Death Ceremonial Master Anubuddha’s stories for beloved Mangala.
Meeting in the Press Office
This story and my musings are for you, wonderful, mystical, Ma Prem Mangala. I know you love stories, and I have enjoyed hearing your stories and sharing mine with you over the years since we first met in the ashram press office back in 1978. Canadian Krishna Prem was our ‘fearless leader’ then, and we all had a lot of fun adventures handling the Indian and international press people, to say the least! KP was a very important soul friend for both of us, and his passing on through liver cancer was a major wake-up call for me, and his letting go into the mystery was a huge inspiration.
Wasn’t it incredible to read all the international and Indian magazines sensationalizing the ashram in such a way that you could not believe they were talking about the same place we were living in! We laughed about how we have never believed the media since – what an education in propaganda! I treasure all the times we shared together: in Pune 1 in the Press Office, Pune 2 as the Osho Mystery School took wings, Pune 3 after Osho left his body, sharing times in Japan, Goa and, last but not least, the amazing times that you, Anasha, and I shared in Cologne the last couple of years.
Thanks to beloved Savita for all of her lovely ‘updates’, and to our dear mutual friend and translator Japanese Rasata, Anasha and Buddha were intimately involved with your ‘healing journey’ from the time you learned about your cancers. More about those loving moments in Cologne later…
Meeting Señor Death
Is not Señor Death an amazing phenomenon? I must say, it touches me deeply. It equalizes us all. With Osho and the Buddhas, death is part of life. But to the ‘uninitiated eye’, death appears to be against life. I’m remembering when I attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in the early 1960s, and I was an altar boy, assisting the priests while they were doing their hocus-pocus. When someone would die in the congregation, there of course would be a funeral, with the ‘priest (or Father Finger) and his boys’ (BTW how ironic is that? We only heard rumors back then, but thousands of boys, just like me were literally screwed by the holy priests. But that’s another story, isn’t it Mangala?). We would get paid 3-10 dollars for assisting the priest, depending on the family, so for sure I jumped at the chance to assist every time. The whole ambience of the church, I can recall very clearly – “doom and gloom and fear”, but the incense was nice. The coffin came in, dreary music was played, and after a few prayers, tears, and warnings, everything went on as before. Nobody talked about dying with an open or mature mind, and the sad situation was used to manipulate the behavior and fear of God. (But by attending the funerals I had a few extra dollars in my pocket to buy the latest Beatles or Rolling Stones albums!)
Fast forward to Shree Rajneesh Ashram in Poona, India… (I told ‘the long version’ of this story to Mangala earlier this year – now I will tell you the ‘shorter version’). In early September 1976, I was about to lead a Rajneesh Neo-Yoga class on Krishna House roof, when I was called by one of Ma Yoga Laxmi’s helpers saying that there was a telegram for me in the office. How weird is that? I had never received a telegram before (or since) in my entire life. I sat on the steps (how many of you have also sat on those marble steps?), and I read the telegram. It was from my dad in San Diego, saying that my mother had just died from a heart artery problem, totally unexpectedly. (Anubuddha is having a moment of no-mind right then and there.)
I sat and cried, tried to figure out what to do, I shared the news with some friends, opened up to my mom’s and my deep heart connection. It was a tapestry of feelings and thoughts. But within and around it all was Osho, urging me into a new vision and understanding of Señor Death. After a while I went in to talk with Laxmi, who I loved and trusted at a very essential level. She was great, and she immediately arranged a darshan for me with Osho for that night. So I went home to Ma Shraddha’s place, where I was living at the time, and showered like never before to get ready to be with Osho. The ‘funny’ thing is that at my previous darshan, Gopal and Venu were there talking with Osho about her mother just dying, and how they were going to return to Canada to be with her family and then come back. Osho was incredible with her. I remember him saying how important death is, and that when someone close to us dies, the window into your consciousness is wide open, and the seeds of meditation can grow and flower, how death reminds everyone about what is really essential in our Lives and how they could help their families and friends open up to meditation and love on a deeper level.
At my leaving darshan, I told Osho about my own mother and about my fear of getting entangled in the old patterns back in San Diego. He smiled, and said “Don’t worry, I’m going to haunt you!” I cracked up with laughter and tears, and then he again talked of death as a door to meditation. He said to take time in California with my family, introduce them to meditation, share what I had experienced around him, and even gave me the classic Osho koan, “Help my People there!” and “Come back soon!”
