Punya asks Sarlo to tell us how it all started with his Osho Songs Collection.
Ever since we set up our little band at the Corfu Buddha Hall a few years ago, I have been a frequent visitor to Sarlo’s website. There I always find the lyrics and chords for the songs we want to play for the Evening Meditations. As the list is constantly being worked on I am now finding also some rare, less known ones. Last year the collection even expanded to include the scores for many songs.
It is a real treasure trove for anyone who loves the songs our musicians have written for Osho and I would like everybody to know about it. This brought me to write to Sarlo and ask him to say something about how it all started. (In a separate article we will talk about another site, sannyas.org with its archive of audio samples, so stay tuned…)
Sarlos’ short answer was, “Once upon a time I was born, one thing led to another and before I knew it, my Osho Songs site had two hundred songs.”
But this was not enough for me as I wanted to know more about his site Songs in the Key of Osho – so here is his full-length story:
I’ve been pretty useless most of my life, not producing much of value work-wise or commodity-wise, by ‘normal’ standards. Not bragging, but a bit like Osho in his childhood, a story told on several occasions of being overlooked by his mother when she needed someone to go to the market. Let’s enjoy this lovely quote:
I am a useless man. In my childhood days I would be sitting down just next to my mother. She would look around her and say, “I would like to send someone to fetch vegetables from the market, but I cannot see anyone to send” – and I would be sitting there just next to her! She would say, “I can’t see anyone here!” And I would laugh inside myself – she couldn’t send me to the market, I was so useless that she was not aware that I was there.
Once, my aunt came to stay, and she was not aware of my uselessness. My mother was saying, “Nobody is in to go to the market. All the children have gone out and the servant is ill, so what can I do? Someone has to be sent.”
So my aunt said, “Why not send Raja? He is sitting there, not doing anything.”
So I was sent. I asked the market vendor there, “Give me the best vegetables you have got, the best bananas, the best mangoes.” Looking at me and the way I was talking he must have thought I was a fool, because nobody ever asks for the best. So he charged me double and gave me all the rotten things he had, and I came home very happy.
My mother threw them away and said, “Look! This is why I say nobody is here.”
Osho, The Empty Boat, Ch 8 (excerpt)
However, when I ‘worked’ in the various communes, I made myself more or less useful; it was my main way of participating. The learned work ethic is there, may as well use it, explore it, ride on it, sublimate it. It’s all good. Watching the dialectic, the push-pull and ebb and flow of the ‘warring’ impulses of laziness and usefulness is a fine koan. And for sure, ‘doing’ something for the sangha is an expression of gratitude too. Osho and Existence (not-two) have been so generous, so overflowingly abundant, my small sharings are the least I can do. But you know all that, so here we are.
When I came back from a long stay in Pune 3, ’92-95ish, my partner Amiyo and I wanted to continue being physically in the sangha, so we returned to Vancouver and found a decent-sized community of sannyasins fairly loosely organised. There was an officially constituted center, which ran various events, including celebrations, and that meant music. The center leader was an excellent keyboard player and there were drummers, even a didgeridoo guy, but somehow there was a vacuum in the guitar dept, which got filled fortuitously by moi. Though my technical abilities weren’t much, I could bang away chords more or less in tempo and sing on-key.
When that center had to pack it in because the house was sold, it moved by community consensus to the house we had recently moved into, and so it came to pass that we ended up running it, without having to jump through the hoops that Pune was making increasingly stringent for such ‘positions’. Amiyo is a good organizer, and we put out four issues of a community magazine (archived at Osho Pulse), and music …
Well, I just sort of fell into it, like I have fallen so many times into so many things. The guitar gap was there, I was adequate, and with one actual talent, that of harmony, a sense of sounds fitting together to sound … right. I used to love singing harmonies in Music Group, singing my heart out at full volume, almost inaudible among the hundreds of others singing their hearts out, not concerned with whether it ‘worked’ or fit, though it usually did, and of course absolutely unconcerned with the quality of my voice, which, shall we say, had neither music biz scouts nor groupies beating a path to my door. Anyway, these elements all came together to revive an interest in chords, the underlying harmonic structure of a song.
