In chapter 31 (Samadhi Tank) of ‘Blessed Moments with Osho’, Laherubhai writes about his experiments in the flotation tank and includes an excerpt from a discourse where Osho talks about the Samadhi tank.
Around 1976, one Sunday when Ishwarbhai and I were strolling through the Pune Ashram, he said to me, “Osho has ordered a tub-like device from America. When you enter into it, you experience as if you were a child swimming in the mother’s womb.” Osho has mentioned it in his Hindi and English discourses. He named the tub ‘Samadhi tank’.
I said to Ishwarbhai, “Let us have an experience of this Samadhi tank.”
He said, “For that you have to book in advance.”
I replied, “Let us enquire. Perhaps we get a chance.”
Therefore we went and enquired at the place where the booking for the Samadhi tank was done. We were told, “Both of you can get entry today.” We were happy and immediately deposited the money and went to the place where the tank was kept.
A western sannyasin was there to give the necessary instructions to the person who came for the experiment. He said, “Only one person can enter the tank at once and he has to remain in it for forty-five minutes. When the time will be over the person watching outside will open the door. If there is any problem or discomfort before the time is over, then you knock on the door from the inside and the door will be opened.”
First Shri Ishwarbhai entered the tank. He came out in five to seven minutes because he felt uneasy. After that, I was told to enter the tank. As soon as I was in, the door was immediately closed from the outside.
As soon as I put my body in floating position in the water inside the tank, it started floating on its own. The water had some special chemical substance in it. It was a little warm and salty like seawater. For forty-five minutes, my body was floating in that water. The tank was closed from all sides; it was soundproof and pitch dark inside. I was like a child floating in the womb of the mother. When the person standing outside opened the door and told me to come out, I felt as if time had been over in just five minutes. My mind had become blank of thoughts and calm. I felt extremely light and cheerful.
After leaving I immediately went to see Laxmi in her office. I told her that Ishwarbhai and I went for an experiment in the Samadhi tank without asking for Osho’s permission. I apologized for that and told her about the experience that we had.
The next day, Laxmi called me and told me that Osho had said that I should do three more experiments in the Samadhi tank. Therefore, I stayed in the ashram for three days and did my 45-minute experiments every day according to Osho’s instructions.
After doing a total of four experiments of 45 minutes, Osho slowly increased the time. He told me to be in the tank for 60 minutes and then for 90 minutes. Immediately after coming out, I did one and half-hours of Rebirthing, so it was in total a three-hour experiment.
In Rebirthing, the experiment with breath had to be done the same as a small child takes his breath, from the navel. It was done under supervision and as per instruction of an experienced therapist appointed by Osho. Through the Rebirthing experiment, our breathing becomes like that of a small child and we get new energy. The experience is very pleasant and calms the mind. This way I did 14 sessions in the Samadhi tank.
For these days I stayed in the Pune ashram and, whenever I got the time, took individual sessions like Acupuncture and different styles of massages. I also listened to the morning discourses of Osho and did Kundalini Meditation in the afternoon.
In this way, on the one hand I was experiencing a kind of freshness and bliss, and on the other hand I got some new understanding. I started to feel that I had been committing many mistakes in my life and had repressed a lot. Still, being in the ashram and doing all these experiments, I was grateful for whatever I had and wrote a small letter to Osho expressing my gratitude for his compassion. […]
Osho talks about the Samadhi tank
Osho, today in the Samadhi tank I could have sworn I felt your presence for a few moments. I became quite frightened. Other people have spoken of feeling your presence even as far away as England. What is this? Is it imagination? Or projection? Or something else?
It can be a projection, it can be imagination, but it can also be something else… it depends on you. And only you can decide what it is. For example, were you thinking about me before it happened? Were you desiring that it should happen? Was there imagination functioning somewhere inside you? Were you fantasizing? Then it is imagination, then it is projection.
But if it was out of nowhere, you were not thinking about me at all, you were taken by surprise, you were shocked, you could not believe it, then it is something else. And that is what has happened to you.
You say: I became quite frightened.
If it had been your own imagination, you would not have become frightened at all – you would have known that it was your imagination. If it was just a projection of your mind, you would have known. You became frightened only because it had nothing to do with your mind at all.
You say: I could have sworn I felt your presence for a few moments.
Such experiences happen, and it can happen more easily in isolation. It happens to many people when they are alone in the mountains. It happens to many people when they are in a certain strange space in which they have never been before; the very strangeness of the space makes them aware of certain things to which they have remained always asleep.
It happens to runners. If you run for a few miles, a moment comes when suddenly the runner disappears and only running remains. At that moment you become aware of many things you have never been aware of: subtle fragrances in the air – your senses are very alert, very alive – certain presences around you, even certain presences so tangible that you can touch or you can be touched by them.
It happens to people in many situations, but those situations have to be something extraordinary – because we have become so accustomed to the ordinary situation that things go on happening around us and we remain unaware. The Samadhi tank gives you a very special space: darkness, isolation, no sound, and you are floating in water. You are back in the mother’s womb; the Samadhi tank is just a scientific way to have the experience of the mother’s womb again.
The fetus in the mother’s womb floats in liquid. In the Samadhi tank you float in the same kind of liquid, with the same chemicals. Hence, you cannot drown in it. And the darkness of the womb, and it is so out of the ordinary – no sound, no light – you are thrown into such a new space that your sensitivity, your awareness, your intuitiveness, everything starts functioning. You become as intuitive as the small child in the womb, you become as innocent as the small child in the womb, and in that innocence something can happen which is not part of ordinary time and space.
