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.
When a participant of the Osho Meditation Resort passes away and an Osho Death Celebration requested, everyone at the Ashram is invited and indeed encouraged to attend. All other meditations are cancelled with the life celebration taking precedence. According to Osho philosophy, both death and life are celebrations! A long time elderly devotee of Osho passed away a few days after I arrived in Pune. As is custom, the celebration and cremation take place the day after the passing!
The gentleman’s body was lying on a wood and bamboo type of platform, placed on a cart and wheeled into the Osho Pyramid Meditation Auditorium by family members. He was shrouded in a simple white cloth decorated with marigolds and various flowers. There is little mourning when a Hindu dies because they believe that once a person is born he or she never dies. The soul lives on. Often there is little crying. They believe the point of a ‘funeral‘ is to show respect not sadness. High energy music played on the sound system as we circled his body, singing, drumming, dancing with family members.
The body was then taken to the Burning Ghats on the merging Mula Murtha Rivers for the cremation where more drumming, singing and humming continued, followed by a reverent silence as the burning commenced. This portion of the celebration was somewhat more somber and I personally felt it should be reserved for family members although many from the Ashram stayed behind. A few of us opted to stand back out of respect for the family’s privacy.
“Fire is a great symbol of purification, of detachment, of rising vertically towards the ultimate space which is our home. We come from there and we go back there”…. Osho
Despite the celebratory aspect, it certainly was a sobering early intro to my life here in Pune! Over the last weeks, I have slowly been processing this unexpected participation in a life celebration. It is such a vast departure from our Western ways. It was hard not to draw a parallel to my sister Raija’s recent and vastly different memorial service and cremation. Yes, we do things differently in our Western world … not necessarily better, not worse but certainly with a different attitude towards death.
The Ashram continues to foster an unusual kind of quiet in me. A reflective, far less reactive me is re-emerging. Puzzling because a lot of the meditations or portions of them can be quite loud and somewhat annoying for someone like me who prefers a quiet style. Perhaps the science behind these meditations, much toted here and developed by Osho long ago, is relevant after all … although I was and still remain somewhat skeptical!! However millions of believers have experienced great results in peaceful personal growth … so who am I to dispute Osho’s methodology?? I remind myself that I did not come here as a tourist for a holiday but to learn something new that intrigues me … ie. remind myself to keep an open mind 😗 !
Early mornings usually find me in the outdoor breakfast area around the pool, sipping a ginger lemon tea, munching on the fruit of the day, and a chunk of cheese. As I sip and munch, I watch the birds flying from tree to tree, chirping away as the sun slowly rises over the tree line. I have rediscovered my love for the peaceful energy of early mornings! Teerth Park for a nature bathing walk remains part of my early morning ritual. I savour the peaceful unfolding of another day 🙏.