(August 1945 – 25 December 2019)
Yoga Christopher left his body as the result of complications following surgery for colon cancer in Kingston, London, on 25th December 2019.
It was March 1982 and I was visiting a new ‘commune’ for sannyasins of the Indian ‘guru’, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in Suffolk, UK. For a year, since attending a bizarre gathering at the five-star Café Royale in London’s Regent Street, the ‘March Event’, I had been drawn inexorably towards these orange-clad hippy-like devotees but as a ‘successful’ business person, I faced a schizophrenic dilemma: how to pursue this spiritual search and yet reconcile that with my ‘standing’ as managing director of my company.
After a particularly intense workshop, appropriately called ‘Absolute Freedom’, as we prepared to return to our places in the World outside, I spotted him, a svelte, immaculately dressed business man in a three-piece suit in the sannyas sunrise colours complete with his 108-bead mala. This was how I met ‘Yoga Christopher’ who was at that time working as a very successful sales director at IBM. Yoga Christopher had had the courage to blaze this trail before me and that meeting swept away my weak excuses around status and image (though it did take a further three years for me to fully follow in his footsteps).
For over thirty-seven years, Yoga (latterly he preferred that to ‘Christopher’) has been a consistent, compassionate, loyal and loving theme in the background of my life: always present and ever supportive. I experienced three powerful themes in his life: his spiritual journey focussed through his connection with Osho, his large and loving family, and how to be ‘in the marketplace’, as a seeker in business.
Looking back over those years there are so many memories jostling for a place on these pages. Fortunately, among his talents, Yoga was, in an informal way, an author, and one book in particular, written for his family to celebrate his 65th year, recounts his life’s journey”: ‘Osho and IBM, Shaping Ideas of My Time’.
Of course, our mutual connection to Osho was the underlying theme of our friendship. I was also fortunate enough to be included in various connections with his family. But in Yoga I found something I felt was rare in the world of Osho, someone who shared an interest in business and how to bring consciousness to our being in the marketplace. Over those thirty-seven years we collaborated on so many projects, some commercially successful, but all fruitful in their own way.
Shortly after I took sannyas in Oregon in 1985, with Osho on the World Tour, I met Yoga again in London. We (and Prem Jo) were brought together by Simant and others to find a way to continue to publish the Rajneesh Times, and to find a new London sannyas centre. We eventually were able to set it up in Spring Place in Kentish Town.
Some years later, having taken early retirement from IBM, Yoga was a central figure in setting up our ‘Osho Oasis in Somerset’ at Croydon Hall, mentoring, advising and guiding the community through its many ups and downs during its 10-year life.
For nineteen years I was a director of his company, originally ‘Osho Multimedia’, latterly ‘OMWeb’, during which time we worked on a number of projects, maybe most notably an ethical store loyalty card with a focus on values and sustainability (sadly before its time!).
Yoga was, in every way, a larger than life person. He had a huge heart, great integrity and generosity and a seemingly unshakable confidence and optimism. As an archetypal father (of six) when each of his children reached their 18th birthday, he would bring them to Pune to share with them a flavour of his spiritual quest. This ‘tradition’ made a sensational start when he brought his eldest daughter, Zoe, to India.
They arrived in Pune and underwent the usual registration procedures just in time to don white robes and be seated in Buddha Hall, anticipating Osho’s arrival to sit in silent meditation with them. They had no idea what awaited them: the date was January 19, 1990! (Yoga describes this extraordinary event in his book.)
Over the next 25 years, following in the footsteps of Zoe came Laura, Kiri, James, Oliver and Amber, whom I met in Pune in 2016. Memorably on another visit to Pune, unable to find a room that suited him close to the ‘Commune’ in Koregaon Park, he talked the owner of the Sunderban Hotel next door into renting him the watchman’s gate house, barely 10 feet square with no ‘amenities’, as his home for several weeks.
My experience of Yoga was that he extended a father’s unconditional love to all his children. He widened that family to include four ‘special’ friends in his life, two of whom were also very dear friends of mine: Pagalo and Shanti. When Pagalo died of pancreatic cancer in 2008, I was immensely touched to be invited by Yoga to take his place in this beloved circle.
Yoga (with help from ‘Outlook’) never missed a birthday, a sannyas birthday or a special occasion such as Guru Purnima Day, and even after I left the UK to live in Corfu, every time I was passing through Heathrow he would get on a bus and travel for a couple of hours just so we could meet for dinner at Carlucci’s at terminal 5.
Coming from a turbulent family background himself, Yoga’s sense of family was very broad, from his children, their partners and their children he expanded this to a much wider understanding which embraced the world of Osho, IBM (whom he considered rather like an alma mater), and in a sense, a conscious humanity.
