‘Wild Wild Guru’

Book Reviews

Viramo reviews Subhuti’s recently published memoir.

Wild Wild Guru cover“I was there. I lived with him for 14 years. I went the whole nine yards with him. I witnessed those events first hand, and I know they were far more mysterious and intriguing than Wild Wild Country could ever hope to show. So … for all those interested in Osho, here is the story of my journey with a rebel, my dance with a madman, my adventures with a wild wild guru.”

— Subhuti Anand Waight, author of Wild Wild Guru

And what a wild wild ride is Subhuti’s masterpiece! Subhuti was there, all right: From the very beginning of Osho’s somewhat rough-hewn ashram in Pune in the mid-Seventies, to the psychodrama of Rancho Rajneesh, to the last hurrah of the Zen discourses back in Pune. Alpha and Omega, embellished with love and meditation.

The book is a real roller coaster ride, a kind of political eco-thriller with crazy twists and turns, shocks and surprises — all seen through the lens of Subhuti, an excellent writer with the instincts of an experienced journalist and the heart of a devotee. The book, as I understand it, was originally intended to be a rebuttal (antidote?) to the toxic Netflix docuseries Wild Wild Country. It is certainly that, and much more.

Subhuti 1972
Subhuti 1972

Subhuti begins his book with his early career as a small-town newspaper reporter, quickly ascending to a big daily paper as a political reporter covering the UK’s Houses of Parliament. On weekends he would join a band of hippie brothers in a quest for self-discovery by taking LSD. The doors of perception would open a crack, then slam shut. “There was a deeper issue nagging me: what was I looking for in my drug trips? What was I expecting to see, or understand?” It was clear that, for Subhuti, the meaning of life was certainly not to be found in politics.

What was left? “Looking East, I began to hear the distant sound of Ommmmmmm,” he says. It was the Beatles’ fascination with Transcendental Meditation (TM) that first turned young Peter Waight on to meditation. “But not gurus.” For Peter, there was a problem: “The idea of bowing down to one of these spiritual-looking guys gave me the creeps. It seemed to imply a degree of reverence and respect that I was unwilling to give them.” So Subhuti turned to the Human Potential Movement, which in the mid-Seventies commanded a huge following of seekers of various persuasions. Through the movement he met a man named Michael, who impressed Subhuti as an intelligent fellow seeker.

A force for awakening humanity

Both men signed on to a 40-day holistic training offered by a new self-help enterprise called Arica. Its goal: to be a popular global force for awakening humanity. Headed by a Bolivian mystic, Arica offered a series of exercises, techniques and meditations derived from various spiritual traditions. Subhuti jumped in with both feet, eventually becoming a trainer. He was pleasantly surprised to find that this new role greatly improved his sex life, which, he admits, “up to that time had been rather barren.”

You’ll find that it’s difficult to stop reading
as you become immersed in the world
that Subhuti creates with the written word.”

But Arica never took off as a mass movement. Its London headquarters closed, and his new friend Michael disappeared. The only consolation was that Subhuti learned of — and studied — the Enneagram, an ancient system for personal and collective transformation. First introduced to the West by Gurdjieff, the Enneagram is a powerful tool based on personality types and the human psyche. (Today Subhuti leads Enneagram groups and trainings in many parts of the world.)

The collapse of Arica left Subhuti high and dry. “Soon, I found myself back to square one in the self-exploration game, feeling bored and scouting around the New Age scene for something new. Where, I wondered, was the real deal?” It didn’t take long for the real deal to appear. In autumn 1975, his new friend Michael — who had disappeared after Arica’s collapse — “suddenly reappeared in London, dressed in a blazing orange robe, with a necklace of wooden beads that ended in a locket containing the photo of a bearded guru. He’d just come back from India,” says Subhuti in his book.

This would be Michael Barnett, now with the new name Swami Anand Somendra, who would become one of the most beloved and popular group leaders at his guru’s ashram in Pune, India. And, not insignificantly, become known as an energy phenomenon, a wizard in his own right. Michael was holding Dynamic meditations in his London basement, and the future Subhuti was invited. Dynamic scared the hell out of Peter Waight. At least the first three active phases did. Fourth stage:

“The room felt dark and damp. Nobody moved a muscle. The silence became intense, deeper than any kind of silence I’d experienced before. I could feel the thumping of my heart. I could hear my mind, chattering away in the background, more distant than usual,” says Subhuti in Wild Wild Guru. “The meditation was over, but something new was beginning. In spite of being freaked out by Dynamic, I could recognize the power of the method and the intelligence of the man who’d created it. Guru or no guru, I had to go and meet him at his ashram in Pune, where he was based.”

