No ‘ifs’ and no ‘buts’

Remembering Here&Now Samsara

Bodhena’s story continues: girls, kids, groups and leaving darshan with the master

Links to all published parts can be found at the bottom of the articles

1977 Shree Rajneesh Ashram

Like people elsewhere, sannyasins come in two sexes. To be quite frank with you, it would have been rather unnatural if, particularly in that place, I hadn’t shown a “certain” interest in the other sex. Good God, in my whole life I have never come across a more stunning collection of beautiful (and, depending on the circumstances, available) females than at the ashram.

Contrary to what outsiders commonly believed, there was not this big orgy going on, but rather an exploration into sexuality without the taboos and hang-ups that normally go along with it. Ultimately, you got what you brought into the game. Everything was there, from one night stands to deep and meaningful relationships of any duration. I have heard of people that went to Poona just to fuck their brains out. Whether they accomplished that or not, they probably got just what they deserved, but not the real thing. (How did the Beatles sing it at the end of Abbey Road – “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”. And that’s exactly what it comes down to.)

As far as this here swami went, I had a lot of fun. Those were the days after the pill had been invented, and before the advent of AIDS, and the worst I ever got from it was a few crabs, along with a generous assortment of heart-breaks, feelings of jealousy, possessiveness and whatever else can befall you when you participate in this game.

Sannyasins coming to Poona were not necessarily encouraged to bring their kids along, if they had any. People were supposed to meditate and to work on their stuff, and taking care of kids was seen as creating too much of a distraction from one’s own inner processes. However, if they came along anyway, those kids were totally accepted for what they were, and I envied them that so early in their lives they could spend time at a place like the ashram. Mainly for the kids of ashramites and long-term workers, there was a school at Hem Hira, a property the ashram had rented.

Everybody’s (and Osho’s) favorite was little Siddhartha, a young rascal aged maybe seven or eight (difficult to say, because he was really quite an ancient one). Osho often talked about him, and he was frequently seen hanging out in the smoking temple, bumming beedies and change. Alert and centered as he was and with an extraordinary presence, he had the knack of getting what he wanted, and getting away with it. At times, he could be seen packing a big plastic toy gun, and once, together with his pals, he went around the smoking temple, telling everybody that was present, one after the other, “Go fuck your girlfriend!” This kid was a total riot! From what I heard, he nowadays is a celebrity DJ in Chile. Way to go, Sid!


Meanwhile, it had become more and more clear to me that it was here where I really wanted to be, to devote my time to surrender to what was going on between Osho and me on a deeper level. The last doubts I might have had were dispersed by Somendra (Michael Barnett), with whom I had done a knock-out group called “Leela” later that winter. After the group, I had gone to see him, and I told him how I felt about being here with Osho, but that I also had that old dream to go and live in California. “Look,” he said, “California is a far out scene which will probably blow your mind, but the people that are ready there, they are coming here!” That did it for me, and I ‘decided’ to make it my first priority to do whatever was humanly possible to be close to Osho, whatever the consequences.

Still, I also had to support myself somehow, for which money was needed. What to do? Then I remembered that my professor at my German university had asked me if I wanted to get into a PhD program, and so I came up with the glorious idea to start writing a doctorate thesis about the ashram. I sent in a letter to Osho, asking him how he felt about it, and his reply was, “It is a good program, go and do it.”

By now, I had been in Poona for almost half a year, after which it was going to be more difficult and costly to obtain a visa extension, so I thought this was an appropriate time to take a bit of a break, go back to the West and do there what needed to be done.


Every evening at seven, Osho was giving darshan (Sanskrit, to see, in its deeper sense) to a small group of disciples and visitors in Chuang Tzu Auditorium, which was adjacent to Lao Tzu House. Here, new disciples were initiated, and during those times the number of visitors to Poona was still so small (relatively), that people could come forward individually and get one-on-one, personal spiritual guidance on almost any given subject, ranging from how things were going with your girl- or boyfriend, to the relationship with your parents, or if there was any problem with your meditation. Also, sannyasins leaving Poona had a “leaving darshan”, and those coming back got an “arriving darshan”, during which they could talk with their master face to face.

