A quote that seems to always come to mind in troubling or emotionally charged days …. “life is what happens while we are making other plans”. And so it is. I lost a great friend on April 18th! Just two days previous, we sat in the Gibson kitchen enjoying a morning coffee discussing the somewhat high risk surgery Gordon would be facing the following morning to remove a brain tumour. To keep the atmosphere light and positive, we discussed plans for our next adventure, possibly to Puerto Vallarta in the fall after his recovery. How quickly and with such abrupt finality life can change on a dime, despite the best laid plans.
All kinds of reflective moments just seem to have moved in during these last ten days since Gordon’s passing. Losing a friend I have known for almost fifty years leaves such a sad and empty feeling deep in the heart. Life takes on different hues when people we have shared so much of our lives with, loved and cared about, pass on to the other side! Gordon’s family lost an amazing patriarch. A kind, compassionate, loving, generous, gentle, honest, reliable, highly principled gentleman. I will miss his sense of humour, his sense of fun, his basic decency and oh my, how I loved discussions of all kinds with Gordon. He knew so much about the world around him and humbly shared his well researched thoughts and opinions about all manner of topics. I always learned something new …. my intellect receiving a welcome jolt of stimulation from these discussions.
Words seem to fall short to adequately share what I am feeling. Perhaps in time the words will flow. I will instead post pictures through the years with the three musketeers, something Mickey, Gordon and I so often called ourselves as we travelled around the world on so many wonderful adventures … ￼￼we have hiked the coastal villages of the Cinque Terre, enjoyed the best goulash soup in Vienna, savoured coffee in a cafe along the old city walls of Dubrovnik, ‘galloped’ on camels in the sand dunes of Morocco to watch a desert sunset, walked the crumbly steps of the Great Wall of China …. and who could forget the sight of Gordon sashaying on stage at a fashion show in Turkey!! We had been touring a leather clothing factory with our Springbank travel group and the organizers regularly invite guests to participate and model the clothes for the fun event … who should volunteer but Gordon? There he was decked out in full leather, wig and heels! … his sense of humour fully engaged! In more recent years our travels together were mostly to La Quinta and Palm Desert, where we enjoyed many memorable moments walking in the Santa Rosa Mountains. Puerto Vallarta in Mexico was another favourite in our travels together as was Vancouver Island. Yes, the adventures have been many and varied. The three musketeers are now down to two 😪 … but Gordon’s spirit will travel on with us. At this point one would normally say something along the lines of ‘rest in peace’ but I think not!! Gordon, get that Matua Sauvignon Blanc chilled and get on with happy hour up there my friend … cheers 🥂
Captured some poignant moments at Gordon’s Celebration of Life at the Gibson home. A very emotionally moving day, many of us sharing stories and memories of Gordon through the years. There was much laughter and joy mingled with the inevitable tears as we shared and celebrated a life well lived. Gordon was loved by us all. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
Back to what has most definitely transitioned into my winter hangout, the charmingly cobblestoned colonial-era San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in the central highlands of Mexico … known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene and a multitude of cultural festivals! In the city’s historic center the neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel greets us every year. The dramatic pink towers dominate the skyline from the myriad of rooftops in restaurants and homes, hillside streets … well, pretty much wherever you find yourself in SMA!
A favourite for me and what I do on my first day here, is walk to the Jardin and savour the ambiance around this classic church, a main draw for many. San Miguel has become the wedding capital of Guanajuato in recent years …. one sees several every weekend and invariably the Parroquia is the church of choice for the ceremonies!
… I have rested my weary feet, body and soul within the cool spiritual comfort confines of this church for many hours over the last six years!! Although I do not nor will I ever embrace Catholicism personally, the Mexicans who flock here, whatever their religious inclinations and reasons, sure love this church … they are sweet and kind in their religious beliefs. Wherever you gain spiritual comfort, and if you are not hurting someone, I’m cool with it. On reflection however, Catholicism with its outdated celibacy policy has sure resulted in much sadness, trauma and grief for many young children, primarily young boys. A sad state of affairs that needs to be addressed.
This year, perhaps more than in any previous year, getting settled felt much like putting on a favourite pair of sweats and getting comfortable! San Miguel just feels like home!
