Majid reflects on his life as a sannyasin and former head of the Osho Miasto commune in Tuscany, and also on his role as Osho’s Ambassador for Italy and as editor in chief of the left-wing magazine Re Nudo.
India was for me, above all, my meeting with Osho, which radically changed my life. It was 1977 – more than forty years ago.
I left for India when I was the director of Re Nudo. And now… I’m the director of Re Nudo. What has happened during that time? In this article I will try to write a synthesis, even if partial, to give at least an idea of My India.
When I came back from Pune, in February 1977, dressed in orange and wearing sandals, my editorial team was in shock. I immediately said to them that I was going to leave the direction of the magazine to them and that I would limit myself to collaborate and share my experiences in India. This I did for a couple of issues, but within two years the magazine collapsed and the decision was made to shut it down.
In the meantime I had stopped writing and dedicated myself to bringing India and Osho to Milan. I opened a large meditation center in the heart of Brera, the Bohemian district in the centre of town. From Mauro Rostagno (a co-founder of the left-wing movement Lotta Continua, later also a sannyasin) and Sat Savia, I inherited the premises of Macondo. This was a centre that despite lasting for four months only had a considerable impact on the young political culture, inviting personalities the likes of Allen Ginsberg, etc. I called the new centre Vivek. People came to meditate, but there was also space for workshops, a disco, a restaurant and a tea room. I held the reins of this ‘enterprise’ for a few years. It was a little India in the heart of Milan.
I later moved to Miasto, a then still emerging Osho Community in Tuscany, where life and work were entwined. From there I dedicated myself to ‘being the ambassador of Osho’, the first assignment I received by my Master on my second trip to Pune. This meant taking Osho’s words and vision to newspapers, radio, television, or wherever it was possible to reach out.
During those years Osho’s community moved from the ashram in Pune to Oregon. Every year I went to the Ranch where the great town of Rajneeshpuram was born. Then the American authorities decided to expel Osho, and the Commune was closed. It was a difficult time when Osho went on a world tour to meet with his people, but everywhere he was prevented from being granted a visitor’s visa because of a dossier that the American services had circulated to governments around the world.
He was welcomed in Greece and Uruguay because of the democratic, open attitude of Papandreou and Sanguineti, the then presidents of these countries. But the pressure from the US administration on these two governments was such that eventually they had to expel him. I remember hearing Osho’s secretary, Hasya, talk about president Sanguineti’s pain and his shame of having to suffer the economic blackmail of the US government that threatened an economic retaliation and would have destabilized his country. At that time I submitted the application to obtain for Osho a visa to visit Italy but it was immediately rejected. I had asked for the support of the radicals and made a vast campaign to obtain a visa for Osho, which was finally denied by the Minister of the Interior, Scalfaro.
The campaign had attracted a large number of intellectuals and parliamentarians. After my 21 days of hunger strike, finally – but belatedly because of the Master’s health – Scalfaro agreed to issue the visa. Late because by then the thallium poisoning Osho had suffered in America had already heavily undermined his health. He returned to the ashram in Pune, India. I remained in the commune of Osho Miasto even though my main activity was always the Work for Osho.
The most difficult moment was when during one of my visits to Pune, he gave me the “mission impossible” to write “the manifesto of his vision” on social issues, which we then translated in English so that he could read it. In Italy I asked for help from some friends, with whom I felt in tune, to write the text. During a month of isolation in a house near Miasto, we devoted ourselves full-time to this particular form of writing, to meditation and collective sharing. We were also aware that at the end of this exercise Osho could possibly say, “Now throw everything away, it was just a joke.” At least that was what I imagined would most likely be the epilogue of this story.
I brought the translation to Pune and after ten days I received his blessings and the message to publish it. I left for Italy almost in shock for what seemed to me to be an impossible task. But with the help of the writer and journalist, Michele Serra, who liked the text very much, I found Carlo Feltrinelli’s willingness to publish it. The Manifesto was published under the title “Politica e Zen” (Politics and Zen) by Feltrinelli Editore. Together with those who had helped me writing it, we took part in about forty presentations throughout Italy and we received a considerable press response. The text was re-published, for the third time, in 2016 by OM Edizioni.
After Osho left his body in 1990, together with a writer and commune member of Miasto, Ida Porta, I wrote the book “Operazione Socrate” (Operation Socrates) about the poisoning of Osho but also about our experiences in the communes in Oregon and India. With its 40,000 copies sold over 20 years it is the best-selling book in the world of Osho.
Towards the end of my stay at Osho Miasto, I submitted a five-year plan for extensions which included a new restaurant, a bar and a new building to accommodate guests. In the following years, without my participation as I had already left the commune, a new space was designed and completed, the Osho Sagar, a warm water pool for therapy sessions and trainings.
I had left the commune with a difficult task in mind; the renovation of a private residential space for about ten people, situated just a few hundred metres from Miasto. I still live there and it houses the offices of Re Nudo.
As I already mentioned, I was not involved with Re Nudo for about ten years but I took it over in 1996 thanks to the decisive input of singer-songwriter Giorgio Gaber and various concrete contributions by old and new friends.
This last phase of Re Nudo is a continuation of the mission I had received from my Master; to work on his vision, first as an Ambassador, and secondly with the Manifesto. When he gave me the guidelines for the Manifesto he explicitly told me to come forward in the first person, no longer “bringing his words” but interpreting reality and his vision, and taking responsibility for my own words and actions. He also told me that “he would be with me and behind me.” And this was the line of conduct that we all took while presenting “Politica e Zen” (Politics and Zen) and that I continue to hold today with Re Nudo. It was a particularly intense time, when week after week and almost daily, I received instructions via Amrito or Anando, to begin this new phase. Until then, for me as an ‘ambassador’ but also for all other disciples, the indications we had received were always to only quote the words of the Master.
Instead, with the drawing up the Manifesto, a new phase of great responsibility had began during which the Master himself took on an active if not invisible role. By resuming the publication of Re Nudo or in the meetings I had, when I spoke about this important part of my life I tried to keep this last “guideline” crystallized within myself.
In this article I told my experience with Osho – speaking in the first person – because this is my deepest India. At the same time, as I always do with my magazine, I give space also to other paths, to other experiences belonging to other Indias.
I am not one of those who think that only their own experience is the most important and authentic one, while those of others are less important. Or that one’s own path is that of truth and those of others are illusions. I describe my truth without compromise or mediation and let others expose theirs. Each reader will be able to identify with one another and make his or her own choice or no choice.
First published in Re Nudo, 2015 (www.renudo.it) – this is an updated and adapted version
Happy Birthday Miasto! – 30th anniversary (2011) of Miasto, the much loved Osho commune and holistic venue in Tuscany, Italy
Miasto, My Love! – A tribute by Devapath to the Osho centre in Tuscany for it’s 30th anniversary
Inauguration of Miasto’s warm water pool – Maharaj sent us a video of the new pool at Osho Miasto in Tuscany, Italy