Madhuri reviews Arjava’s latest book. She writes: “This is a playful, loving, happy person, and his understanding of his luck at meeting Osho runs through the whole book like a river.”
Still… Here and Now
Growing Wings in Osho’s Garden
by Frank Arjava Petter
Paperback, 359 pages, 6×0.82×9″
Independently published (October 20, 2022)
Available from Amazon
This is a book of such intrinsic power that I want to do justice to it. So, before beginning to write about what I have read… I want to read in another way too.
Sitting on my couch, I align myself, close my eyes, go inside for a moment. Then I pick up the book and, in a relaxed way, hold it in my hands.
First I get a feeling of something grand and strong. A moment later I see a genie coming out of a bottle: a force of life that is going to climb up the tree of itself, higher and higher – propelled and fuelled by its own very force of life.
My body takes a huge sigh, and arrives in itself again, more deeply, here on the couch. Still holding the book:
Next I get a sense of falling, and I see a picture of this same tree, having fallen into the depths of the ocean, where still it is vertical; and it is hollow, and filled with the sea, and it is simply… down inside. I take a little jump out of ‘me’ and into this depthy place… and something wonderful is here: a trust, simple and profound, that allows this being to let go – maybe a little scared, maybe amazed, but laughing too – because it is wonderful, wonderful, to feel the ocean pulling gently at you, taking you you know not where; maybe dissolving you, bit by bit – sloshing you about. It’s like being a kid on a ride in a fun fair – your stomach falls, but you are delighted! There is excitement… What is next?
So then I hop back out, and into ‘me’, and I tap the top of the whole picture with a wand, and I ask, “What wants to happen here?” This little question gives the signal to the universe to show me some surprise, some integrated whole picture.
I see yin and yang, chasing each other’s tails, round and round and round… the forward and the retiring, the top and the bottom, the in and the out, the yes and the no, the dark and the light, keeping up the fabric of our universe… And a let-go into the both of them is the secret, and this man has found this.
So – the book.
It’s a lot of fun. Arjava was just eighteen, an agriculture apprentice from Germany, when he met Osho. The freshness and directness of this fact fills his story and his life. A happy childhood, a loving family who supported his decisions always – these rare facts gave him the opportunity to receive Osho fully and have a really good time in his Commune life. I do remember, from long ago, the young man whose photo we see here and there throughout the pages – I don’t think I spoke with him more than once or twice, but I remember that he was generally beaming, and that there was also a strong streak of ‘no bullshit’ in his demeanour – as if he would not suffer fools gladly. The photos are all alight with the same humour and joy, the same beaming grin, poised there above the long lanky body, between the fronds of long blond hair.
So many of us have told our stories – each one unique. Here’s another history – of meeting Osho, working, loving, and meditating in his communes; and the works and happenings when out ‘in the world’. It’s our shared history, and yet this one is his alone, because he brings his own, essentially joyful, perspective to it. This is a playful, loving, happy person, and his understanding of his luck at meeting Osho runs through the whole book like a river.
A few excerpts:
(About energy darshan) “Phew, just writing about it brings me back to that transcendental, indescribable space. Once in a while he asked people who were not scheduled for energy darshan to come forward spontaneously. One day he looked at me and motioned for me to come forward, but I could not get up. He kept looking at me, but my body just didn’t move. At some point he gave up, laughing. His eyes drilled a big silent hole in my heart. Here.”
(About street dogs) “Another sticky situation that repeated itself over and over again concerned the packs of street dogs that attacked those of us walking home at night alone. After a few scary encounters, by pure luck and providence I found out that the only way I could chase them away was by screaming at them in German. It scared the shit out of them! Some of the Indian residents of Koregaon Park always carried a stick with them when they went for a walk, maybe because unlike me, they did not speak German.”
(About festivals at the Ranch) “As I said, about 10,000 people attended the festival. It was a beautiful celebration. With Osho’s people you never had the feeling of being in a crowd, but rather of floating in a colorful ocean of individuals.”
(About leaving the Ranch at the end) “Another event that made it easy for me to make a good choice was that my friend Natyam had told me that he had read part of an old discourse by Osho in which he said that he would have three communes. The first one was to be focussed on sexual energy, the second one on power and the third one on death. The first two had already passed and I knew that there would be another one coming up.”
(Part of a long quote from Osho) “I am immensely glad that so many Buddhas have gathered here. The very fact of your coming here to me is the beginning of the recognition. The respect in your heart for me, the love in your heart for me, is respect and love for your own Buddhahood. The trust in me is not trust in something extrinsic to you, the trust in me is self-trust. By trusting me you will learn the trust yourself. By coming close to me you will come close to yourself. Only a recognition has to be attained. The diamond is there – you have forgotten about it, or you have never remembered it from the very beginning.”
(From a section at the end with Osho jokes and witticisms) “Once Osho was asked, ‘What is the secret of a long life?’ His answer was, ‘Just keep on breathing.’ On another occasion someone complained that he had said the day before that all men are brothers, and the questioner was concerned about the political correctness of that statement. Osho answered that he had changed his mind and said, ‘All men are sisters.’”
Arjava is a poet, and we are treated to a few of his poems, which I found lush, tender, and spare, all at once. I enjoyed them. I also enjoyed reading about his work in Osho’s garden, growing veggies for Osho, working on the various farming projects at the Ranch, the social milieu of that work and the various bosses; the fun that was had. So many things I had not known about!
At the end we are treated to a whole different adventure: He’s a grown man, living in Greece, and he goes on a tour (guided by Avesh and Varsha) to Osho’s birthplace and the places Osho frequented in childhood and youth. This is an engaging chronicle, in diary form, full of both the details of daily life on the road and descriptions of the states of grace that befall the participants whilst in the various temples, Osho-dwellings, sitting on or boating between the marble cliffs, and so on. I was touched by the meetings with people who knew Osho in his youth and whose lives were forever altered by his presence. To a man, they stressed the luck that it is to have known our Master.
I came out of the book feeling that if life allowed it, such a tour would be a great thing to do!
Arjava says a few times, in different ways, that being with Osho helped him come back to himself; that finally the arrow points inwards, and that is what he got. The space to really be himself.
I liked this – it felt honest, grounded, and real. It’s my own experience too, or that which I’m trundling towards. We’re not here to be grandiose wanna-bes of Buddhas, but just to meet up with what ‘this one’ is. The rest is up to the universe.
Three words come to me to describe this book, and therefore this writer: