Monthly Archives: November 2018

Silence Prevails

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The days pass in peaceful reflective meditative awareness. It may well be my only ‘souvenir’ of the Osho Ashram, this calm sense of me. I hope so 😊

How easy to shift into a state of being the ‘silent witness’ to ourselves here in this supportive serene ambiance. It is the way of the Ashram. Not so easy to do in the ‘outside’ world with its myriad of digital, electronic and various societal distractions, commitments, functions, interactions … throw into the mix the emotional dysfunctions that intermittently control the speech, behaviour and actions of the vast majority of us and the challenge to maintain a peaceful awareness becomes obvious. πŸ˜—.

I arrived in Pune with basically no idea on what I would encounter. I had few, if any expectations. Initially, as I kept colliding with Ashram rules I did not exactly embrace the place or the intense nature of some of the courses and meditation styles but the energy of the people, the meditations, the dance celebrations, the Osho discourses, the wholesome vegetarian food, the lack of outside distractions … the whole scene slowly worked its magic and I eased into the soothing calm of life inside an Ashram/commune/meditation resort.

Osho and his philosophy is not everyone’s cup of tea by any means, but I am open and willing to take a few sips and explore yet another way of looking at life … inevitably, I always learn something while doing so πŸ™

There is value and benefit to be derived when one is taken off guard by an unexpected turn, a road less travelled, jumping into unknown waters … certainly gets us out of our comfort zones …. comfortable as they may be, sometimes a shake up is in order πŸ˜‚ …. time to try out a new perspective or learn something new, be it about myself, others or the world 😊 …. or participate in something I am just a tiny bit afraid to do. Coming this far from the comforts of home, by myself, with no idea what kind of Ashram this place actually was, certainly qualified!! It was perhaps time to jiggle juggle things around a bit πŸ™ƒ!!

If I had any plan in place at all prior to my arrival in Pune, it was that I was coming for a spiritual tune-up to a country I continue to be inexplicably drawn to.

I knew little if anything of Osho and his teachings. He was (still is) often viewed as a controversial guru by Western critics. Osho was a man who regularly contradicted his own philosophies in a playful manner and delighted in doing so! … he had a great sense of humour as all enlightened beings seem to have. He is a mystical icon in Pune, if not in all of India and beyond! Osho passed away in 1990 while still in his fifties … quite young by today’s standards. There is much speculation and controversy about his early death. Apparently there is a movie out on his life on Netflix and the curious questionable details surrounding his death. I think I will take it in when back in Canada.

Osho has millions of devotees in India alone … Europeans, Brits, Asians, Australians, Scandinavians also all appear to know of his teachings more readily than do North Americans … could be why between them and the locals, they totally out number Canadian and American participants ten to one at the Ashram. Distance would play into that as well of course! Despite a bit of cursory googling of the Osho website a few months prior to booking my stay here, my decision to come pretty much remains a singular one … knowing the deep and powerful impact Osho and his teachings had on two of my favourite and respected Sanskrit chant musicians, Deva Premal and Miten, the possibility existed that I would discover something worth exploring. I wing things often on instinct alone. In this case, it appears to have been enough.

I chanced upon this beautiful lotus pond in Teerth Park on the Ashram grounds the other day.

It reminded me of a video talk given by Osho on enlightenment during my first day here. A heady subject for a first day, to be sure!!! I can’t remember it verbatim as I was very jet lagged with the twelve hour time difference but this covers the bones of the discourse:

“Enlightenment is not a matter of polar opposites. There is no such thing as a non-enlightened person and one who is enlightened … rather we are all on the path of enlightenment. Some may be struggling and entangled within the roots, wrangling with all manner of negatives, chronic sadness, selfishness, anger issues, victim mentality, senseless drama, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, racism, bigotry, etc. etc., while others are slowly navigating their way along the stems, some in the bud stage, some in bloom but all are on the same path … matters little where on the path, just that we are all on that enlightenment journey together”.

Osho waves off any form of spiritual arrogance or spiritual hierarchy. The journey of enlightenment may manifest differently for all of us but we are all on it together. Inclusion rather than exclusion! What a beautiful bit of philosophy ❀️!

My own addition or thoughts on that discourse would be … ‘when circumstances or others draw us back as they often will, life being what it is, into the heavier aspects of ourselves, how wonderful to know we are on a path and need only to let go of whatever negative forces derail us, adjust the sails and continue along on the long and winding journey towards the lightness of being, of enlightenment.’

