A bond beyond time. Osho and me.

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India 1979
India 1979

Last year was the 40th anniversary of my becoming a disciple of  the Indian mystic Osho. I was a sprightly and happy ten-year old, living in London, going to school every day, playing football, riding my bike, eating sweets, winding up my big sister. What most kids my age did back in 1974. Our house was the definitive hippy sanctuary. Big kilims and rugs hanging on the walls, and covering the floors. Mattresses covered in Indian fabrics, with huge cushions to match and of course the odd bean bag. It was a cosy, clean and happy house.

It had been already a year or so that the photographs of a bald, bearded, smiling Indian had come into this home. My mother was now going by the name of Leela instead of Lydia, since deciding to become a devotee of this chap with cute cheeks and a twinkling eye. I remember sitting and looking carefully at his small photo on the chest of drawers in her bedroom. Who was this Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – this man, with his cutting, powerful, uncompromising eyes? I had seen the change in Leela, watching my mum become less stressed, less intense, more humorous, more relaxed, more…her.

One afternoon, sitting at home in our kitchen, I asked, “Mum, can children become sannyasins, could I become one?” She paused for a moment and replied, “I’ll find out”? I asked her to see if it was possible, saying I would quite like to have a new name. I thought it would be fun and different. She enquired and told me that we needed to write to the Ashram in India and send a photo. So we did just that. I found a photo and wrote a scribbly letter giving a little bit of info about myself. A few weeks later, I got a reply. I opened the envelope and read the short paragraph explaining my new name and what it meant to become a sannyasin. Hand written in the bottom right hand corner above a tangled flowing signature were three words – Swami Prem Divakar – ‘Sun of Love’.

I was something of a clandestine sannyasin for the first few years. I was still attending school in a uniform and occasionally wore my Mala of beads under my clothes. I was not ready to wear orange clothes (as was required of a sannyasin), around my school friends, it didn’t seem like a great idea.

In 1978, we left London for a Georgian mansion in the Suffolk countryside converted in to a commune. This was a time of mixed emotions for me but the summers were exciting, as huge crowds would arrive to do therapy groups and I loved helping in the kitchens and being part of the crew. I felt happiest when there was plenty of action and connection.

It was here one autumn evening that my sister and I were summoned to a ‘meeting’ with Leela and our Dad (who was now called Swami Neeraj). “We have an idea that we want to put to you” Leela began. “We want to go to India, to Poona to be with Bhagwan, and we know that this will mean taking you out of school”. “We want to try it for a year and then if you want to, we can return and you can pick up your studies again”. My sister (Who was now Anubhasha), and I were asked to go away and think it through. We left the room and went and sat in the big communal dining room alone. I was not a big fan of school but there were many elements of it that I enjoyed and being 14 years old was just about to start working towards exams. Bhasha on the other hand found school unbearable and hated having to go. She almost immediately said, “I want to go. I don’t care about school”. I felt a huge sense of excitement but also nervousness rising in me. “Ok, so we want to go then” I said.” “Yes, let’s tell mum and dad.” We marched straight back to Leela and Neeraj and told them how we felt.

The following February of ’79 we were on the Ashram in Poona and I was sitting in front of Bhagwan. He looked at me and asked how I was. “I’m happy to be here,” I said. He chuckled, “So do you want to work in the Ashram?” “I wondered if I could do some groups first” I asked. “Mm-hmm, no need for groups, you begin working and that will be your group”.

And so I spent the next two and a half years In India, working in the Ashram, doing everything from woodcraft and construction to bookbinding and even security. And every now and then I disappeared into the underbelly of ‘rebellious’ and somewhat debauched enclaves of Sannyasins, those who, while loving being around the master and the commune, also liked to party quite hard and led a more ’hedonistic’ lifestyle that being in India allowed. Eventually I headed for the freak parties of Goa and Kerala for extended periods (both astounding and growth-full adventures in themselves).

This period in India was one of the most surreal and intense phases of my entire life. It was at this time, as I came of age, that my experience of being around an enlightened master became a personal journey. This was when the magic started. I was exploring everything, inner and outer. Both Meditation, working in the Ashram among thousands of amazing joyous and inspired souls, but also, I began experimenting with mind-altering substances. I smoked hash-packed Chillums at sunset with Sadhus, in tiny temples on the banks of the Mula Mutha River, and then began exploring with LSD and magic mushrooms.

