leela for help. After asking me about my past, she recommended that I use anger (an emotion that I am all too familiar with) as a tool and encouraged me to become more active and expressive, both verbally and physically.

Taking her advice the next day, I started to scream into one pillow while I smashed my fists into another. I roared with such force that my voice became hoarse and I felt myself go faint. Yet as I dug deeper I felt a crack in my being open just wide enough to allow some sadness to flow through and soon I was wailing with abandon. The beauty is that it came with an empty mind. There was no thought or memory attached to the tears. It simply came from the wellspring of untapped sadness in my being, a place I had never seen or heard before.

But even this turned out to be just a temporary portal, which in due time closed, leaving me to start the process of digging all over again. This time the tricky mind kept saying –”What’s there to cry about, there is so much beauty in the world!”

As much as I struggled to maintain any continuous flow of tears, when the week ended I enjoyed a wonderful sense of completion. For the first time in my life I was able to stand in the presence of others and cry my heart out without guilt or shame. I was able to get in touch with feelings and emotions I haven’t experienced since adolescence, if ever. And when I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up to see the beautiful and compassionate eyes of Leela, just before she handed me a perfect long stemmed red rose, I cried gentle tears of gratitude and joy for being a part of such a transformative process.

The Watcher on the Hill

The last week was dedicated to silent meditation and for me, it was the icing on the cake. The process of digging for laughter and tears had come to an end and now we became the watchers on the hill. Of course I struggled to still the mind, which did everything from deliver diatribes to invisible crowds on the inequalities of Western society, to creating grocery lists and formulating this article. In-between, I experienced moments of splendid peace and quiet, which in some way unknown to me, tied together the experiences of the previous two weeks and made them a seamless one.

During that last week I also fell in love with Osho all over again. During my 3 years as a sannyasin I have listened to countless discourses, all of them wonderful and full of meaning. Yet Leela showed me a new way to experience (and most importantly apply) Osho’s words.

She masterfully compiled excerpts from his discourses so that each day we heard snippets of wisdom that spoke directly to our process. The transformation possible in all three phases were illuminated by his poetic and prophetic words, which helped me to go deeper and deeper each day.

Leela’s finesse wasn’t exclusive to Osho’s recordings either; everything about her was spot on. She never harangued or cajoled, she simply served as a guide and offered her open heart, with a gentle touch here and an encouraging word there. If not for her masterful guidance, there is a good chance I would have sat in the corner waiting for something to happen. I’m grateful to her for not letting that happen.

So what did I learn after all this? That crying and laughter really are two sides of the same coin. (I was surprised to discover that my laughter and crying, as well as everyone else’s, even sounded the same.) That there is always room for growth and self discovery. That putting yourself in uncomfortable situations can light the path to understanding and healing. And most of all I learned to Make this whole journey from here to here just a beautiful laughing matter!

Sarvaan for Osho News

Leela will be offering her next Osho Mystic Rose workshop and training at the Osho Nisarga Centre, Dharamsala, India, 11-31 March 2012 – www.mysticrosemeditation.com

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