Suha writes about Italian Osho Times’ editor-in-chief, yet she is not only that…
Marga, now in her fifties, was born and grew up in Torino, Northern Italy, but as she proudly says, “My DNA is hundred percent Sicilian.” (North and south are very different ‘tribes’.) Which is why she can say, “I know, I am intense.” And she really means it!
She interviews people from all nooks and corners of the planet, mostly via Skype. If the interview is in English she translates it into Italian, edits it and has it published in the Osho Times Italy, one of the most prestigious printed magazines for meditation, featuring contributions from therapists and sannyasins from all over the world. She closely works with Akarmo (its founder) who, as she says, gives her “a lot of space.” A great deal of her creative energy goes into this magazine. She says, “I am honoured to be working for OTI. It is a blessing that I didn’t deserve; not in the sense that I am unworthy of it, but in the sense that I always regard it as a sheer gift from existence. I approach it with reverence and – deep respect for all the readers who receive it.”
I cannot forget to mention that she also writes most of the essays for OTI, and that I have not found a better simultaneous translator from English to Italian, as I could experience during a workshop.
I met Marga one-to-one the first time almost two years ago, via Skype. We were working on one of my articles I had to write for OTI. She asked me questions and entered straight into the core of specific issues with an understanding and professional approach which are typical of her. She has real talent and her intrinsic need for clarity does the rest. I experience this each time she edits my articles. At the same time I can see the deep respect and appreciation she has for a different way of expression. Again and again we work on my article, making changes here and there to improve it, until we are both satisfied: a precious team work that creates a close bond. The same happens to her with the OTI team; she says, “After many years I can say we are friends, not just a bunch of people working together!”
This is all I knew about her until I went to visit her for a few days in her house in Panjim, Goa, the place from where she works. A big terrace facing the sea, the silent presence of her Micha (the cat she calls ‘my secretary’ because she reminds her every day when it is time to stop working, have lunch and dinner), a giant computer screen from which she suddenly jumps up to go and take care of something in another room of her big house. I was quietly watching her, impressed by the work load she could master, her focus and speed (qualities very much appreciated by Akarmo, including her long-term vision of the issues to be put together). She was moving like a fish in the turbulent and dusty background of an Indian environment, loved and supported by her Indian sannyasin husband and friend, Abhay.
She prefers to listen rather than to talk about herself, but when I saw her guitars, I suddenly remembered that years before she had been giving blues solo concerts in Pune at Shisha Café. This was enough of an invitation for her to talk about her musical career. Later, while visiting her website I came to know how her family background helped her build the foundations and give a direction to her talents. She grew up with a grandfather who played the accordion and the guitar; hence music became part of her life very early on. He encouraged her to sing along the traditional Italian folk songs he loved; he also taught her how to play the basic guitar chords.
“During my whole life these two things were always present: writing and making music. I wrote my first poem on a bus when I was 13 and my first song a few years later. I was also playing guitar, so the step from poetry to songwriting was natural; and I also had a beautiful voice, so we can say I have always been a singer-songwriter, even though I never took it seriously as a possible profession. I always felt that when music or writing become a profession – unless you really hit the stars – it is just a path of compromises.
“But I was always into live music, nevertheless, not as a songwriter but as a singer, part of different bands, a few of which I also co-founded. In that realm my favorite music was always soul, blues, funky: all belonging to the African-American tradition. I had a lot of fun on stage, not only that – to be in a band is like being in a relationship. It makes you sweat; sometimes you are in paradise and sometimes in hell. You grow, you learn how to fly, and also how to fall.
“I wrote beautiful songs. I feel that the most beautiful and significant one is Hey Woman, dedicated to women, of course. Shunyo plays it for the participants in her women’s groups (a home recording). Once she even asked me to sing it live in one of the workshops where I participated as a helper!
“For many years, first in Italy and later in India, I was a dedicated live performer, in clubs as well as for sannyas celebrations, but in the last few years I kind of retired from live gigs and now prefer to make music on my own or perform for special occasions. I also started to play Tibetan singing bowls – a totally different dimension of music – but my guitars are always close by. They belong there, with me, and whenever I feel like it I stop what I am doing and start to play and sing, entertaining the birds and the neighbours!”
For the record, her musician name is Marga Jee.
During my visit I came to know that she had written a book about her turbulent teenage years when I read (with her permission) the drafts I saw lying on her desk. In the meantime the memoir of her wild youth years, Fuori dal Blue (Out of the Blue) has been published under the name Marga Eleonora Scroppo as an e-book and the second book, which will be called Il senso delle cose (The Meaning of Things) is on the way and will also be translated into English.
About those years she says, “I started to dislike school – and quit – as a teen. I was more interested in boys, music, drugs… I was 18 at the beginning of the eighties – the decade when sex, drugs and rock and roll reached their peaks of availability and ease, before the phantom of AIDS and a lot of bad stuff started to make everything heavy and gloomy. I moved to London and did it all, with a lot of satisfaction.”