Six years ago, Bev and I were not sure this arrangement of leasing a house together … initially for a month, now stretched into two 😊 would work for either of us. However, we both figured, what the heck, let’s give it a whirl. We jumped in with enthusiasm and a positive attitude fuelling our decision, certain it would work for us!!
We have been friends, albeit not close ones initially, for over twenty five years. What a pleasant surprise to discover we are so darn compatible as roommates!! Who knew 😊?!! We respect each other’s quirks ….. (well, perhaps tolerate would be a more accurate term … certainly from Bev’s perspective 😂) … 😗!! … we enjoy each other’s company, attending the various festivals, plays, dinners out with friends, hanging out together in our home away from home …
or attending documentaries at the local bibliotheca, movies, and oh my yes, yoga with the incomparable Antonio, a highlight every week.
We also fully recognize and respect each other’s need for ‘alone time’ … a must when sharing accommodation for extended periods of time.
Bev’s husband Dave often joins us for a week … he makes the best margaritas and we eagerly anticipate his visit next week 😂!!! … oh yes, and his company 😂!
A month and a half has flown by in a ‘blissful state of beingness’! (Does such a word even exist … it should ! 😂 ?)
The sound of roosters waking us up during the first few weeks is always a tad annoying but soon enough, even through that racket, we can easily stay asleep 😊! The muscles and tendons in our feet and legs have long grown accustomed to the uneven cobbly surfaces that make up every ‘sidewalk’ … I loosely use that description … they are angled cobbled paths, usually a foot or two wide with all manner of possible tripping obstructions poking through the cobblestones 😗 … and oh my, the roads of San Miguel?? Roads?? 😂!! Dare I say, all of these quirks so very particular to San Miguel, form a part of this tiny city’s ‘charm’ and character! One learns early to stop …. not continue walking … when you want to look around 😂!
New for us this year was attending the writer’s conference with the added delight of hearing Paul Theroux discuss his many decades of travel experience … a delightful, interesting and warm speaker!
As always, it is the friendships with a handful of people we have known for six years that warm our hearts ❤️ …. newcomers are always a welcome treat and add flavour!
Yoga with Antonio remains a favourite … he is such a kind and wise soul. His classes always reflect his warmth and compassion towards all!
So yes, my San Miguel respite from Canada’s blustery winter opens my heart, nourishes my spirit, calms my mind, exercises my muscles, stimulates my intellect, warms my body ❤️.
The journey … my personal journey of the heart, of the slow and steady awakening that relentlessly continues … a runaway train perhaps, for lack of a better analogy 😂 … Osho teachings are rarely far from my conscious awareness and continue to alter me in subtle ways. I trust the journey and will stay the course.
I left behind a wintry Calgary on the very early morning hours of January 28th to catch a flight to the warm coastal Puerto Vallarta region in the Jalisco Province of Mexico. I could not have chosen a more serene and perfect spot to savour the sea ambiance than this small family run boutique hotel perched on a steep hillside in Conchas Chinas! I was stunned into silent reverence. I savoured every last hour of my five days here ❤️. The staff became my friends. Several times, I took a bus into town just to enjoy a walk along the iconic Puerto Vallarta Malecon, breathing the moisture rich sea air deeply into my lungs. But even more enjoyable was walking the cobbly streets and rather steep pitches of Conchas Chinas to the beautiful and virtually empty beach below. It was a good time for me to be alone, to assimilate the past few months of my time both in India and with family in Calgary.
