Featured Remembering Here&Now Samsara — 27 January 2012

Another juicy excerpt from Bodhena’s sannyas story

Before we continue, a word about Osho’s cars, a subject that to many people has been of more importance than anything else he’s said or done… or been. Originally, it had been a beige Chevrolet Impala, one of those big, gas-guzzling dinosaurs, in which he was driven every morning from Lao Tzu House to Buddha Hall, a distance that might have taken him about two or three minutes to walk. Already that fact drew many comments… what kind of a guru was that?

Osho and the Rolls

In 1978, Osho upped the ante and told Laxmi to go and purchase the most expensive car that she could find, which turned out to be a late-model, yellow Mercedes. He said that it would help her to obtain loans at the bank (which reportedly it did), and besides, he had found out that in America, a Chevrolet is a plumber’s car, and he didn’t want to be driven around in something like that.

It was in December 1979 that we got our first Rolls-Royce, and its plain white color did nothing to diminish the overall impression that this was one very expensive set of wheels. For India, this was nothing short of sensational. It didn’t take long before Osho also became known as the ‘Rolls-Royce Guru’, besides ‘Sex Guru’, ‘Rich Man’s Guru’ and several other titles. When he showed up at Buddha Hall in the Rolls for the first time on his birthday, there was a ripple of laughter that went from one end of the hall to the other. And if we thought we’d seen everything, we were wrong. Just wait a few more years….

Back to Buddha Hall, time for discourse. At eight o’ clock, a crunch of gravel could be heard, the car with Osho inside drove up, he got out and entered the hall, his hands raised in the traditional Indian namaste greeting. Dressed in a plain white robe and moving as lightly and gracefully as a falling feather, he walked up onto the podium, stopped in front of his chair, and, turning slowly from his right to his left, extended his namaste to everyone in the hall, before sitting down. To me, this has always been a moment of incomparable dignity and grace, where I was just holding my breath in awe. And even then, when I’d see him enter the hall, there had always been a subtle feeling of, “Wow! He came out one more time… “, as if something in me had been trying to tell me that someday that would not be the case any more. Then, it had seemed that those days with Osho would go on forever….

If it was a ‘sutra day’, it was now Teertha’s turn to read them out (or Taru’s to sing them, if it was a Hindi discourse), if it was a ‘question day’, Osho would bring his head just a tad bit forward towards the microphone and start with, “The first question”, and the discourse was on.

At the end, he would close with, “Enough for today” (or, “Aj itna hai“, at the end of a Hindi discourse), get up, namaste, and get into the car. The car would then slowly drive around Buddha Hall, the three quarters of the route that were needed to complete a full circle, proceeding counterclockwise, and then head back home to Lao Tzu House. (Years later, on the Ranch, he’d be following the same procedure – circling Rajneesh Mandir in a counterclockwise direction, and there, as in Poona, his podium would be in the center of the northern part of the hall, so that he would be speaking from that direction. Coincidence or esoteric design?)

As far as the actual discourse went, anybody who has ever been there or seen one on video or read any of Osho’s books knows that the sky was the limit as to what he’d be able to pull out of his hat (metaphorically speaking, since during those days he didn’t wear any, except for occasional photo sessions). But the format, the way he came in, greeted us, and left, was always exactly the same, down to the smallest, minute movement. If there was ever the slightest change, that was a minor sensation.

I want to relate a small incident to you, as an example. In Buddha Hall, as well as in Chuang Tzu Auditorium, there was a clock maybe twenty or thirty feet away from the podium and facing it, so that Osho could see what time it was in order to time his discourse. It happened during a Hindi discourse, that, what must have been towards the end, I saw Osho giving a short glance towards that clock. A couple of minutes later, another glance, and then he stopped, turned to Teertha who was sitting at his customary place right in the center of the first row, and asked (in English), “Teertha, what is the time?”, and then adding something about the clock that had stopped. Teertha looked at his wristwatch and told Osho the time, who then continued with the Hindi discourse, to conclude it a few minutes later. This small, out-of-the-order incident just blew everybody’s mind, and for the rest of the day the Ashram was totally a-buzz with it.

