Sheela’s book, Nothing to Lose, is out

Letters / Opinions

A ‘review’ by Nirav.


As we are all aging, many Osho sannyasins have recently written about their life with Osho. In the last couple of years, I have loved reading most of those books and many have touched me deeply.

Sheela’s book is the latest of a long series. It is unique and more, and in many ways it is the most important one of all. Two interesting facts make Nothing to Lose exceptional. First, unlike other books, this one isn’t about Sheela. It is about me. And you. It isn’t about then 40 years ago; it is about now. Secondly, I didn’t need to buy her book in order to reflect on the most essential lesson of my life with Osho. Reading two reviews by well-intentioned friends and hundreds of comments was enough for the smart ass that I am to get the picture. So here for the first time ever, I am honored and excited to review a book I didn’t read.

Let me start with a little personal story and bring you to the Pune ashram on January 2015, where I had just arrived back from a short trip to Europe.

Like I had done hundreds of times before, slightly jet-lagged but excited, I sat at the welcome center with someone in charge of registration. But this time, as soon as my name was entered in the computer, lights started flashing, and I soon found out that I was banned.

In a ‘meeting’ that lasted 3 minutes, I was reminded that a few months back I had reposted on my FB wall an article by Ramateertha that exposed the current management. Although I never got involved with politics I had found that article interesting and quite innocently shared it. I was told that since I was against them, I was not welcome anymore. I could collect my passport and leave the premises.

That’s how I found myself on the street in front of what had been my home for 21 years, in complete shock.

The fact that thousands of friends of Osho are banned from Pune, that most of them got banned in circumstances far more hurtful and shocking than mine, didn’t help my situation in that moment. I was in shock and I needed support.

As I staggered out of the welcome center not quite realizing what had just happened, I looked around. The front of what used to be called the ‘gateless gate’ was very empty at this time of the morning and there on the guarding chair was my old friend KB sitting. I naturally moved towards him and mumbled a few words. I was obviously shaken and he got up to give me a hug. His second foot had not yet touched the ground that he looked up at the surveillance cameras above him; he thought quickly, sat back on his high stool, and said, “Nirav, take care of yourself, bye.”

Thunderstruck, I moved along Lane 1, found caring friends, and after a rough week with a few episodes of panic I made my way to Goa and recovered.

When a couple months later I challenged KB about what had happened and his behavior, he reminded me that he had a room in the ashram and a lot was at stake for him. He apologized and I forgave him.

My little story contains the essence of Sheela’s new book.

Osho is a Zen Master whose vision includes all: not only the flowers and the fragrances and the light, but the thorns and the darkness as well. If he collects hundreds of Rolls Royce’s and pisses off the whole of America, he has a purpose, and his purpose obviously has to do with you and your greed. In the same way, if he chooses Sheela to be his personal secretary for 5 years, it has to do with you and your shadows. What strikes me is how nothing has changed. Those in power today are committing crimes of the same nature as Sheela did then, with the main difference that they seem to have secured enough funds and power to escape the courtrooms. I could enumerate a long list known by all, from faking Osho’s Will to the constant threatening and blackmailing of people who create challenges.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is the blind attitude that most of us are having in the face of crimes and power abuses. The fear propagated by those in charge of Osho’s legacy today are rampant and insidious. KB’s deciding against giving me a hug is a small example; hesitating to write this review is another. Many sannyasins around the world support today’s Sheela in more or less obvious ways. Maybe they have a room in Pune, or are running Osho centers around the world and need to behave, or they have investments connected with their work and advertisement as Osho group leaders. Some feel unable to survive in the big world and need the Commune, in Pune or elsewhere, for various reasons ranging from a genuine longing to meditate in a Buddhafield to less avowable motives like using the power of their ancient connection with Osho to prey on innocent girls the age of their granddaughters.

The motives may be diverse, but keeping silent in the face of tyranny is typically rooted in the fear of exposing the shadowy parts of our minds.

Osho has touched and continues to touch many. As he repeated again and again, “I came ahead of my time at least 100 years,” and indeed, I am every day amazed to see how fast young people ‘get’ it.

Osho continues to spread blossoms and flowers of the divine all over the planet. Many of his older disciples are singing their song; their love and fragrance are contagious. Hence I loved reading all those personal accounts of people’s lives with Osho.

But what makes Osho so unique and so grand, is that with him the shadows of our minds will never be silenced. Spiritual bypassing will never remain unchallenged. And sooner or later we will be presented a mirror to look at ourselves and our masks in the face.

As I see it, there is no way to muzzle Osho, and Netflix’s Wild Wild Country was a fantastic example.

Nothing to Lose may be full of lies and deceptions and hypocrisy, but we can rest assured that those are ours as well as Sheela’s. We may not need to read her book to look into the mirror, but condemning the mirror or bashing it has never helped anyone.

Osho is giggling once again. Thank you, Sheela.

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Nirav is a painter and writer.

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