Although I was only 15 years old, my consciousness was expanding at an explosive pace. I grew into adulthood in an uninhibited and permissive environment. My sexuality blossomed as I ‘played’ with many beautiful bodies and energies.

This freedom, this level of deep connection and understanding between my peers and me was truly enchanted. I could feel myself maturing well beyond my years, as it was for all the other young people I was spending time with. It felt so alive, so real and so energising.

Here I was, totally removed from the routine of my conventional childhood. Here, where every day was Saturday and every night was a new opportunity for wild and ecstatic connection, I fell in love, I fell in to joy, and I fell into myself. All under the guidance and energy of the master and his Buddhafield. Some deep but already ‘known’ part of me awoke during this time. Some dormant inner capacity was activated. One that has stayed with me all my life. It is impossible to articulate such a multidimensional experience. It is a desire to celebrate, to feel blissful, a movement towards gratitude, appreciation, intimacy and awareness. I was given the gift of a direct line to the present moment. To be meditative and alert to my being, no matter what circumstances arose in my life. I learned to spend time in the space in which my thoughts existed. To witness, to dis-identify.

My family departed India in the summer of 1981, soon after Bhagwan left to start the new Commune in America. At first it was not easy adjusting to life back in western civilization but the understanding and wisdom that I had learned allowed me to adapt, to integrate and to continue to grow and develop. As I moved into my twenties I travelled a lot and met and enjoyed being in communes with Sannyasins all over the world. A global network of fellow travellers that all had about them that knowing, that aroma of understanding.  It was like having a huge tribe that I could ‘plug into’ at any time or place.

Around 1985, when all kinds of challenges around the commune were coming out, I lost my trust of the movement and also of the commune. In an ironic way, I had to drop sannyas to really ‘take it’. I needed to let go of my past conditioning and beliefs, of which there were many. I needed to begin creating my own life separate from Sannyas.

Bhagwan had now become ‘Osho’ and had returned to Pune, with a ‘rebooted’ commune. Having purged itself of a difficult period, it began again to flourish. But for me, Poona in the late 70’s would, and could not, ever be re-created. It was a new time and there had been too much trauma and disillusionment. I now felt and experienced the commune in a much more objective way. My relationship with Osho had grown up to become more of a grounded and dis-attached story. I never joined the commune again but visited the Ashram in 1989 for some weeks. One evening while lying on the marble wall of Krishna Gardens pond, listening to Osho speaking slowly, deeply, I heard the phrase, “right now, you are the most important people on the Earth”. My body sprung up to a sitting position like a spring uncoiled. “What”? I thought, “What does that mean”? I knew that he had said it in a context of us all being very present and being more conscious, but it had aroused an energy in me that took me to another level of reality about what it is to be a Sannyasin.

This idea of being ‘special’ or somehow ‘elite’ had been a big part of my early beliefs and conditioning. I knew then, that however much wisdom and teaching I could receive from this man, paradoxically, I would have to disagree with him before I could ever move toward my own Buddhahood. It even felt like that moment, that phrase was designed for that very purpose.

It was a moment of deep liberation for me and I felt myself welcoming the responsibility of being a light unto myself, of being my own master. But I also knew that without having spent all those decades in that atmosphere, in that fertile soil, I would never have developed to that moment of realisation.

As I moved through my late 20s and 30s, I began a period of some disconnection from Osho. Not in a defensive or resentful way, but life moved me toward a marriage that was to last for over 20 years, and to my greatest achievement in life, raising a family and being a father. This was always going to be a challenge. Marriage and parenthood is a mountainous forest of mixed emotion and experience for anyone – heaven and hell together. And so it was for me too.

But my early years and the continuing presence of Osho on the periphery of my life, worked like a magic box of tools, a set of spiritual spanners that I had learned to use to make the path so much more joyous and profound than could have ever been possible had I not developed those skills.

