As Veena Schlegel points out in the Foreword, this is a “very special, very precious book.” In it, Punya reveals not only her life as an ordinary sannyasin (spiritual seeker), but the daily life which swirled around the various phases of the work of Osho, the controversial mystic who is her master.
Punya, Swiss by parentage but raised in Italy, has moved through various identities as a: painter, photographer, mime, linguist, office organizer, public relations person, au pair, biology student, world traveler, Osho center leader, musician, kitchen worker and boss, ironer, cleaner, graphic designer, bag checker, guard, baker, cashier, calligrapher, scriptwriter, mala maker, tour guide, archivist, taxi driver and dispatcher, construction worker, psychic reader, bus hostess and driver, bookshop operator, web designer. Well, you must be getting the idea by now; Punya was deeply embedded in the life of just about every type and location of communal living and work experience a sannyasin could possibly have had.
Punya’s narrative meanders through time and space in a style that has a lyrical, musical harmony, like that of a river flowing from place to place. It is not chronological, but rather streams from present to past and back again with the ease of meandering water. Punya begins by giving us a most intimate picture of the early days with Osho in Bombay (Mumbai) and at Mt. Abu in India. She shares her experiences with this rascal of a master, in both his mysteriously sacred and his utterly human manifestations from that time onward, even beyond the death of his body.
In this book, we are privileged to be given deeply intimate access to Punya’s inner life and her insights, for example: the lightness, the weightlessness that she experiences after meditation early on and the deepening silence of later years; the experience of inner clearing and intensely increased awareness; the discovery that the body is not “something to transcend, but to cherish;” even her growing trust into her own intuition. She reveals the most intimate details of how Osho’s meditations and her moments close to Osho affect her. Her beautiful description of a disciple at the feet of the Master is transporting: “I have learned just to listen, to open my ears to the sound, open the heart to the melody of his sentences, open the soul to the lovingness of his voice.” She also describes the wordless transmissions that pass between Master and disciple, even when one or the other might be speaking. Punya has a way of capturing both the mechanics and the mystery of Osho’s various meditations. She also speaks of the cozy feeling she experienced in the sannyas world, like that of being accepted into a tribe, a new family. Yet she takes to heart a way of being that emphasizes each individual’s connection to Osho in a direct way and the sharing of one’s own individuality and experience in their own words, without dogma, without catechism.
Punya shares her experiences of the outer world as well, for instance describing the new relating between her and the everyday world of business in Milan after becoming a sannyasin, donning orange clothes and wearing the mala. Vivid descriptions of scenery and scenes transport the reader to India, later on an adventurous overland journey through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan back to Pune, India and Osho, then back out into the world to create meditation centers in Milan and Geneva. She transports us into the early days of the Pune ashram, giving us a vivid description of every corner, every activity, every precious moment of learning, seeing, doing, being. We are privy to the details of energy darshans as well as intense kitchen work. We move with Punya to the Indian desert, the first stop of the New Commune, and to Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, by way of Zurich. We share with her a return to Pune during several phases, and travels on to California, the Scottish countryside, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London…all the places where life’s flow and Osho’s work take her.
I was amazed at the sheer amount of in-depth detail Punya displays, an almost photographic-memory like recall of the places and spaces wherein she has dwelled. I was humbled by the level of vulnerability she exhibits; there is no “hiding” here. I was enthralled by all the twists and turns her spiritual life has taken and the trust she rests in. I recommend this book most highly to sannyasins and non-sannyasins alike; to anyone, in short, who would like to travel along the path with a spiritual seeker who is in deep connection with her Master.