A Meditation Centre in Israel in the making – Lani talks to Punya about the Tel Aviv project.
Update 15 May 2020: Due to the coronovirus crises, the physical location of the centre has been closed, but the community is still tightly knit and online activities are offered. See report on Are online events here to stay?
“Osho is alive and well in Israel,” says Lani. “So much is happening here: The Osho Meditation Facilitators training and the Family Constellation training every year, and for more than 10 years, the Osho International Festival and the Zorba the Buddha Festival, each hosting up to 1500 at a time. Moreover, Israeli sannyasins and lovers of Osho regularly visit Pune or the Humaniversity in Holland – these last few years Tarika and Rafik have facilitated tours to Pune to make it easier for first-timers.” Once people return home they miss the Buddhafield experience, they want to continue the journey on their newly-found quest. They also feel the need to meet friends and share their adventures with each other.
About two years ago a group of sannyasins came together to once and for all create a place that will give a continuity, so that Osho’s Buddhafield can be felt all year round. Lani added, “There are twelve of us: Tarika and Chaitanyo, Iris and Shin, Gitama and Udi, Jivani, Pavaka, Mitra, Sugandho, Sudas, Kimaya, and myself.”
At the moment Osho’s meditations are offered at the festivals, or either by renting a space, or at yoga centers, or in private homes like Lani does. “The vision is of a place where people can come, do the meditations and workshops, and can have a coffee, read, meet friends, work on the computer, or simply be in silence. A place that feels like a home. “Osho TLV is the official name (TLV is the airport code for Tel Aviv), but we conversationally already call it ‘Habait Shelanu’ which means ‘our home’ in Hebrew.”
Tel Aviv is an alive, bustling city. It is often referred to as ‘the white city that never sleeps’. Israel is very international; many come and visit from abroad. The new center will give them the chance to connect with other sannyasins and meditators while visiting this beautiful country. For now, whenever visitors ask Sugandho where they could meet people, she refers them to the Ashram in the Desert – Shitim, in the south of Israel; there is no place in Tel Aviv.
“Many on the Osho TLV team came to Osho in the 90s, after he had left his body. Sugandho, Gitama and I share our experiences and understanding of being in the commune with Osho. In the beginning the topics of the meetings were discussed as if we were creating a business. But then we understood that it is more about creating a Buddhafield. Osho will bring the people, we are merely creating the Buddhafield; we cannot approach it like an ordinary business.
“I mentioned his vision of meritocracy, and we had a meeting to share our merits. We came up with creating small teams; one team for real estate with the task to look for a location, another is the content team (what to present, the programme – I am in that one), another team for marketing (how to get it out there and create a campaign to register members), and another team for technology that created and maintains the website and the Facebook page.
“Last but not least, we also realized that we cannot push things to happen, but that we have to allow things to happen.
“We found a place that is centrally located in Tel Aviv, with easy access to public transportation, where cars can easily park in the vicinity. It is near bus and train stations because the centre is meant to be for the whole country (Israel is small – for the festivals people come from all corners of Israel). Not only is it easy to get to, it is aesthetically pleasing, has a lot of light, good air flow, and has the possibility to make sound. It has a big hall for meditation and groups, a few session rooms, office, kitchen and reception.”
The people who got together to create this centre are not looking to make a living from this venture but understand that the centre needs to be sustainable, that it pays for itself, and also that money has to be invested first for renovations, and minimal staffing. In order to do that, the finance team created a structure for membership; the monthly membership allows to participate in all the meditations or activities during the day, in the evening meeting meditation, and some activities in the evenings, and to get a discount for workshops and various events. There are also meditation cards where one can participate on a one-time basis. The financial team figured out that if the centre wants to be viable there needs to be fixed number. They started with a campaign to register to see how many would be committed. Up until now they have almost 50, but they need 300.
“So, it is exciting that very soon we will be able to participate in Osho’s meditations right here in Tel Aviv. To get it together we have been meeting regularly or communicating on WhatsApp,” continues Lani.
In addition, they have started a Headstart fundraising program. Through Headstart one can make an outright donation or purchase vouchers to participate in various meditations, events or activities. Their project will only work if the community supports it energetically and financially. Israelis and friends around the world can contribute.
“I truly believe this is the only way to bring benefit to this area, increase awareness and meditation, then peace will come,” wrote Tarika in an email. She recalls Osho talk about meditation as a prevention for war.
Directly I am not concerned with war. My concern is how to create more peaceful people, more loving people, more meditative people. Because if the balance for peace-loving people is more in the world, then any war can be prevented.”
Osho, The Last Testament, Vol 1, Ch 29
Osho News will keep you posted on any developments of this project. Lani has promised to keep us updated!
Membership registration: oshotlv.co.il/registration-en
Headstart: headstart.co.il (website in Hebrew and English – change language by clicking on the small globe at the top)
Facebook page: facebook.com/OSHOTLV
Note: In the earlier version of this article we had mentioned Zorba the Buddha Festival (with respective link). This had now been replaced by Nataraj Festival.