“Be like the lotus, trust in the light, grow through the dirt, believe in the new”

Nature Bathing

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My first week at Osho has been a surreal week in many respects. It has been awhile since I have been around such an international community of people. We flock here from all walks of life with, by all accounts, a common goal … become better global citizens, more aware of ourselves and others as we move about our lives, aiming for compassion, kindness and love in all our interactions … a lofty goal … easy to adhere to in a controlled Ashram atmosphere … harder when back in the so called ‘real’ worldπŸ˜—. Indian nationals understandably constitute at least a third of all residents, followed by Europeans … Germany comprising a good portion of the European contingent, but Finland, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, France, Israel, Canada, America, China, Korea, Japan, Iran, Fiji, Australia, Britain, Ireland, Wales are all represented! Yes, certainly international participation permeates the Ashram.

The energy generated by a crowd of like minded individuals meditating and dancing in the pyramid auditorium is so strong and powerful that it literally blows me away! A very intense and internally moving experience. After a number of days, I sensed a personal need for space, for balance away from the group dynamics and energy.

As such, I got up very early one morning and decide to skip the scheduled dynamic meditation and instead opt for a walk through Teerth Park. Technically it is an extension of Osho Ashram grounds but really more an extension of Koregaon Park itself which surrounds the Ashram grounds.

The quiet in the early morning hours is broken only by birdsong. So peaceful. Surprisingly, and I must say, thankfully so, I see no one else strolling in the park! I was told to keep an eye out for snakes by the gate guard, but see none … too early for them as well perhaps. It was an undeniable pleasure to be on actual dirt walking paths!

There is virtually not a speck of earth on the Ashram walkways that is not covered in concrete tile, granite or marble including the interior of all the meditation buildings and guest houses. The appearance is certainly lovely and zen like, and cool marble is heavenly in bare feet. Undoubtedly the maintenance and cleaning is substantially easier …. but dancing, standing, sitting and walking on such hard surfaces for a week has taken a bit of a toll on my body … this walk through nature is a delightful and welcome respite and my knees are literally dancing with joy, thanking me with every step πŸ™. Discovering a bench along the way, I walk over, settle quietly and surround myself in nature’s music, nature’s healing ambiance ….

Osho statue in the park …. perhaps he is watching me from the spirit world and is surely chuckling as I break rules and take photos … I like to think he would approve 😊

Osho Rules

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Although it was never my intention to participate in six weeks of complete silence, zen monk style … I may reconsider, after five days of very dynamic meditations several times a day!! Just kidding … sort of πŸ˜—. Osho believed very much in a Zorba-Buddha existence, where pleasure and spirituality walk hand in hand. It is fun certainly and I do enjoy dancing … the whirling not so much. However there ARE at least a dozen meditation styles available, yes many incorporating vigorous movement, but completely silent sitting meditations are also available daily to suit every palate. I purchased a ‘silence badge’ from the compound shop the other day. I may use it yet 😊. I observe many here do indeed participate in silent days, hence the buttons.

The agenda above on a typical day at Osho ….

Osho International University of Mindfulness, implements some rather strict rules within the commune, ashram, resort …. πŸ˜—. I was not expecting that for some reason. I naturally presumed a more relaxed atmosphere on rules at a place of spiritual learning. Aahhh … that valuable lesson resurfaces … never make assumptions! It would hardly be the first time I have skimmed over the fine print. What surprised me is just how far the maroon ruling extends! We wear maroon robes during the day, exchanging them for white robes for the evening meeting and the evening meeting only!! … my first faux pas πŸ˜— I walked over to the cafe after the two hour meeting hoping to enjoy a bedtime ginger tea and was told to change back into my maroon robe … the server looked horrified that I would even consider walking into the cafe wearing my white robe!! Oh vey!

(Found a fellow Finn wandering the meditation halls … born in Liperi in the township of my own birth! Never in all these years in Canada or on my many global travels, have I ever come across another Finlander born in my home turf!! Liperi is a rather tiny community!!! What are the odds …)

The ‘maroon by day rule’ also applies to the swimming pool. Only maroon suits allowed! I argued that no one would see my black swimsuit under the water while swimming and I would throw on my robe in the blink of an eye after my swim. Didn’t wash … the office manager was not amused and merely frowned at me while saying ‘no madam, absolutely forbidden πŸ˜—!!! The Ashram shop had a few teeny tiny women’s suits that may have fit my seven year old granddaughter!!! Is this why perhaps there are rarely more than two people in the pool??? … maybe there is an ulterior motive with a hidden message involved there somewhere πŸ˜—.

Off I went to the recommended Phoenix shopping mall, hailing a local auto rickshaw or more commonly known by tourists as tuk tuks. After a long harrowing ride through Pune’s chaotic road system … typically no one in India pays attention to lanes whatsoever … motorbikes, tuk tuks, cars, buses, trucks move along, all vying for an extra inch of space, weaving an interesting moving tapestry of vehicles that, incredulous as it sounds, manages to propel the traffic forward with few accidents! Horns are honking constantly … strangely, drivers rarely if ever get angry or lose their temper when cut off … it is the accepted way of driving here and only foreigners think it crazy! I breathe a sigh of relief as I finally arrive at the most grandiose modern mall, full of shops with all the globally recognized brand names!!! The middle class continues to grow in India and sadly, in my opinion, modern malls are part of that growth. No secret to anyone who knows me that I am not a fan of malls in general. I did note, there were only locals in the mall … perhaps the 5% of the population that can afford it! I was the sole tourist in sight … interesting to be the minority of one in a crowd of thousands!

