…left his body on 29th April 2018.
Sam was known as Sufi Sam, or Lenski Okonski. He was rarely called by the name he had received from Osho, Deva Samvado.
“I was a soldier: I have been twenty-one years in the army. I joined shortly after the Second World War, and fought in the Korean war and then in Vietnam… I served in two well-known organisations; first the CIA, then the NSA (National Security Agency), which was super-secret, even more secret than the CIA, so I became a ‘super-spy’!” he narrates in an interview, Eternal youth in the here and now.
After he left the army he became a manager in an IT business using the knowledge he had acquired in the army. During that period he had three heart attacks in four months, in close sequence: “I was told that I could consider myself lucky if I survived the next three months. It was 1978. I was living on my own in a large house in San Francisco, and I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to die here alone. I’ll go to Hawaii, and maybe I’ll leave my body walking on the beach.’ I closed up my house and left.”
In Hawaii he met Paul Bragg who taught him to live a healthier life: “He taught me to eat healthy food, breathe better, and stop smoking and drinking. After three months I was still alive, so I stayed on three months more. […] One of the things I learnt from him was to sing a song every morning. I still sing that song. It goes, ‘Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way.’ I still sing it every day, sometimes two or three times, if I remember. Somehow it gives me a certain positive energy that helps me feel I’m not old or about to die. It gives me energy to see things in a positive way.” (see a video on Facebook)
He then visited a Zen monastery, but sitting and “staring at a point in the wall” was not his thing at the time, “I wasn’t ready for it.” At a book fair in San Francisco he came across Osho: “I went back home and read his books… Oh my God, there was such an explosion in my whole being! Because what he was saying in those two books… I knew basically that it was a part of me, but I had never been able to express it, and had never heard anybody express it like him!”
He did Dynamic Meditation at the San Francisco meditation centre and eventually bought a ticket for India. His intention was to visit a guru in the Himalayas, but before going there he gave himself three days to check out what was happening in Pune.
Those three days became three weeks, then three years, then thirty years and more, fourty in fact. He participated in many workshops, like the Encounter group, Who Is In? After this last group he had a satori while walking down North Main Road, “Each step was ‘the present moment’, and it was like an explosion for me.” Samvado took sannyas from Osho that same year, 1978.
Samvado enters back into the scene when Osho returns to Pune. He was called Sufi Sam because he led for many years the Whirling and No Dimensions meditations, for which he wore the traditional skirt and hat. He was also an avid tennis or rather, Zennis player, partnering in doubles with KP.
Some years ago he left India for one and a half years to look for a nice place where he could live for six months, maybe Bali, California, Florida, Europe, Thailand, alternating with the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune. “I found some very lovely places, but then, on returning to Pune, I felt that the energy wave here is so dynamic, so special, so unique of its kind… It is Osho’s energy! […] So when I came back, I decided I would remain and never go away. I believe I will probably stay here until I leave my body, whenever that will happen!”
He was away from the Resort only when, some years ago, he had a fourth heart attack, a bypass operation and when he was asked to leave “because a gal claimed I was over-friendly.”
The day before he died, at 89 years of age, he visited various places in the Resort in his wheelchair for a grand tour. People say it was as if he knew it was his last ride. He also went to see Dhyanesh to thank him for everything.
Samvado concludes the interview with these words:
“Meditation is about bringing into one’s life, and into one’s being, a fragrance that lasts the whole day. Meditation is dancing, shouting, jumping! Meditation is more than what is expressed by the word itself, it’s a lifestyle, so to speak. This too is a part of the meditative process, and this is why Osho’s meditations are much more accessible and attractive to young people, in comparison with the concept of meditation in which you sit still and stare at a wall.
“[…] There is no end to this process, and the more I listen to Osho the more I discover that, although I have read his words or listened to them hundreds of times, I always find something new that I hadn’t caught before and that I notice only now.”
His body will be cremated on 30th April, 2pm in Pune.
Photos credit to Prem Devi, Sushil, KP, Subhuti, Ankit, Pravas, Mahesh, Terry, Mega and friends
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form (please add ‘Sam’ in the subject field)
In 1979 you were my neighbor, near the resort. Love to you, Sam. Hugs,
Beloved Sam, you and I were townhouse roommates on the Ranch, and though you were 24 years older than me, you brought home more beautiful girls than I did! May the ladies be as gorgeous where you’re heading, my dear Sufi brother. You are loved by so many! Ishq Allah Mabud Lillah.
Much Beloved Sam!