Osho’s discourses were laced with one ingredient that everybody loved, which was a sense of humor that was nothing short of divine. It was never that his discourses ever felt dry or theoretical. They were so alive and sparkling that just that would have been enough. Still, right in the middle of talking about some spiritual theme he’d all the sudden change gears and launch a few well-placed one-liners that had everybody cracking up and gasping for air, that got you out of the deepest meditation right back into the here and now of Buddha Hall, or he’d relate one of his hilariously funny anecdotes that he often made up right on the spot.

Besides being very capable of improvising and looking at the funny side of just about any matter, he also came to discourse well prepared. After taking his seat, Laxmi or Vivek, who had entered the hall behind him, would come up to the podium to hand him a small clipboard. This held a few small scraps of paper, containing the day’s sutras or questions, as well as a number of jokes. Usually, he used those to illustrate a subject he was speaking on, and, at the appropriate point during the discourse, introduced the joke with the line, “I have heard…. “. About this he was very particular, because, as he said, he could not guarantee that it was actually the truth.

And no joke was too juicy or outrageous not to be shared by him. Whether they were about minorities or contained four-letter words, Osho dished them up, with a relish. He was very well aware of any linguistic taboos that might exist, and he played with just about all of them. He did not even shy back from taking a few cracks at the most evil word in the English language, a word that is so bad that in puritan America it is widely referred to only as the “f-word”. Well, I take it by now y’ all know which word we’re talking about. “There are no dirty words, only dirty minds,” as he once put the whole subject into the right perspective. So, on occasion, he either came up with gems like, “I like to call a spade a spade, and sometimes a fucking spade”, or he read out a joke that contained the magic word.

Most of us loved him even more for that, but there were a few in the audience that did have a bit of a problem with it. The real problem, though, is how the mind is conditioned, and how deep that can go I’d see years later when I was living in the States. There was one incident when, while just chatting with someone at work, I dropped the word, and, in that instant, I saw something like a jolt go through the whole body of that poor guy. There were also a couple of books that I’d signed out from the local public library (just regular bestselling novels, by no means anything pornographic), where somebody had, throughout the books, carefully whited out every f-word in the text. (And, lastly, the dictionary I am using these days, The New Merriam-Webster, with ‘today’s essential vocabulary’, has 60,000 entries, but guess which word is not among them.)

To set the matter straight, in April 1980 Osho pulled off a beauty that was to enter the akashic records as the famous “Fuck Discourse”. During the discourses on Buddha’s Dhammapada, somebody had sent in a question in which he expressed shock about Osho’s use of the word ‘fuck’. In his response, Osho quoted a small text that somebody had written on the grammatical and other uses of the word ‘fuck’ in the English language.

What went on while he read out this text to us is almost beyond description. The whole of Buddha Hall went totally bananas. We were all roaring with laughter, rolling on the floor, our bellies were aching and tears of laughter were streaming down our faces. We barely had enough time to catch our breath before Osho fired off yet another meticulously timed salvo, and then again, and again, and again. By the time he came to a conclusion with his customary “enough for today”, I was lying there on the floor of Buddha Hall, feeling as if a freight train had run over me, just asking myself in disbelief, “What the fuck was that?”

It was not only that it had been him who’d done it, or the subject matter, but also the absolutely light, sincere and innocent manner in which he had delivered the whole thing. To me, this was another prime example of how totally in charge of the situation he was, how he pushed every button he could find, how he just played with the energy, in a truly masterful fashion.

Yet, I have never seen Osho laugh, about any of the jokes he told or otherwise, except for maybe a chuckle during darshan. He always totally kept his cool. But it was quite apparent that he very much enjoyed it when he had us cracking up all over the place, when he, like after that discourse, got up, namasted and left the hall with one of his wonderful, radiant smiles on his face.

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