(1930 – 2019)
Michael Barnett (aka Swami Anand Somendra) left his body on 12th November 2019 at 3:17am on a bright full moon night. “The timing of his death seemed to be of his choosing …a significant, powerful time – and of course Michael’s sannyas name, Somendra, means Lord of the Full Moon.” reads the announcement on his Facebook page.
“Recent days have at times been challenging for Michael, and for many of us connected with him – a strong, ongoing process of shifting transformation. But his final moments were peaceful and calm. He had [his wife] Mishka and several family members with him as he sat upright in his room, breathing softly. In and out. A final, gentle exhalation. And then silence,” continues the text.
Born and raised in London, Michael graduated from Cambridge University in Maths and Law. He was a businessman for a while, then a world traveller. Returning to London, he set up the lay movement known as People Not Psychiatry and established his own growth centre, Community. In 1974, he became a disciple of Osho and made a name for himself as a group leader in Pune and other Osho centres around the world.
Bhagawati met Somendra in 2008 when he was giving workshops in Bali and interviewed him on that occasion for Viha Connection (January/February 2009 edition): “…I remember being pretty much in awe by his incredible zest and intuition with which he conducted groups in Pune 1; his energy work is legendary. Just recently we watched the movie Ashram with some friends and had a wonderful time, enjoying the action shown during the Leela group that Somendra conducted back then!”
He said to her, “Paradise is right here, available now. And so is Hell. And all that’s in between too. We do have some choice in the matter, like finding and holding the key to Paradise. But even then, sometimes, you can’t find the door!”
Michael left Rajneeshpuram in 1982 (which created a big stir!) and set up his own school and community, The Wild Goose Company – first in Zurich then at Lago Maggiore in Italy. He then shifted to the south-west of France where people from all over the world lived and worked together in his large community project. More recently, Michael, Mishka and their family moved to Denzlingen, near Freiburg, Germany, where OneLife was born.
Michael has written over 40 books in English, many of which have been translated into several other languages, as well as some books which appear only in foreign language versions. He was a man with varied interests and facets: a passionate family father, soccer fan, car enthusiast, reader of many books and wine connoisseur.
Text based on a mailing by Michael’s group, on Bhagawati’s interview and the bio on his website
Alerts thanks to Pranesh, Mega, Upchara
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form (pls add ‘Somendra/Michael’ in the subject field).
Michael, beloved friend. So precious to be with you a couple of weeks ago. You were already on your way, and still, moments here and there of such sweet presence. I don’t know how you managed to hang on through these two weeks. It can’t have been easy. Then Miten today reminded me of the meaning of “Somendra”. Well, it’s what Osho (Bhagwan back then) saw in you. Ah, you old magician, as “Lord of the Full Moon”, when else could you choose to depart? And indeed, magic was always hanging around you. Thank you for giving your gifts and inspirations all the way to the end. Thank you for your daring. Thank you for your creativity. Thank you for being always such an unfettered pioneer of human potential. Thank you for being so unwaveringly YOU! Bon voyage, with all my love.
Alan Lowen (Rajen)
When I arrived in Poona in 1977 Osho sent me straight to Somendra’s groups, Leela and Awareness. The only groups Osho sent me to.
It was the start of a lifelong love affair. Since then Michael has been guiding me, inviting me to spread my wings, encouraging and confronting me.
The best way to honour him here is with his own words – a poem, an invitation to connect with the universal source.
The Touch of Life is
yet its beauty
is beyond all thought
the vibration of it then
runs through you like
a blade of light and love
giving shimmers of delight,
an imperceptible nod of the head,
This is bound to be true
it contains everything there is
in its touch.
Taken from the book, When The River Runs Through You, Energy Pointers for Living.
In deep gratitude to Osho and Michael,
Ah, Somendra/Michael, Wizard of the Ashram, Wise man. Though it has been so many years since participating in your Leela group, experiencing dissolving in Divine Energy for the first time, then a last hug in Rajneeshpuram in 1982. In my spiritual immaturity, I judged you for “leaving the Master,” and starting your own Wild Geese commune.
I will always treasure you. Thanks for your totality, oh mighty Mage!
I am sorry you had to suffer in your last days, but I guess we all have karma to burn. LOVE IS.
Thanks for your kindness and loveliness, Somendra. I joined your Leela Group in Pune in 1977 and it was a great time. Thank you! Give my greetings to Osho, if you meet him. I hope, we all meet again in another time and world.
Anand Sarvo, Berlin, Germany
Ha! Somendra, now there’s a name from the past!
In 1981 me and 10 others lived as a selected few, the Alchemists, with him in Brussels as a commune to help facilitate his groups and basic commune work. His place was then called “Alchemy” and he was doing his energy routine in groups.
We were living well and in the beautiful house (which he rented cheap from a sannyasin) new, white marble staircases were laid. His legal wife Girisha and son (both sannyasins) were also part of the community, but he was now (of course) involved with another woman.
And then, in 1982, he was summoned to Oregon and Sheela abruptly took away his mala. He was shocked, we were all shocked. We all came together in his trailer and nobody knew what to say!
Suddenly he looked at me and said: “Apurvo (my name then) wants to say something.” So I remember saying: “Yes… well, um, I see you as a friend, not as a master. You may be a little more ahead on the road, but that’s it.”
Silence fell in the room.
