Punya and Madhuri share their memories of Tamo-san.
The Song of the Waterfall
I remember the visit of an enlightened Japanese woman to our commune. She was a small, frail and unassuming lady (I later heard she was in her mid eighties!). She was called Tamo-san (Ryoju Kikuchi was her legal name). She was a priestess in a Shinto temple in Japan.
One evening after discourse our Japanese friends organised an unofficial gathering in Buddha Hall to which I was invited. I sat down near the entrance, just inside the hall, on the cool marble in the dark. Thanks to the street lights streaming in through the mosquito net I could make out that a few dozen people had gathered already. I did not really know what was going to happen as they were all talking in Japanese. Tamo-san walked in, knelt down gracefully in Japanese style and one of the girls announced that she was going to sing for us and that the poem was about a waterfall.
I closed my eyes so that my ears could take in all the details of these unusual sounds; they were low and powerful but still conveyed the glittering lightness of water falling. At a certain point I opened them again to see if they were really coming from the small, white-haired and wrinkly lady I had seen before. They were!
Tamo-san was enlightened and Osho had acknowledged this in the discourse earlier by showering petals of red roses on her. Apparently the message he sent to her was that she had now to take the next step: she had to learn to go beyond enlightenment. For us unenlightened beings it is difficult to understand what he meant by ‘going beyond’. Maybe coming back to this world as an ordinary human being, like the tenth picture of the story of the Ox?
Meeting with a Waterfall
While I was in Poona during the time Punya speaks of, I only saw Tamo-san during Discourse, when one evening Osho showered her with rose petals. I did not attend the meeting Punya describes, nor did anyone tell me about it. But later…
I was working in Tokyo during the autumn of 1995, giving sessions – too many Colourpuncture and psychic reading/empath/therapy sessions, without breaks in between: four 2-hour ones in a row, every day, no days off. Lunch was shovelled in standing while the next client waited. Added to the nearly 4 hours of commuting time each day, the pace was way too intense for my body to handle.
Japanese culture approves working yourself literally to death (the word is ‘karo-shi’) and I had gotten roped into this non-stop stress. I was, after many weeks of this, absolutely exhausted – and had to fight my boss very hard for a few days’ break. I went with a Japanese friend on the Bullet Train up to Morioka, in the mountains.
When we arrived we found that Tamo-san was also in town and was going to be available for a meditation gathering the very next day.
The small group met in a traditional little house set in a flowery meadow outside the town. As we sat on cushions in the living room, waiting for Tamo-san, I closed my eyes and felt the depth of my exhaustion. I felt that I never been so utterly finished in my life…a drained husk of a human being. Then the paper wall to our left slid open and tiny, ancient Tamo-san came into the room in her kimono, bowing slightly and smiling. She sat down on a cushion in front of us and began to sing…a strange, high, warbling song in Japanese which sounded as if it was coming out upside-down or inside-out, the way Japanese books are read right to left.
My whole reality dove into a cool chasm. I felt trees, and freshness, and a beginning of rest and peace. I saw a waterfall…on and on it flowed, poured, taking my burden with it; it was just a given-up, surrendered and yet powerful presence, just…waterfalling. There in the fragrant forest…I could almost smell the trees, the dancing drops…and so I sat and gazed at this waterfall, tears pouring down my face and soaking into my clothes. It seemed to tell me that peace and rest are the way, that they are mine, that I am welcomed to them in the heart of love. I wept silently, on and on. I felt mercy….and relief – to sit still, to watch water falling like this.
Then she finished, and there was silence for a bit, as we all just sat; and then people began to rustle and move to rise. I leaned to my friend and whispered, “I just kept seeing waterfalls!”
He sat back in surprise. “She was singing about a waterfall!” he replied.
Text by Madhuri