Arun speaks about sannyasins and seekers and the importance of a disciplined and balanced life that includes meditation. Excerpt from his recently published book, ‘Panchasheel, Five Sutras of Self Transformation’.
I too have devoted the last five decades of my life to the purpose of seeking truth. A deep longing for meditation took me to Osho, where I was initiated into the path of truth, and since then for more than four decades, I have been living in an ashram and meditating every day. My experience of all these years has made me realize that without the purity of body, mind and heart, regular meditation, constant companionship with the master and other meditators, awareness and an acute and persistent longing for enlightenment, it is almost impossible to attain buddhahood. Trying to attain enlightenment by bypassing these fundamental disciplines and simply through intellectual means is a spiritual tragedy, not so uncommon these days.
It is my experience that in the early days, a meditator is as helpless and as impressionable as an innocent child. If one doesn’t receive a strong support-base in the form of an ashram, a master and sannyas and a clear understanding of disciplines during the formative days, it is difficult to be rooted in meditation, which invariably leads to the fear of going astray or being misguided. Many meditators, who have reached an advanced state of meditation, have lost track, being charmed by the lure of magical powers and siddhis and there are yet others who fall into the trap of gurudom. So even in the advanced state of meditation one needs regular guidance from a guru and clear understanding about esoteric happenings so that one can protect oneself from the tricks of the mind that are very subtle. The higher one reaches, the greater the danger of a fall. And to regain the same height becomes even more difficult. Therefore, for some meditators, it takes several lives to recover the same state of consciousness, which they lost for a small moment of thrill or showmanship.
Awareness is easier preached than practiced. In fact, the art of awareness is the most difficult of all arts. It is very easy to say that I always live in the state of awareness and don’t need to practice any meditation technique. But only one who has observed and transcended all the subtle tricks of the mind will know how arduous a task it is. Osho also saw that without regular meditation and appropriate milieu, it is difficult, if not impossible, to practice awareness.
Time and again, people come to me and confide that they reach a certain state of meditation during the retreats and that they have a glimpse of bliss, but as they return back to their homes, the joy gradually recedes and meditation becomes irregular and mechanical and eventually stops totally. This is not just an experience of a single meditator but is true with most. The reason for this is worth pondering over.
The Neo-Sannyas movement that started on September 26, 1970, is about half a century old. Hundreds of thousands have been initiated into Neo-Sannyas. Once in a while, we come across someone who has been an initiate for over forty years. But sadly, only rarely do we come across a person whose being radiates the purity, whose mind reflects the brilliance and whose presence is saturated with the fragrance and joy that comes with forty years of meditation. For years, Osho traveled extensively across India and had intimate and close encounters with traditional sannyasins and religious people. He found that forced discipline often results in perversion, disharmony and hypocrisies. This is why Osho always refrained from imposing outer discipline upon his disciples. He considered meditation as the master key and said that his presence and his discourses would gradually help sannyasins to overcome all the barriers of their being and to attain to pure and unstained consciousness. In this process an internal discipline and purity would flower organically. It is worth understanding that Osho did not, however, advocate a promiscuous and irresponsible lifestyle. He wanted each meditator to come to terms with his or her own inner discipline, to find the melody of his or her own soul and not to get carried away by the chaos of the crowd.
But unfortunately, his teaching was so generous and so individualistic that it was bound to be misunderstood. The first mistake was that his disciples couldn’t value the beauty and gravity of freedom he entrusted upon them. To appreciate this boundless freedom, one needs a great sensitivity and intelligence, which comes through meditation and a very pure and disciplined lifestyle.
The second mistake was that people did not meditate regularly. Every once in a while, they attended retreats or camps but their lifestyle as such was not meditation-friendly. This prevented them from meditating regularly. And thirdly, because meditation was not sustained by their lifestyle, many sannyasins could not experience the joy and serenity that came with meditation.
I have reflected deeply on the matter time and again. Why have I and my fellow sannyasins been unable to attain desired transformation despite the effort of many years? Somewhere or other, we have been missing the train. Our lives are not yet harmonious, serene and joyful. Our responsibility is greater than that of a traditional sannyasin – we have to balance the inner world and the outer world together at a time. To renounce the worldly responsibilities and to escape into the woods is comparatively easier. What is really challenging is to be a part of this world and yet be established in detachment and serenity. And this requires profound awareness since we are exposed to thousands of temptations every day. This is where most of the seekers missed – they did not understand the value of a disciplined and balanced life, which alone could give them insight and strength to move beyond these temptations and be established in serenity.
Read Prem Geet’s review: Panchasheel, Five Sutras of Self Transformation
Anand Arun is the founder and coordinator of Osho Tapoban – an international commune and forest retreat centre in Nepal – and the author also of ‘In Wonder With Osho’ and ‘Lone Seeker Many Masters’. www.tapoban.com – www.inwonderwithosho.com