In the second part of the interview, Maneesha talks to Bhagawati about her time in Pune 2 and Sedona.
Read Part 1: Maneesha, dance for me!
Mumbai and Pune 2: Of service to the master
Together with Anugito I returned to Master’s Press in Tuscany and we travelled to groups I offered in a few centres. For some time we lived in Cologne and twice we saw Osho in Mumbai when he was there. The moment it became clear that Osho was starting again a new commune in Pune, we went as soon as we could. Pune 2!
A while after we arrived I asked if my dance workshops could be part of the Centre for Transformation, but I got a no. After all, to them, I probably looked like just a pushy little inexperienced wanna-be therapist! When half a year or so later I was getting ready to leave Pune for a training in Italy, Osho sent a message to Kamal, who was the co-director of the Centre for Transformation at the time, asking him to invite me to stay and offer the training in Pune.
I started giving dance groups and also created the Dance Meditation Training, which was presented in two parts, one led by me and one by Amiyo – two different approaches. There were also events and classes in Buddha Hall: Natural Dance, Dancing with the Master and, of course, African Dance are the names I remember. So I remained in Pune and led workshops for quite some years.
Looking back, I see how Osho gave me the stage – and saved me from losing it a couple of times – to expand the energy that was welling up inside me, to make mistakes and learn. He welcomed the raw creative energy to come out with all its passion and, meanwhile, exposed me to all my mind’s immaturity: the needs, strategies, drivenness, pushiness, ambition. Having received that yes from Osho, and the stage he had given me, allowed my work to crystallize more and more in intensity, strength and creativity. It was such a joy to give my work in service to the master.
By around 91 or 92, Kaveesha had created the Mystery School. Against my intentions, I ended up in the Power Group, part of the Stream groups. When I experienced the alchemy Wadud (now Prasad) introduced there, I felt like that was what I had been exploring in my groups, I just didn’t understand what it was. The work with the heart, essential to transformation, was the gift Kaveesha understood and lived by. She transmitted self-love and acceptance; she worked from a space of love going in and looking at our stuff; a very different approach from the usual more confrontative therapeutic method. She was open to all the crazy, unique people who didn’t quite fit in anywhere else in the Multiversity. The Mystery School seemed to follow a flow of what felt right in the moment, rather than following rules, or plans. I had a magnetic pull towards the Mystery School; I continued with groups and got involved.
One day I went to see Garimo who was in charge of the Multiversity and told her that I wanted to bring my work into the Mystery School because the way things were taught there was the way I had been leading my groups. No one thought that such a move would be allowed. Garimo, with that immense heart and a big infusion of Dutch integrity, listened to what I had to say – and, amazingly, said it was OK.
I learned an immense amount from Waduda and Wadud (now Leela and Prasad) who were teachers in the Mystery School. I came to understand more accurately the alchemical change that happens during Osho’s meditations and in dance, so that I could refine the work of transforming energy and emotions, coming to silence and receiving clarity through the body and dance.
After Osho left his body in 1990 things in the ashram started changing big time. A year later Kaveesha left for the States, the following year Wadud and Waduda joined her as soon as she had settled in Sedona where she wanted to start an Osho School. Just then, by ‘coincidence’, my mother wrote me a letter inviting me and Anugito to come to Sedona for a visit. Four years previously she had bought a house there. She offered to pay our tickets from Europe where we were working to earn money to go back to Pune. So off we went to the States and stayed with my parents for 3 weeks, and in the new Mystery School found about 20 people with whom we meditated, all from Pune or other parts of the US. Osho couldn’t have made it more obvious! Although I loved it in Sedona and my mother offered to help us get a house… still we went back to Pune as planned. I couldn’t bear to leave the ashram and stayed another year, trying to make it work until I had to let go and followed the inevitable. In 1995 we left for Sedona.
Sedona, AZ: A strong buddhafield
Kaveesha, David, Avirbhava, and Yogi founded the ‘Osho Academy’, and Waduda and Wadud joined as teachers. Kaveesha’s work, ‘The Psychology of the Buddhas’ was a very helpful, playful way of watching the mind, exploring it, getting distance from it and accepting it with love… Under her guidance it was easy to become aware of the moment when we are driven by a part of the mind – which is not who we really are – and its agenda. It was truly unique and super helpful. A lot of people from all over the world moved to Sedona or came for a visit to attend some groups. It was a unique chance – as was Kaveesha’s intention – to be in the world: dealing with house, money, work, taxes, etc., and yet to still be in a strong buddhafield with other Osho sannyasins, flying high in meditation. It was the best.
I became a massage therapist, started a successful spa in Sedona (owning it for 3 years), later worked at another famous spa and then as a trainer for an organic aromatherapy business.
