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India: OSHO!

A tale of my journey towards Zen....

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Osho

Background

If you don't know about the late Osho, he was a controversial guru who formed a unique brand of anti religious Zen Buddhism (not oxymoron) combined with Zorban philosophical pragmatism. On this platform he developed programs of meditation, free thought, discourses, lectures, activities etc at successful ashrams here in Pune and the US.
He endeared himself to the spiritual masses and subsequently made an ENORMOUS fortune!
At one point Osho owned the world's largest fleet of (at peak 93) Rolls Royces, one of which still sits in the Pune Meditation Resort
He published over 600 works on meditation, relationships, spirituality, etc.

Having experienced his meditation teachings, his amazing "ashram", and seeing the man speak and engage (albeit through video recordings), I have to say he was one of the most interesting, informed, aware and charismatic individuals I have ever umm, encountered.
No wonder he had/has/will have so many followers!

Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osho_(Bhagwan_Shree_Rajneesh)

Osho Meditation Resort

To be clear this is not an ashram. It is indeed a resort. The facilities are fantastic (swimming pool, gym, internet cafe, restaurants, etc), and there are not many rules.
The main meditation hall is almost indescribable. Like a cross between an Egyptian pyramid and the Tyrel Corporation building in Blade Runner.

You feel an enormous sense of occasion as you walk towards it - very effective for the meditations.
Inside the enormous main hall, the entire floor is a calming, cooling deep green MARBLE.
See the tour of this wondrous building here.

The surrounding gardens and parks, all owned (and subsequently bequeathed) by Osho are stunningly gorgeous.

There is a smaller meditation room that was Osho's private hall. His ashes are also there.
This room is grandiose in every sense of the word.
To reach it, you must pass through his private library and an odd room with a dentist chair.
Then, pass into the meditation hall. A large, perfectly circular room with 100% white marble and the absolute epitome of meditative opulence.
The ceiling is lined with an inner circle of crystals entwined with lights, which brings even more calming ambience to the room.
It has a very amazing energy. During some of the chanting and vocal meditations, the room acts as an attenuator and amplifier of sound - enhancing the the synergy of meditation practice.
It is indeed an place - fitting for the type of man I understand Osho to have been.

Registration

When we arrived, we had to fill in a series of forms, and take an on the spot HIV test in a small room adjoining the registration hall.
The gentleman doing the test was a registered nurse and the needles are sterilised / only used once.
I quizzed the officials, on the impetus behind the test. They could only answer that Osho wanted it, and this will never change.
Being issued a meditation pass is indication of the test proving negative.
WIthin 10 minutes we collected our passes and then went to buy our robes.
It is mandatory for all attendees at Osho to wear a red robe during the day, and a white robe for the evening meeting.
I couldn't find a concrete explanation for the choice of colours - though white in the evening session made sense that I can't put into words.

Meditations

All meditations are very unique and different. Nothing like any that I have experienced before.
This was my first experience of expressive meditation (voice, movement/dance, shaking etc), though I have to say each was very effective indeed.

I participated just about all of the meditations on offer (daily) at the resort.
You can see how they all work, with detailed instructions and videos within this main site.

Though each were so very different experiences, after each I felt complete elation and slightly dazed. Like my world had been renewed.
This was especially true for the Kundalini - where everyone leaving the hall were rosy cheeked and grinning like Cheshire cats.
Interestingly I saw a band back in Goa called Kundalini Airport…. totally understand that name now :-)

Evening Meeting

A highlight of the day!
The meeting begins with everyone seated quietly in Osho's main Tyrel Corp mediation hall.

Welcoming Dance

Then, either the awesome house band, or some recorded music will start playing.
The piece is usually the same - an uplifting melodic, rhythmic piece that brings you very naturally into dance.
This is the time to be free - dance, jump, flail, express. The wave of energy reverberates from the marble floor and walls and you will join in!
One 3 occasions the music stops, and everyone will scream OSHO, then continue dancing with the music.
At the last stop, we scream OSHO! three times and then sit for the discourse.

Discourse

Warning: some of Osho's strong anti-religious sentiment is relayed here.

During Osho's time as a living guru, much of his discourses were video recorded. Subsequent to his passing, the recorded discourses are played to continue the tradition.
Osho gave hundreds, if not thousands of discourses.

During our stay - Osho's discourses focused on the murder of a Catholic Trappist monk, Thomas Merton who wished to study with Zen masters in Japan, but was "inexplicably" murdered in Bangkok after asking the Vatican for permission to go.

