In Komalta’s journey to sannyas, she comes, through her profession, into contact with the people from the publications department Naropa, and consequently with Osho’s words.
What would mother say now?
One morning in 1982, two people asked Pendragon Graphics in Beaverton, Oregon, our little typesetting shop, to make a few bids for formatting books. My work and life partner Jeff said they were ‘the red people’ living in Eastern Oregon. Reacting immediately I asked, ‘WHO are they? THE red people who took over THAT town? Are they communists? Did you say RED people? Why did they have to take over a town?’ NO, I decided not to get involved. My mom would be livid if she were to find out that I would meet them. She often passed along news about these RED people. I had heard her rant about the weird political activities going on at their ranch near Madras.
Jeff said we could at least meet them to see what work they needed. I was completely against the idea and told him that I would not engage with this client. As far as I could see, everything that we already needed was in place. We had plenty of books to typeset and were networking with other small typesetting shops to share orders for paper and chemicals for the processor to save freight charges. We loved our new home and were happy together and with the consolidation of Jeff’s established publishing business and book store. In just two years we had grown and made huge life decisions which were paying off with the success of our little new business.
Early on a clear Spring morning the people arrived. As usual, Jeff was busy on the telephone in the house so I went to our reception area to greet them. Joy filled the room when I invited them to sit to discuss their books. We all smiled and were happy to meet each other. Sitting across the small table with these exceptional individuals I was stunned by their professional nature, their beauty and radiance.
They introduced themselves as Ma Pratima and Swami Santap. I was face to face with two people so bright, energetic and alive that my very breath was taken away by their confidence and clarity. At that first moment, I had to catch myself. Wait. These were red people. Then – just as I had rehearsed – I explained that we would NOT be able to do ANY work for them.
The meeting changed tempo after this rejection. They asked to at least offer bids for their publishing department in order to be able to compare with the local market. I mumbled something about Jeff coming to see them and left the reception area. I was internally shaken; I called him on the intercom before going back to my desk.
To accommodate our Typography and Design business, Jeff and I had bought a four-bedroom, three-bath, ranch-style house. We redesigned the double garage into an efficient comfortable space with a glass front enclosing a beautiful welcome space for customers to sit to discuss orders. The space had to house a lot of heavy equipment for the phototypeseting so we added six-inch sub flooring to place the electrical wiring. All in all our dream to work in an efficient, comfortable office space became reality and we enjoyed working from our home. Commercial typesetting of business cards, flyers, brochures and ads for local clients consumed my daily work time. One advertising agent kept me busy every day bringing in new batches of ads that he sold for his large ongoing project to create a new type of yellow pages for Salem.
Jeff shuffled into the reception area to gather clarification about the work. He spoke to the two people, got the exact sizing information and came back to the office. We retreated momentarily into the house to compare thoughts. I was absolutely against moving forward so we argued intensely. Jeff thought it would be okay to make samples and suggested that we offer a fairly high bid to possibly discourage them.
To discourage these strangers was good; I had to return to the urgent work at hand. We told our visitors that we could only do samples but NO jobs at this time. That was acceptable, and we were given some copy to provide bids for styles and sizes that could fit the paperback they wanted to publish right away. Jeff casually suggested they check back in about three days.
Jeff preferred to typeset the Science Fiction books which he had been working with for over 15 years. He was a big fan of the fantasy work. One point of contention for me was that he did not share his knowledge about how to properly use our state-of-the-art, new phototypesetting equipment. I had to spy while he was training with the sales representative; and other times I looked over his shoulder to see how he operated the system. I could care less about Science Fiction. This endless input was unrewarding to me as I was not a fan of the genre. For my clients, I needed the information to take a project from start to finish.
Three days went by and I knew that Jeff hadn’t started the samples which the red people wanted immediately. So I began to input the manuscript that was left by them. Hsin Hsin Ming, the Book of Nothing was the title. In the leaves of those pages were intrinsic methods to meditate, to be present. Balance in all things, ‘Hsin Hsin Ming, the Book of Nothing’, I typed into the headers. The sample’s words were guided right toward one’s heart. I relaxed a little bit when typing the words that said, ‘balance is neither this nor that’.
I had finished the three samples by the time Jeff came out still sleepy and was ready to begin. He did not appreciate that I had started the job (we often had this argument with the same outcome – Jeff simply wanted to control every activity in the office).
We proofread and adjusted the copy to perfection. With the samples printed out, we called Santap to let him know they were ready. He showed up in 45 minutes and we submitted our bids. Our work samples and the bids were accepted and we began to do a book for the Naropa Publishing Department at Rajneeshpuram. Hsin Hsin Ming, the Book of Nothing. Jeff was too busy so he had me input the manuscript.
I was so affected by typing in each letter of the book; there in his words quietly Bhagwan entered into my heart. My heart had already reacted to Pratima and Santap… then a few words and photos touched me deeply. There began to blossom in me a blissful feeling that I’d never experienced. I found a way to relax among the stress of meeting the new people, and the demanding pressure of keeping a schedule that I filled with activities between the business and family.
My personal views about the red people and the life that they were building began to change rapidly. The stories within each book were fascinating and the joking was so silly – the jokes split my guts. I could roll on the floor laughing so hard. The sutras were very sweet with a moral or a meaning that explained in detail how life and death happen.
Now, if I were to tell my mom about this work she would freak out entirely!
His Vision through my fingertips
The typesetting work for Naropa took on a life of its own. Waking up each morning I could barely wait to get to my desk to go on with the projects at hand. I could knock out the local commercial jobs quickly to be ready to work on the next book.
