Subhuti remembers when, on his first day, he walked into the ashram main office and ‘met’ Laxmi.

Laxmi

One fine day, in early March, 1976, I walked into the office of Osho’s ashram in Pune. I’d just arrived from London and wanted to make an appointment to see him. The first person I saw was Laxmi, his secretary, a small woman with pale brown skin and deep dark eyes, wearing a reddish-orange robe and matching headscarf.

Laxmi was talking to a middle-aged German couple, so I sat down and listened, waiting my turn. I can’t remember how the conversation went, but I do recall that, after a while, I began to realize that the questions being asked by the couple were somehow missing the point.

I don’t think I articulated it, even to myself, but it was clear that their questions were superficial and intellectual. They arose out of a desire to learn, not from a thirst to experience. But Laxmi was patient, responding to each question as best she could, until finally the couple stood up, thanked her and left.

Laxmi waited until they were out of earshot then flicked one of her hands in a gesture of dismissal. “Pah!” she exclaimed, addressing an assistant who sat beside her, “They are head people.”

She swivelled her chair and looked directly into my eyes. “Now Peter here is a heart person.”

Boom! An invisible ball of energy, warm and soft, shot across the desk and hit my heart with a resounding thump. There was no resistance on my part, because it happened so fast and took me completely by surprise. Besides, my heart welcomed it, receiving this unexpected gift like some long-forgotten nourishment.

Meanwhile, my head couldn’t get around what Laxmi had just said. Me? A heart person? Me, the sarcastic political journalist? Me, the cynical, aloof observer whom no charlatan – be he politician or guru – could ever hope to deceive?

“I’d like to see Osho,” I explained, trying to stay on track.

“Yes, tonight!” she turned to her assistant, “Put his name down for darshan.”

The assistant looked up quizzically. “Is he taking sannyas?” she asked.

Before I could open my mouth, Laxmi had the answer. “Of course he’s taking sannyas,” she replied. Again, there was no resistance from me, because, even from an intellectual viewpoint, she was right. After all, I hadn’t flown halfway round the world in order not to take sannyas.

And that was that. Before I’d even met Osho, the essential, existential message had been delivered by his tiny Gujarati secretary. What made this meeting remarkable, apart from the mystical physics involved in hurling a ball of energy across an office desk without even trying, was the nature of the love I experienced.

It wasn’t love for Laxmi and it wasn’t love for Osho, even though it appeared to be something coming from them. It was, in reality, love for myself. And this, I believe, is the sign of a true mystic: you don’t end up loving him, or her. You end up loving yourself.

Which kind of explains a strange statement I once heard Osho say: “My work is to take away that which you don’t have, and give you what you already have.”

Thank you Laxmi, thank you Osho.

Excerpted from My Dance with a Madman, Subhuti’s book about life with Osho

SubhutiSubhuti is a regular contributor

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