The most fundamental of those skills showed up whenever I looked in the mirror. I truly loved who I saw there looking back at me and that alone, gave me the capacity to love and accept others in all their imperfection. I was no saint and lost it many a time, but always, I knew I had a better alternative and mostly chose it. I didn’t have to take it personally. As long as I had the strength to own and own up to my shit, then I could expect and receive no less from those with whom I shared my life. A true inner power. Not a noisy, weak power of a screaming ego, but the warm, calm power of self-love and inner contentment. So now, in my 51st year, my middle age, I once more have Osho in my life. I meditate daily with my Mala of beads over my heart. At night I regularly drift off to sleep to his soporific tones, just as I did as a 10 year old in the darkened meditation rooms of North London.

As Osho said so many times, that when he was gone, he would grow into all of us. And I feel his consciousness in me. I feel the master in me – the awakening continues and my gratitude to him and the beautiful people that I have met through him will never die. Not even when this chapter ends and I move on to a new beginning. He, I, us, it, will always remain.

Jai Bhagwan.

12 thoughts on “A bond beyond time. Osho and me.

    Shivam Howie said:
    November 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Beautiful, thanks

    rohit said:
    November 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    :)…..a big big hug

    bhikkhu said:
    November 10, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Yes

    Akal said:
    November 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Hey Fellow Traveller!!!
    What a great piece, loved to read it. It brightened my evening.
    Hugs to you and your days!!
    Thanks again!
    Akal

    ma pantha said:
    November 13, 2015 at 12:47 am

    thank you, so nice. the detachment of the commune and osho and coming back in a different way happened to me too.

    Vedant Sajjad said:
    November 14, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Hello,

    I would like to say something: it’s like… we are almost the same age man! How about that?

    I actually did my first meditation weekend on a boat-center in Amsterdam.
    Dynamic, Kundalini…
    If I hadn’t done that I would have probably just become a superficial, a playboy…playing tennis, in short: having/suffering a life like others similar to my background. Then I meditated for 48 hours, sweating and being total which is easy at that age and something happened at the end of that weekend. I cried joyful (girls!) tears, felt blissed out..the meditation leader said “you are at the point of no return”, smiling, and another (guy!) cradled me in his lap and I was 15, like you.
    After that, amazingly, you try to go back to school, do all the normal things that you were doing before …but it is never the same. That “no return” guy was ultimately right!

    I came from a upper class, probably boring (I’m guessing now, can’t remember) and conventional background, as opposed to yours. That perhaps makes a difference with your story. But to me all, without exception, sannyasins were and became and are my “new family” and they are in that sense part of me. So there you are: like it or not: so are you, perhaps like an unknown brother who’s face also looks vaguely familiar… we even chose a similar profession: business coach/trainer. There are so many similarities between us as a “family” it is sometimes as if we are of the same blood, same spirit, same bones…same Osho-no-nonsense body and spirit! That’s the energy. There’s no divisions there, ever.

    Love, Sajjad.

      marcitzler responded:
      November 14, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Hey Sajjad, thanks for your comment. We are of the same tribe.

        Vedant Sajjad said:
        November 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm

        Hey friend,

        I was just pondering over how this works for me:

        “… listening to Osho speaking slowly, deeply, I heard the phrase, “right now, you are the most important people on the Earth”. My body sprung up to a sitting position like a spring uncoiled. “What”? I thought, “What does that mean”? ”
        And ; “This idea of being ‘special’ or somehow ‘elite’ had been a big part of my early beliefs and conditioning. I knew then, that however much wisdom and teaching I could receive from this man, paradoxically, I would have to disagree with him before I could ever move toward my own Buddhahood.”

        First of all, listening to Osho over the years developed into what I could call my “love-affair” with Osho. When you hear your girlfriend talking you listen between the lines, don’t you? Why should it be any different with a Master. You don’t expect your girl to say “the Truth”, but you want to hear her voice, her ideas, and if she is so inclined…even her jokes! Why should it be different from your Master? For all I know she is enlightened and He isn’t! But still I can accomodate all her irrationalities in the name of “well she is just who she is”…

        Get my point?