So I was, in a very essential way, prepared to go back home as a new person. I didn’t really want to leave, as I had decided clearly that I wanted to “stay forever” with Osho and the commune. I had even written to my parents (I was only 24 at the time) saying how much I loved the ashram, Osho, and that I had changed my name to Anubuddha, and that I was planning to go to Iran to teach English, so I could live “forever” in India. The ashram was my life and my home. (Ha! I often thought that that letter was maybe connected to my devout Catholic mother’s artery explosion!) I had just finished mystic Divya’s 14-day Soma group next to Osho’s house, and it included many far-out esoteric practices, including learning how to leave your body and go astral traveling… and meditations going into the Bardo from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It was during the last days of the Soma group that my mother left her body. Divya told me that ‘for sure’ my mother had come to me and connected while I was out of my body, and that she was very happy for me and for my spiritual commitment. With Osho, Señor Death was mysterious, but also something interesting to witness.
Vipassana, Chinmaya, Vimalkirti, Dadaji
Shortly after that time, another beautiful Death Celebration happened for all of us sannyasins. Vipassana, our good friend, Dutch Viyogi’s sister, who was part of the ashram family, and loved by almost everyone, died unexpectedly in 76 or 77. So Osho used this moment creatively: we sang, danced, and carried her body to the burning ghats – dancing around her flames. meditating with Señor Death. “Walk into the holy fire, step into the holy flames… oh oh oh oh Hallelujah!” It was a major inner growth experience for all of us, singing ecstatically for Vipassana, and defying Señor Death. And it was the first of many many ‘holy fires’ around, with, and also for, Osho.
Then Sheela’s boyfriend, Chinmaya, died and that was also a revelation how Osho was with Señor Death. In 1978, a beautiful woman died at Laxmi Villas, where I was living at the time, and with my beloved friend Deepesh I helped prepare her body for the ‘holy fire’, my first time touching a dead body with a relaxed hand. Then, we carried her body to the ghats, and I can still see Rupesh playing his drum as we sang and danced through Pune with her body.
Each death celebration with a member of our sangha heralded a new awareness and inner relaxation towards death. Yours and mine, beloved friend, will come someday also… but right now, I am remembering Prince Vimalkirti’s sudden death: what Osho said about him and dying as a part of Life, the fantastic Celebration we had with thousands of sannyasins pouring their love and joy into the moment – one more subtle transformation. And with each Death, new Life was experienced. And Osho saying that Death is the greatest fiction. All of this, we talked about with Mangala in Cologne.
And then, September 8, 1979. Who ever was there in Osho’s ashram could never forget this day, and what transpired in Buddha Hall and at the burning ghats. Beloved Dadaji, Osho’s father, had been ill and in hospital for a few days. If you met Dadaji even once, you were blessed: he was such a humble, sweet, and conscious man, with a smile from within. I used to love to see him walk around Buddha Hall among the bamboos. He used to do it many times a day, especially during Kundalini Meditation, so graceful and so serene. Well, on that day, Dadaji left his body, and the word spread as fast as it does today on Facebook! Everybody came to Buddha Hall in the middle of the day when we brought out Dadaji’s body to receive Osho’s final blessing. I thought it was amazing to see Osho with Vimalkirti, but this touch was ‘way off the charts’ of anything I had ever witnessed. Osho first touched his Mother, who was crying, and then he turned to his Father’s body and touched his third eye area and the crown of his head. I can still remember where I was sitting, and what I felt: pure love, trust, consciousness, and let-go were traveling in this Osho-touch. Something inside of me shifted. The way Osho smiled as he namasted all of us was also indescribable and full of magic. So death really is a fiction? Osho Mahaparanirvana Day was born, a day celebrating all of our deaths happening with deep trust and let-go and awareness.
I feel that with each passing of someone in our sangha (which for me is a very open sangha with beings and fellow travelers here, there, and everywhere!) that we gain a new awareness and trust of life, and we have an opportunity to let go of our own fear of the unknown – which is another name of Señor Death. The great unknown that we are all part of. I’m remembering other ‘amazing pass-overs’ because I had/have some of my ‘best’ meditations when someone close to me leaves their physical body.
Another small story that Mangala enjoyed of my relation with Señor Death took place at Rajneeshpuram, in Oregon. When I think of my time on the Ranch, I get ‘goosebumps all over’. For me, the Ranch time was amazing, and these days, as the ‘Shift of Energy of 2012’ is happening, I am more grateful than ever for my time there with Osho and his disciples. Anasha and I both feel that the lessons we learned there are what we will share with others as we transition into the 5th dimension. We lived on very sacred/holy ground there. We grew organic food for thousands, built homes for thousands, planted trees, created a world-famous Osho Multiversity, pushed the buttons of almost everyone, and all the while we worked/worshipped twelve hours a day, we managed to dance, meditate, and make love. Mistakes were made, but deep lessons and truths were learned.
What I want to remember now are two things:
- We built the most amazing structure for ‘holy fires’ I have ever seen. Tucked away in a hidden and sacred valley on the Ranch. I think we only had time for two ‘holy fires’ after it was built, as existence had other plans for Osho and his people, but I remember the magic of them, and how deep I went inside.