I have tried to remain somewhat impassive to the energy that permeated my last week in India. I simply have no words to effectively describe that internal shift in awareness that was slowly evolving. I am left wanting to sit in silence more often than not. It is a peaceful wanting. Back in Canada, totally immersed in family functions and interactions for the past month and a half …. left little space or time for reflection. My grandchildren remain a major focus as young children so delightfully do … they are beautiful lights in my life. My children have long been adults and have found their own way. Sooo …. as I explore these next chapters in my own life, the internal changes continue to dominate … the external ones happen with little input on my part 😗. I have a few days for quiet time in Puerto Vallarta prior to meeting up with friends in San Miguel de Allende. I sat the other day, along the seawall for a very long time, just being, just listening to the waves. So peaceful, so soothing, so healing. I have never considered myself to be the sort to follow any particular ideology or religion but if Osho, the Bhagwan Rajneesh were alive today …. who knows??? His ways resonated deeply, his laser piercing eyes that seemingly see all, know all … the clipped clarity of his messages … I have no words to describe the effect on me. I simply remain humbled and grateful for the insights and lessons learned in Pune from the wisdom of his meditations, his discourses, his very energy that still wafts through the Ashram decades after his passing. To quote one of his early followers, “Osho was a beautiful gift”. Yes, so he was/is 🙏🙏
A quote of Osho’s I particularly like:
“Move in the world with a light foot, and with laughter in your heart. And then suddenly the whole existence starts turning into a divine experience. The mundane becomes
Confronting the commercial landscape of a typical Canadian Christmas season created a bit of a culture shock after my return from India! Having lived in a meditative ashram environment for six weeks, it took a few days to adjust 😌!! Despite my deep love of family and savouring the warm squishy, oh so loving hugs of my grandchildren, I was surprised to find myself yearning for the simplicity of the Osho Ashram, an environment totally devoid of the primarily western based Christmas zeal. Hmmmm … I have been facing this personal dilemma about Christmas for a few years now and have yet to dig up the courage to do anything about it 😗. I love my family … I love being a positive loving and often playful influence on my grandchildren, I love the family parties and get togethers but every fibre of my being wants to be as far away as possible from the commercial aspect of the Christmas season. Yikes …. have I morphed into a Grinch?? Hmmmm … I hope not … it could just be a natural evolution of the human spirit as we age along. I would so willingly hand over the age old traditions of Christmas to my children, to handle as they see fit and inevitably develop their own traditions for their families and partners as they are both actually doing, now that I think of it 😗. And as for me? … maybe take a hiatus from it all …. it is time. But then again, I have been saying this for a few years now 😂! Torn.
With my emerging grinchy attitude put on hold, the family functions of the season were a delight and warmed my heart immensely. I happily and lovingly share a pictorial journey into the past month of family time with my precious ones …. ❤️ Sharing family functions, be they dinners, mountain getaways or a breakfast of Finnish pancakes … they will always be treasured …
Hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, I was still somewhat ambivalent about this whole place! I was beginning to think I had booked a few weeks too many here! Ha! What wonders await when one lets go of judgements and preconceived notions. The door opens and fresh air moves in.
Curiosity about Osho’s got me here in the first place so I persevered, opened my heart and gave the place a chance . Eventually, the magical energy everyone talks about made its way to me as well. It is such a calming and beautiful experience. I now totally understand why so many return yearly. The energy and meditation practice helps facilitate a deep connection with our Buddha selves, becoming the silent witness rather than the reactionary. The energy and teachings subtly weave themselves through the fibres of our hearts, settling in, giving a wee taste of what I imagine the mystics, zen masters and devotees have always experienced and known. To catch even a glimpse feels so right in every way. 🙏
The staff here are amazing … kind, caring, thoughtful, helpful … I will miss them as much as anyone. I have made friends with both local Indians and foreigners, employees and guests, auto rickshaw drivers and children in parks. Many Osho guests stay a week or two, but rarely longer … it can make for fleeting friendships though not necessarily so. A small handful come for a month or two. I was mentioning to Akshay, my newest dear friend, that I love the smiles I receive daily from Indians. All I do is greet people with a friendly hello smile and I am rewarded with a ‘glorious genuine light up a room kind of smile’ in return. Akshay tells me it is because Indian people smile with their hearts!! How beautiful is that ❤️
Vaipav below … Guest House Manager … a lovely kind human being who helped enormously as I navigated my way around the Ashram in the early days.
So yes, home beckons but saying good bye to India is tougher than I imagined this time around. Just finished my last Osho discourse and evening meditation. The tears flowed freely. On this last evening Akshay, Marie and I opt for dinner out of the Ashram … at Dario’s, an Italian restaurant of sorts and a two minute walk from our gate! I met Marie while we were both checking in on our very first day at Osho’s. Akshay and I ‘met’ at the celebration of life a few days later … I say met, but in reality, I sensed his presence there … a somewhat mystical experience … it happens here 😊
Marie, from France, has been travelling for the better part of a year and plans on continuing to do so for awhile yet. She is a lovely young woman … no coincidence we were at the check-in counter at exactly the same time .. I have always felt we meet who we are meant to meet in life! The decades that separate us become insignificant when one meets a kindred soul.