Sam, you are my inspiration of how to grow old! I still tell people how an 80-year old could beat the pants off me at tennis every time, and how when I asked you why you were checking your pulse every time we changed ends, you told me of your triple-bypass, and that you planned to leave your body either playing tennis, dancing, or in bed, and with the twinkle in your eyes that told me what “in bed’ meant. Love,
Hey Sam < Osho Rules - and thanks for the lessons in going around and around... Shunyam Addibhu
<3 Love <3 Jivan Sahaj
Dear Beloved friend! What a good and auspicious day to leave the body! Wesak!!! Really your style.
Just this week I was thinking if I would see you in the body again! Not in the body but surely at dance! So let’s dance… And laugh… And rejoice the nothingness of This. Fly with love and gratefulness for the love we shared in Zen. XB3J
Renata Sá Premen
Beloved Sam, as I have been coming to Pune every year since 2011, it was always such a joy for me to see you in your body. Your body became old – you became younger and younger. I will miss you. Have a beautiful flight into the unknown.
Oh Sam, you’ve taken your final voyage! Fly high, dearest Beloved. I will miss your beautiful smile. Love, love, love,
It was Vibhavan who introduced me to you some years ago. I’d attend my first men’s group and we had such a nice chat… chamanie chappathi chappati chamanie… than you went for dancing… and I realized what Rumi meant by saying, “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.” Heaven is yours, fly high, big man,
What a man! First exchanges with him were 40 years ago at our Osho Center south of Portland. First as my teacher when I attempted to use a computer and soon becoming a dear friend, always a joy to meet and be with and melt into his lightness of being. Especially loved watching him in the marbled-floored meditation hall of Pune Ashram, decked out in Sufi robe and tall hat so fitting for him. His life was rich and full and didn’t miss a beat. May he be blessed as well on this next adventure with love surrounding him… someone who will never be forgotten,
Arupo, Joseph, OR
Beloved Samvado was my lover and trusted my advice and went to Poona due to my encouragement. I will always love him and cherish the time we spent together. When I arrived in Poona he was already an active member of the Ashram crew; exalted, respected and in his glory. I send love, hugs, kisses and blessings to him where ever he is. See you later sweetheart. Namaste’,
Beloved Sam, I will miss you. I enjoyed so much meeting you on Buddha Groove on Saturday. Thank you for all your hugs and sharings! Fly fly high!
Am feeling how Sam and I giggled when we saw each other and simply met in the Dance of Life so it feels this dance is going on. Remember dancing in Buddha Groove together so many times and how he encouraged me when my body was delicate to keep on dancing. He is dancing in my heart always… With love,
I remember hounding my Father to be a loving Father who wanted to protect and care for his baby girl – no matter how old I got. Sam tried, but he just didn’t get it. Then in session, a therapist had me ‘call in’ my Father and asked me what he looked like. He had a monk’s dark brown robe on with a rope belt and a hood over his head. The therapist told me to remove his hood and there was just a skeleton! The therapist pointed out that my Father didn’t have a clue what I was asking of him! I felt so bad for badgering him for so many years on this issue. I backed off and accepted him exactly the way he was.
There was a lot of great stuff too! He introduced me to Osho, with whom I fell madly and deeply in love, and allowed His Light to be mine, or the other way round. My Father was always a lot of fun.
Then years later I was in hospital for 17 days and my Father called me every single day from India to check on me and to tell me he loved me and to stay in the moment! I got my loving Father caring for his baby girl! Osho Miracles 💜
I miss u Pop! Thank you, Vivek, and the Osho Ashram, for the magnificent celebration of life for Sam!
So so beautiful🌹 Have a lovely journey, Dad 💞 love,
Ma Dhyan Nidhi 💜💞💜
This would be my edited version – in particular I had a problem with what happened to your toe. It is not clear. You can write in German.
Sam taught me many things. Once he gave me an education on leading tours in the ashram. His advice was, “Just do your usual bullshit. Tell stupid jokes, which only 5% of people will get because they are mostly English-as-second-language types or Germans, and point out the important things. The biggest plus is that you will meet amazing women!” True enough…
I loved doing No Dimensions with you and, to this day, whenever I stub my toe it’s an invitation to do that meditation again… Fly high my friend…
Hi ‘Sam’, the first time I came to Pune, in 1989, you were there. After many years, last winter I saw you; my heart was so happy to see you. So many meditations toghether. With you I lived the Sufi path. So fly high, my beatiful friend. With love,
Sam, you will be in my heart and remembered always. From the first time I met you 20 years ago, when you were leading Whirling and No Dimension OSHO meditations I loved your energy. So glad we got to know each other over the years and become good friends. Our conversations will remain with me until I meet you on the other side, my friend. Whirl on, my Sufi brother, WHIRL ON! Love,
Terry J. Hodgkinson Sifu