Punya remembers the Music Groups in Buddha Hall
In Pune I the Music Group was happening every night for as many years as I can remember. This involved dancing and singing until we flew out of the hall or ended up flat on the floor.
It was held in Buddha Hall and started at 7 in the evening, at the same time as Osho was giving darshan in Chuang Tzu. Like moths attracted to a bright light we were drawn to the centre of the hall where the musicians were ready to start. The first arpeggios on the guitar were an irresistible call even for those walking past the hall who might have decided to go home early. Running the show was Anubhava, a charismatic, good looking Bavarian with long black hair – our idol and friend. He was backed by a bass, an electric guitar and percussions.
I remember a song which goes:
He’s the sun behind the sun, he’s the moon
He’s the moon behind the moon, he’s the sun
Just now looking up the lyrics online I fathom the meaning of the words. I had been singing them totally wrong, for all these years! But it did not matter at all. What mattered was that I could feel an opening in my chest when singing the bright word ‘sun’ and then fall into a dark velvety depth with the mysterious word ‘moon’. Like two opposites, male and female. The song could last for up to fifteen minutes, the same words repeated hundreds of times. On top of this almost hypnotic sea of sounds, Anubhava’s tenor voice improvised, high up like a seagull in the sky.
Just now looking up the lyrics online I fathom the meaning of the words. I had been singing them totally wrong, for all these years! But it did not matter at all. What mattered was that I could feel an opening in my chest when singing the bright word ‘sun’ and then fall into a dark velvety depth with the mysterious word ‘moon’. Like two opposites, male and female. The song could last for up to fifteen minutes, the same words repeated hundreds of times. On top of this almost hypnotic sea of sounds, Anubhava’s tenor voice improvised, high up like a seagull in the sky. He often divided us into groups, forming a pattern like a pie chart: here the sopranos, there the tenors, over here the altos and the bass over there. We learned the harmonies if we didn’t remember them from the day before. We sang with closed eyes, holding each other around the waist and swinging from side to side to the soft rhythm of the song.
Then he would introduce a fiery song to invite us to dance:
Oh my lord, you are the fire, burning like a thousand suns
Give me courage to go higher, fly with you towards the one
Towards the one, towards the one, towards the one….
These were not empty words we were singing. They described what was happening to us: our hearts flew off into the skies as did the solo of the electric guitar. It was so exciting to be alive! On the edges of the hall, in the darkness, I had the space and freedom to experiment with twists and turns, making up my own choreography as I went along. I was dancing, or rather flying, weaving my path around the wooden pillars of the hall with long leaps from pole to pole. This feeling was the best I had ever known. If I recalled a night spent with a man, if it had been very beautiful, I would say to myself: ‘almost as nice as dancing’. Dancing was the criterion, the best, the most fulfilling.
Have you observed yourself sometimes dancing? What happens? Dance seems to be one of the most penetrating things, in which one falls into a harmony. Your body, your mind, your soul, all fall into a harmony in dancing.
Dancing is one of the most spiritual things there is. If you really dance, you cannot think. If you really dance, the body is used so deeply that the whole energy becomes fluid. A dancer loses shape, fixity. A dancer becomes a movement, a process. A dancer is not an entity: he’s movement, he’s energy. He melts. Great dancers, by and by, melt. And a dancer cannot retain his ego because if he retains his ego, that will be a jarring note in his dance. A real dancer loses his ego in it. He forgets that he is. The dancer is lost; only the dance remains. Then the door opens because you are one unity. Now the soul is not separate, the mind is not separate, the body is not separate. All have fallen in one line. All have become one, melting into each other, merging into each other.
Osho, The Beloved, Vol 1, Ch 1
If you were working in the kitchen you were probably working in shifts which meant that you could either go to discourse in the morning or to music group in the evening (unless you were invited to a darshan). It was unfair to have to miss every other discourse, but if I had been asked which shift I preferred, I could honestly not decide which of the two I would rather miss. Despite the eight hours of hard physical work I was never too tired to dance and every other day you could find me there, dancing in Buddha Hall. I might have become addicted to something which had started happening during the whirling meditation: at a certain point I became so light that the dancing became effortless, the jumps and leaps became higher and longer than my body weight and effort could have possibly taken me. It took just a few moments of a little effort and then suddenly the body would take over and do the dancing. I could almost hear a click when it happened, the same click one hears the moment one falls asleep. I was no longer sure where my body started and where it ended. And very rarely did I bump into somebody else or into a pole, even while dancing with closed eyes; it was as if we were interconnected, moving like fish in a shoal, one breath, one rhythm.
I loved it when Osho talked about the great Russian dancer, Nijinsky, because I could relate to the story out of my own experience:
One of the greatest dancers of this century was Nijinsky. People were puzzled by his dance. Never before and never after has such a miracle been seen on the stage. There were some moments when Nijinsky would get so lost in his dance that everybody in the audience would feel that the dancer had disappeared. And a miracle would happen: he would start jumping so high that it is not possible, the gravitation does not allow that much height. And not only that – when he would start descending he would come so slowly, as if he had no weight, as if he was just a feather or a dry leaf falling slowly, slowly from the tree – in no hurry.
He was asked again and again ‘What happens?’ And he would say ‘If I want it to happen it does not happen. I have tried and I have failed. Whenever I try I fail; my failure is absolutely certain. But when I am lost in my dance, when I disappear, suddenly weight also disappears from me. And I am also surprised just as you are surprised, because it looks so illogical. I don’t feel the gravitation any more. It is not that I manage falling slowly; it simply happens. When I am not there, that miracle happens.’
Osho, The Revolution, Ch 7
At the end of each song we moved back to the centre around the musicians. Holding each other at shoulder width around our waists we intoned the vowel ‘aaaaah’ and allowed the sound to vibrate our bodies and to expand to the floor of the hall and the walls of the houses next door. Like a magician, the solo guitar added more depth and height with a dissonant melody as a contrast to the uniform sound.
At the end of each song we moved back to the centre around the musicians. Holding each other around our waists we intoned the vowel ‘aaaaah’ and allowed the sound to vibrate our bodies and to expand to the floor of the hall and the walls of the houses next door. Like a magician, the solo guitar added more depth and height with a dissonant melody as a contrast to the uniform sound.
The ‘aaaaah’ was sometimes as long as a song, a bit like a ‘song on one note and one vowel’. A continuous sound intermingling with the sound of our neighbours. ‘Aaaaah’ was more than just a vowel: it was an alchemical tool. The heart could not remain cold, the mind not calculate, the thoughts not hold a long conversation. We felt united within the circle, one sound, one soul; celebrating our being with the master. If during the working day some difficulties had popped up, they were washed away in these moments where only this sound existed.