Sudas’s 5th story for Osho News.
After a few Italian months, S. returned to Pune certain he would be given a job as a sculptor. The certainty was supported by the assignment he had received months earlier – to bring chisels that were unavailable in Pune. They had cost him a good chunk of money but, oh well, if they did not reimburse him, it would be a gift for the commune.
After self-confidently walking into the office that gave out jobs in the ashram, he came out a few minutes later in shock and dazed. Not only had they denied him a re-play of the previous sculpture adventure, they had assigned him to the kitchen to wash dishes and pots! In the kitchen! The ego howled in despair.
The kitchen was teeming with candidates for enlightenment. Legend was that humble work, and the absence of ambition, were a shortcut to the prize that everyone, openly or secretly, coveted: enlightenment. S. did not believe in the equation: pots = enlightenment, and after a few days he left without saying goodbye. Far better if he had never left!
A long period of seeming-exclusion began that soon led him to fall into a psychic state he knew well: paranoia.
He had visited the ashram daily for about three years, yet now when he entered, the guards at the gate would come up to him and ask who he was. “What do you mean who I am? I am S. and I have been coming in and out of here for three years!” Nothing doing, every time the same story. And the feeling of persecution continued to grow.
But what was really hard to swallow was the treatment he was given in the morning at the entrance to the large hall where the Master gave his lectures. There was an area reserved for the ‘smellies’, as we jokingly called those in the audience with traces of perfume that could disturb the Master. Well, even though S. felt that he was absolutely odourless, he was systematically stopped and directed towards the smellies.
S. observed that a feeling of persecution and discrimination was gradually growing within him and he began to feel like an outcast. Every now and then it seemed to him that the contingency in which he found himself mirrored, in an extreme way, a condition that had basically followed him since forever. If S. inwardly questioned the reason for the treatment, strangely enough he did not ask anyone for the reason. He endured and accepted it. He preferred to think that mysterious signs would guide him. S. was an inveterate dreamer.
One day, passing in front of a cart full of fruit for sale, it seemed to him, or rather, he was sure, that the vendor was humming to him: “You can do whatever you want, it twill come, it twill come.” It could have meant enlightenment; why not?
He decided to do something to break the monotony and enrolled in a course. As if through a miracle, the oppressive mood ceased. The course cost a certain amount and S. was running out of money. He took up a collection among his friends and before long found he was in possession of the necessary sum. If this was not a sign…
The course also involved working several hours a day for a month. It was the longest course one could do. The group leader was an American psychiatrist, Siddha, who was damn good. (Here it must be emphasised that S. did not like to participate in groups. He was not very social and would have rather spent hours and hours in Vipassana than expose himself in a group, with all those people.)
Although he sometimes hated him, S. deeply admired the group leader who unleashed the worst projections in the group by totally offering himself as a target, by transforming himself into a parent, friend, or whoever the participant had to fight with.
One day, Siddha had the participants draw a picture, and S. was particularly happy because he felt he could count on this skill. When the time came to hand over his work, S. secretly gloated because he felt he had done a beautiful thing. He handed it to Siddha who murmured an appreciation with a big smile. Then he did something unexpected: he tore it into a thousand pieces with a vaguely devilish grin. Everyone looked at S. and waited for a reaction. Which did not come.
S. had plunged into an abyss, poorly concealed by a false smile, and showed no response to the abuse. Nothing. A strong unease descended on the group; the group leader was impenetrable and from time to time sent a smirk at S., who showed no signs of emotional life. (At this point, out of respect for S.’s privacy, we will not mention the many episodes in which he had distinguished himself by his emotional paralysis.) Until the day when…
It was very hot and people were quite sleepy, so the South American music that Siddha unexpectedly offered to wake up the group was not much appreciated. A woman got up and started dancing. S. was struck by the grace and sensuality with which she was moving, surprising also because of the physical appearance of the no-longer-young woman, who had a face and body on which time and the tides of life had meticulously done their work. S. got up to go to her and dance, but the group leader stepped up in front of him, preventing him from moving on. S. took him by his arms and gently but firmly pushed him aside, a good metre.
There was a chorus of approval from the group and S. was able to dance with the being. Out of the corner of his eye S. could see Siddha looking decidedly pleased.
(As far as is known, after the group S. never ‘healed’ his paralysis, but the episodes certainly became more infrequent and when they did occur they left S. with a healthy anger and a desire for rebellion rather than pain.)
The story about the group has a beautiful ending.
On the last day we had a visit from someone who was very close to the Master, a man of hieratic bearing and, it was said, very close to enlightenment, or perhaps already… He spoke to all the participants and suddenly shot S. a question: “S., out of all the group, whom do you like?”
S. thought about it for a moment and said that he liked M., the most beautiful woman in the group. With whom, however, he had not had any meaningful rapport.
Then a strange thing happened. As soon as he had said those words, S. looked around at his companions of long weeks of digging endeavour and said: “No, that’s absolutely not true. I like everyone, really everyone, men and women.”
He had done away with a cumbersome conditioning and felt good.
Translated from Italian by Punya with edits by Madhuri
- Giving life to a tiger – Sudas gives us a magical little tale, narrated by a Frenchman called Nirdosh