        And then that phrase Osho used, I remember that… “right now, you are the most important people on the Earth”…
        I felt it like an atombomb descending on humanity. Devastating, destroying the whole past, and us carrying an enormous gift and responsability to create “the Lotus Paradise on this Earth”. As it was done in Oregon, and of course it will be destroyed by an ugly humanity and there will be much dissapointment (as there was then in “the movement”) but it doesn’t mean that we should become discouraged and pessimistic. There is still so much to be done and I want to become a creator in a great Future!

        But you are aware enough to see that the “This idea of being ‘special’ or somehow ‘elite’ had been a big part of my early beliefs …”conditioning was in your way of what Osho was saying. Probably your upbringing is that of “being ordinary/normal is good” in spite of hippie-parents who were probably rebelling against just that. Like I said …I was already “upper class” so I have no problem being the most important people on the Earth! And finally, I don’t think I would have to disagree with him before I could ever move toward my own Buddhahood, it is just irrelevant. So here I disagree with you.

        Love, Sajjad.

        marcitzler responded:
        November 16, 2015 at 10:05 pm

        Firstly you misunderstand what I meant by ‘early beliefs. I am referring to having a sannyas conditioning. I was only 9 when my mother took sannyas and my upbringing was never ‘normal’ by any measure. It was often implied that non sannyasins ‘didn’t get it’ or somehow were missing a true path. that is the conditioning I rejected. The fact that you were upper class is totally irrelevant. your chattles are meaningless in a comparative humanity. And my disagreement with his words was experiential, a bolt of inner truth that we are no more special or elite than anyone. It is a dangerous arrogance. It was not ‘an opinion’ so it is is not up for debate as to wether you disagree with it or not. And finally, listening to Osho and to my girlfriend or wife were incomparable. The truth is i absolutely know if the person to whom I am communicating is awake or asleep and to what extent.

    Vedant Sajjad said:
    November 18, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Well, hope we’re still friends…

    Seriously, the communication-courses are still the best sold courses in the business! Not without reason, communication being so difficult at work, at home but most of all with a Master like Osho.
    So maybe I misunderstood you.
    But maybe you misunderstood Osho. I’m saying this because I got a totally different meaning out of his statement. Namely, that of sharing a great responsability with my family-members to make this a better world. Creating a utopia is Always for something better isn’t it. Oregon was a utopia. But “better” doesn’t mean you are comparing yourself with the rest of humanity and feeling yourself higher than them! It means that you want to try something different and of course it would have to be “better”, otherwise why bother doing it?

    What you are saying bro’, is that arrogance is bad. Arrogance is when you feel yourself “a better person” in COMPARISON, so you feel superior and the other is inferior. It is called Ego, everybody does it all the time. But why is it “dangerous”? Only to the person who feels himself better because he or she is suffering from an ego-delusion! Why should it be dangerous to anyone else, they can just laugh and move on? And is all arrogance bad or only spiritual arrogance? I don’t see the point of you getting bothered by Osho saying “right now, you are the most important people on the Earth”? Anybody listening is bound to be a sannyasin or sympathizer, so nobody’s feelings are getting hurt. And for me it was a boost in the Sense of “Move on”, don’t stop!

    And you also say that I cannot disagree with you because it isn’t an opinion, it is “experiential, a bolt of inner truth” . But you can disagree with Osho (rather: you háve to disagree!) and his statement…so are you saying it is just his opinion? It is “up for debate”, it is not “experiential, a bolt of inner truth “,,,,because you are disagreeing with it. That’s a bit funny, or is it “spiritual arrogance” on your part? You can tell if it’s an opinion or “the Truth”….just teasing you…! Am I also on your black list of sleepy sannyasins now…?

    Prem Griffiths said:
    November 21, 2015 at 12:17 am

    This short piece is one of the most profound articles I’ve read on sannyas life – and I’ve read a lot. There’s no road, no journey, just an empty space, and it’s obvious you’ve filled yours with wisdom, intelligence, warmth & love. And to top it off you write exquisitely.

    You knocked my socks off. Thank you.

      marcitzler responded:
      November 21, 2015 at 12:44 am

      Thank you for you kind words, most appreciated. I will be writing a full book on Poona 1 over the next year.

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