A story remembered by Chinta.
Osho, my beloved spiritual master, left his body on 19 January 1990. Around his funeral pyre, a few thousand disciples laughed, sang, cried, danced, celebrated with all their bodies and souls until the early morning, until the last glow of the embers was gone.
It was not an earthquake, it was a cosmic tremor. At the sight of this living body transmogrified, trapped in wooden bars logs licked by the flames, my mind escaped to an unknown dimension. A crater had split the sky above my head, offering a passageway into the dark, glittering luminous immensity of the universe. I was instantly dismantled by this presence of unprecedented power and majesty, became this immensity, without limits. It, and I, were one and the same presence.
Gradually, as the embers were exhausted, the inner fire of my ecstasy burned out. In the early morning, only a small pile of ashes remained. Cold and grief had thinned our ranks. I gathered a little grey powder, all that was left of a life beyond any I could ever have imagined.
But watch out! The promised story of the two bags and the taxi driver is just beginning!
It’s two months later. It has taken us some time to fully realize the physical absence of the one who embodied our highest spiritual aspirations. In keeping with his last wishes, we were preparing to return to the world, to our ordinary activities, but approaching them in a different way, giving a large place to meditation.
As the leader of an Osho meditation center in Lausanne (Dharmcharya Osho Meditation Center), the Ashram had given me a robe worn by Osho during one of his talks. So it was imbued with his presence. What can I tell you? I couldn’t have been given a greater gift: here I was, holding a relic that I was going to take from the East to the West. But make no mistake, it was not my ego that felt flattered, it was something else: I was allowed to participate in the great saga of our spiritual heritage. I was simply infinitely happy and grateful.
I had booked a seat on a Bombay-Geneva Swissair flight. The most pleasant way to get to the airport was to take the train from Pune to Bombay Central Station, and from there a taxi to the terminal. As the plane was to take off around midnight and we (a friend was also travelling that night) arrived in Bombay in the early evening, we planned to spend a few hours at the Leela Penta, a beautiful hotel just a stone’s throw from the airport. We could eat in luxury – a welcome contrast to the eight-hour flight in economy class ahead of us.
We boarded the train together in Pune. In our carriage were a couple of English sannyasins who were also on their way to the Leela Penta to wait for their flight to London. We decided to share a taxi from the station to the Leela, for friendliness and economy. But then, when it came to haggling over the taxi fare, things got complicated. For our English friends, paying four hundred rupees was out of the question. Much too expensive, it was theft, we had to haggle harder or find a taxi driver who would agree to take only three hundred rupees for the trip! …A half-hour journey in traffic jams.
So we went in search of wild taxis and very quickly found our pearl: a young driver who looked nice and honest. We made a deal and set off. A few kilometers later, the taxi stopped at a gas station and the driver asked us for an advance to pay for the gas. “Oh no, no way,” warned one of our English friends (who could have been of any other nationality). “Don’t give him anything, otherwise he’ll blackmail us and ask for more and more money!”
I didn’t share this opinion and felt that our driver simply didn’t have enough money to buy petrol, and as he hadn’t asked us to pay in advance… After a long discussion, I finally advanced half the fare. We took off again. But our friend did not give up and kept on talking about the Indians and their endemic dishonesty. I did my best to counter these accusations, which I felt were unjust, and I systematically defended the citizens of the country. I felt horribly uncomfortable with our driver, who was Indian and understood everything we said, but I was also ashamed to be one of those affluent people who can spend long periods of time in exotic countries, without depriving themselves, because those who provide the services they need sometimes don’t even earn a living wage.
Anyway, we finally arrived at the Leela Penta, paid and thanked our driver, and headed for the gourmet Chinese restaurant in the hotel. We dropped our suitcases in the lobby and there, disaster – I realized that I had left my handbag on the shelf behind the back seat of the taxi. Everything was in it: passport, plane ticket, wallet with cash and credit cards, everything. But I did have my other bag, the one that contained Osho’s robe, the one that contained my most precious possession: the relic.
Our English friends stood there, certain that I would never see my purse again, let alone the money in it. Without another word, they headed for the restaurant.
At the hotel reception, they would have liked to help us.
“What was the taxi’s registration number?”
“At which station did you take the taxi?”
“It was a wild taxi.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t help you.”
“But can your service car take me to the airport so that I can do my declarations there?”
“Wait, in about ten minutes the car will be available.”
It should be noted that we were not guests of the hotel. According to my friend, the most surprising thing about the whole episode was that I didn’t get upset at all. I just said, “That’s interesting.” I had taken the gist of what Kaveesha, a psychologist from California who taught esoteric sciences at the Ashram, had taught me. “Whatever the situation, look at it with interest, distance and kindness.”
Okay, so. I had lost my purse and probably the means to return to Switzerland. I understood how I had failed to notice that my bag wasn’t with me when I got out of the taxi: there was an atmosphere of stress because of the talk about money, and I had a bag hanging on my left shoulder as usual. The body’s memory felt that the bag containing the essentials was in place.
And then I had Osho with me. My being felt totally safe, I was connected to the universe and the universe was taking care of me. You may say that all this was a bit naive, that it was self-hypnosis… who knows? What if there is a great network of invisible connections in which we are all linked?
But still, there was another part of me that wasn’t so sure. I wanted to return to Switzerland with all my heart and I forbade myself to let my imagination wander toward all the steps and difficulties that awaited me in order to replace my passport and plane ticket – and especially where to find the money for all this? Instead, I had absolute confidence in the fact that I was Swiss and that I was travelling with Swissair. I recall that this was 1990. All I had to do was go to the airport, explain my situation and, as if by magic, everything would be sorted out! I had booked and paid for a seat!
And then I started to pray, spontaneously, in an informal way. I turned to the universe, to Osho, and from the bottom of my heart I explained that I wanted to go home and asked for their help.
History will never be able to say if my patriotic trust was justified – but in any case, my prayer was answered, for just as we were about to get into the hotel limousine, a taxi burst into the courtyard with a din of horns. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The young driver of the unofficial taxi was speeding towards us, holding a handbag out the window and shouting something incomprehensible to us in Hindi.
It was indeed my handbag that was coming back to me!
Our erstwhile driver jumped out of his taxi with a big, proud, happy laugh. He handed over my handbag and we hugged each other. Finally, overcome with emotion, my friend and I emptied both our purses into the hands of our rescuer. Of course, we wanted to tell our friends about the miracle and rushed to the restaurant. We were amazed to hear the lady say to us, unperturbed, “Ah, well, did he bring you the handbag? That’s the least he could do. Did you check if the money is still there?”
That was one of the richest adventures of my life. I learned a lot from it.
What about you? What does it inspire in you? I would be very curious to know. I would be happy and grateful to receive your comments and teachings.
I’m sure I haven’t seen it all yet.