Space and time, both can disappear. Yes it is possible you can feel my presence – in fact I am surrounding each of my sannyasins. You may feel it, you may not feel it. In a certain moment of attunement you will feel it. Then it does not matter whether you are in England or in Japan – it does not matter: space, distance, make no difference.
By giving you sannyas I am making you entitled to feel me wherever you are. Now all depends on you. My presence will be with you, surrounding you; in life, in death, I will be with you just by your side. But you may see, you may not see. You may remain unconscious.
Something beautiful has happened. Remain available to strange experiences in life, and do not try to deny the strange experience, because that is how many people go on denying tremendous opportunities.
For example, one day in the night you are suddenly awake, alone in your room, all is silent and dark. And you become aware of a certain presence… maybe a dead friend, maybe one of your ancestors, maybe your dead mother. But you become so frightened – in that fear you lose that perceptivity, that perception. The presence remains there, but you are disconnected. You put the light on, you become occupied in doing something, you start reading a book, or you turn the radio on, just to disconnect yourself from the strange experience that was happening.
Don’t be afraid! This existence is yours. This existence is very friendly and there are immense mysteries waiting for you – to be known, to be experienced.
This was a beautiful moment for you. Now that it has happened, you can make it happen again and again – and there is no necessity to go into the Samadhi tank. It can happen in your room in the night when you are alone. It can happen anywhere if you allow it to happen.
One of the greatest calamities that has befallen the modern man is that he has become very very mundane. He takes only that which is explainable, he accepts only that which is definable, he accepts and recognizes only that which can be scientifically and objectively proved. But then you remain on the lowest rung of existence, because the higher the rung is, the more indefinable it becomes, the more unexplainable, the more and more elusive – you cannot catch hold of it, you cannot have it in your fist, and you cannot show it to somebody else. It becomes more and more intimate, less and less public, more and more private.
Many people experience such things but they don’t tell others, because others will think they are crazy. That’s my own observation: many people have told me their experiences and they have said that they have never told anybody else before, because they have always been afraid that they may be thought crazy, or people will think that they hallucinated, or people will think that something is wrong – their nuts and bolts are a little loose. And not only will others think this – they themselves think, “Something is wrong with me, because this is not ordinarily experienced by others, then why me? Something is wrong with me – deny this experience, forget about it!”
If you ask people sympathetically, lovingly, many people will reveal mysteries to you. The mystic experience is not as rare as people think, and the mystic experience has nothing to do with religion as such. It happens in many spaces, which are not thought to be religious at all.
It happens to mountaineers, many times, because climbing in the mountains, alone, in a dangerous situation, suddenly the mountaineer becomes aware of a presence by his side – not only that but mountaineers have talked and the presence has helped and the presence has said, “I am a friend, don’t be worried. I am protecting you. There is no danger – go on climbing.”
Sometimes a man is lost in the jungle and after one or two days, or three days – no food, no possibility seems to be available to get out of the jungle, tired, exhausted – suddenly he becomes aware of a presence, a very protective presence, which says, “Don’t be afraid! You are on the right track, you will get out – don’t be worried.”
But these people never say these things to others. In sports many times mystic experiences happen; runners and joggers particularly have known many experiences. In the new commune there are going to be facilities for runners and joggers. I would like hundreds of sannyasins to run for miles every morning – just completely abandoned into running.
After half an hour or one hour, even if you are tired, tiredness disappears. It is strange, very strange, very illogical. You wanted to go to sleep, you were so tired, but you went for a six-mile run. After the second or third mile, suddenly all tiredness has disappeared and you are so full of energy – as you have never been. You are so weightless, airborne. And you start feeling that it is not you who are running now – some other energy has taken possession of you.
And the experience of unity with existence, and the experience of a deep, warm, orgasmic energy surrounding you…. It happens to surfers, it happens in many sports, even in wrestling. That is why in Japan particularly, many martial arts were developed by meditators. It looks strange: why should meditators develop martial arts – judo, aikido, karate, and so many others? They were developed for a certain reason.
If you really go deep into them, the ego disappears and you enter into a new space – unknown to you, unexplored by you. And suddenly you are not functioning on your own but as if possessed by God.
One thing I would like to emphasize: whenever such things happen, accept, do not deny them; don’t start calling them imagination, projection, hallucination, deception. These are tricks of the mind. And I am not saying that there are not hallucinations – there are – and I am not saying there are not people who suffer from neurotic illusions – there are – but just because of them, just because there are false coins, don’t deny the real coins. In fact, false coins only prove that the real coins exist.
Remain available to the dimension of the strange, the mysterious, and that will help you tremendously. If you remain available, more and more experiences of this kind will start happening.
The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty, Ch 15 (excerpt)
Review by Tarpan: ‘Blessed Moments with Osho’
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Laherubhai (aka Chaitanya Sagar, Laherchand B. Shah) was born in August 1938. At the age of 28, in 1967, he met Osho. He has been running his own business in Mumbai and Osho insisted he continue his job, along with meditation, and asked him to remain in ‘the market place’. In the same building as his office, he and other Osho friends started the first meditation centre. Laherubhai lives in one of Mumbai’s busiest districts.