Still Singing After All these Years!

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Punya meets Peter Makena (Anubhava) and Aneeta

Last summer, quite accidentally, I found myself setting up my painting table next to a couple I had never met before – or so it seemed. I was bemused by the antics of the woman who was trying to find a way not to spoil her white holiday clothes – the way only Americans are able to make fun of themselves. It was only when I heard the man speak with a slow-paced southern German lilt that I understood that it must be Aneeta and Anubhava, or Peter Makena, the name he goes by now.

Naturally the years have changed the features of us all (just have a look in the mirror); Peter’s hair, from long and black as it was when he was strumming the guitar and singing for us night in and night out for the Music Group in Buddha Hall, is now short, gray, but still of the same wavy strength. The frame more solid, the face more set, but – untouched from what I remember – is the accessibility and innocence in demeanour. It appears as if he still feels astonished at what life has gifted him with: the creativity to write lyrics and melodies of songs, the talent to create an atmosphere between the musicians and the singers that supports, evening after evening, hundreds of dancers and singers and, above all, a strong tenor voice which is still able to soar high in the skies like an eagle, on top of us all.

A few days later I participated in a Sufi Dance on the newly built terrace of Alexis Zorbas and there I also saw Aneeta’s brightness and joy in leading the songs and dances, as if it were her first time (that first time was in the mid seventies in Radha Hall – Buddha Hall had not even been built yet…).

After giving in, for a couple of days, to my internal grumble (for all these years I felt angry at him that he left the community and deprived us of his beautiful singing) and sharing this with him, I asked him to contribute something to Osho News.

Peter Makena in Music Group
Heart Dance on Alexis Zorbas roof 2012-08-02
Heart Dance on Alexis Zorbas roof 2012-08-02
Heart Dance on Alexis Zorbas roof 2012-08-02
Peter Makena playing guitar
Peter Makena playing guitar
Peter Makena and Aneeta
Rainbow Spirit Festival
Rainbow Spirit Festival
in Sweden 2008
Peter Makena and Aneeta
Peter Makena in concert
Peter Makena and Aneeta
Anubhava, Pune 1
Aneeta and Anubhava
Music Group Pune 1

After having lived away from the public eye for 20 years, a few years ago you have returned to music: you are writing songs, recording CDs and are facilitating or playing as a guest musician in a lot of singing groups. What made you come back to music again?

I delight in it all, the silent communion, the resting in the peace of this moment, the dissolution of the individual will into the mystery of stillness.

I rejoice in the dance together, the moving energies.

Meeting and parting, the letting go of this moment’s creative expression and falling into the present, noticing the pure joy of being alive in this movement! Supported by the rhythm, by the field of friends and my body’s aliveness and joy!

..and I am enchanted by the voices…

In your eyes, what is the magic of singing together in a group? What has always been the attraction?

It used to be the energetic field of being connected beyond words that pulled me like a moth to the flame.

I had the sense that the longing to connect is being satisfied just by being part of a group that holds the space, that values presence, and is curious and courageous enough to explore silence.

Is it still the same?

All this still calls me, yet what I am drawn to today is the awareness of my own intent, my intention to be present, to be in touch with silence and joy and to sing from a place of peace and presence where we share our hearts in silence, movement, connecting.

What attracts you to lead again singing groups and now workshops?

What to some might sound as a song rehearsal of dilettantes, to me already carries the seeds of celestial sounds … and with a few adjustments of breath, of posture, of mindset, of listening, of focus, of smiles … the actual sound of our voices soon reflects the divine choir of our hearts.

To sit or stand or move in this blessing of shared voices amidst the ever evolving creative flow, that eventually brings me closer and closer to stillness, to peace, to an “Ah…This.”

It is this experience of wonder and awe that now draws me back into the groups and workshops to refine and enjoy the diamond of our essence in this familiar arena!

Also, I love to observe the transformations on the faces of the friends I sing with … I love the abandonment we can enter together, gate gate and yet so present!