Always a joy for me to connect with people I have in some ways come to view as my ‘global tribe’ … a common trait runs through them all … a silent understanding … we “get” who we are at our heart level, without the necessity of knowing or rehashing each other’s background history or engaging in overly long winded personal stories. A connected ‘knowingness’, an acceptance from the heart just happens. It is an experience that permeates the very air at Osho’s. A reminder for me to always keep an open heart, to engage in loving connection with whoever crosses my path. We really are all on this journey of life together … all of us! One big human tribe with love as the connector … John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ comes to mind … imagine! ❤️
Akshay lives in a small town a few hundred kms from Pune and has been coming monthly to Osho’s for a few years. His rivers, like Marie’s, run deep. Both spiritually wise beyond their years … so amazing to have shared even a small portion of this experience with two such beautiful souls. Both contemplate remaining for an indefinite period of time at Osho’s and indeed are considering staying on as sannyasins. Here we are in our evening robes at the front gate to Osho’s where pictures are allowed … after the meeting and meditation.
So, what to say other than ‘alavida’ India. Alavida Osho Ashram, alavida Marie and Akshay, alavida dear children of India. Til we meet again.
How else to phrase these past several weeks other than to reference my slowly developing ability to be a ‘silent witness’ in my own life. The purpose of Osho’s every meditation is to connect with the Buddha energy that lives within us all, Buddha simply referred to as the awakened one! It is the quintessential term that runs through many of Osho’s quotes, every meditation, every multiversity course, every evening meeting, every discourse …. seemingly every single moment! … as I walk these marbled and concrete tiled Ashram paths, as I sit in marble auditoriums, in parks on concrete benches, or in plastic chairs or even as I lay on my bed as night falls … silent witness! It remains a challenge to even attempt to find the words to express and share the experience of the past weeks.
The meditations are many and varied …. there is the dynamic (my least favourite), kundalini, nadabrahma, devavani, chakra breathing, chakra sounds, vipassana, silent sitting (still my favourite 🙏), no-dimensions, mandala, whirling Sufi style meditation, darkness meditation, nataraj and of course the final evening meeting, Osho discourse and dance celebration!! …. exhaustion comes to mind if one does all six hour long meditations listed per day on a new schedule released weekly! Almost all meditations have vigorous movement, fast or slow breathing techniques and dancing components for half the time hence the exhaustion! The evening is usually for socializing, with yet more dancing, singing karaoke or even an evening of painting for exploring creative expression … they have the bases covered 😗!! In many ways, this place is a very well oiled ‘business’ (and, despite asking, I have yet to hear a definitive answer on who actually ‘owns’ this Ashram/meditation resort since Osho passed 28 years ago!!) … but it does maintain much of what Osho initially started … even if I tend to think that perhaps some of the soulfulness of Osho is missing from the place overall. Every practice and course, whatever shape they take on, appear to be geared towards releasing repressed emotions be they from childhood and beyond or past lives. It is an emotionally exhausting journey to be sure! There is little doubt that all these different styles of meditations draw out repressed emotions as is their intention. The multiversity courses go further and deeper from what I have observed and discussed with participants, although I personally have only participated in ‘tasters’. Often I feel emotionally raw, turned inside out, in a good way. Perhaps like life itself, some things have to be experienced and cannot be explained.
On another note entirely, it has been a relief in many respects, to be offline most of the time. Photos are not allowed to be taken anywhere on the grounds.
Cell phones are not allowed anywhere except in a few isolated spots with so-so wifi and not allowed in any meditation areas, cafes, public areas period!! … so most of us choose to leave them in the safe in our rooms. We are ‘living our lives’ here rather than photo documenting or constantly checking social media, entertainment, news media sites, information networks, music videos, games … a phenomenon that has became the new norm for most of the world. Undoubtedly some of that may be business related but not most! New for me not to whip out my iPhone for pictures … a part of me sure does want to capture the moments and the people I have met here to keep as memories …. hmmm. As I step outside the gates and leave the serenity of the Ashram behind and enter into the more chaotic ‘other side of India’, just a few blocks away, it would appear most Indians also are on their IPhones and Samsungs …. gone are the Nokia phones from just a few short years ago! The new phones and the instant connection to all manner of information can be addictive!
