Meeting the midwife


Part 2 of 5 of Shanti’s ‘A portrait of human dignity’.

calm baby

Time to continue on my pilgrimage to a satisfying vision on our human dignity.

My next stop is a University study, Sociology, about man embedded in cultural, religious and political networks; about how we all are shaped into members of a tribe, a culture, a group, a society, into role-playing, and into identification with our fellows who live in the same bubbles of belief-systems and values as we do.

It’s a moulding process, impossible to escape from, the very same process I had just experienced for 18 years since the day I was born. Yes, a true tale, but so incomplete. After all: where is the rebel in this tale, the response of the ‘unfit’, the outsider, the gypsy, the adventurer, the vagabond in us, the one who prefers freedom above security or the warmth of the ‘home’ and the tribe, the one who is on a quest, the one I felt throbbing inside myself?

I start a new study, Psychology, in Leiden and Amsterdam, in the hope that my search there might offer me an answer to this question: How can an individual human being respond to this group pressure in such a way that they manage not to become a sheep forever?

But the answers I find there are very poor: there is a lot of talking, again, about our mental illnesses, our shortcomings, our derailments, our psychoses and neuroses.

Yes, a true tale again, but so incomplete and without even one musical note of that song about our human potential and dignity I so vaguely hear inside and around me.

A few friends and I start teaching our professors about a new branch on the tree of Psychology, growing in California, especially at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, called ‘Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology’, with authors like Abbie Maslow (Toward a Psychology of Being and The Farther Reaches of Human Nature), Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving and Escape from Freedom), Ronald Laing (The Divided Self) and dear Roberto Assagioli (Psychosynthesis) whose books I translated.

I might have stayed with these excellent experimenters for the rest of my life, especially my teacher, friend and author of that wonderful book, What We May Be, Piero Ferrucci; but life is what happens while you are making other plans. Since I had been thoroughly trained in Psychosynthesis in Florence, Pasadena, Palo Alto and Montréal, my plan was to start a Psychosynthesis Institute, but…

I meet a man in whom I hear my own inner melody, who speaks the words which I wanted to say but which I was unable to say so clearly and fluently, who sings the songs I hear vaguely in my own being, but broadcasts them in full stereo.

On a walk along the canals of Amsterdam I visit my favourite bookshop and there they are: a lot of books from a man called Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

I don’t know him, but I purchase 20 of his books in one buy! Why?

Because every line I read resonates in me with a great ‘Yes!’

For more than half a year I use every split second to listen to him, starting with his discourses on Heraclitus in The Hidden Harmony. Since those days I have attended and listened and watched and read so many of his 6000 English discourses!

He loves to talk and I love to listen to him. But why so often?

Because I can hear the music going on within his words! No, not Gregorian music nor ‘La Marseillaise’, but the sound of silence, of peacefulness, of an inner joy within me.

I fall in love with his words of wisdom and, curious about who is speaking them so immaculately, so truly, so understandably, I fly away to meet him in India. Being with him, I fall in love with the man himself and that love seems to be more than a whim: it’s a love affair lasting already as long as the one with my beloved, almost 50 years!

The reason is simple: there is resonance. The poetry of his words and the beauty of the man himself are resonating, are mirroring to me the peace, the love and the joy alive inside myself. Maybe the main mistake people have about ‘Masters’ is that they believe the Master will turn a ‘seeker’ into a ‘follower’. The truth is: in the loving eyes of the ‘Master’, or of any source of ‘Love and Beauty’, the seeker may see his own ‘Original Face’, hear his own inside drummer. This doesn’t turn him or her into a follower, but towards his or her own being. The Master simply reminds you of something that you have forgotten. That is the only work of a Master.

Is there any criterion to check what is happening to a seeker? Yes, there is. If she or he turns into a fanatic, (s)he misses, but if love and peacefulness are blooming, the birth of a new and unique human being has happened. That’s why I call Osho my midwife!

And sometimes the midwife has the honor of naming the baby, doesn’t she?

Osho agreed with my mother and calls me ‘Peace’ too, Sanskrit style; शािन्त, Shanti.

Is there an absolute need for a ‘Master’ in order that we might meet the ‘Imprisoned Splendour’ within?

Truth is within ourselves;
it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all, where truth abides in fullness.
And around, wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
this perfect, clear perception which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh binds it, and makes all error.
And, to know rather consists in opening out a way
whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
than in effecting entry for a light supposed to be without.”

– sings Robert Browning (1812–1889)

This ‘splendour’ being within, a midwife might be helpful, someone who can give you a helping hand, if needed, to give birth to that specific ray of the light and understanding and fulfilment that has been inside your own heart from your very first day. That might be the meaning of the old story that ‘God’ has hidden a little bit of himself in everything he created, and of that beautiful saying 77 in the early Christian Gospel of Thomas, discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945:

Cleave a piece of wood and I am there; lift a stone and you will find me!”

But in case we are still open and innocent enough, sensitive and full of wonder, unpolluted by our upbringing (as was the case with Osho, as you can read in his Glimpses of a Golden Childhood), then a ‘Master’ might not be needed, or, to be more precise: your total dedication, for example to the beauty of music and art, to the work you are doing, to dance, science, meditation, devotion, or to the wisdom of your will might be your ‘Master’, bringing you in touch with that ‘imprisoned splendour’ inside. If you like: read all about these ‘seven ways’ in Piero Ferrucci’s wonderful book: Inevitable Grace. Yes, grace is inevitable! It’s continuously showering on all of us in so many ways, often just ignored or explained away.

Meeting Osho, being with him and listening to his poetry in his presence, and nowadays in his books, tapes and videos on the Internet, has inspired me to find the right words to dare to portray an image of our dignity as a human being, a portrait of our potential that does full justice to ‘what we may be’. Especially Osho’s tales, chosen by me out of the 1001 stories he told us, are serving here as hints at our dignity of being human, as a satisfying answer to my quest for a portrait that does full justice to that ‘human being’ I feel alive inside and notice around me. In order to avoid the awkward-looking ‘he/she’ and ‘him/her’, let’s call this portrait ‘SHE’, but ‘he’ doesn’t have to feel left out, because as everyone can see, in ’she’ he is included!

To be continued…

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Shanti is the creator and compiler of series, including At Home in the Universe and 1001 Tales.

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