Chapter 15 of Abhiyana’s book, ‘The Long Reach of the Dharma’: “We were all different, as different as could be, yet inextricably linked together through connection with this one man – a Buddha, a Christ in his own right.”
Whatever precious jewel there is in the heavenly worlds, there is nothing comparable to one who is Awakened.
If you ever meet someone brave and powerful enough to walk with you directly through your most unconscious wounds and shadow caves, someone with the stupefying courage to see through the chinks of your armor and help you take it off – love them, because they have done something for you which is impossible to do alone. They will show you the treasure you’ve been seeking all your life, and they can do this because they aren’t afraid of your fear.
– Jacob Nordby
1976: How to describe living in this caravanserai of fellow travelers, around this extraordinarily ordinary man Osho? How could a community without separate families, homes, kitchens, televisions and fashionable clothes have lived so joyously and harmoniously together? There was little depression or crime, and during all the many years I was part of the commune, only two suicides that I know of in the thousands upon thousands of people who flowed toward the master. Many of us helped to keep the place functioning, which was deeply satisfying work; after all, we were co-creating Heaven on Earth. With Osho’s guidance, we were losing our personalities and gaining our individualities. It was sometimes painful and often blissful, and I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.
I felt a little weird at first wearing a picture of Osho around my neck, and not a particularly good pic of him at that! After all, his face was ubiquitously displayed everywhere in the Ashram. Then a man related his personal story to me, that changed my attitude. He had gone to see another guru in Bombay. After the meeting, his locket with Osho’s picture inside cracked right down the middle, apparently for no reason. Back in Poona, Osho told him that the man was using black magic, and the mala had protected him! He was to throw away the old mala, as it was now “useless,” and receive a new one.
There have been books written on what is affectionately known as Poona I, many of which may be better crafted than this one. Perhaps the best way to convey the milieu is through stories, and everyone who participated in this experiment has a lot of stories. I lived intimately with several thousand people from all over the world, from differing religious backgrounds, cultures, races and ages. I had close friends from India, US, UK, Holland, Germany, Russia, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya and Italy – ages five to 90. One of my best friends was a five-foot tall, 70 years-young Pakistani woman who laughed and danced with abandon: Ma Anand Sita. As Indian names can be interchanged, we called her Sitama. She was born on the Pakistani side of India, and emigrated when Greater India was carved up by the British in 1949. I often went to her tiny apartment; in this picture, I’m participating in Raksha Bandhan, an ancient Indian ceremony where I became her “brother” and she my “sister,” and I promised to take care of her.
Most of us were physically fit due to all the active meditations. Few had cars; we mostly rode bicycles. The only thing I missed from the West was nourishing food. English was the common language for communication, but really, there was a non-verbal lingua franca that was our true communion – a sparkle of the eye, a hug, a laugh as if we were sharing a cosmic joke. (We were!) One of the resident musicians Miten wrote a song that describes this perfectly:
Never been a man like this man
Never been a time like now
Never seen the light of emptiness shining
Shining all around…
We were all different, as different as could be, yet inextricably linked together through connection with this one man – a Buddha, a Christ in his own right. And it felt that Enlightenment, that goalless goal that Osho embodied, was just around the corner.
I imploringly wrote to my sister Joan – who had introduced me to Zen, to George Simon and to meditation eight years before – that here is a living Buddha, come! This is the opportunity of a lifetime! Don’t let a chance like this go by! I sent her books and audio tapes of Osho’s talks on Zen. I sent a telegram to Paris where she worked for UNESCO, imploring her to come, and to bring, “fluffy towels, Cointreau and camembert.” The UNESCO security team was sure my sister was a spy, and the telegram was coded. Joan had to explain she had a crazy brother living in India, who really wanted her to come and bring these Western luxuries. This was a time when Indira Gandhi’s government was actively supporting Indian-made goods, and slapped heavy tariffs on Western imports, making them extremely expensive, if not unavailable. Joan didn’t share my enthusiasm and never visited.
I did the Dynamic meditation Osho invented, every morning at 6 a.m. for 21 straight days, as he recommended to newcomers. The hardest part was getting out of bed, and stumbling my way to the meditation hall. Once there, the energy from all the people around and the deep chaotic breathing took over. I noticed that every day I did Dynamic was a more alive, sparkly day than the days I stayed in bed. Only years later, listening to Eckhart Tolle talk about the pain body, did I understand that Dynamic is scientifically designed to free one from the collective madness of humanity which forms the pain body.
We all had our favorite hangouts inside the Ashram. Mine was sitting on the marble steps outside Krishna House (picture), just watching the stream of people walk by. For others, it was Krishnamurti fountain, or the bamboo grove, or the smoking temple.
One morning as I was listening to Osho’s first talk on Sufism in the series The Secret, a whole “download” came word-for-word inside. Right after discourse, I wrote it down
and took it to the main office. I told Laxmi (Osho’s secretary): “Here is the introduction for this series.” She was not surprised, and it was published in its entirety. I am honored that at least part of this memoir came through the same way.
On the same day, Osho recited a poem I had sent him, which I had found on a plaque in Isfahan, Iran – in both Farsi and English – and had scribbled down in my journal:
On the gate of a Sufi house in Isfahan, Iran, are inscribed these words of Kwaja Esmat Bokari:
This is no Kaaba for idiots to circle
Nor a mosque for the impolite to clamor in.