I have to explain… what was going on? Well, he had actually declared himself enlightened and a master and now the sannyasins with him started wearing white clothes instead of orange! I mean, a lot of people in those days said “I am enlightened! ” (even Veeresh) but more as a sort of joke, a reminder to ourselves of what we were getting ourselves in to! With Somendra it was different, he meant it! By then, I myself had left Brussels about half a year before. After that, the changing into white clothes happened… which I thought was a really strange thing to do.
So, that was it! After that he was officially an ‘enlightened’ master and made a pretty good earning out of it!
I wrote him a letter a couple of times in the past 30 years and he Always wrote me back in his own handwriting. Sometimes he would forget who I was and I would write things like “so you still believe you’re enlightened?” and he would write an angry letter back, saying I was being pedantic or so.
Oh well, I like to think he basically really liked me! But he was so incredibly obviously unenlightened, it was shocking that people could believe him to be just that! He liked to give talks in such a way that nobody could figure out what he really meant, so the effect was that people thought “he must be something higher than me, because I can’t understand him.”
I guess he was charismatic in his own funny way (had a huge impact on women!), but basically what he was saying was nonsense! I felt that from the very beginning. He invited me to live with the chosen few in Brussels after an evening event I attended in The Hague.
Out of the blue he said to me (I was 21): “You’re an Alchemist!” After that I went to one of his women and asked: “What’s an Alchemist?” She laughed and said: “You can come and live with us in Brussels.”. I thought: “Great..!”
I don’t know if is right to Always write something nice when someone just died, but it’s also good to add a bit of truth to someone’s lifestory is my opinion.
So this is my story with Somendra.
All the best to him in his next life.
Deep gratitude of having met you, Michael, and having the chance to live with you for many years. You let me feel love & devotion I hadn’t known would be possible! I will always remember your sparkling eyes which overflowed with love and light. And I feel your presence more than ever.
Madhuri (Kamala) Antje Wolf
Michael was and is a source of being in contact with the energy field of everything and every being. In silence we meet and share love.
I am so grateful for the Energy Training and all the seminars, my beautiful Goose name Sarinara.
My husband and I first married with Michael, my husband got the name Terena – it was around 2009 and I will look up the photos we have from that…
Michael I love you and you are in my heart
So grateful Michael, I had the opportunity to meet you in my life.
The groups, training I did and streaming in your house in Denzlingen (my favorite task was ironing your clothes ?) gave and still give so much meaning in my life.
I never forgot the words you told me once in a group session “we’ve met each other in another life” …I’m sure we will meet each other again ‘in another life’!!
Two photos from White Cloud Ashram Facebook page:
In 2012 I heard Swami Yoga Chinmaya say to me, “Bodhicitta, you are past the point where you can no longer make the mistakes that Somendra and people like him have made. In the fourth body many psychic powers become available and they can enchant and divert you for lives.”
I recall Osho saying Somendra was his Judas. If you review the 97 references to Somendra in the Osho library, a clear picture of the man, his desire for enlightenment, and his betrayal of the master will emerge.
His obit should educate us disciples, not hypnotize us in the old mistakes of confusing an interesting energy experience with a true growth of awareness.
Like the Lord High Executioner says in the Mikado:
My object all sublime, I will achieve in time,
to make the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime.
And make each penitent, unwittingly represent,
A source of innocent merriment, of innocent merriment.
Better luck next time, Somendra.
Debating about who Michael Barnett/Somendra was or wasn’t is pointless. All we can do is look at ourselves to discover what the Universe intends us to recognize – that we really are “that” already. And for anyone who had the good fortune to know and be touched by Michael as well as Bhagwan, the path can be clear.
Plenty of people debate about who Osho was too, but for those of us who loved and still love him, it’s an absurd distraction, as it is to debate about any teacher. Either you got it, or you didn’t – let’s move on.
WE are the work, WE are the path, we can choose to stay focused on our truth, or wander lost among the detours of mind … well, you know what Osho called it.
Lovingly to you all,
He [Somendra] does not know that deep down he is trying to compete with me. […]
Now Somendra is writing to all sannyasins everywhere, “Come, we are going to create a great commune.” Nobody seems to be listening, and nobody seems to be coming. This is not the way. In the first place, he betrayed me. I had immense trust in him, and still have the same trust. I loved him as I love you. And it makes no difference whether you are a sannyasin or not. What difference does it make?
But people who drop sannyas get into a very difficult situation…
If he tries to create a commune on his own, he will get into a mess, into trouble, into all kinds of problems. He himself is not yet in a state where he can be of any real help to anybody. He himself needs help. His creating a commune is just like a blind man collecting other blind men and saying: “Come follow me.”
Perhaps a few blind people may start following you, but sooner or later you will find yourself with all your group in a ditch. One should be absolutely aware: Do you have eyes?
Can you see the light? Do you have that energy that you can share with people? If not, then don`t try such an idiotic act, because you are playing with people’s life. You are in darkness, and you will lead those people into more darkness.
Osho, From Personality to Individuality, Ch. 14, Q 1 (or Rajneesh Bible III), Jan. 12, 1985
Quote found by Sona
Now is 26 march 2020, just today I got to know that Michael left his body in November 2020. Funny thing, I keep ways planning in my mind “to go and see Michael once more because now he is getting really old”… No words to say how much I am thankful. I can always feel the energy field around him. Infinite love.
Deva Prahas (Maruto)