Excerpt from Deva Peter’s upcoming book, ’93 Rolls-Royces’.
This is the story of a man, just an ordinary man, who changed the world. The story of an ordinary man who stole my heart and changed my world. The story of a man once called Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who theoretically owned ninety-three (ninety-three!) Rolls-Royces and blew the world’s collective mind.
Photograph by Bill Sumner, Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.
This is my story, too. I was once called Swami Deva Peter. Bhagwan – now called Osho – was/is an enlightened master, an Indian mystic, an awakened being, a supreme jokester, a public relations genius. He is/was also my spiritual Master and my good friend.
In this moment he is sitting in a Silver Spur Rolls-Royce, having just driven the car into a snow bank on a treacherous, narrow road. WTF! The car is stuck, way too near a fifty-foot drop into a snowy gulch.
This morning, when snow flurries began to fall, I knew it would be a bad day for him to go out. Light snow at Lao Tzu Garage early in the day could mean heavy snow later on, along the crappy county road, at a higher elevation, at the top of the Ranch.
The Rolls has summer tires and one-wheel drive – a perfect prescription for disaster on a snowy day. It was obvious to me he shouldn’t go out. I told him so, but he ignored my advice. Of course, he had grown up in India; I had grown up in Chicago. I know snow. He wouldn’t know any better.
I am driving the “chase car,” a four-wheel drive GMC Jimmy, behind Osho on his daily drive, when the Rolls gets bogged down in the snow and its right rear tire begins to spin. As I walk toward the Rolls, I see his elegant fingers rocking a steady rhythm on the steering wheel. Tap, tap, tap.
The tapper is impatient. He is waiting for rescue. Impatience is certainly not a trait you expect in this man, who is super-cool, never ruffled, accepting of everything that comes along. I smile inside, grateful for the chance to witness such a human response from an enlightened being. So he is really, as he’s always said, just an ordinary man.
At the same time I am angry; no, I am not angry, just annoyed. At Existence for putting me in this position. I am the one who has to rescue Osho in his Rolls-Royce, stuck in a foot of snow. The procedure will be dangerous and delicate.
First, I help Vivek out of the front passenger seat and into the back. I notice how beautiful and fragile she seems, this young, soft-spoken English woman, but totally centered and not scared. Vivek is Osho’s longtime caretaker and companion. He has often said that they had a past life together as childhood friends and lovers.
By the time I get around to the driver’s side, Osho has somehow already moved over into the front passenger seat. I can’t imagine how, in his robe and stocking feet, he has maneuvered over the center console so quickly. Maybe he practices the Maharishi’s yogic hopping! I climb into the driver’s seat and hear him say, real soft, “I thought I could make it.” He doesn’t say this apologetically; more like a small child.
I hope my annoyance isn’t obvious as I execute at least ten twisty maneuvers to get the Rolls out of the dangerous situation. I return to the Jimmy and watch Osho carefully get back into the driver’s seat. I follow as he drives the Rolls back home, back to his quarters at the Lao Tzu compound.
Today’s drive is cancelled. Enough for today.
How did I get here? Sometimes I ask myself that question. I was peacefully minding my own business, running a successful auto body and paint shop in Ojai, California, and quietly contemplating suicide. Then, a series of remarkable events landed me at the feet of an enlightened master, in an ashram in Poona (also spelled Pune), India.
But let me start at the beginning…
Born in 1945, Deva Peter was raised in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He trained and worked as a professional auto mechanic, welder, boat builder and custom car painter. He took sannyas in Poona, in February 1981 and was invited to the Ranch that year. Osho’s Rolls-Royces were the most extraordinary custom paint jobs Peter completed. He currently enjoys retired life with Avalon (Ma Devagarbha) in Colorado, living close to their daughter, her husband, and two granddaughters, who are the light of his life. phaykus at outlook.com