We have connected with singing groups (Singkreise) in many German and Swiss towns and I feel very excited about the popularity of such groups in Europe. I especially like to share our flair and perspective with those who already sing together and we can add the flavour of blessedness, joy, stillness and ecstasy to the experience of sharing our voices!

From where do you get inspiration to write your songs and dances?

The poetry in our songs is still coloured by Kabir, by Hafiz, Rumi and Osho … and now includes our own life experience! We celebrate the presence of the Beloved in our hearts and in our singing this expression becomes contagious.

Who of the lovely folks that we sing with does not want to feel the ‘Presence of the Beloved’? Singing for twenty minutes “All I hear is the call of the Beloved” in a group of wild singers will not leave anyone untouched!

It is a different world we face today compared to the days when I was introduced to the path of the Sufis and the Bauls, of Tao, of Buddha, the time when both Aneeta and I were invited to play leading roles in the ‘Department of Ecstatic Expression’ in Osho’s Mystery School ashram!

It seems to me that ecstatic poetry and expression is as relevant today as ever, if not more, and that the ecstatic experience is not bound by time, by history or circumstance. Kabir says, ”The guest I love is inside” – it is a statement beyond time and space. “The magnificence” that I perceive and “The waves are coming in” are not an historic event. They are coming in Now!

What is different from the past?

Every turn
another test
and every test
a joyous bow!

Age does have a few drawbacks, like my memory and speed are not what it used to be! But it also provides some subtle and super-sweet features: Where I used to really be nourished by the energies and precision of voices in our singing groups I now truly delight in the sweetness of the voices, the simplicity of being and sharing, the ‘enough-ness’ of this moment.… To call oneself a ‘mature sannyasin’ seems somewhat a contradiction to me, but what a joy it is to live with awareness; it is not a big deal. It is just life unfolding and being in deep appreciation of it all. This is my effortless practice.

Do you have other outlets for your creativity?

My creative expression takes on many forms. Sometimes in gardening, cooking, building or bodywork I get into a flow that feels a lot like making music. But singing and creating songs is something I really love … and I feel drawn to sharing songs and facilitating singing groups or choirs.

Are you still singing your way to God?

What has happened to us who clearly chose the path of “Love and dance and sing your way to God”? Now some 35 years later have we sung our way to God?

Luckily at the time, Aneeta and I had a wider spectrum than this catchphrase. We knew and continually learned that “Heaven is all the way to heaven” and, besides many other wonderful reminders like these, we were also in an intense process of questioning and letting go of beliefs that did not serve us any longer.

We ended up ‘being with what is‘ without the veils of interpretations (or merely very thin veils) and learned the art of delighting and deeply appreciating the wonders of simply being alive. This helped us move into ‘loving what is!’

You and Aneeta, after all these years, still together!

We love
what is given
and enjoy
to be living
in love…

To travel this inner and outer journey with a ‘partner in love’ is an immense blessing! And we know it! We are aware of the fragility of our journey and live in deep awe and respect of the ever-unfolding mystery that surrounds us.

We love to sing, we love to feel alive, we delight in the waves of love. Sometimes we are drunk on the divine, but most of the time I just feel that we are lovers and we tread the path lightly with great wonder and kindness.

I feel so blessed for the way my life has unfolded and for all the turns it took and that I have been able to share this unfolding with Aneeta for so many moons. Today Aneeta and I enjoy the simple life in the country for most of the year; we chop wood and carry water…and when we start singing and sharing, we are Bauls and Sufis.

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Peter Makena (aka Anubhava) took sannyas in 1976 in Pune where he lived ‘forever’. He worked in the Vipassana go-down and the mala shop and in the evenings he lead the Music Group for three years. Today Peter is leading singing groups and, together with Aneeta, facilitates Heart Dance gatherings and workshops in ecstatic expression.


Punya is the founder of Osho News, author of many interviews and of her memoir On the Edge.

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