I remember a darshan – this was quite early on, when darshans were still held on the porch – where a girl who had just come back from Goa was in front of Osho. She had unwrapped from a red silk scarf a set of tarot cards she had painted herself. She showed her cards to Osho and asked him if she should go on using them. He suggested, if I remember well, that she paint more cards and that it was good for her to keep exploring the unconscious. In her deck there was even a white card with nothing painted on. Osho asked her to try them out and give a reading then and there. He called up a little boy and motioned him to sit at his feet, facing the girl. It was Somendra’s son, maybe six or seven years old, with big, bright blue eyes. With her thin fingers she shuffled the cards the boy had chosen and laid them out in a cross. Turning them face up she started. “This is the issue.” Then, “This is behind you” – it was the white card. Osho poked his toes into the boy’s back and said, “Look who is behind you.” The boy turned around and looked up at him and Osho responded with big eyes and a significant smile. I guess behind all of us Osho is nudging us with his toes, a pure emptiness in a neatly pressed white robe.
from Chapter 3
The next day I escorted the photographer of the Stern team to Krishnamurti Lake. My job was to make sure that his lens was not pointing onto a subject which could be misused. An innocent hug between friends would certainly receive a caption mentioning the ‘sex guru’ and we wanted to avoid that. But it escaped my attention that a girl was wearing her mala around her waist; while swimming it was probably safer there than around her neck. Such an innocent thing, but the published photograph which spread over two pages showed her sun-tanned belly button, Osho’s face in the mala and a sexy, wet, red bikini bottom.
We introduced a few Festival visitors from Germany to the Stern journalist. She became very enthusiastic about Chaitanya Hari, applauded our ways of living and – I think – would have loved to stay with us forever. When she finally had to depart, she lost her keys and we had to organise a carpenter, in the middle of the night, to force the door of her room to retrieve her luggage. Despite her obvious Freudian slip, the negative article which was eventually published turned out to be worthy of the aggressive and cynical journalism of Stern, and the choice of the photographs and the text of the captions belied her positive feelings. The last paragraph, where she quotes a passage from a discourse by Osho, was the only thing that seemed true to her real feelings. Maybe as an apology, she wrote me a card from New York to thank me for taking her around. I felt betrayed and certainly did not reply. Stern would not have accepted a positive article about us, but – in my view – she could have been true to herself and given up her job. But then, not everybody is as courageous as Satyananda had been.
Then came the filing of all the articles about the Festival. We had to get bigger premises for the new filing cabinets and we moved to the airport building. Our crew was enriched by a new member: Ma Margaret. She also happened to be Swiss and had grown up abroad, in England in her case, and, having married an Italian, had spent many years in Italy. All three languages were on hand for us to use, but, for some unknown reason, we had the unwritten rule that English was the language for professional matters, Italian for our private conversation and Swiss German was an infinite source for ‘funny expressions’ which lightened up our tedious job. We sat on two grey desks next to each other like two archivists in the Vatican library.
from Chapter 6
In Pune, on the terrace outside our room we have a few old wicker chairs. They have lost all paint and lustre but are comfortable enough to relax in after work. I bring out a pillow and sink into it. Above me are the fronds of a poinciana. I always wonder at the contrast between its dense canopy of tiny confetti-sized leaves (which drop in their millions in winter), its height and girth (it shades our terrace which is two stories up) and its big, orange star-like flowers. Some flowers have fallen and I arrange them in a pattern on the old coffee table in front of me.
In the distance I hear the music of the Kundalini Meditation which I have missed because of a latecomer in the shop, but this view also counts as meditation: high above in the sky the kites are coming together to bathe in the last rays of the sun and take advantage of the last upwind of the day. They circle higher and higher in the company of each other, yet each one enjoying its flight alone. I wish to believe that they fly up there out of sheer pleasure and delight. In this they are so like sannyasins.