So when the time came to organize musicians – only slightly easier than herding cats, if you wanna know – Amiyo and I could present them with printed song sheets and tapes of ourselves singing a selection of songs that they could choose from and play with at home, the sheets having been prepared from my developing facility of working out chords from listening to source tapes. Pretty cool, huh? Good old Existence, just flowing along.
And the flow continued, as it does. We made a hard-copy songbook of Osho songs, a hundred of our favourites, and things were going well, so naturally Existence had to arrange for a change. Currents in the world and sannyas and in our communal house soon meant this time of communal living was over. Where could that energy go now? Well, looking around on the net, another vacuum became apparent: there were no Osho songbooks there. Once more, how could that vacuum not be filled?
So that was the first hundred songs, easy, but then there were few additions until just two years ago, when Para, a correspondent from Holland, sent some photocopies of a Pune 1 songbook. It was a treasure trove of new material that I found myself excited both to imbibe and pass on. I didn’t even know most of the songs, but they were in sheet music form, so for those who could read it, everything they needed to know to play the songs was there, melody, chords, rhythm, just like that! She also shared some programmes from the Ranch, that had words to the songs that were to be sung in the big Darshans at the end of Celebrations. And she had written out the melodies of many of these songs, so, as with the Pune 1 sheet music, the essential information, the songs’ DNA, was preserved. Anyone with the right ingredients handy in their personal primordial soup could reconstitute these songs and give them life.
But really, this kind of gene-splicing is not so accessible for many people. Something was missing. My site is for people who know the melodies so they can play the songs themselves. But if few people know the music, my site might not be of much benefit. So the meditation on uselessness continues 🙂 …
Perhaps my site was in a way acting as a kind of placeholder for something bigger, keeping a small candle burning until that bigger thing could arrive. Well? At any rate, before I finished with Para’s Ranch programmes, about one year ago, something suitably much bigger did indeed arrive, the Osho Music Archive. And now, the music is available. Multiple blessings!
The time of Osho music abundance has arrived, and I have been delighted to work with the Archive folks to share our information about the songs, find new songs, old songs, contact musicians and on and on. And now anyone can hear the songs and know how to play them. Thus does the sangha still work.
The Archive has its own story, which I trust will be told by the people who brought it into being. Besides the story, there is also a message: We who know the songs, the old songs especially, are moving along in years. One of my predecessors as an Osho song compiler, Sw Prem Giri, has already departed two and a half years ago, around the same time as Pramada and in similar ‘accidental’ fashion, reminders of our fragile and fleeting time here on the planet. Disha, Sharan…. The time to share the music and what we know of it is now.
So this is an Invitation:
Anyone and everyone who has some of this music or a story about the music – how it was made, who made it, some gossip, any Osho connection or personal related event – is invited to share it in the Archive, contact addresses at the link above. The Archive, and in fact all of sannyas.org’s sprawling Oshopedia, operates as a wiki, so for those so inclined, direct participation in adding and editing material is possible and welcome. And a special form of participation is available for anyone who knows a Missing Song for which there is no audio found yet: sing it yourself and send in the recording.
See this example… Much has been done already and much remains to be done, for those who care.
Most of the music I am talking about is old, and some people will just want to let it go gently into the earth and sky, yes. And our knowledge about it… well, we know what Osho says about knowledge, yes. And it can even be said that collecting such stuff is a refusal to drop the past, yes. But music is special, and this music can plug receptive ones into the Current (in both senses, energy flow and nowness). This music is not just remembering in the here and now but feeling and moving and celebrating in the here and now. And sharing our knowledge about the music connects the dots that can point the way to re-creating it ever-new, ever-now.
Things are sometimes best said with music. I feel music, am touched by it and have been blessed to have been given this way to participate. So in the words of Miten (audio if you want, and chords are there too):
Beyond the beyond the beyond
That’s where your lovers meet
Beyond the beyond the beyond
Dancing at your feet
No matter where we go
No matter where we are
No matter what we do
We are one love, one heart
In the light of your love, Osho
Sarlo grew up in Canada, where Osho found him in a cabin in the woods in 1977. Taking sannyas the following year, he worked as a guard in Pune 1, as a cleaner and in the carpet crew at the Ranch, and Osho Times in Pune 3. Currently a freelance nobody on Vancouver Island. Songs in the Key of Osho