This is a temple of total ruin.
Inside are the drunk,
From pre-eternity to the Judgment Day,
Gone from themselves.
The Sufis call their assemblies “temples of total ruin,” kharabat, because you have to die; you have to disappear. When Sufis really meet, there is nobody to meet. The Sufi assembly is utterly empty of persons. Only God is. It is a kharabat, a temple of ruin. Very revolutionary words of Bokhari, “This is no Kaaba for idiots to circle.”
I also say the same about this assembly: This is no Kaaba for idiots to circle – hence idiots are very much angry with me; “nor a mosque for the impolite to clamor in.” This is not a place for the mob and the crowd. This is a place only for the chosen ones, only for those who are ready to die in their love, only for those who are ready to risk all in their search for God. This is a temple of total ruin – kharabat. If you come close to me, remember, you are going to die.
The Secret, Ch. 1
Later, he used the poem again in a larger context that describes our “experiment to provoke God” perfectly:
The real danger comes from repression, never out of freedom. If you are repressing something, one day or other, it is going to explode. And that will be the day of your madness or your suicide or you will do a murder or something. Humanity has trusted the technique of repression too much, hence the whole earth has become almost a madhouse. This madness that has gathered has become accumulated into the human mind and has to be released, hence all the so-called “dangerous games” being played around here. The madness has to be released slowly, methodically.
Somebody coming from the outside for the first time may start feeling: What is happening here? In fact, never has such an Ashram existed. Sometimes efforts have been made on a very small scale – some Sufi schools have existed, but on a very small scale. Twenty, 25 persons working in a closed world… nobody knowing what was happening there. Now this [commune] is an open university. Almost the whole world is participating in it: You can find every nationality, every race, every religion represented. It is an open phenomenon. Never has freedom been experimented with on such a big scale.
On the gate of a Sufi house in Isfahan, Iran, are inscribed these words of Kwaja Esmat Bokari. Listen to these words:“This is no kaaba for idiots to circle nor a mosque for the impolite to clamour in. This is a temple of total ruin. Inside are the drunk, from pre-eternity to the judgement day, gone from themselves.” […] Such secret schools have always existed.
For the first time all secrecy is thrown and all privacy is thrown – for a certain reason: because now there is no time for secrecy left. Humanity is at such a dangerous crossroads that it is very possible that within a century humanity may not exist at all. In the past there was enough time; the game of secrecy could be played, but now it cannot be played.
All the secrets have to be made available to each and every one, hence I am taking all secrecies away; and the more you become ready, the more will drop other secrecies. My effort will be to bring you the truth, howsoever dangerous it is, as nudely as possible, because the whole of humanity is at stake. If man cannot be taught how to be free and yet sane, then there is no future for humanity. To teach man how to be free and sane we will have to devise all sorts of mad games. Through those mad games the accumulated madness will have to be catharted out, acted out, thrown out. Hence you see so many games going around here. But nothing is beyond my vision.
Tao:The Pathless Path, Vol. 1, Ch. 12
I saw a few strange incidents happening around the Ashram, like the frontgate guards beating up some Indian men. Someone wrote to Osho about this occasional violence, and the master answered: I know everything that is happening here; do not interfere. Osho taught that the only way to get rid of something was to go through it, rather than repressing. And this theater of the absurd was the perfect place to transcend.
Every month there would be a three-day meditation camp – different meditations devised or adapted by Osho would be offered around the clock. There was Gourishankar (Hindu name for Mt. Everest) – staring into a blue strobe light at night without blinking, to open the third eye. One of the most intriguing meditations was called Divine Healing, where Asanga – an Indian sannyasin – would stand up on a table, snake-charmer music would play over the loudspeakers and he would go into contortions, looking like a Tibetan demon. We would stand in front of him and receive… divine healing. I didn’t know then that I would be leading Divine Healing trainings in a few years.
Part of the magic of being in the Buddhafield could only be experienced when we left for the West. Most of us departed, not knowing how we could quickly get the several thousand dollars needed to fly back and live comfortably in India for six months. Inevitably some miracle would arise: a temporary high-paying job, an unexpected gift or both. It felt like Existence itself was supporting our spiritual journey.
Osho talked a lot about his vision of the new man: one who embodied the raw earthiness of the character from Nikos Kazantzakis’ book Zorba the Greek (the character played superbly by Anthony Quinn in the film version) and the heavenly spaciousness of Gautama the Buddha. He called this being Zorba the Buddha. Osho has been photographed against many backdrops, wearing many hats and costumes his disciples brought for him from all over the world. Each picture seemed to bring out a new facet of the diamond that he was, Zorba the Buddha manifested.
Chapter 15 from Abhiyana’s book, ‘The Long Reach of the Dharma’
More excerpts on Osho News: From ‘The Long Reach of the Dharma’
Read Bhagawati’s review: The Long Reach of the Dharma
American-born Abhiyana came to Pune in 1976 and lived for years in Osho’s communes in India and the USA. A Doctor of Oriental Medicine, he is author of ‘Osho Divine Healing: A SpiritMindBody Workbook’. Together with his partner Madhu and daughter Sharadevi, he now lives and practices acupuncture in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona-Acupuncture.com