At the feet of the Master

Sannyasin in Pune 1977
As a sannyasin in Pune 1977

Six months later, Subhuti was sitting at the feet of his Master, then known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. As the by now tired cliché goes: … and the rest is history. My story is similar to Subhuti’s: six months after doing Dynamic for the first time — in fact, after two minutes into the first stage — I was a different person. Six months later, I sat at the feet of my Master, Bhagwan, receiving a mala, a new name, and a hit of cosmic energy. Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Subhuti and his writing. Our birthdays are a day apart, although I am nine Earth years older. Jai Bhagwan!

Read on. You’ll find that it’s difficult to stop reading as you become immersed in the world that Subhuti creates with the written word. And Subhuti is not only a master of the writing craft, he is a very witty fellow. His book is filled with anecdotes and stories of life with a living Master, in all kinds of situations, many with unexpected happenings and outcomes. This is a very juicy book! I appreciate that Subhuti mostly refers to the Master as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, as that was his name during most of the time period encompassed by the book. It was only toward the end of his life that Bhagwan dropped all names, and with great compassion allowed us to call him Osho — a name of utmost respect meaning Beloved Master in Buddhist traditions.

Bhagwan’s vision was so vast, his scope of knowledge so deep and far-reaching, that it is impossible to pinpoint what he gave us during his relatively brief stay on Earth. But Subhuti goes for it. He gives us a deep, loving taste of the delights in the Master’s Garden, from sex to superconsciousness (also the name of Bhagwan’s first book translated into English and available in the West). Subhuti was there for all of it, as a participant, not a spectator. He was absolutely total. What was it like to be so close to an Enlightened Master, a living Buddha? Read all about it in Wild Wild Guru. Take a deep breath as you walk into the holy fire!

Says Subhuti of his book: “It’s an epic story, not only of my personal journey with Osho, but of the whole amazing saga we passed through.”

The cynical journalist meets Laxmi

Flashback: March 1976. Six months after Peter Waight first experienced Dynamic meditation, he stumbles into the Rajneesh Ashram in “sleepy” Koregaon Park. It’s been a long long journey, from London to Mumbai to Pune via airplane and taxi and finally rickshaw. In those early days, the ashram was a crude version of what it would become in just a few short years. Two or three bungalows lumped together; no walls around the property, just a falling-down barbed wire fence and a badly fitting gate. Subhuti enters the ashram and quickly finds himself in the presence of a small woman with deep, dark, fierce looking eyes. It’s Bhagwan’s secretary, Ma Yoga Laxmi. Subhuti continues:

“She swivelled her chair and looked directly into my eyes. ‘Now Peter here is a heart person.’ Boom! An invisible ball of energy, warm and soft, shot across the desk and hit my heart with a resounding thump. There was no resistance on my part, because it happened so fast and took me completely by surprise. Besides, my heart welcomed it, receiving this unexpected gift like some long-forgotten nourishment. It was an astonishing experience, completely outside my frame of reference. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I focused instead on Laxmi’s words. She had taken charge of the conversation, somehow having seen through me, or into me, and I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard.

“Me? A heart person? Me, the sarcastic political journalist? Me, the cynical, aloof observer whom no charlatan – politician or guru – could ever hope to deceive?

“I’d like to see Bhagwan,” I explained, trying to stay on track.

“‘Yes, tonight!’ Laxmi turned to her assistant. ‘Put his name down for darshan.’

“Darshan, I understood, was the name given to evening meetings with Bhagwan, where visitors could meet him face to face, and ask questions. The assistant looked up quizzically. “‘Is he taking sannyas?’” she asked.

“Before I could open my mouth, Laxmi had the answer. “‘Of course he’s taking sannyas!’ she replied.”

A few hours later, Peter Waight would meet his wild, wild guru, face to face. Life would never be the same.

Wild Wild Guru by SubhutiWild Wild Guru: An insider’s account of his life with Bhagwan, the world’s most controversial guru
by Subhuti Anand Waight
subhutianand.com
published by Coronet, Hodder & Staughton, London
available as Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.deamazon.inoshoviha.org and from your bookshop
Excerpts and news about Wild Wild Guru on Osho News

Viramo

Viramo is a published author, novelist, ghostwriter and blogger. marvlincoln.comviramoblog.com

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