from Chapter 6
Deepesh, whose concrete truck was garaged now that the foundations had been laid for all the townhouses, was also part of the firewall crew. I am not sure how he managed to persuade me to venture up onto the platform one day. Afraid of losing my balance, I was holding on to the blindingly white wall and looked down, past my brown boots, to the ground which seemed miles away. The platform was shaking with the movements not only of my tentative steps but also of the tread of Deepesh and of Niravo at the other end. Whatever his words were, they were of understanding and love, giving me absolute confidence that I could do it. I started to smile; I was so tremendously happy and proud of myself that I had gone up there at least this one time and I knew that, even after I had left, there would be no stupid boyish talk and laughter behind my back. This is real love. I am in tears while writing this. Only in a commune like ours could this have happened.
from Chapter 7
The Third Annual World Celebration in which we expected over 20,000 people to participate was so well organised that we even had loudspeakers on each lamppost broadcasting celebration songs during the line-up for Osho’s drive-by. It felt very phony and it was no wonder that my Swiss friend, Krishna, and some other daring musicians turned up the next day with flute and guitar and played a Sicilian song. One would have expected some repercussion from the peace keepers or guards but, lo and behold, Osho stopped the car and gestured to keep playing and did not move from the spot for an eternity.
If this was the way to get attention then I was going to try my best as well! I immediately went to the garage and, exploiting my Italian connections, convinced one of the mechanics to help me turn an empty spray can into a colourful shaker. As there were no music shops around for miles, one had to be resourceful even if it meant stealing some tiny screws and washers to fill the instrument. During the next day’s line-up I asked Maniko, who had brought along her guitar, to show me how to hold and play the shaker. I was now playing music for my master, even if it was ‘only’ with a shaker. Rattly and noisy things must have been my kind of instruments because I vividly remember the fascination that I had as a teenager, for some blue maracas played in the dance club during my beach holidays in Sestri Levante.
At the entrance to Lao Tzu, opposite the pond where I had seen my first and only raccoon, Taru was intoning an Indian chant. Her energy and enthusiasm were as big as her body. When someone (probably a woman) asked why there were eleven men and only ten women on the enlightened list, Osho replied: “Taru counts for two.” Not far from her was Nivedano. He walked up to me and hung a snare drum over my shoulders and gave me two sticks. It felt awkward as my left hand was totally out of sync with my right and my brain could not keep up with the complicated riff I was meant to follow. Milarepa, a handsome Mac truck driver and singer of songs, was next to me. He did not have a much easier time either, judging from the expression on his face.
The instruments were stored in a small shed behind Mataji’s house close by. One day Nivedano produced a gourd the size of a big head with bead netting around it. He handed it over to me with a glint in his eyes and I was thus relieved of the drum. I soon figured out different ways of shaking and rotating the gourd to create certain sound effects and came to know that they call it ‘shekere’. Nivedano must have been satisfied with my playing as, together with Rupesh, a Mexican drummer, we left Taru’s group to form a separate trio farther down the road. It was definitely a strange trio: an Italian/Swiss shapely secretary; a young, wild, short-limbed and balding Mexican; and a dark-skinned, lean Brazilian with a nose like an Arab.
Everyone wanted to be next to the musicians to see Osho as long as possible and there was always a great shuffling, so much so that in the end there was no space to move the arms and do the playing. Rupesh came up with a trick whereby we warmed up in one place and, just before the car came around the bend, we ran up the road and placed ourselves comfortably at the very end of the queue.
Our line-up was always the same: first there was me with the shekere, then Rupesh with the doumbek, a small drum made of clay, and lastly Nivedano with the surdo, the big, deep Brazilian drum. Osho always stopped in front of Rupesh and, waving his arms for us to play faster and faster, looked deeply into his eyes. Rupesh was asked to keep his eyes open, but always ended up closing them tightly. A glance from the master might have been welcome but a one minute stare is a frightening affair!
With lovers I had experienced beautiful moments and while dancing I had felt exhilarated and weightless, but what was happening during the drive-by could not be compared to any experiences of the past. It was as if high current electricity streamed from Osho via Rupesh into me, dissolving everything into a white-out. After Osho had driven on I had to wait for a few minutes on the side of the road until I could see the world around me in its proper colour scale again.
also from Chapter 7
Osho had started wearing sunglasses. His eyes must have been hurting, I thought, but I missed not seeing his eyes and missed not knowing where he was looking. Maybe he was looking at me? I felt him to be more distant and paid more attention to his words. Also his gestures, which had been as expressive as his face, had become minimal because a bone in his hand was hurting and impeded movement. He had even stopped crossing his legs after sitting down, something we had seen him do for so many years. All the robes he wore now were black with tiny decorations in gold. These fitted well with the Zen discourses.
