Swimming on my own

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Anado writes about his life and art – imbibing Osho and then swimming on his own.

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Anado in Casa de las Ranas

As a curious child growing up in suburban Oklahoma in the 1950’s, I often created situations or environments where I could wait for miracles to happen. These were early attempts to override the tedium of sameness. These awaited visitations would, I hoped, include the appearance of Jesus or his mother Mary. I figured, Why not? Those two were endlessly appearing to children or other random people… Well, those two never showed up, so I kept my imagination busy while waiting for some sort of miracle…

My Mother was very present during these years of waiting. She sheltered me in her feminine way, encouraging my creativity and challenging my hunger for a ‘divine’ visitation. Often I would complain, “Mother, I’m bored!” Her reply was always, “Well, make something, Honey.” Those early encouragements were like glimpses of things to come. My musings and creations became exclamations and testaments of adoration for the purity of all that is ordinary. This is where adornment and decoration came into play in my life-long journey. In a sense my Mother gave me permission to actively play while I was creating, and making objects was fun – something I could do.

During most of this progression, my Father was sadly absent. My growing was nurtured by loving aunts, sisters and, of course, my Mother. These days, I look back on those years as an introduction to not only the Divine but also to the Divine Feminine. I was encouraged to have a sense of style in my clothing and the decoration of my own personal space. These were elements that were not encouraged for boys and young men in the blandness of Middle America. I started collecting found objects – mostly from Nature. Dried leaves, seeds, mud, feathers, a hawk’s talon and bones became part of my creative process. I became enthralled by the mystery and beauty of the Native American people. I was absolutely blown away by their sense of adornment and physical celebration. Their spirituality appeared to be anchored in the Natural World. A portal was opening…

I have been fortunate in this life to sometimes find myself at the right place at the right time. Despite my inherent mid-American unawareness I found myself available to certain queries and transmissions that were occurring in the tumultuous cauldron of what came to be known as “the 60’s”. I read reports of an experimental drug that was passing through the underground culture. There were reports of people experiencing the “White Light”… reports of hallucinogenic religious experiences. My ears were perked and I wanted to find out more about this substance known as Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, commonly referred to as LSD. And there I was at the right place at the right time: in San Francisco in 1967 during the Summer of Love.

I ingested LSD for the first time that Summer… I remember Big Brother and the Holding Company were playing on the portable turntable. The song was “All is Loneliness” …a Hippie Prophecy that later came to have much meaning for me. Years later I learned from Osho about the depth of aloneness. I remember he referred to Sannyas as “The Flight from the Alone to the Alone”. I must report that I did not experience the White Light during those experiments with LSD.. The experience was, however, rather spiritual in a most mysterious way. A new light seemed to shine on the aliveness of the Natural World… I felt reverence and a sense of wonder.

My life changed drastically over the course of that summer. New realms of creativity and expression offered themselves to me. Color became an open door of exploration… Poetic muses introduced themselves to me in the revelry of that magic time. I felt an aliveness as I explored my sexuality. This new sexual exploration became a heightened issue and unfortunately I felt guilty about the fact that I might be gay.

Circumstances led me back to Oklahoma. I felt that I needed to somehow entertain the possibility of growing up. I started a hippie business and found that not to be a good idea because of my psychedelic explorations and extracurricular sexual meanderings. My lifestyle was noticed by the police who were not accepting of the social changes that were occurring across the United States. I sold the business and returned to San Francisco. The Summer of Love had darkened. There was a new vibration – a sense of danger. Drug experimentation was becoming dodgy and hardcore. Some of the guilt that I had taken on because of my sexuality took me down lanes that challenged my survival. I began experimenting with the Dark Side. Arthur Rimbaud, the French poet, described such explorations as “A Season in Hell”. Hard drugs and plentiful anonymous sex were the order of the day. Ironically there is both good and bad in these flirtations and I was leaning hard on the bad.

A sense of heaviness was descending and I fled the Haight Ashbury and went back to my Oklahoma womb. I enrolled briefly in Art School. My teachers were not capable of understanding my need for personal adornment and ritual in my artistic expression. I felt rather isolated artistically. I began to incorporate a sense of drama, combined with poetry and three-dimensional renderings, into my own private gumbo. I liked to paint my body while incorporating found objects in a theatrical way to both provoke and stimulate reactions from an audience. Certain events (including the death of my Father in an airplane accident) and the fact that I was beginning to finally accept my sexual orientation led me to leave school… “Who needs teachers?” I stuck out my thumb in the direction of New York City. New York, I decided, was where I would become an artist.

My evolution as an artist has been pretty much self-taught. This process can be both a curse and a blessing depending on how you see it. I chose to open myself to experience and somehow record my findings. I found myself flirting with a sense of danger. I carelessly believed that I would find substance and truth by diving deep into the Darkness – that I would bring back the valuable essence that was hiding there. My explorations and proclamations were earnest. For awhile I thought that I was on to something but then I had to face the fact that these meanderings with heroin, speed and anonymous and frequent sex were dangerous for my growth and ultimately my life. In an odd way, I had entered into a false identity that afforded very few safe exits. Things ultimately came crashing down all around me… ”I spent my nights abusing in a yellow taxi cab… out in the traffic cruising for a victim to stab… refusing with booze I got caught out of step… criminal mischief took over with a case of Hep…”

The hepatitis made me take a step back. My world was crashing down… there was nothing ‘cool’ about this chosen nightmare. One day I awoke at the end of the line and things had to change. Having had somewhat of a reputation in Greenwich Village as the ‘machine gun poet’, it was time to lay down my weapons. I met a woman who spoke of a man in India whom she had met. She became his disciple and after a while returned to New York wearing bright orange clothing and sporting a new name. This was around 1974. Circumstances led to her shedding the disciple moniker and the orange clothing but the love for the man in India remained intact. She somehow saw in me my sorrow and also that my path had darkened. Metaphorically she lit a match and my path appeared to be heading East… to India.