I am eternally grateful for the years at the Osho Academy. This period rooted me into myself, into my stillness and presence; and allowed me to face my masks, fears and wounds – and let the false continue to dissolve.
Leaving the Academy: To choose the unknown
Since I was 22 I had been in the master’s buddhafield. I always knew that we could go way deeper in meditation while being in a group rather than living on our own. The longing and attachment to living in a buddhafield perhaps kept me at the Osho Academy longer than was good for me. Although I felt that the structures and ways of working that had established themselves were no longer helpful to my growth, I did not want to give up the depth and nourishment of meditating together.
After Kaveesha’s death I felt that the atmosphere of acceptance of each person as they were – which had originally brought me to Kaveesha and the Mystery School in the first place – was gradually fading away. To me, there was this ‘trying to get better’, comparison, self-condemnation, sneaking in again, and those spiritual ideals we carry in our minds were again getting stronger – and it all remained unaddressed.
And just as it had happened on the Ranch, I thought that the uncomfortable feeling that something was not right was my own resistance, and that the things I didn’t like were part of the friction needed for growth; it blinded me from questioning and listening to Osho within me. But then, many of us did start listening to ourselves; we started to share with each other what no longer felt right and the clarity that was arising inside. We tried to speak out, make changes but the Academy did not change with us. So the decision was: either stay and use the friction to go deeper – or step out.
As I faced this painful decision, I remembered an Osho discourse that has always stayed with me. He says – whenever you have a choice between the known or the unknown, choose the unknown. When I thought about stepping out, my heart expanded. I jumped into the unknown. I wish I could express this expansion in words. I found self-love and the courage to challenge the old imprint in my psyche of “I’m not good enough’’ and stand in “This is me. I am devoted to this master, I feel lost, I don’t know where this is all going but I am OK the way I am, it is OK not to know. And I am ready to move according to my own inner guidance.” I rediscovered the trust of my own path with Osho instead of listening to others’ ideas of how I should live and grow. Coming back to myself, I saw clearly that I had once again put an ideal between me and the divine, as religions had done for millennia. Learning this lesson has given me a deeper joy than I could ever have imagined.
Osho had addressed this imprint in a discourse where he answered a question of mine:
Prem Maneesha, it is not only with you, it is with everybody who has been brought up by a hypocritical society. Its whole training is to hide your original face, to wear masks – masks which are appealing to people, masks which are appreciated by people; and always remembering to adjust according to others people’s ideas.
For millions of years our whole way of life has been of adjustment, of compromise. And compromise with whom? With a crowd – in which everybody else is also compromising, where nobody is opening up his reality, where everyone is afraid of being himself, because from the very beginning he has been told, ‘The way you are is not going to be acceptable.’
[…] There is no point being worried about other people; their opinions mean nothing.
The only thing that matters in life is your own opinion about yourself, your own respect for yourself. Nobody can destroy your dignity then, because it is not dependent on anybody’s opinion.
Come out in the open — even if it goes against the whole world. Enjoy your original being.
To me, that’s what rebellion is, that’s what religion is.
The Rebel, Ch 6, Q 2
Once again, as with Pune 1, the Ranch, Osho being in the body, Pune 2 – whatever I thought would last forever – and now the Mystery School in Sedona – was gone! But I remembered how each time there was a change and I moved with the change, it took me to the next phase; without figuring out a solution, I was taken care of so beautifully.
Now: I love this insecurity
The next change came on the heels of a succession of illnesses, deaths and losses around me. Again and again I was thrown into a big feeling of insecurity, bringing days of terror and days of bliss. I found myself facing the freedom and shakiness of not knowing where my path with the master would take me.
I can hardly believe it myself, but actually I have begun to love this insecurity – like riding the waves (or like walking on crooked, changing floors as I was in my dream). Didn’t he say that anyway life is insecurity? We just forget and think it is stable, until something happens. Just now I feel that I have the chance to live whatever Osho has poured into me – and experiment with questions like, “Can I trust existence wherever it will take me? Can I listen to its whisperings?”
Anugito and I still live in Sedona and meditate in our homes with other beautiful Osho people; he works as a graphic designer, I give therapy, hypnosis and bodywork sessions. I have started to travel again for groups in the US, Europe, Brazil and China, and am beginning to connect with the bigger sannyas world again. I don’t know where this is going, where it will lead me next. It is a surprise and a joy to still feel the alive current of Osho – it is tangible – and to still feel the mysterious synchronicity between us all. What we have absorbed from Osho begins to blossom – together, yet each one so unique, and so inevitably, beautifully, alone.