A brush with death


Allan searching for and finding ways to experience the ongoing bliss of the Buddhafield and profound acceptance of the facts of death.

Allan and Vicky

Two years ago my wife Vicky, lover and best friend, had a heart attack that would change our lives forever. She was told that she had Coronary Artery Disease and a rare form of angina called Prinzmetal: her heart would periodically go into spasm, causing pain and difficulty with breathing along with the potential outcome of a fatal heart attack. From then on, Vicky would be focused on preventive medicine along with the awareness that her lifespan had been shortened and death would come sooner rather than later.

Doing what we can

Yes, we meditate, pray and connect as spiritual beings, but our bodies, nonetheless, exist on the physical plane of existence and respond in a language of their own, taking into consideration our lifestyle, genetics and emotional state of being. In other words, there is only so much we can do to remain alive. The length of time we are on this planet is the only question. One day we have to face the inevitability of crossing over to the great beyond where our connection with spirit will no longer be just a longing.

“Die to each moment”

Death is the bogeyman we all have to face. As a long-time meditator and Osho devotee, death is a source of freedom, a place I learned to see as my real home since my planetary visit is but a temporary visit to be experienced fully and enjoyed as much as is possible. Osho taught us to live life in an utterly fearless let-go. Die to each moment, he said. Let it be easy. Surrender into expanded consciousness, disappear into the here and now. They are easy words to repeat. Living it is a different story.

When the significant other dies…

Watching the death of a partner, friend or family member is a very different reality than having a philosophical discussion. No matter how fearless we might be about our own deaths, try explaining that to someone in denial who is terrified of dying and who sees death as a black-hooded bogeyman. Then there is the emotional attachment of losing a loved one or even watching your beloved come close to dying while hospitalized and you do not know whether they will live or not.

Yes, one can meditate and pray for a positive outcome, but watch the emotions alternate between holding on and letting go, tussling with the unknown as you wonder whether they will make it. Sure I don’t care if I die, but what of my beloved? What of our love and companionship of all these years? It is easy to say, sure she will always be in my heart, except that her physical presence will not be here, curled up next to me in bed. An empty pillow is not the same.

Osho and the Buddhafield

Back in 1979 I arrived in Poona full of curiosity as well as doubt. I was told by friends back home to be careful not to be sucked in by Osho’s charisma. I didn’t know what to expect but I was drawn to be there. Prophetic dreams and a synchronicity of events were insistent that I go. Three groups later and sitting in meditation every morning listening to Osho speak in Buddha Hall, I was transported into an aura of grace, peace and light-hearted laughter. I was aware of something in the air that I had never felt before, a presence that is always here. Osho called it the Buddhafield.

Something inside me sensed there was something more but I had not yet totally connected with that energy to understand what that meant. I was simply bathing in it and enjoying the pleasure and warmth that it gave me, a celebration of divine love. Then I returned home to Toronto and faced the hard-core reality of dealing with a three-dimensional world. Yes, I became involved with an Osho centre and remained devoted, but maintaining contact with the bliss of the Buddhafield was a major challenge. Dealing with survival in the big city could easily crush the gentle energy that I had been experiencing. I was turned upside down. I often laughed uncontrollably, yet fear also settled in and reminded me of how fragile I now was.

Where is the energy?

The following year I returned to Poona and afterwards spent a year and a half at Rajneeshpuram from the first celebration on. But even though my life had been transformed by Osho’s presence and teaching, I was disappointed that I could not feel the Buddhafield energy wherever I went especially after Osho had left his body. Osho’s words were not enough. They were not a substitute for that tangible presence of peace that I had felt. Why could I not feel it anywhere, always?


That’s not to say that I did not further explore my spirituality. I meditated and delved into shamanism, seeking something more to explore, that presence that is always here that Osho spoke of. Words of harmony and being at home reverberated within, whispering they were here if I could only let go and dissolve into existence. I could hear Osho’s words of encouragement, guiding me towards the place I longed for.

Divine love

Then something changed. Seven months ago, while attending a birthday party, I connected with a couple that hosted prayer circles. I was invited to their home to pray on a Saturday morning and to discuss their website that was in disrepair. At the party I had confessed that I was a web designer…

As I sat with them in their living room I felt that same presence that I had felt sitting with Osho. I was gobsmacked. What was happening here? There was nothing special about these two people, as loving as they were, except that they prayed to God and there was a presence in the room. They called it divine love.

