Sitara tackles what is rather widely considered a hot potato in our sangha.
Yes? More so, you have become enlightened through someone or some method that you discovered after Osho’s departure? Well, better keep it a secret if you don’t want to catapult yourself out of the sannyas context. People shun those over the top spiritual types who behave as if we were still rooted in the concept of long forgotten Poona I days.
Maybe you have browsed through this website just because you simply cannot give up hope that Osho’s sannyasins reconnect with what drove them when they were packing their bags for India for the first time. When was it that life became more and more only about the search for better and better experiences?
It seems that Osho had just been too good at freeing us from our past with its gagging moral codes, from guilt and shame brought about by conventional Western upbringing and the resulting fixation on worldly success. The new situation we found ourselves in with our own precious selves constantly being the centre of our attention was much too tempting to start wasting time seeking enlightenment – particularly because enlightenment was supposed to mean leaving behind the very precious selves that we were so busy working on all the time.
I have to point out that I do not include Osho’s sannyasins from India in my assessment because their background is utterly different from Westerners and, by not having taken part in therapy groups have probably much more inner space left for what sannyas really is about. Also, younger sannyasins may not even have experienced much of a shift from seeking enlightenment to seeking wellbeing because maybe they came to Poona only for wellbeing in the first place. I don’t know.
This article was triggered by the book review of whosoever’s book Shivoham Shivoham on Atmashatakam, a text attributed to the great founder of Advaita Vedanta, Adi Shankara. It struck me that to my knowledge for the first time in Osho News, there was mention of someone enlightened who was not Osho, yet a former sannyasin of his, namely whosoever. I felt that this was a true paradigm shift.
While Osho was in the body it was crucial that people did not mix other stuff into the Osho Times and Osho always made it a point that it is his magazine, which has to propagate him and no one else. This was absolutely reasonable at that time – but not any more. Enlightenment of former Osho sannyasins is a fruit of his work too, even though he is not physically around and maybe other teachers or methods have helped to bring it about in the end.
As things have turned out, being Osho’s sannyasin you can do lots of crazy things and be applauded for it. But woe betides should you become enlightened and, worse, even start teaching in your own right. Instead of people sharing the joy, you will be frowned upon. The loss is theirs because the cynical attitude regarding any enlightenment that is not Osho’s or far off in the past, has extended to the very search for enlightenment. Many sannyasins hesitate to use the e-word and avoid the embarrassing issue altogether. Maybe this is due to the idea that anyone claiming enlightenment must be trying to compete with Osho or possibly to cover up the pain that it did not happen to oneself.
As to Westerners of the sixties, seventies or early eighties, Osho got us interested in spirituality by his promise of freedom. Freedom was what we were interested in. And for most of us freedom referred to the personal level: freeing myself from childhood traumas, freeing my body and mind from tensions, freeing my femininity, freeing my masculinity, freeing my sexuality, freeing my chakras, freeing myself from rules and regulations of society etc. etc.
Very few understood what freedom really implies. The freedom a spiritual master of India is most likely envisaging for his people is called moksha, and it implies much much more than freeing the personality. It means freedom from the personality itself, not freedom for it. In fact, freedom for the personality is a contradiction in terms because the personality cannot be free ever. It can only be better or worse.
Osho once said: “I am cooking something else.” – I am afraid that he is still waiting for us to complete the cooking and finally eat the meal! When I was a therapist in Poona, Osho was constantly hammering on us that we should move on from the personal to the spiritual. But except for including the daily meditations and discourse in the groups nothing much happened. He had made life so wonderful for most of us and opened up such a great inner adventure playground – why not enjoy more and more and more of it before leaving it behind?
This lead to a deep misunderstanding of spirituality being something confined to expanding the possibilities of the personality or, when tired of that, being content and fine with what is. Even though this may be kind of wise, it is understating by far the true potential of human beings. Yes, a good sannyasin life is definitely much better than most people’s lives are because of the personal liberation processes we went through. But this is nothing compared to what is possible.
In the ancient Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta it says that the last obstacle human beings face on their way to enlightenment is the fixation with the experience of happiness and bliss. Well, seen from that angle anyone who is not able to content him/herself with a mere complacent sannyas lifestyle, can feel blessed because there is still scope for frustration. Frustration again can be a great awakener because only from there can you move on.
You just need to be alert enough to understand that moving on in the same realm will not lead you anywhere. We all know about sannyas conditioning; so maybe out of habit the mind lulls you away from this alertness but it can be rekindled by using simple logic: after all, if what you tried for ages did not work out so far and still leaves you unenlightened, clearly something has to change.
Okay, you have given up therapy groups long ago – but what about meditation? Meditation feels great, doesn’t it? Is not meditation what will lead you to the goal? – Well did you not try? Are you still trying? Why after so many years has it still not brought about enlightenment? Most likely by now you either gave up meditation, or gave up seeking enlightenment, or both. Meditation may be a good idea, however, sometimes it’s a great meditation, other times less great: you most likely stay on the level of experience, which come and goes. And who wants an enlightenment that comes and goes? So there seems to be another ingredient needed for the great meal to come about.
Enlightenment is a goal different from all other goals. For all other goals you need to go from here to there and from one point in time to another. In order to do that you need to act. But seeking enlightenment means you want to know your innermost nature, you want to know what you truly are – which is truth, reality itself, pure consciousness and limitlessness. No action will lead you there because you are already it. Your true Self needs to be known, realized. What you need is to shift from wrong understanding to right understanding (of who you truly are) – meditating on its own will not help you make that shift.
So the missing ingredient is understanding. How to get it? The first and foremost is neti neti, i.e. clearing out whatever cannot be your true Self. Teaching Advaita Vedanta myself, I am sure it is a great idea to read whosoever’s book – which I have not read yet but I know the text he is talking about. The atmashattakam is all about neti-neti: if something is not your true self, it needs to be recognized as being not it. It may be frustrating to face the result: the fact that the main thing still remains unknown. But it is much more likely to be known if you admit that it is missing than try and convince yourself that seeking enlightenment has become redundant. As all the masters of India, Osho kept on saying that if you need help you will get help. Obviously no help can come to those who do not acknowledge the fact that they are in need for it.
But what, if after deeply looking into it, you realize that you actually have arrived? As I said in the beginning: you may be in trouble. Or not anymore – if it becomes acceptable to be enlightened, ‘even’ as a former Osho sannyasin.
And what if those who feel that for them things are not yet complete turn to you for help? It means that a totally different adventure is about to start: treading a path where no one ever walked while finally claiming Osho’s heritage.
Essay by Sitara
Sitara, known to Osho News readers as the astrologer of the site, is a spiritual teacher in her own right. In her teaching she is using the tools of Advaita Vedanta in such a way that Western seekers who possibly have been on the spiritual path for ages, have a chance to get the final clarity they are still missing. She teaches in Germany, mainly on a one on one basis and in small groups. astro-sitara.de