My skills on our equipment were improving. Speed was the goal for this group of people who wanted their work done quickly. I could already type fast but with these new projects the typing itself became just an extension of my breathing. I counted everything, so I knew as I typed whether the work was entered correctly. I learned to just be there in it, ignoring ANY distractions. I became a lot faster also at memorizing my hot-key-programmed words, which I created for common Hindi and Sanskrit expressions.
As I began to finish one project, I was given another two books to be done right away! The urgency was exhilarating and, oddly enough, there was no resistance within me as my understanding and excitement grew. I was fascinated about the new details of life at the feet of a master as the message of his vision went through my fingers, bypassing the mind. Inputting the manuscripts was powerful work; the words and stories were fascinating and I read and digested every word eagerly.
I could see myself in the stories as I learned about sutras. I learned more about witnessing from the content in the books. I used a form of meditation, what I called ‘focus’, to help me type faster and faster. It was critical that I input the information correctly the first time to avoid delays. There were many questions because we were changing from British style to English spelling and punctuation for US distribution. I would carefully write my questions in the margins of the manuscript using my best and smallest penmanship.
When I had a project ready to send to Naropa, I contacted their hotel in downtown Portland and a pair of sannyasins would come to get the work or I would drive to the hotel. A new ritual of namaste greeting was being incorporated to my life as easily as learning to swim. I began to enjoy the feeling of respect and gratitude toward one another when I was in the presence of the sannyasins.
I’d arrive at the hotel to see the receptionist; as I passed by the guards at the door; namaste. I got to know each guard’s face and we became friendly. I was not intimidated by the guns that they carried. My father was raised by a Marine Officer and he taught me to hold a weapon since age three years old. The person at the desk in reception was usually a happy, laughing Ma Vasundara. Sometimes a new Ma worked in reception but the guards seemed to be the same people. The new languages and traditions of Hindi and Sanskrit were being added to my understanding: Namaskar; the buddha within me respects the buddha within you.
Between the book projects, the newsletter, The Rajneesh Times, local and international Rajneesh commercial ads, and the Sannyas magazine, the red people began to come in and out of the shop as easily as the wind. Into our house with a large kitchen and dining room, we welcomed our new friends to wander and feel comfortable.
Nearly always calm, they usually sat for an hour or so to visit, eating the grapes and nuts they had brought. How could they be so calm when this work was so demanding? I wondered at times how I stayed so calm but my answer was in the work itself. To speed up the work, Madyapa and Apu or Santap or Krishna Prabhu (KP) or Kali and another swami, would be there sitting with me. I grew to love their company so much. KP became my favorite friend; we laughed a lot. He said that one could live on grapes alone if need be; which seemed unnecessary and just silly. KP was British and very good with proofreading. As we grew more comfortable together, the work moved along more smoothly.
Soon sannyasins came two by two to spend the whole day; I opened the whole space to them to wander around. This new way of life became the process that we enjoyed. Jeff or I could simply ask a visitor, instead of writing in the margins of the manuscripts and sending the queries back and forth. Often we got an answer immediately and made those changes on the spot often saving several days. If Santap or Krishna Prabhu couldn’t answer they would call their boss. There was a way to call the Portland Hotel and get patched through to Rajneeshpuram’s Naropa Department.
We have to get more efficient, I told myself and only left the keyboard if it were absolutely necessary. It was a great addition to life at Pendragon to have a friend sitting right there behind my desk. I loved that feeling like a child enjoys their mother watch them on a Carnival Ride. I could show off my growing skills and my hot keys. And… Jeff could not be rude and impatient with me in front of them. When I asked for clarification about how to operate the equipment he had to show me or risk embarrassment in front of our guests. Slowly he became friendly with the visitors holding long, long conversations.
I hit the limits of my ability to do as much work as the Naropa folks wanted to give us. Jeff started to pick up some of the work, although I had to struggle to convince him at first. I needed his help because we received a rush order for three new books; The Book, Vol I-III, A to Z. This series was an encyclopedia of sorts, which contained morsels of a discourse about each word or subject. Typesetting it was so much fun and fascinating. This collection was great and an excellent educational project! Jeff got tickled by the definition of the word ‘fuck’. He then became more involved in the books which began to flood our office – although he laughed rarely.
My hunger and thirst for new projects grew with my interest in this author, Bhagwan. His work was brilliant and pushed me to ask myself questions about the points that his books develop. I was gaining confidence with each book that Bhagwan was loved by so many people who dedicated their time and energy to his vision. Each book project took me onto another level of understanding of the language and customs in an Indian world. I learned that the red people were sannyasins; they were disciples. So, were all of the RED people sannyasins? Are all sannyasins disciples?
I was learning about Bhagwan’s vision through the Sannyas magazine more than any other publication. Many of the sutras and koans were very analytical and above my current level of understanding. I did focus on the intricate flowering moments where I felt my heart leap in awe of the information that was coming at me.
Then I received a new book called Notes of a Madman. Jeff was too busy as usual, so I took that journey alone. In my daily world there was just me and the author and some of his dreamiest revelations. He spoke of splendor and heights of joy that were only foreign to me so far.
I felt that sannyas was taking me by surprise and that it was not in my control any longer. Where was I in the moments that brought me to this life of devotion? Just 27 years of age, learning about meditation in various manifestations. I read about the splendor of disappearing into the mystery and often honestly wondered what is the mystery?
I experienced growing interest in going over there to meet the author. This place and these people I needed to see with my own eyes.
To be continued…
Note: our section Osho A-Z brings excerpts from The Book, Vol I-III, A to Z mentioned by Komalta