Some time before I left, I wrote to the Ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and asked to become his disciple. One day a letter arrived from the Shree Rajneesh Ashram containing a new name. As something of an outlaw, I entered into sannyas through the back door – no New Age or Human Potential Movement credentials whatsoever. My talents were both raw and a bit provocative. I was given the name Swami Anand Anado which translates to Blissful Silence. My new name was a message that I interpreted to mean the need for a vacation from my avocation, constant expression.

So for 7 or more years I put aside the poetry and the visual experience that accompanied it. I dove headlong into the Commune in both India and Rajneeshpuram. I thought that my exploration into Silence did not support my outpourings as an artist, so I discontinued making art. In many ways this was the wrong idea but at the same time observing and witnessing were becoming the foundation for something new in my creativity…

I began making gardens around my trailer or townhouse after work (worship) in the darkness on my own… ‘Guerilla Creativity’ if you will. My Mother came to visit me during those last Spring days in Oregon… She sensed that something odd was going on and yet she gave me her blessing. She looked deep into Bhagwan’s eyes one day at drive-by and he acknowledged her and she told me that she was assured in that moment that I was in the ‘Right Place’.

Toward the end of the Ranch I was often asked to guard at the entrance gate to Lao Tzu House. Those late nights were long and sometimes weary. In order to keep alert and with my knack for enhancing the present moment, I began composing and reciting poems highly influenced by the black poets I’d known when I’d lived in New York – especially Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets. Imagine street rap going to the feet of the Awakened One! I continued with these musings during the two years that I spent in Pune after the Ranch fell apart.

Here is something I wrote about that experience:

So on the turn of a dime
passing through time
biting through the crease
My tongue off the leash
Recycling the word
of the innermost core –
Out of the Darkness
passing through the hole –
From frenetic vision
to beatitude –
Super sensuality –
Increased solitude –
Carrying a banner
That belongs to no Saint –
It’s a Let-go Trip without restraint –
No censors to strip me
or deny my tongue –
Amongst the right rhythm
you know it has to be sung –
So I sing sing sing it
I pass it on
like a Circle from an inner pond
a twister in perpetual motion
in deep devotion
to the Light of the honest vernacular
without the whimsical interludes
of the Day to Day
when we pay with our minds…
and the why’s and the how’s and when’s and the where’s
become ideas that are no longer shared
by dogs on the walls
but the steady footfalls
through the luminous gates into solid No-Mind States –

My friends, we are a blend
of that which never ends
and that which grows
amidst the constant flow
with the kiss of Existence
letting our resistance drop
I hope that we never stop
laughing at our selves –
we’re latter-day elves –
caught in a close connection
a confection of smiles and tears
yes and fear
and Truth thrown in…
It’s a true God-send
We are distant kin gathering again
Shining under the whim
of the Moon up above
but uncovering the Silence
in the depths of Science
the Transcendental Clues
left by a Universal Muse
That leads to the reversal
homily of redemption –
the high quality of exemption
found in the graciousness
and the emptiness of a spaciousness
that just is…

I was becoming stir crazy during the pre-monsoon months of 1989 at the Ashram in India. as if I was just going through the motions. I felt a certain tug – as if my inner voice was telling me it was time to take what I had learned and return to the West. Finally one evening in Buddha Hall during discourse it became obvious that it was time to leave the Commune. I felt that Bhagwan was speaking to the larger audience of the world press and politicians. I was receiving his words but it felt as if he was no longer speaking to his disciples but was promoting an agenda.

My love for the Master was still strong but the politics of Communal Enlightenment had for me become predictable and a bit uncomfortable. Privately I knew that I had had enough. I wrote a letter of farewell to him which included the reasons I was not in sync with what I was hearing in discourse… I often wonder if my note got beyond the secretaries in the office. With a clean slate I returned to Marin County in Northern California and began tending and designing gardens for the rich and famous of the music and film world. Besides designing some beautiful garden settings, I set up a studio in my house and began creating three-dimensional art again – something that I had not attempted for at least 13 years. It felt really good.

Once I knew that it felt right, my life as an artist magically unfolded. My experiences from the first forty-two years of my life began to crystallize and manifest themselves outrageously as art. Over the years I find that I will sometimes weep during this creative process. I am a grateful receptacle. These moments are both tender and familiar, and are ever so much like something that I first experienced with Bhagwan. I find these tears to be prayerful and not sentimental. I am grateful for that.

I have lived in Mexico for the last 20 years, with my partner Richard Schultz, on a two-and-a-half-acre property. We call our home Casa de Las Ranas – House of the Frogs. I continue to adorn and build from that secret space that I stumbled upon during those nights guarding in Lao Tzu Grove. I was trying to do my job and stay awake – and now thirty-five years later I continue with that quest. I call my work Installed Poetry. I enjoy bringing metaphor into the three-dimensional world. This involves juxtaposing objects, color, mosaic in such a way that the viewer is asked to bring their own poetic definitions into the viewing of the art… the metaphor then belongs to the viewer. The name Anand Anado was truly a gift from a crafty Wizard. These works that I am birthing now spring from that pool of Silence that Osho alerted me to. It has for these years been my job to dive into that pool and swim on my own.

Related article
Casa de las Ranas – slideshows of Anado’s decorated house

Anado

Anado is a US artist and poet, living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. madebyanado.comchapelofjimmyraygallery.com

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