How freeing to not have the technology noose around my neck … aaah my analogies 😂!!
Throughout the weeks … (I tend to think of the Ashram as a mini United Nations) … I have sat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, evening dancing celebrations and of course zillions of meditations with people from India, Brazil, Switzerland, Britain, Israel, Mexico, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Australia, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, France, America, Wales, Czech Republic, Iran, Chile, Romania … whew! As conversations evolve, all of us agree that Oshos is a welcome retreat/respite from our phones and laptops and none of us really misses it that much. Yes, most of us do check phones every now and again albeit briefly and once or twice a week I am online for an hour but mostly my phone is “out of commission”. It feels good.
Osho gave a discourse the other night about our senses … and how our vision determines most of what we experience in human interactions when we are speaking face to face (up to 80%)…. I do note his tendency to exaggerate just slightly 😗. Words may often fail to correctly convey what we feel, what we mean, what our intentions are etc. and accordingly, more often than not, are misconstrued … boy, didn’t I relate to that discourse??!!! Osho valued truth. He did not sugar coat anything. He does not believe in telling anyone what they necessarily want to hear but rather what they need to hear to further their growth as human beings. He does this in a very subtle manner as befitting a zen master … a title he would probably reject :). Simple truth, whether it be pleasant to hear or not is a cornerstone of his discourses. Probably why I enjoy his ‘philosophy’ so much 😗!! I have always appreciated straight shooters. Political correctness is rarely in my vernacular. Actions speak volumes and facial expressions rarely lie hence Osho’s 80% factor. I imagine somewhere in his books he must reference those who are blind and cannot rely on sight .. 😗
As the discourse continued on ‘living our truth, being our truth’… I pondered my own subconscious lifelong tendency to watch people when they speak! I never really thought about it much until now but that ‘watching’ has been invaluable in so many ways. From facial expressions alone it is often possible to tell when someone is truthful, or not! One learns so much from just quietly observing people at play, at work, how they treat others. When eyes meet, words sometimes become irrelevant … eyes can communicate so much!! So yes, Osho was on to something … Truth. It’s in the eyes. It’s in the actions. Wonderful if also in the words. How fortunate if all three components synchronize!
I share below a brief excerpt from Osho’s very long discourse on truth. If anyone is interested, the full discourse is online:
“How to attain truth? By dropping all kinds of beliefs. And remember, I am saying all kinds – belief in me is included. Experience me, come along with me, let me share what I have seen, but don’t believe, don’t be in a hurry. Don’t say, “Now what is the point? Now Osho has seen it, all that is left for me is to believe it.”
“What I have seen cannot become your experience unless you see it. And it is the experience of truth that delivers you from ignorance, from bondage, from misery. It is not the belief that delivers you, it is truth. Jesus says, “Truth liberates.” But how to attain to truth? It is not a question of belief, but a question of meditativeness. And what is meditation? Meditation is emptying your mind completely of all belief, ideology, concept, thought. Only in an empty mind, when there is no dust left on the mirror, truth reflects. That reflection is a benediction.” …. Osho
Sooo … It would appear I am slowly warming up to the ever mystical, always controversial Osho/Rajneesh, born on December 11, 1931.
Although I am in no danger of becoming a ‘sanyasi’ of a long dead zen master, I am enjoying learning about him and listening to his colourful, humour ridden discourses. I look forward to them at every meeting! It has come to my attention that I may well be the sole participant here who has not read a single book about or by Osho and had never attended his meditations prior to coming to Pune! What can I say, I like surprises??! 😂. My dear friend Mickey Gibson was sure I was returning to India to join the Hare Krishnas 😂! No, I am simply an explorer, exploring the many different ways we live on this beautiful green and blue planet … learning about stillness, about truth, of being the silent witness, of connecting with the Buddha that lives within us all.