Harp visits the Osho Research and Archive Center (aka Osho Galleria), in Portland, Oregon.
I love pie and I’ve eaten my share. Pies are perks in life, few or many, large or small, coming and going in the ceaseless Leela.
From humble pie to splendid pie, from meat to peach, savoury to sweet, and cococreamy to rocky road, there’s amazing grace. Luscious or tart, sinfully delicious or simply nutty, pie is alchemical, transformational, sublime. Pie fixes everything.
So what’s all this drooling about pie? I’ll get there.
You get older, and on good days wiser; you’ve seen it all, so you think, and then something unexpected tumbles into view.
That happened to me recently. I’m old enough to be thinking about new homes for the stuff I’ve accumulated, including precious memorabilia from my years with Bhagwan – Osho, if you prefer. I’ve been pondering to whom, what, how, and why.
A few months ago I read an Osho News article by Rashid with useful suggestions about dealing with memorabilia, my slices of Osho’s pie. I was prompted from procrastination to action. I contacted one of the organizations, the Osho Research and Archive Center, near Portland, Oregon.
I felt tentative but an exchange of emails with the director was reassuring so I decided to check it out. It was only a few hours by car from where I live. I know to not invest much in expectations and to let things unfold as they will, so off I went with three friends on a lovely summer drive with a few sentimental goodies in hand and no presumptions.
Charles first heard of Osho after moving to Oregon in 2012. Knowing nothing, he read a disparaging history of Rajneeshpuram in The Oregonian newspaper. He suspected one-sidedness, and dug deeper. Like so many others who didn’t know they were in the hunt for some pie, he found Osho pie.
He is now Swami Prem Champak. He established and serves as Director of the Osho Research and Archive Center currently located in the small apartment he shares with his wife, Kristine, and their dog, Molly.
Anticipating our arrival, they bounded out the door to greet us. His appearance and innocence were disarming. I’m an old hippie and somewhat jaded but his contagious energy instantly distracted me from their conventional looks.
We sat in their living room and he launched into his story, a story so very familiar to lovers of Osho past, present, and future.
With the eye of a discerning researcher, he did his homework. He became steeped in the tea. He’s well aware of the controversies, politics, and family feuds; the ideological fundamentalists, the dismissers and the embracers, the yea and naysayers. They are not his concern. His concern is singular – the preservation of Osho’s legacy.
He is in love, and it is big as life. If love is a motivational state, he is clearly being propelled, and it’s a beautiful thing.
So here’s my tumble into the unexpected: He escorted us into a converted bedroom with shelves holding most every prominent Osho book I’ve ever seen, and signed volumes by many other authors about Osho and the commune – hardback, paperback, first editions, later editions, early pamphlets and leaflets. You name it, he likely had it… and could put his hands on it immediately. I was astounded. There were shelves of audio cassettes, VHS videos, DVDs and digital hard drives. Where and how had he obtained all this?
I immediately realized he was a type of savant with a calling, and that I was in the presence of a labor of love.
We left his apartment and walked a short distance to his garage also converted to be a storage facility. Inside were well-organized and labelled bins filled with newspapers and magazines, various publications over the decades which have disseminated, critiqued and celebrated the teachings of Osho.
Other bins contained various ephemera and memorabilia from Poona and the Ranch – articles of sannyasin clothing with slogans and sayings: Last Mango in Poona, Life Love Laughter, The City of Rajneeshpuram, etc. He even has signs from Ranch bus stops. Holy cow!
He holds a remarkable collection of photographs – too many to look through – and a rare collection of original paintings of Osho that were bought by a non-sannyasin equipment purchaser at a liquidation auction during the Ranch closing, and sat in an attic for decades before landing with him. Can it be just serendipity that all this has come into his domain?
He has hats from Osho gifted to sannyasins and since donated. He has malas and Leaving Darshan boxes. He has a holy grail, a robe donated by one of Osho’s seamstresses. Everything has come to him through donations and purchases.
The only item he doesn’t have is a Rolls Royce. Really! But he located one for sale; he just couldn’t afford it.
In 2014, I wrote in these pages of my visit to Rajneeshpuram and another tumble into the unexpected (Rancho Revisited). Now as I revisit treasured items “on loan” to me all these years, I am pleased to have found a new home for them, and I encourage others to consider the destiny of any legacy possessions and undertake some housekeeping.
I view this man’s extraordinary collection as the first steps of curation. It merits brick and mortar – a gallery/museum accessible to the public with items on full display. His archive deserves to be shared.
If there are any financial angels or kickstarting crowdfunders out there, donating to and funding good works such as this are noble propositions. I know what I’ll do if I win the lottery. Wild Wild Pie!