Winter Festival at Osho Leela 2015


Snippets from Madhuri’s journal.

Osho Leela in Dorset UK

Thursday, December 10th

Osho Leela is housed in Thorngrove House, a huge rambling pile in extensive grounds near Gillingham, in Dorset, in the south of England. There are numerous outbuildings for festival-goers to stay in. The vibe when I arrive in early afternoon is, as always, warm and welcoming. In the main house, there’s a large hall for reception and lounging about, and a big meditation room off that; as well as kitchen, dining room, and a carpeted bar with a piano; staircases and corridors lead off to different floors and wings where all sorts of jolly activities go on, in the best tradition of Osho communes. I love coming here!

I am joyful to be given a great big room on the top floor, with a view out over the huge lawn, the sauna, a few copses of woods. I lie on my huge bed and study my copy of the festival program, circling things I might want to do, plus my own events, so that I’ll know when they’re scheduled for. I see Awareness Intensive with Smaran; Natraj with live music, Vipassana, “Zen Tangle” art workshop with Mala, Comedy Improv with Prabuddho (the Brits love their theater, and are genius at it), a Shiatsu workshop with Rajen, something called Who Is Dancing, with Deva Shanti; Heart Dance with Yatro and Satyam, Ceilidh dance ditto, Mahamudra Meditation; as well as Satsang, Evening Meeting, and Dynamic and Kundalini. My events are to be: Ecstatic Shake, Introduction to Osho (questions and answers) and a 2-hour workshop involving the titles of Osho’s books, called ‘360 Titles’.

I go downstairs to find some lunch. (Vishwa is the cooking goddess, with her team. You can even say beforehand what things you don’t eat, and there will be special food for you on a side-table.) The dining room is a busy place full of movement and conversation, with French doors onto the big lawn behind the house. There is a tea-making place at one side, with huge hot water machines and cubbies of teabags of many sorts, much visited by everyone day and night.

The reception hall has three long couches in it, on which a few people are lounging, talking. More people are arriving all the time, coming in from the drizzly out-of-doors, through the vestibule, stamping their booted feet; then into the cozy, spacious hall.

Later I gratefully do Kundalini, and then it’s Evening Meeting…in a large room in one of the outbuildings.

‘Soft the Touch’ was sung at the end of Evening Meeting. Festival band was ‘Sattva’ featuring Tarisha, Suvarna, Prabodh and visiting percussionist, Shantideva.

We have a Gathering to welcome everyone and present an overview of the next days’ happenings. This is in Zorba, the meditation hall near the dining room and main hall. Mala, Smaran, and Prabuddho are the Masters of Ceremony, with Tarisha coming in in her elegant, dignified way.

Friday, December 11th, Osho’ s Birthday

In the morning we have Osho Q & A. Akasha is in charge of room set-up, and he’s made the Zorba’s space so good-feeling! Maroon backjacks, candled Buddha, everything feeling both lofty and cozy at once; this was set against the wider ambience created by Rajen, the Shiatsu guy, who apparently is the go-to decorator for festivals….he’s a dapper, agile beaming man with a pantherine body, a nearly-bald pate, and an improbably youthful face – really a beamy, joyous, leaping sort of fellow.

We are three for a panel of answerers: Smaran, Prabuddho and me. We three answerers each having our own say – it is brilliant and warm and very extensive in scope, what comes through.

Lunch is always a good thing here. I am again and again impressed by the practical functioning at Osho Leela: how in the background people do what needs doing, without fuss, without resentment, with playfulness sometimes, with respect and admiration for each other…and there is no hysteria in it, no trippiness. This is very impressive!

Akasha is a big, impossibly handsome fellow with a mighty paunch and a warm-hearted, rather bewildered, blarney-ish way about him. He looks like a movie star gone to seed. He is all over the place helping with the placing of pillows and fast take-downs and set-ups of the rooms. Mala is a beautiful blonde wide-hipped woman with a practical liveliness to her mien. Smaran is a Yankee, old and warm and good. All of these are go-to people for the festival, and all good and human and accessible. We are all lucky to have them doing the jobs they do.

Ceilidh at Osho Leela

After the Evening Meeting there is a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) lead by Yatro and Satyam, who is studying Music Therapy at University in Bristol. Shantideva is on drums, Suvarna’s amazing, full-bodied voice on vocals (she also sang at Evening Meeting last night). It takes time for the men to arrive – but when they do there are plenty. It’s all rollicking and crazy, there is more than one dance where all these jolly, intelligent people, many no doubt with college degrees, just can’t get the steps, and there is much laughter and falling-about. And sometimes we get them…. ‘Strip the Willow’ is especially full-on, with lots of linkings of arms and swingings-about all up and down the lines of dancers – we don’t finish till 11:00. Then Satyam announces that there will be an open-mic right afterwards.

Watching the musicians – their happy, wrinkly faces, their grey or white hair (many of them), I’m reminded of other musicians gone ancient – notably the Stones – and think what a noble thing it is – to grow old in music, still playing…and in the case of sannyasins, still glowing, and not with intoxicants. Just the one intoxicant.

Saturday, December 12th

In the afternoon, after the workshops in the morning, Mahamudra meditation, comprised of Latihan plus Prayer. At least thirty people crowd into the room. The music is stupendous – done by the Osho Leela band as it was then, commissioned by Sarita; stunning music, deep and wild and various and very in-going.

Then it’s time for Evening Meeting. So nice to sit with my fellows…listening to Osho.

Dinner is all packed together in the dining area and overflowing into the bar and up the wide carpeted stairs and into the coffee shop at the back of the house.

The Show! There are nine acts – ranging from the absurd to the silly to the pitiful to the wonderfully funny (Yatro, Amitabh – who has got to be one of the greatest comedy character actors I’ve ever seen, belying his shy mien – Mala, Vivek – playing a modified Little Red Riding Hood, Amitabh with his fake wolf fangs slipping about and falling out to great hilarity. I love the democracy of it all – I think it’s stupendous, sublime, that anybody can stand up and do anything; it’s how I feel about Open Mic poetry nights – it is so human, so necessary really, that anybody can get up and show him- or herself and be as absolutely peculiar as they might be! Super-professionalism is a kind of evil if it keeps other people from standing up and showing themselves like this…and for so long TV and films have done that evil, almost completely displacing these opportunities for homely, neighborhood creativity to shine itself for whomsoever is there to see.

Then too, sannyasins are such great audiences. Prabuddho says this at the beginning, “You’ll never get a better audience. They will applaud anything.” That is because meditation makes us happy anyway and we know how to laugh because meditation and a crazy goofball astonishing no-holds-barred Master approved our laughter and set it free. I read two poems; The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, about taking sannyas and We Thought We Loved, which begins, “We thought we were in love with each other / but it was You we loved.”

Smaran does an impersonation of Osho telling a joke – lip-synching to Osho’s voice, wearing a blond wig on his chin and a Nepali cloth cap on his head – and the joke is the Victoria Pipeline one, which I had sent to Osho; it is a good joke!

Sunday, December 13th

After Satsang, Heart Dance and lunch comes the Finishing Circle, where people get praised for all they did; I want here to acknowledge the musicians who, as Tarisha says, are the festival – without them there could be none: Tarisha herself…Suvarna, Manu, Shantideva, Prabodh, Shivam, Yatro, and Satyam.

An early departure, the hurry of things, but measured – and now I’m on the train to Clapham Junction in a grey morning where at last there is no rain.

MadhuriMadhuri is a regular contributor to Osho News

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