At IBM, he undertook cutting-edge work on sustainability, ethics and community long before these became buzzwords. Subsequently Yoga’s path led him to involvement in the UK Mindfulness in schools project, talking to MPs and others with influence, the UK-based Action for Happiness and, of course, establishing his own ever-growing weekly local mindfulness and meditation group, all of which remain active parts of his life which others will, hopefully, take up.
Yoga loved to share his explorations, be they outings to Scotland with his family, visits to Parliament to see MPs, or virtual journeys through reports, websites and books he had found relevant. I only remembered when looking through my emails for this piece that it was actually Yoga who gave me a book, ‘Evolutionaries’, which has been one of the most important influences on my world view outside of Osho.
In September last year, Yoga wrote to me, ‘During the last few months, my health and mobility have gone through a step change’ followed in mid-October by, ‘A new journey. The mild heart failure has been caused by a colon cancer … it looks like it hasn’t spread to distant organs … They plan to do an operation’.
Over the next few weeks, he wrote, ‘For me, 75 years is more than satisfactory, so happy to experience each new day and help my children face up to this potential empty space’.
As I was visiting the UK between my home in Greece and a visit to Pune in December, my partner, Shruti, and I arranged to meet Yoga for dinner on our last night in the UK. This thread of emails was given the subject tag ‘The Last Supper’ by Yoga. He went into hospital a week later for the surgery and my last email from him, that same day, was entitled ‘Alive!’.
This expression of his ‘unshakable confidence and optimism’ proved premature and the following week Zoe sent me the news that there had been complications after the surgery and that he had subsequently left his body, surrounded by his family and their love.
Yoga’s life was a huge amount ‘more than satisfactory’ as he had said. Looking back at our years of friendship while writing these few words encapsulating what he meant to me and, I hope, others he encountered along the way, I have a sense of inadequacy. Inadequacy in doing justice to his enormous generosity of spirit, his positivity and his love. But also inadequacy in returning his long and deep friendship. I once expressed that to him, and he wrote, ‘Quality not quantity is what you bring as a dear friend and it is truly appreciated’. I can truly say to Yoga, he brought both immeasurable quality and quantity to our friendship, for which I feel unbounded gratitude.
Text and photos thanks to Guptadana and Shruti
As Yoga would write at the end of his messages, ‘Love & Om, Yoga’
Favourite Quotes Yoga chose for Facebook
Funniest Last Words:
“This is no time to make new enemies.” – Voltaire
“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” – Oscar Wilde
“One last drink, please.” – Jack Daniel
Kaiyum’s review of Yoga’s book about his life which he put together for his six children: Osho & IBM – Shaping Ideas
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form (pls add ‘Yoga Christopher’ in the subject field).
Dear Yoga Christopher, as I used to call you when we were connected via email (sadly we never met in person). You allowed me, without second thought it seemed, to use a page on your website OMWeb to promote a particular Osho Meditation weekend. I had contacted you because that page was the first to come up in a Google search for ‘Osho UK’. Then, from one page a whole website developed, filled with Veena’s articles and my calendar entries for meditation events in the UK, and you patiently looked on… For many years we were hosted on your server until we finally puchased our own domain name. Thanks so much for your openness to make this possible. It was the start of a connection tool that is still running today (now in a new form and in the hands of other UK friends) and an invitation for me to later develop Osho News. Thank you so much!
Have a safe journey!
I’m very moved to read your tribute, Gupti. Thank you.
About 15 years ago Prabuddho and I had an Osho meditation event in the house we lived in at the time. Yoga Christopher attended, and a few days later a huge bunch of roses arrived at our door with a beautiful card from him saying, ‘Thank You.’ We were so touched – that is the kind of man he was.
I recently met him a few times for coffee, as I was working in an area near to where he lived. It was great to get to know him more. What a generous-spirited man he was. I had hoped to meet up with him again before he departed – but it was not to be.
Honestly, I don’t remembering ever meeting Yoga, but reading Guptananda’s beautiful memories from him, touched me deep inside. Thanks for that, Gupta. It makes me again see how deeply Osho was invisibly affecting us all. And Osho’s Buddhafield was way too big to actually meet and interact personally with the majority of sannyasins… and some of these, for me, “unknown sannyasins” are actually amazing people with incredible depth. So I salute all the Buddhas like Yoga Christopher who added to and are adding their love and meditation into this mysterious Sangha. It sounds like Yoga lived a very compassionate life, embraced his death… and for that, I give all my respect, love, and gratitude…
Love & Om to you, Beloved Yoga Christopher,
Dear Anubuddha exactly reflected my feelings. Don’t know if I knew Christopher. But the description of him moved me deeply. I find myself increasingly experiencing feelings of deep gratitude to all you fellow travellers, Osho lovers and beloveds. A bond of love, a connectedness that is unbreakable. The beauty that is within us all is astounding.
Thanks Yoga Christopher. You definitely don’t need a reminder to fly high. Love to all.