Alfa-Alfa / The Enlightenment Saga

Remembering Here&Now

Two chapters from Arjava’s memoir, Still… Here and Now: Growing Wings in Osho’s Garden, this time from the Oregon era.

Happy in the fields


For a while, the River House field became my new playground. Here we grew alfalfa for our dairy cows. Charandas was a beautifully irrigated field, right by the John Day River, which we called Radha River. Attached to the pump in the river opposite Bill Bowerman’s property (he was the son of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman Sr. and one of the major opponents of the Ranch) was a huge tractor-operated irrigation reel, made in Austria by Bauer. For several months, this was my job – irrigating the field using a tractor and a retractable hose on a giant metal wheel. First you took the wheel to one side of the field, placed it on the ground and then extruded the hose, which had a water gun at the end. Then the pump in the river was turned on while the wheel retracted the hose slowly, watering a quarter of the field in each run. During this period, my main work toy was the John Deere D8 crawler on tracks, an incredibly agile and powerful machine. You could drive it up the steepest mountains and I often did just that to have a good view with lunch.

When the alfalfa was tall enough, we mowed it and then it was raked into windrows on the following days. We often accidentally killed fawns with the mower, always a heart-breaking occasion. Like rabbits, the doe leave their young offspring by themselves hidden in grassy places so that the doe’s odor does not attract predators to the babies; she only returns to nurse them. She does a good job hiding them so unfortunately we were not able to find any way to avoid it. We tried walking the field before mowing to chase them away, but you could practically step on them, and they would not budge, waiting for mom.

If we found a rattler under a windrow, we’d call Neehar, who charmed them, caught them and set them free close by. But two minutes later they were back. So we also chopped up plenty of rattlesnakes as we were mowing, but I admit that I did not feel so sorry for them as I did for those fawns.

After we finished with the mowing, the next step was to gather the alfalfa into big round bales, which was my favorite job. It was so precise and had to be done in the early morning hours when there was little dew on the surface. Otherwise you would lose all the small leaves and end up with a bale of sticks. One had to pass over the windrows in a zigzag motion, monitoring the growth of the bale in the machine so they would be even on all sides, and then wrap them with baling twine before setting them free on the field. I remember that one morning, I baled about 60 or 70 of those big round furballs. When enough were ready, they would be picked up by a front-end loader and taken to the Rabiya dairy farm.

Redneck with pickup, 1985

Sometimes I had the sweetest company of perhaps as many as fifty deer who were grazing on the alfalfa while I was baling it. They were amazing creatures, not at all afraid of us, because hunting was not allowed on our property and they knew it. I had even seen groups of deer crossing the John Day River to get to the dinner table. Somehow, Osho heard of our adventures and said in a lecture that we were growing “alfa alfa” for the deer. That was not quite true, but not entirely wrong. They did not budge even when I was coming within inches of them with these very big and noisy machines. Once when I was at the truck farm, a deer managed to get inside the fence and was trying hard to escape but couldn’t. With my friend Richard, we pinned it down in an Olympic wrestling match, which must have been hilarious to watch, before carrying it out with a few others to be released off the farm.

One day, while moving the hydraulic three-point hitch in the back of my tractor to connect an implement, I almost killed myself. Being too lazy to keep getting out and then climbing back into the tractor, I opened the back window of the tractor and reached for the controls from the outside, sitting on top of the hitches. I reached in and moved the control lever too much with the result that the hitch squeezed me against the metal back of the tractor. Luckily I could get out in time, before the hitches broke my spine… Most farming accidents, I suppose, happen out of stupidity and laziness. It did shake me up considerably and the memory of this does come up when I am in potentially dangerous situations.

Arjava with saxophone at the lake

The Enlightenment Saga

In June 1984, Osho declared that twenty-one of his disciples were enlightened. He had had an interview with the immigration service trying to secure his status as a “religious teacher.” The officer apparently asked him what the purpose of his teaching was and he answered that it was enlightenment. When asked whether any of his disciples had reached that state, he affirmed that twenty-one of his people had.

But to rattle the cage of his community a little more, he also gave long lists of people who would reach enlightenment in their lifetime – at his death and at their own death. They were called Acharyas, Arihantas and Siddhas. Those who were to continue his work after his death were called Sambuddhas, Mahasattvas and Bodhisattvas. My name was not to be found on any of those lists.

All of the above persons that his list included were present at the Ranch and their reactions differed from “being on cloud nine” to hysterical laughter. One of them, Japanese Nartan, called out in her high-pitched voice,” “It’s a joke, it’s a joke.” When another one, Indian Maitreya, who probably really was enlightened, heard it, he said, “that Bhagwan is such a rascal.” And he sure was that.


As a result of his proclamation, some of the “would-be Buddhas” started to behave like him. Osho used to walk in a very peculiar way, not moving his arms to propel himself forward. He had been heard to describe the side effects of enlightenment in his lectures for years. One that he pointed out was that an enlightened person does not move their arms when they walk; only monkeys do that. Soon quite a few of his disciples were walking in the same way that he did. Thinking of this now reminds me of someone who was later to become a great “impersonator” of Osho. He was an Indian Sannyasin in Pune who did Osho’s movements as well as Osho himself. We used to call him the “Vipassana Man.” Once, when he dropped a food voucher standing in line just in front of me, all his meditativeness went right out of the window. The whole thing was just a pretense. The mind is a wonderful pretender. Any of us could pretend to have reached some great state of consciousness, given a fair amount of discipline. “Arjava, how are you today?” “Oh, my beloved, the question of I arises only in a mind steeped in duality. Ask yourself only one question: Who are you, and the mind stops its incessant chatter and all that remains is a sacred absence…” – all truth but in this case, just talk and no substance!

Some of us started to pretend, while others fought with themselves. And by definition, a fight with yourself can never yield any satisfying result. Imagine both of your hands fighting each other – who will win? Many of the Pune crowd, of which I was one, had transcribed Osho’s wordless message into a belief system of their own. For me it was: “You are not good enough as you are, but you must become…” Thinking of him, where he may or may not be now, I can see him smiling, laughing, crying and tearing his hair out. He never did say what we heard. For weeks after his enlightenment appointments, plowing endless fields behind Patanjali Lake, all I ever thought of was enlightenment. I continuously played the future tape of how Osho would call me or stop the car in front of me to tell me that I finally got it. Sometime later Osho said that this had been a joke! You cannot believe how he messed with our minds, to show us how it works and, ultimately how to give it up!

Related articles

Still Here and Now front coverStill… Here and Now
Growing Wings in Osho’s Garden

by Frank Arjava Petter
Independently published (October 20, 2022)
ISBN-13: 979-8355524166
Available from Amazon
Review by Madhuri on Osho News


Frank Arjava Petter is a Reiki Master and bestselling author.

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