Viramo writes from the OshoFest 2016 in California.
The energy is through the roof in the big hall. We are celebrating in true sannyas fashion: wild, joyous expressions of love, dancing and disappearing into the Blessed One. Milarepa’s One Sky Band is blasting out those Osho hymns to high energy, Rishi on drums driving us higher and higher, deeper and deeper.
Poona One? Feels like, looks like. No. This is the aftermath of sannyas initiation at OshoFest 2016, held in early September under the loving and super-efficient guidance of Osho Niranjana Meditation Center. After we dance ourselves to exhaustion and get quiet, bathed in a loving glow, music fading out, then silence, comes a magical moment.
It’s that angelic female voice: Tarisha. She accompanies herself on the Roland keyboard. Softly, softly.
This is for you, Niranjana
Fresh and young
Old and wise
So full of love
A pure, spontaneous expression of gratitude from the One Sky Band’s multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. It’s a sentiment I’m sure is shared by us all. Gratitude.
I am invited by my long-time friend Pathen to join him at the third annual OshoFest at the woodsy venue called Camp Stevens. It’s located near the mountain town of Julian, California, about 90 minutes driving time from San Diego. We are looking at an eight- or nine-hour drive from Sedona, much of it over scorching desert.
I hesitate to say yes; I’ve grown old and soft and lazy. But Sedona feels dry. Many sannyasins live here, but … you know, dry. I want some juice. I want to dance and play and let go in that wild Osho energy. I crave the love. So I say yes to Pathen.
Camp Stevens is a welcome sight, and the Niranjana crew has everything arranged for our arrival. We are assigned to the “geriatric” cabin. There are four of us, the youngest being a ripe 72. It’s rustic, all right. Two bunk beds, no shelves, nowhere to hang clothes, but at least a shower and toilet.
I’m not big on camping. My idea of camping out is, at minimum, a three-star hotel. But this would do for the four days of OshoFest.
Dinner is served promptly at 6 p.m. All meals during the event are prepared by the camp people — delicious vegetarian fare, lots of vegan grub for veganites like me, daily menus posted on a blackboard. The camp is run by the Episcopal Church, and offers retreats to religious and non-profit groups. I don’t notice any evidence of Jesus’ presence, save for a few discreet copies of the New Testament in a rec room.
The 8 p.m. “Welcome to the Festival” is a joyous event, featuring both meditative and high-energy dancing music by Milarepa and his band. Afterward is a kind of takeoff on Sufi Dancing: form a big circle, lots of eye contact, namasteing, and meeting our fellow festivalgoers. The latest incarnation of Mila’s One Sky Band is awesome. Besides Tarisha on keyboard and flute, Rishi on drums, Milarepa better than ever on lead guitar, we have Chandira on bass and keyboard. She’s also a classically trained pianist. Everybody’s on vocals. The group is hot. And meditatively cool.
A beautiful, heartfelt evening! But it’s the aftermath that chills my bones and leads to my very own Dark Night of the Soul. Boys will be boys, right? And my aging “boys” elect to celebrate noisily far into the dark night, despite my pleas to let me sleep. The feelings this evokes are painfully familiar. I have some serious childhood issues around being bullied. Somehow their bad boy antics trigger a violent response in the unconscious mind and push my bully button. In a silent rage, I spend a totally sleepless night.
Next morning the rage energy lingers. Only one thing to do: Dynamic Meditation. It starts at 7:15 a.m. in the big hall. Now, I can’t remember the last time I did Dynamic. Decades ago, no doubt. I stagger to the hall, bleary-eyed and dangerous.
The tech-savvy guys from Niranjana have mixed Osho’s voice giving instructions at an early meditation camp with the full-on Dynamic music. It is very powerful. I throw myself into the meditation, totally. Shards of anger fall from my body-mind as the breath takes over. Second stage: I cathart as if my life depends on it. In reality, it does. I shout the “Hoo Hoo Hoo!” but can’t jump up and down anymore because my knees are going. Silence. Celebration. Yahoo!
I become a Dynamic devotee, and do it every morning of the festival. The first day it seems about three hours long, but each day it goes deeper and I slowly wonder what I’ve been missing all these years.
Morning satsang every morning at 10, live music with Milarepa and One Sky. Tears. Years of tears, falling like rain. Osho’s presence is in every note, every leaf, every glance, every teardrop.
So many friends, old and new, at OshoFest! I first met Anubuddha at Geetam nearly 40 years ago. He still looks fresh, young, excited. At the ’Fest, he and his lady Anasha lead the Arun Conscious Touch group.
Dear friend Maneesha leads the Zorba the Buddha group. I call her, among other things, the Queen of the Dance. She is possessed of incredible energy, and leads us through a series of exercises and movements that leave me, running on zero sleep, exhausted and halfway to enlightenment. Her group lasts two hours. I manage to finish it on my feet, gasping for breath and glad to be alive.
In a throwback to the Good Old Days, it is refreshing to see people wearing maroon robes and malas as we move through the various groups, mealtimes, meditations and other activities. Wearing the colors and mala is totally optional, but it feels so right to boogie through the day wearing my mala, given to me by Osho in 1979.
Love is in the air! Everyone is so friendly. The Niranjana people have created an energy field — a Buddhafield, to put it in Osho terms — that is loving and supportive and creative. I walk around the camp in wonder, amazed that such an energy even exists!
White robe in the evening? Pure joy. Wear your white robe and mala, or not. Milarepa and his One Sky Band raise the roof, climaxing with “Osho! Osho! Osho!”
Monday, the last day of the OshoFest: Yoga at 6:30 a.m.? No, thanks. Dynamic, of course … wouldn’t miss it. Morning satsang, and beloved Rishi is playing a jew’s harp solo! He tells me later that he has several of these ancient instruments, and that each one is in a different key. Who knew?! We are so blessed to have these musicians among us, professionals all, bringing waves of Osho energy to the festival.
Sannyas initiation later in the day is a total energy explosion. Maneesha gives sannyas to four seekers, and we all celebrate with wild abandon. Osho’s presence fills the hall. So much energy is released and shared that there’s nothing left for Kundalini Meditation at 4:30; it is cancelled.
And so it’s over. We all pack up and prepare to leave the kind and gentle people who work at Camp Stevens.
Wait, it’s not quite over. Pathen and I have arranged to spend the night at Osho Niranjana’s headquarters about an hour away in Valley Center, California. Three couples (and a “kid”) share a modern mansion located in an isolated corner of San Diego County. The property is squarely in the middle of an incredible orange grove. The same hospitality, the same love, the same friendliness we experienced at Camp Stevens also exists here.
The Osho Niranjana people are all from Nepal. They all have jobs in “the world” and still maintain a beautiful and active Osho meditation center — and stage the awesome annual OshoFest. The center was inspired by Swami Arun, one of Osho’s earliest disciples and now one of his busiest ambassadors. He will host two meditation retreats at Niranjana in 2017.
A fresh wind is blowing over the USA, a fresh wind from the east (Nepal), a fresh wind from the west (Osho Niranjana). Ah, this!
Viramo has lived the writing life as a newspaper reporter and columnist, book and magazine editor, photojournalist, ghostwriter, publicist, and novelist. He took sannyas in 1979, and has lived in Osho’s communes in Pune and at Rajneeshpuram. Viramo lives in Sedona, USA. He has authored two published science-fiction novels, and served as editor and ghostwriter for the new book about Osho’s greatest publicity stunt, ’93 Rolls-Royces.’ Viramo blogs at viramoblog.wordpress.com. Via his website, marvlincoln.com, he helps people write and publish their books. All articles by Viramo on Osho News.