When I heard this I felt a pinch of envy: what an adventurous way to live her youth! I then became aware that I had not yet heard from her about how she came to Osho.
“If I look back I cannot say I was ever a spiritual person in any conventional way, but surely I was intense, intensely looking for something. Osho came into my life in 1999 through a book, Meditation: the Art of Ecstasy. It was given to me as a present by the man I considered then ‘the love of my life’. We had just split up and I was in real pain. I was working at a finance company and had a career I didn’t really care about. But it was more and more demanding to the point that my band asked me to leave because I was always late at rehearsals, if I was going at all. Everything was strange at that time, even my friends suddenly turned their backs on me. I was fed up with everything. Reading that book was magic. I started to cry and felt that I had been waiting to hear the words of this man for my whole life and asked myself, ‘Where was I all this time to have missed him?’
“But it was clear to me that I would not miss his meditations! I took a paid health leave from work and started to meditate full-time at home. The book had an appendix with all the instructions to Osho’s meditations: so I just had to read and try… I was doing them without CDs, without music, just using the watch as a timer for the stages. I spent a few months like that, while a secret joy welled up into my heart.
“I bought more books by Osho and when I finished reading I Am the Gate, where Osho talks a lot about initiation, about sannyas, I wanted to find out if I could still take sannyas even if he was no longer in his body. I went through the list of telephone numbers on the last pages of the Italian editions: Oshoba, Miasto, and other Osho Centres in Italy.
“The first to answer was Nirodh of Arihant Centre in Varazze. He said, ‘Come tomorrow! Shunyo is here for a meditation camp, she will give you sannyas.’ There I was the next day, silenced by this beautiful woman and her overwhelming presence; I took sannyas the last day of the meditation camp, in the garden at sunset, with Veet Marco playing his mysterious tunes. That very night was Guru Purnima, the full moon of the enlightened ones. I received the mala but I had to wait one month for the name to come by post from Pune. The letter read: Ma Bodhi Marga – The Path of Awareness.”
I understood that her family background played a basic role in her life, in particular when she talked about her mother. “I have been observing and playing with subtle energies for a long time. My mother was a natural healer – she had ‘hot hands’, as we say – and later became a Reiki Master. Although I hadn’t followed her path, I certainly inherited her sensitivity and understanding that we are energy, not just on an obvious biological level, but also on a subtle one.
“A few years ago I decided to explore the world of subtle energies and learn a technique. I chose the one that, for me, comes closest to the way Osho describes energy when he talks about it: Subtle Body Healing, created by Leela, Prasad and Alvina. This technique gave me not only the skills to work on other people’s subtle energies and mine, but also enriched me by opening me and widening my perceptions for the many dimensions of energy that I had sensed but hadn’t really experienced before. I am not so much into giving Subtle Body Healing sessions, although I sometimes do that for friends, but, most importantly, I have managed to incorporate this subtle approach into the rest of my work. It has also helped me go deeper in meditation.”
But then I got an even bigger surprise.
“Another passion of mine is playing cards. I play different games, some of the Italian ones such as Briscola, Tressette and various Scopa. But the one I prefer, the more challenging let’s say, is Texas Holdem Poker (a game she had learned from her father when she was a child). I even ended up working as a house player for nine months in Casino Royale in Panjim, a boat casino, a few years back. It was a beautiful experience and I managed to make enough money to pay all my trainings in Miasto. But casino life is hard! I was most of the times the only woman among men and that sucks after a while. And you need to be tough, to be hard, to be competitive and cold. It’s all about money and ego, a lot of both… It’s not something I would choose in the long run – I like to be in the heart! – but it was an interesting moment in my life, to be a professional poker player! And it’s nice to know that I can always go back there if I need to make money!”
And if there is any need to further prove her vitality, she has created a series of workshops, two of them based on the awakening and flowering of creativity through writing and music (but not only), and the other two based on the nature of relating she has been experiencing with many lovers and in several long-term relationships before her 10-year love affair with Abhay. She will facilitate one of them called Jealousy – Friend or Foe?
“That’s my life. I love the heights and I love the depths. I love the lotus and I love the mud. I can say that these rides and dives are the keys to the many things I have attained in my life; they are the ‘magic fuel’ that brought forth creativity through the intensity of living while embracing both ends, the darkness and the light. But it all gained meaning to me only through Osho, because before I often used to spin aimlessly and feel that I was ‘too much to bear’, even to myself! The main thing I have learnt from Osho is all about this: embracing the beauty of the dual nature of life, and swinging through extremes with grace and lightness, occasionally – or eventually – enjoying the silence at the centre.”
While meeting Marga, I became aware that I was indeed standing in front of a woman of many passions and with endless resources.
Listen to Marga sing Hey Woman on Osho News
Article by Suha – thanks to information from private conversations and Marga’s notes
More articles and poems by this author in Osho News