My friend was also a medium who brought forth messages of spirit. Curiosity grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and I became involved. I mentioned that I had once felt this same presence with Osho and that he lived divine love. I was asked about Osho’s Rolls-Royces and decided not to speak further of Osho with them, for now. I knew that I had discovered something and was intrigued as messages of spirit flowed forth. I felt Osho encouraging me to discover more, to satisfy my curiosity.

However, I was only interested in the presence, and that I was experiencing the same energy that I had felt with Osho. I was excited to experience this presence in prayer with this couple and their group, but more than that, I was suddenly feeling it everywhere. I had opened to that ‘something more’ that I had been searching for.

Dealing with the challenge

Then my beloved Vicky had a major angina attack while being involved with a local ‘heart smart program’, and was hospitalized in CCU. For a time, we both thought this was it, our time together had come to an end. She even briefly left her body before bringing herself back, telling spirit that she was not ready to leave. That same presence was tangible at the hospital. We both felt it. As I sit here writing, I feel it. It is here, it is always here. It is never not here. Osho had pointed the way. Even as I struggled, hanging onto his finger, I am grateful that I was finally able to let go and taste the energy that Osho referred to.

Vicky was given an angiogram to photograph the inside of her heart and check the condition of the arteries. The diagnosis was that the condition of her heart had not changed dramatically since the heart attack; nevertheless, a change of medication was necessary to counteract the increased activity involved in the ‘heart smart program’, daily walks and simply trying to feel useful. She has heart disease and there is nothing that can be done except manage it in the best way possible to allow her to be physically here.


Vicky and I had a brush with death and in sharing this with each other we had both been transformed. But at the same time we know that the same crisis will happen again at some time in the future, and perhaps next time she won’t make it. However, the importance of being here in this moment and savouring life in all its wonder had been planted. With death knocking on Vicky’s door a whole new awareness had been initiated, compelling us to appreciate how precious life truly is.

Waking up

How unimportant are our everyday lives once we have tasted death! The separation of life and death is minimal; a very thin veil envelops the world we live in. We convince ourselves that we are protected from death, only discovering it is an illusion when actually facing the moment when the veil is thinnest and the other side is available to be experienced. Then life is transformed forever. It will not be possible to look at your cup of coffee in the same way. You will never look at your beloved in the same way.

We will have experienced a major shift in reality especially if we are not caught up within our own illusion that refuses to face this simple truth. Blocking the truth in order to convince ourselves that we are safe prevents us from seeing life with clarity. Death cannot be avoided just because we have created a protective bubble of illusion. Death is not the end, rather a doorway that will open when the time is right.


We live on a planet that is but a speck in a vast universe, yet we think we are so important. A blade of grass is no less important, but we think we are superior. Then death opens a crack and says, “Come take a look.” You think you are still important?
We can struggle, trying our best not to look – or we can enjoy the immense peace that descends when we accept our insignificance. Befriending death is a gift because it is saying, “I accept the totality of life.” Then it is possible to take in the immenseness of existence because we are not afraid to look. We have so many names for this state, but I see it as a vast benevolent presence and, once embraced, it becomes possible to begin living in grace, in peace.

Osho’s message

Osho gave me the opportunity to experience this presence and, for a while, I thought it was only connected with his Buddhafield. I know otherwise now. Although it has been a long journey that will meander into eternity, I can now say that I have experienced what Osho was pointing to. It is definitely here. I only need to relax into the present moment and then death and life are one. Separation is but a dream that I have created.

Articles (photo galleries) by the same author
Rainforest in Canada – Allan’s collection of photographs from the Pacific Coast of British Columbia
On MG Road – A slideshow of photos by Allan taken in the late 70s in Pune

Allan Forest has been a photographer since 1971 when he graduated from the school of photography at Ryerson University, Toronto. Initially he focused on commercial studio photography and specialized in advertising and catalogue photography. He took sannyas in 1979 and frequently visited the commune in Pune. A few years ago he moved to the Sunshine Coast and currently freelances and takes landscape photographs. 24 of his photographs were published in the picture book, The Sunshine Coast.

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