Bodhena writes about experiencing his first ‘Xmas’ in Pune.
While I was attending university, many years ago, I’d become increasingly disillusioned and frustrated about anything to do with Christmas. In fact, I was very much ‘anti’, hardcore. So much so that I even stopped visiting my family during the holidays. Instead, in the communal apartment where I was living, on Christmas eve I’d be dropping acid and blasting my head with rock & roll – my idea of a good time.
So when I’d made it to Poona in late ’77 and that particular time of the year was approaching, I felt quite safe. It didn’t seem that Santa Claus was going to be cruising around in this town. On top of that, I noticed that one of the groups I had booked, Kyo with Prashantam, was taking place right during those critical days; it was residential, and in silence. No better place to be!
Still, I was a bit wary when our group went to discourse on Christmas day. I looked around the ashram, but the place appeared utterly normal. No stuffed stockings in Vrindavan, no reindeer prancing around Geet Govind fountain. None of that BS. Cool.
In discourse, I listened very attentively, but Osho just went on about the Diamond Sutra, very Buddhist. No mentioning of Xmas whatsoever, not even a hint in one of his jokes, nor did he finish off with “Ho, ho, ho”, instead of “Enough for today.” Wonderful, I thought, this is my kind of place!
However. (You knew this was coming, huh?) I was still quite the new kid in town, and hadn’t yet come to fully comprehend that one of the central functions of the ashram was to find your buttons, and push them, as hard as you needed it. In other words, I was in for a bit of a surprise.
I still didn’t smell a rat when, instead of going ‘home’ to our group quarters after discourse, we were told to go back to Buddha Hall, to Sufi Dancing. As we were approaching the hall, with Sufi Dancing just cranking up, I started to sense that something was wrong. This feeling dramatically increased, and when I finally entered the hall, to my total shock and disbelief, I saw that, yes, there was Sufi Dancing going on, but not to the usual Sufi songs. No, they were singing all kinds of Christmas songs and carols, while dancing around, looking into the eyes of changing partners, a hug here, a whirl there, smiles and good times and celebration all around.
But not for me. No way. I was absolutely and completely pissed off. And felt trapped. I did have enough good sense not to storm out of the hall in disgust. And I was clearly seeing that I was making quite a fool of myself. My whole energy and body language was just screaming, “I hate it here!” in very sharp contrast to my immediate surroundings. No place to hide.
The only way out for me seemed to be to participate, to face the music, even if it meant to do a good fake. So, very stiffly and grudgingly, I managed to paint a false smile on my face, joined the celebrators and at least attempted to go through the motions. Reee-lax. And it wasn’t all that bad, although I never totally caught on to match the general holiday spirit. No, I didn’t die.
By the time we were walking back to our group quarters, a great relief started to set in. It took a bit longer to see more clearly what had actually happened. I’d gotten mirrored. Right smack in my face. And the amazing thing was, there was nobody there who had actually set it up, who had designed the whole exercise. This was a quality that was just inherent in the energy field in and around the ashram, in Osho’s energy field. If you needed a mirroring, you got it. It found you, somehow. Miraculously. All you needed to do was to be there, and face it.
These days I find myself living in a place where, come December, the whole Xmas spiel is still going on, and, if anything, it’s gotten worse. But it doesn’t affect me any more. I can go home into my cave, close the door, and let it be where it is, outside, and do my own thing. I simply ignore it. I’ve made my peace with it.
Deva Bodhena took sannyas in the late seventies and has lived and worked in all three communes, Pune I, Rajneeshpuram, and Pune II. He now lives in Clausthal, Germany, practising “nowhere to go and nothing to do”. His book “Bodhena’s Adventures in Samsara”, a chronicle of his commune times, is soon to be published. bodhena (at) hotmail (dot) com