Remembering Here&Now — 28 December 2015

Punya remembers the times when, together with Gayatri, she was running the Osho Meditation Centre in Geneva.

Gayatri told me that when she first met Osho he had asked her what meditations she had done and she mentioned a technique she had learned from a Buddhist teacher. Osho suggested she pick it up again and after a few weeks it was introduced as Nadabrahma and became part of the camp programme. Gayatri, a chubby and lively economist from the States, worked for the UN in Geneva and we shared the duties and pleasures of running Osho’s Meditation Centre there.


I had arranged with Deeksha that I would come to Geneva and take over her centre in order to give her the chance to be with Osho. Lalita, who used to baby-sit the centre every six months, was now in Pune ‘forever’ and did not want to return. The centre was a one-bedroom flat in Onex, on the outskirts of Geneva. Deeksha intro­duced me to the communal washing machines, the hotel manager from whom we rented a sound proof conference room, the awkward stick shift of the Citroën 2CV and the strict rules in Switzerland: no vacuuming on Sundays, no showers and no music after ten and no loud talking in the hall. […]

After this introductory month, Deeksha left with Krishna Bharti, two enormous aluminium suitcases full of Swiss goodies and a whole family in tow who wanted to take sannyas in Pune. This family was Neerja with her Italian husband, Vedant, and their little boy, Siddhartha. Also included was a Chinese straw hat that Deeksha carried on her back with its string around her neck. Osho had started wearing hats for photography sessions and as soon as the news spread, people started bringing him hats from all over the world. Deeksha’s was one of the first in this trend. […]

Every day before work I drove my little red ‘duck’ (that’s how the Citroën 2CVs were affectionately called) to an Aikido dojo which we now used as a meditation hall to set up for Dynamic: tape-recorder, Osho’s picture, a big plastic bag full of orange robes and blindfolds. […] The floor was covered in light green tatami mats and a row of windows on one side let in the morning sun. The dojo was above a Migros shopping centre, which opened only after Dynamic was over, so we could do the meditation full blast without disturbing anyone.

About half a dozen people would show up each morning. Some were Gayatri’s colleagues, some came out of thin air, it seemed, among them were a psychiatrist and a physiotherapist. The latter two had a practice together on the other side of town and whenever they were stuck with a case and did not know how to go on with a treatment, they just told their clients to come up to the dojo and do the Dynamic. The almost miraculous changes in their clients were proof enough that there was something behind that meditation and in no time they packed their suitcases and off they went to Pune. This did not happen only to them: most of our ‘clientele’ dropped out of our classes, not because they stopped meditating, but because they also went to see Osho. So, in order to keep the classes running we had to continuously find new people.

There is a fine line between being missionaries and letting people know there is such a thing as Dynamic Meditation in town. We thought that being available was the way to go: on Tuesdays Gayatri invited her colleagues from the UN to her home to listen to a discourse by Osho and on Wednesdays we had Nadabrahma at the centre in Onex. Both Gayatri and I are Tauruses and it was obvious that food had its importance in whatever we did. There was always food after the evening get-togethers and on Sundays, after Dynamic, we brunched to our hearts’ (and bellies’) content on delicious buttered délices, fruit muesli, croissants and Danish pastries in a tea-room near the dojo. […]

Today I found the following question answered by Osho: “Osho, is every disciple a medium to spread the vision of the master?”

Certainly. I am against any kind of organisation because every organisation has proved an enemy of truth, a murder of love. I trust in the individual. Each and every sannyasin, alone, is my medium. Each and every sannyasin is connected to me directly.

There is no organisation between me and you. There is no priesthood between me and you. So the more empty you become, the more you will be able to receive my vibrations, my heartbeat, my song, the more you will be able to dance in tune with me – and that is the only right way to spread the message. Because the message is not of language; the message is of being, of experience.

We cannot create catechisms, principles, ten commandments – we cannot do that. I can only do one thing: to help you to be empty so that you can radiate me as totally as possible.

Osho, The Osho Upanishad, Ch 43

[…] I never started talking about Osho unless I was specifically asked. It was interesting to see how my replies to questions always differed according to whom I was talking and I heard myself explaining the meditations or my connection with Osho always in new ways. Quite often I was puzzled by my own words, the way they popped out of my mouth, sometimes revealing very intimate feelings. But from the intent eyes of the listener I knew that what I was saying was the right thing for them to hear.

If Gayatri had answered the same question she would have said something totally different, something which came out of her experience – and I often marvelled at her answers as they opened a new perspective for me. Each one of us had a different approach and understanding and we expressed that – there was no party line! And whatever I write here is absolutely my own personal experience. Somebody else has other stories to tell and will tell them differently. Osho encompasses so many aspects and has thousands of birds to sing his song. […]

In autumn 1977 there were rumours that the ashram was going to move to Kutch in Gujarat where Laxmi had found a property. I heard the train would leave Pune on 7th November and I wanted to be on it. So I gave in my notice at McCann. The move then got postponed (and later cancelled) which allowed me to gain an extra month to get ready. […]

Despite my orange-wearing, non-alcohol and vegetarian habits I must have been loved by some of the creative folks in the agency judging from the big farewell card they had prepared for me. It showed me riding on the back of an elephant flying towards the Taj Mahal. I was depicted with long wind-swept hair wearing my Indian orange puff trousers with strings at the ankles and a kurta.

Although I had lived in Italy for so many years I had never been a fashionista. I followed some of the most rudimentary ‘laws’ like that of wearing shoes and handbag of the same colour and nail polish matching my lipstick (a law which is now long out of fashion, I am told), but since I have been a sannyasin things have got worse. Just imagine, my favourite outfit was an ankle-length Tibetan hand-loom robe which I wore with a pair of white, yes white, sailing shoes with rubber soles. My excuse was that they were soooo comfortable!

After my faux-pas when I left Milan without taking care of the meditation centre, I made sure that the change-over was perfect this time. Gayatri was happy to take on the task. I closed the centre in Onex and moved the book and tape library, and the portable cassette player to her place, as well as the robes which we lent to people for Dynamic. To make space for all this, with Gayatri’s permission, I started to clean out her flat, in the same way I had done with my flat in Milan: all gadgets which were not absolutely necessary were collected in boxes for the charity shop Caritas. In the evening, when Gayatri returned from her job, she went through the boxes and said goodbye to her old treasures, “Oh, that’s a present from Sharon who went back to the States. This one is a Xmas present from my boss. And this one… maybe I keep it for a while, may I?”

On the last evening before my departure I counted my money: what I had received for overtime, holidays not taken and the car I sold, amounted exactly to the sum that, according to what I had heard from Deeksha, was required for a donation to be part of the ashram. In the middle of the night I woke up Gayatri and told her the good news. I could become an ashramite and live in Pune ‘forever’!

Excerpts from ‘On the Edge’ by Punya, Chapter 2 –