Then, again there was another period when Osho did not come out for the discourses. We gathered in Buddha Hall as usual and watched a discourse on video instead. We saw for the first time the discourses which had been recorded in Uruguay during the so-called ‘World Tour’, which took place after Osho was thrown out of Crete. We later also saw the discourses from Nepal where he had been before visiting Greece.
Then one day Osho was ready to come back. He looked very different, changed, as if glowing from within – as if shining in a light blue light. Before he sat down, he took off his glasses and gave them to Avirbhava. She was one of the women who opened the door to the car for him and was famous for screaming when, most unexpectedly, Osho pretended to poke her in the belly when he walked past her to the podium. We could finally see his eyes again.
Maneesha, this time has been of historical importance.
For seven weeks I was fighting with the poison day and night. One night, even my physician, Amrito, became suspicious that perhaps I cannot survive. He was taking my pulse rate and heartbeats on his cardiogram. Seven times I missed one heartbeat.
The seventh time I missed a heartbeat, it was natural for his scientific mind to think, “Now we are fighting a battle that is almost lost.” But I said to him, “Don’t be worried. Your cardiogram can go wrong; it is just a mechanical device. Trust in my witnessing. Don’t bother about my heartbeats.”
On the last day of the seven weeks’ struggle when all the pain from my body disappeared, Amrito could not believe it. It was happening almost like a miracle. Where has all the pain disappeared?
The last night, in the middle of the night I heard somebody knocking on the door. It is rare; nobody knocks on my door. I had to open my eyes. There was absolute darkness in the room, but I saw suddenly, with the door closed, a human being made of pure light entering. For a moment there was silence, and I heard from nowhere, “Can I come in?” The guest was so pure, so fragrant. I had simply to take him into the silences of my heart.
This body of pure light was nobody but Gautam the Buddha.
You can still see in my eyes the flame that I have absorbed into myself, a flame that has been for twenty-five centuries wandering around the earth to find a shelter. I am immensely blessed that Gautam the Buddha knocked on my doors.
Osho, No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity, Ch. 4
I now understood why I felt that Buddha Hall was more crowded than before, not just with the 10,000 disciples Osho used to mention, but more like with 100,000. I even had the impression that some people were sitting inside me, maybe Buddha’s old disciples who wanted to participate in the discourses. I wrote a note to Osho asking him if I was hallucinating – he had always made fun about people believing in ghosts – but I had to risk it. The reply came within a sentence and with a nanosecond glance in my direction as I heard: “…and ghosts do exist.”
He was fulfilling Buddha’s prophecy that he would come back as Maitreya the Buddha after twenty-five centuries. If more confirmation was needed, even a Japanese seeress and prophetess of an ancient Shinto shrine, Katsue Ishida, recognised Osho as Maitreya Buddha.
Osho had given a warning two days earlier…
I have accepted Gautam Buddha’s soul as a guest, reminding him that I am a non-compromising person, and if any argument arises between us, “I am the host, and you are the guest – you can pack your suitcases!”
Osho, No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity, Ch. 2
…and indeed, the honeymoon between the two, Osho and Maitreya, did not last long. Apparently Gautama the Buddha had preconceived ideas how things had to be and was unable to adjust to the 20th century. He was asked to leave. This is how Osho explained the event:
My Beloved Ones,
These four days have been of immense difficulty to me. I had thought that Gautam Buddha would be understanding of the change of times, but it was impossible. I tried my hardest, but he is so much disciplined in his own way – twenty-five centuries back – he has become a hard bone.
He used to sleep only on the right side. He did not use a pillow; he used his hand as a pillow. The pillow was, for him, a luxury.
I told him, “The poor pillow is not a luxury, and it is sheer torture to keep your hand the whole night under your head. And do you think to lie down on the right side is right, and the left is wrong? As far as I am concerned, this is my basic fundamental, that I synthesize both the sides.”
He was eating only one time per day and he wanted, without saying a word, that I should do it also. He used to beg his food. He asked me, “Where is my begging bowl?”