- Osho gave titles to lots of us at that time. I was told that I could be the guide for Death Ceremonies. I had a deep laughter, I don’t know why, but it struck me as funny, being 32 years old, full of life juice, and a “Death Guide”? Being with Osho is really a trip sometimes… Within the laughter, more awareness and trust was seeping in.
Raghuvira, Maitreya, Mataji, Jayantibhai, and… and Osho
When we all got back to Pune with Osho in 1987, a whole stream of ‘holy fires’ was flowing. I was really good friends with the Indians who took care of the fires at the burning ghats, so I got on the ‘burning crew’. Whenever someone died, they would contact me immediately, and I would help with preparing the body, if necessary, help prepare the wood for the fire, either help carry the body, or if we drove it to the ghats I went in the van. I remember so many: Raghuvira (who actually had a huge party for all his friends when he heard he only had a short time to live!), Indian enlightened Maitreya, Mataji, Osho’s enlightened mother who told everyone to sing and not to cry, and died sitting, and Jayantibhai come immediately to my mind. But there were many others.
And, as most of you that are reading this know well, many many other friends have passed on, like Disha, Deepesh, Rupesh, Samvado, Prasad, Satgyan (sitting in the lotus posture!), Marcos, Varidhi (who died dancing!), Veetesha, mystical laughing Sardarji, Amitabh, Yuthika, Krishna Prem, Avinash, Bhaskar, Teertha, Gulamo, Madhukar, Sambodhi, Shuchi, Burt (who kicked off at the Front Gate!), hypnosis Santosh, Siddhartha, Swagato, Atit, Mystery School Kaveesha, Nirvano (Vivek), Bodhi Karuna, Bodhi Ray… With each friend who dies meditatively, our own flame of awareness burns brighter, and the probability of witnessing our own passing, without fear and without expectation, is enhanced.
Did I leave anyone out? Of course I did! Beloved Osho! His leaving the body is still reverberating inside of me and all over the madre tierra… I helped carry his beautiful body, which I had touched hundreds of times, to the ghats, building a teepee of wood all around his face and beard before the ‘holy fire’ was lit, and I watched the fire, and the miracle is…
As fate, or luck, would have it, Anasha and I were with Mangala on many different occasions the last two years in Cologne, next to the Osho UTA Academy, most recently in July of this year (we were coming 3 times a year for 3 years, teaching an Arun Conscious Touch Training there). We would visit her each time, bring food, hang out, make tea, sit next to each other in white robe and satsang meditations at UTA, share Arun Touching Meditations, tell stories… and talk about our connections and feelings about death.
If we did not talk about death or health, we talked about shopping and holidays! Mangala loved shopping! We could feel that her time was winding down, and that she could go any moment, so the sharings were not ‘philosophical’, they were very gutsy and to the point. Anasha asked her how she was. Was she ready to dissolve? Was there fear? Mangala was answering differently all the time, feeling sometimes like death was far away, and other times very close. She was also wondering how she would be. It was very cute how she would talk. We talked about her ‘holy fire’. I told her how that is one thing I miss about not living in the ‘big commune’ anymore: we can’t all be present for each others’ ‘holy fire’. So we promised her we would burn candles for her when she passed on and that we would share loving stories about her and other dear friends who have traveled with us. We felt she was ready in her own unique way, and gathered a lot of good energy and inspiration from her path. There’s a few stories we shared that are a little too personal and potentially controversial for public sharing, but the 3 of us shared our hearts without filters, because we knew…
When I see all the photos that different friends have posted of Mangs, from many different places, times, settings, I see clearly how each one of us can be so total with whatever we are doing, wherever we are, and with whoever we are sharing time with. It is soooo beautiful! How each moment of the day, friends are sharing deep love and truth and laughter, and how we are all evolving and expanding. And the majority of these ‘precious moments of totality and love’ we all live never manage to make it on Facebook! (Thank God! We’re mostly too busy living to share every little thing, even tho’ FB is a fun medium for connecting all of us.) Osho’s sangha/caravanserai is truly a blessing to be part of.
We are lucky indeed, and we are very fortunate to also have Señor Death right here amongst us, urging us to let go into the mystery of life – without fear, and without expectations. Being ourselves. And remembering sometimes that “…not knowing is the most intimate.”
So, let’s celebrate Mangala’s ‘holy fire’ all over mother earth with joy, songs, music, and love and laughter and silence. She deserves it and she loves it! And friend, meditate on your own inescapable ‘holy fire’, and let Señor Death find you without fear, and full of gratitude for the life you are living.
Love and a deep sense of wonder from your friend and fellow traveler,