Featured Prose — 23 September 2018

Excerpt from Devaraj’s book, ‘Ashram, ashram’: “Ed could think about a woman for literally years without saying a single word to her.”

Woman and shoes

Whilst the others slowly filed out of the meditation hall, Ed found himself hanging back, deliberately fumbling around at the shoe rack. He was waiting. Finally, she appeared. Ed hadn’t come on this retreat to learn to meditate, or to be subjected to bizarre therapies. He wasn’t here to find himself. He was here because she was here. Standing at five foot nine inches, with blonde hair, blue eyes and possessing the most perfect figure he had ever seen, was Cindy.

She slipped her shoes back on, barely stopping to do so, and walked out of the meditation room in front of him, seemingly without a care in the world. Ed’s vague attempts to meditate, when not interrupted by bouts of insecurity and self-loathing, were constantly hijacked by his infatuation with Cindy. Sitting on his cushion, eyes closed, he couldn’t seem to get the image of her perfect ass out of his mind’s eye, nor in truth did he want to.

Following her back up the long, windowless corridor that led to the main house, his eyes fixated on her ass, Ed felt himself to be in a state of grace. Just watching those perfect curves, moving rhythmically through her tight leggings, was so pleasurable. But, just beneath the surface, something worrying was tugging at him, trying to get his attention. His mission. He’d been here on this retreat for three days already and had yet to say a word to her. The idea of talking to Cindy filled him with deep dread.

Fantasising about women was something that Ed was very much used to. But speaking to them, actually creating a real connection, the idea terrified him half to death. Ed could think about a woman for literally years without saying a single word to her.

Yet, here over these three days, Ed had to admit that something was changing. All his well-worn excuses for not making a move no longer seemed to work. Some part of Ed’s mind seemed to have taken on the task of challenging his habitual behavior. As each opportunity to communicate with Cindy came, he would hear an inner voice, larger than life, urging him onwards, demanding, ‘Make a move. Speak! Be a man!’

It seemed so real. Almost as if someone actually was whispering in his ear. When he gave in to his fear and shyness, and yet again missed the chance, the same inner voice would berate him for hours afterwards, telling him over and over just how useless he was. Only positive action seemed to silence it. Only when he took a stand for himself would the inner voice let him be.

He called it ‘The Voice’. He despised it, but also had to acknowledge that is was slowly compelling him to go beyond his shyness. And it was utterly ruthless, allowing no excuses. Ed knew he had to speak to Cindy this dinnertime, otherwise he could be hammered by it for the rest of the day. It would invade his night-time dreams too. He sighed and followed her up the corridor, resolving to make a connection, his gaze still very much fixed on her ass.

His reveries were suddenly broken by a forceful slap on his back.

“Hey, buddy!”

Turning, Ed recognized the face of Dean, the tanned, athletic-looking American, grinning at him. He’d just joined the retreat the day before, flying in from some exotic location. He placed his hand under Ed’s chin, pushing it upwards, pointedly showing Ed that his gaze had been fixated on Cindy’s ass.

“She’s not just a sexy body, you know,” Dean told him, his voice high and mighty. “She has a mind too. Don’t forget that, man. Women need to be respected.”

Ed felt his jaw tighten as he choked back his rage. God, he hated this guy, trying to humiliate him like this.

There was something else that really pissed him off about Dean – his confidence. He was jealous of the guy. Dean seemed to personify every trait that he lacked – confidence, looks, and the desire to be the best. He’d like to punch him right in the mouth.

Marching ahead, Dean fell into step beside Cindy and spoke. “Hey, you are Cindy, right?”

She turned to look up at him as Dean continued to speak.

“I’m Dean. I’ve just arrived on the retreat, well, only yesterday. I was sitting with this other teacher over in Rishikesh when I heard Swamiji was here running this intensive. He’s so awesome. I just felt the call. You know what I mean? When someone speaks straight to your heart?”

“Yes,” Cindy nodded, clearly moved by Dean’s seeming sincerity.

“I’m so nearly there,” Dean continued. “Just on the edge of Enlightenment, I mean. I know this other teacher could tell. But he’s got like thousands there in his satsangs, so I wanted to come somewhere more intimate. You know, to really put myself on the line. Up close and personal.” Dean checked his watch. “Ah, I have to go check in properly, but I’ll be seeing you!”

With a smile and a wink of his eye, he walked on.

Still following behind, Ed felt his body literally shaking with rage. How dare Dean just march in like that? So fucking confident. He felt the urge to scream his frustration but knew he had to let it go. It was his own fault that he couldn’t muster up the courage to speak to Cindy. Dean had the balls to make a move and he didn’t. It was that simple. He breathed out and let his rage and self-loathing dissipate. He knew his mission. He must make contact with Cindy at dinner. He must sit with her and he must speak to her. There was no other option.

Excerpted from Devaraj’s book, ‘Ashram, ashram’ (Ch 1, Papancha)

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Ananda Sarita’s review of Devaraj’s book
Ashram, ashram

Devaraj TNBritish-born Devaraj took sannyas in 2001 at the Osho Humaniversity in Holland, shortly after reading Osho’s Tantra: The Supreme Understanding. He has been living at Osho Leela in Dorset, UK since 2002, where he is now one of the directors. Ten years ago, having completed his own therapist training, he started leading workshops in emotional expression and bioenergetics and working with clients, specialising in holding space for intense therapeutic process. He also organises and co-hosts the annual Sexuality Gathering at Osho Leela. devaraj.org.uk

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