For a few hours, I was led on wild goose chases throughout the mall by kind, well meaning, helpful shop keepers including the young man manning the mall information booth!! Given I only found five swimsuits (alas, nary a maroon one in sight) in a mall twice the size of Chinook Shopping Centre in Calgary, I would surmise swimming is not yet a popular sport for women in India!!! At least I managed to get 15,000 plus steps in 😊!

Back at the ranch, as a last resort I chanced to check out the outdoor kiosk a five minute walk from Osho’s. Murphy’s law prevailed! The lady just happened to have a room behind her stall, full of maroon robes, shirts, swim suits, scarves, shawls and oh yes, women’s swimsuits in all manner of sizes!! Cashing in on the Osho maroon mania πŸ˜—. I did wonder why the office did not guide me to the kiosk in the first place?? … hmmm … being led astray by well meaning folks, who love to help foreigners is so typical of Indians. Even if they really do not have the answers to your questions, they try regardless to help! I wobble my head side to side and say to myself … ‘oh well’ 😊

The country remains one of mind boggling contradictions and this little Oasis in the muddling middle of Pune is no exception. As is my norm, I adjust.

Another rule … absolutely no photos anywhere inside the compound!!! I took a few very early one morning before I was told in no uncertain terms that it was forbidden … the grounds are so beautiful I wonder why they do not want us to share this with friends and family?? The marble meditation pyramid and silent hall are serenely stunning but alas one must go on the Osho website to view.

So yes, the rules continue to confound and annoy but I shrug them off, hoping no more rules surface to confront! Stay tuned as invariably, if there are, I will surely bump into them just as I am breaking them πŸ˜—

Maroon swimsuit in hand, I head towards the pool and spa area for a welcome break from the meditational whirling to enjoy the cool pool waters. Heaven answered my call … the ‘resort of many rules’ has a true Finnish sauna!! My faith is restored! I finish of a great swim with an even greater sweat in the sauna!!! Restoration complete πŸ™

Zen Living in Pune, India November – December 2018

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After a long and somewhat arduous journey (arduous primarily because of the weird transit in Frankfurt … a two hour connection turned into two km winding walk, two security checks, lots of confusion from the airport staff etc. before finally arriving at the gate ready to board asap … no time for a bathroom stop!! …… very unorganized for Germany … this was followed up with an unanticipated two hour fuel refill stop in Azerbaijan, necessitated by the tiny plane with only twelve passengers on board although it could have accommodated a hundred …. obviously this all played into the confusion at the airport … so a Frankfurt-Delhi connection that should have been a 9-1/2 hour flight turned into one almost 12 hours πŸ˜—!!) Aaah the travails of travel πŸ€ͺ

It was a pleasure to arrive at the serene ambiance and gardens of Osho International Meditation Resort … instantly restores and soothes the spirit. As I walk through the gates into this little oasis of calm in the middle of Koregaon Park, it is hard to believe what beauty exists in the midst of the chaotic streets of Pune, a city of somewhere between 3 and 9 million souls … hard to get a definitive answer on population count from a local! Over the years, I have learned to shrug ‘Indian style’ in the face of these kinds of discrepancies πŸ˜‚ … Indeed I may have almost perfected the musically wobbly side to side head shake/shrug myself!! It is brought into play when one does not have an answer to a question, or does not wish to commit to an answer or just simply does not wish to address the question period!! … the list for the ‘usefulness’ of this gesture could fill a book πŸ˜‚! Truth be told, after a few trips to India, I have actually grown rather fond of it .. charming in its own way πŸ˜—. First time around I found all this head wobbling more than a little annoying particularly when requiring a response but over the years, less so. Embracing and understanding, or at the very least, accepting cultural quirks helps enormously when travelling. Eventually, I have learned to adjust to all the differing customs and quirks around the globe and for the most part appreciate their value even if I do not always agree with them. What is a great casserole or soup after all, without a zillion different ingredients to create a unique and delicious flavour?

So yes, over thirty hours of airplanes, airports, breathing in stuffy recycled air, compounded by little sleep, can leave one a tad cranky … not the best part of travel by any means but a necessary one. I adjust πŸ™ƒ. The negatives shift into history as soon as my head hits the pillow in my, happy to note, very clean zenny room in Pune … home away from home for the next forty days.

Tomorrow … a zen living ‘adventure’ begins!!