On May 2, 1978, I had my leaving darshan. When it was my turn, I went forward and sat in front of Osho.

“Hello, Bodhena,” he said, “when are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow,” I replied.
“And when will you be coming back?” he wanted to know.
“If everything goes well, by fall.”

And this is where he got me, where just by this small sentence he clearly saw through the way my mind was operating (not that this was anything special, but still).

This was his response:

“By fall? Everything will go well – cross out that ‘if’! Never get hooked by ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. Make life simple, and without ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ life is very simple. ‘Ifs’ and ‘buts’ create great complexity. Because we create our life through our thinking: if you say ‘if’ then there will be an ‘if’; you are projecting it. Don’t project hesitations. Just say, ‘Everything will be well and I will be here by fall’ … and everything will be well; there is no problem in it. Man creates his own world by thinking about it continuously.”

And as a farewell present, he gave me one of his “magic boxes”, a small wooden box containing one of his hairs. Over the years, it has helped me out of a number of tight spots, in a truly magical way, and still today it remains a good companion.


I returned to Germany just in time to witness first big press wave on Osho and the ashram roll off. My parents, who had been quite shocked when I came back in orange and mala, now were totally besides themselves. It all had started when in the summer of 1977 Stern, one of the biggest magazines in Germany, had sent one of its star reporters to Poona for three weeks. Jörg Andrees Elten not only went to discourses and took a good look around the ashram, but also participated in a few groups, most notably in Teertha’s Encounter group, and ended up taking sannyas. Now calling himself Swami Satyananda, he had a few problems to get his article published the way he wanted it, but eventually it came out in January 1978. (I remember reading it in the ashram office, and we were all very excited about it.)

Still, the article had been too positive, too unsensational, and not much happened. What really kicked the whole thing into high gear was this third-rate Austrian movie starlet named Eva Renzi who had come to Poona and supposedly had not been treated according to her expectations in a group she had enrolled in at the ashram. The German press happily jumped onto that, and by the summer of 1978, the wave was rolling. Just about every magazine on the market as well as many daily papers published reports and articles, and there were mainly two topics that they keyed in on, the liberal attitude towards sex at the ashram, and the use of violence in a few of the therapy groups there, and all that in the context of a “religious cult” in an exotic environment. Can’t get any better! They certainly were not interested in the truth, and probably only saw what they were able to see, anyway. Bild, the biggest German daily with a circulation of a few million copies and specializing in bottom drawer stuff, even ran a whole series that went on for over a week, and I have never come across a weirder and more warped fairy tale in my whole life.


All that got my poor parents totally confused now, they didn’t know what to believe any more. In any case, they were right about one thing, that their son was a goner. And on a larger scale, this put Poona on the map and made Osho a household name throughout Germany. There were a lot of people that did see through the bullshit the press was printing, and in the end it only helped to bring more people to Poona than ever before.

All in all, things went very smoothly in Germany. No “ifs” and “buts”, no problem. I saw Dr. Haffner, my professor at university, and talked things over with him. He was a very nice and open person who had been to India many times himself (and, to my credit, I must say that he did have some trust in my scientific capabilities). He was game as far as my proposed thesis was concerned, and I also managed to snag a grant that would finance my project for a year (and that could be extended for another one).

So I returned to Poona in the fall and started to look at what was happening at the ashram with my scientific mind. After all, that was how I had been trained to look at life. This was maybe not exactly the appropriate way to approach a mystery school, but still sufficient for my purposes at the time.

From Bodhena’s Adventures in Samsara – read more excerpts…

BodhenaBodhena took sannyas in the late seventies in Pune where he worked first as a handyman for the group department, then as a Krishna Guard. After living in Geetam for a few months, he was invited to the Ranch where he worked in construction, security, Magdalena Cafeteria, Chaitanya (accounts) and as a paralegal at Rajneesh Legal Services. In early Pune II he worked for the Rajneesh Times, and then again as a guard at Lao Tzu House. In recent years, he has been living in Clausthal, Germany, practising nowhere to go and nothing to do. bodhena (at) hotmail (dot) com

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