This evening exactly at six o’clock when I was taking my Jacuzzi, he became very much disturbed – “Jacuzzi?” Taking a bath twice a day was again a luxury.
“You have fulfilled your prophecy that you will be coming back. Four days are enough – I say goodbye to you! And now you need not wander around the earth; you just disappear in the ultimate blue sky. You have seen for four days that I am doing the work that you wanted to do, and I am doing it according to the times and the needs. I am not in any way ready to be dictated to. I am a free individual. Out of my freedom and love I have received you as a guest, but don’t try to become a host.”
These four days I have been having a headache. I had not known it for thirty years; I had completely forgotten what it means to have a headache. Everything was impossible. He is so accustomed to his way, and that way is no longer relevant.
So now I make a far greater historical statement, that I am just myself.
Osho, No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity, Ch. 5
With Maitreya gone, Osho was again himself, with his usual golden glow, and Buddha Hall had emptied itself of the guests, and the ghosts had left me as well. We were again family. Back to business, back to ordinary life. I felt it as a relief.
The hosting of the Maitreya produced many angry statements from Buddhist groups; even United Press International sent in a question asking if Osho had now become a Buddhist. The discourses started with news topics he wanted to discuss. This was then followed by a Zen story, a question by Maneesha, the jokes and the let-go meditation. In the beginning I was not particularly interested in the news. I would rather hear Zen stories and did not want to be reminded of the outside world, although from time to time I read Newsweek over a cup of coffee at the Blue Diamond hotel. But then, these answers to politicians and heads of religious groups were wake-up calls, not only for the recipients of the tirade but also for us. As far as I understood, the video recording of the discourses were then sent to the persons concerned.
The previous year Osho had spoken on the Zen Master Ta Hui. The first sayings Osho commented upon were from the time Ta Hui was still a teacher, according to Osho. He hammered the poor fellow, until one day we heard a poem which had a totally different sound. It was written after Ta Hui’s enlightenment: the words were falling into place in an organic way, like leaves strewn on a lawn by the wind. It was beautiful for me to learn to feel when something rings true or not. Now with the media, I could learn to see behind the façade of politics, learn how to discern truth from untruth.
The name ‘Bhagwan’ which Osho had adopted thirty or so years earlier – to spite the Hindus who give this title to Gods, as to ‘Lord Krishna’ – was dropped the day Maitreya had come. Maneesha had to adapt her script from moment to moment to address him correctly as Beloved Buddha, then Zorba the Buddha when the Maitreya left, then Beloved Master and later Osho. In the past we had been curious to see what colour robe he was wearing for discourse; now we were curious about what name Maneesha was going address him with.
We were acquainted with the expression ‘Osho’ as many of the Zen masters, whose stories we heard in discourse, were addressed in this manner. It could well have been that one of the sannyasins suggested the name to him and that he adopted it. In some of his books on my bookshelf there is a sticker stating that the new name of the author is Osho.
It adds: ‘O’ means ‘with great respect, love and gratitude’ as well as ‘synchronicity’ and ‘harmony’. ‘Sho’ means ‘multidimensional expansion of consciousness’ and ‘existence showering from all directions’. It also sounds like ‘oceanic’ which must have inspired Osho.
The graphic designers were at a loss with all these changes as they had corrected the jackets for the new books a few times already and were not sure at what stage the final layout could be sent to the printer lest there was a change again. As an exception, the name Osho Rajneesh was kept for the Italian book market as Videha had managed to bring Osho’s books under the name Rajneesh high up in the charts and it would have been a shame to spoil all those marketing efforts.
And the shouted greeting at the beginning and end of the discourses changed from ‘Yaa-hoo!’ to ‘Osho!’, reverberating around the dark neighbourhood for a mile at least.
end of Chapter 9
The following excerpts have been published in Osho News:
Maybe something did happen to me
Lakes, dams and new buildings in a ‘non-existent’ town
Not everybody is as courageous as Satyananda
Narendra with his Orange Tibetan Hat
To Be Available, That’s the Way to Go
An Unusual Trio
Osho’s Rolls in the US Press
Coping with the media coverage
Osho in the Press
Oh My Lord, You Are the Fire…
In the Girls’ Room with Big Prem