This story provided a platform for Osho to very eloquently, and elaborately assert that organised religion is (to paraphrase) :

….nothing but murderous controlling corporations using fairy tale stories/rules/fear/false consequence to control the masses! These religions are all failing, sinking and imploding into irrelevance! They scamper for validity and will even murder their own, if threats such as Zen individualism could possibly be endorsed by their own leaders.

Some other points and paraphrased quotes I took from Osho's dialog:

  • As more westerners explore Buddhism and Zen thought, western religions will eventually be ignored, as they are no longer relevant.
  • Zen is the only path - think for yourself, delve into the deep consciousness, explore the deep freely.
  • When you take God out of the equation, none of these religions hold relevance. There is nothing for them to cling to.
  • There is no God, only beautiful nothingness, a void to fill as your own. What was this God busy doing before the Earth was created? What kind of person believes in an immaculate conception? In heaven and hell? These are simply fairy tales written by imaginative poets, and taken as tools to control you!
  • You cannot control a man of Zen.
  • Life is not an experience. The word 'experience' implies finality. There is no finality! We are always experiencing; flowing, continuing, aware, moment to moment; in this body, the next and the next!
  • Before taking the next birth we choose our womb. Choose the womb that will give you freedom in the next life. Your last thought in this life, will be the first thought when you develop in the next. Make free will your dying thought and it will become the first idea you formulate in your next life!
  • There is no authority in Zen. When a Zen master teaches, he will eventually move out of the student's path - so they can go deeper on their own and experience.
  • You cannot teach Zen, only guide the path. Zen must be discovered. Christianity does not understand this!

They don't allow their students to progress or even think for themselves - they teach autocratically. This is not teaching.

  • If Thomas Merton was a man of Zen he would not have asked to go to Japan! He would have simply gone! He was under control of Christianity, he was scared to think and act for himself.

He did not understand Zen to begin with, and would have only learnt theoretically - not experientially. This is not the Zen experience!

Osho's written summary of this discourse can be found here

To conclude the discourse, Osho always tells a joke to end on a lighter note. These were always lengthy with a cheesy punchline.
After all, enlightenment doesn't have to be serious!

It was a fascinating, occasionally humorous, and well thought out series diatribes. Osho was absolutely one of the most engaging characters and speaker I have witnessed.

Osho's dialog is clear, concise, intelligent, sometimes wry, cheeky and often induced laughter and cheers in the hall.
He is scathing of Christianity, sometimes of Hinduism, and definitely of India's materialism -even though he did own 93 Rolls Royces ;-)

Before moving on the the final meditation, everyone in the hall expresses gibberish - say everything you ever wanted to say, but felt you couldn't…. but in a foreign or make-up language - express loudly and fervently!

After roughly 3 minutes Osho indicates time for final mediation, and participants lie down exactly where they are and be still…

Final Meditation and Dance

Ignorance has no beginning, but an end. Enlightenment has a beginning but no end.

Osho's final meditation is moving, inspiring and renewing.
A paraphrase would not do justice here, but by the end, you have found and inner peace within the deep and glorious nothingnessssss…
You have returned to your.... original face. The most recognisable face in all of the of the East…. the face of Gautama Buddha.

Of course, there is a concluding round of dancing and rejoicing before returning to the world, renewed.

Departing thoughts

When I left Osho after 4 glorious days of meditation - I found an inner peace, power and glow, and an intensity that I felt only several times in this life Osho; the meditation, resort and rhetoric obviously isn't for everyone, but I got a lot out of it.

If you are interested in Osho, the Meditation Resort, meditations, Osho's rhetoric, discussions, etc then the website is very comprehensive.

OSHO! website
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Pune

Of course, we are in Pune - and there is more to Osho in this lovely town!
Pune is easily the most affluent, and liberal city I've experienced in India so far.
The streets leafy and reminiscent of posh South Yarra in my home city, there is plenty of finer dining and most locals wear western clothing.
Bars are filled with men and women drinking joyously!
Everyone in Pune seems to speak English as a primary language. Every restaurant, internet cafe, etc was filled with locals chattering in English!

One night I went to meet Ana at a restaurant, wearing my South Indian mundu.
The the guy at the door looked at me in disgust, and spoke to me in Hindi (thinking I wasn't educated to speak English), indicating I couldn't enter dressed as I was (at least I passed for Indian, finally!). I replied in Queen's English that I was joining a friend for dinner and that actually a mundu is indeed appropriate dress anywhere, even Pune!
The surprised doorman apologised and took me to Ana's table.

We visited a shopping centre that was oh so fancy, and met a lady who helped us find a cinema. We went to see House Full 2, a big Bollywood extravaganza - with HUGE singing, dancing and super high tech fight scenes - all in Hinglish!

We left Pune, enlightened on an AC bus, bound for Aurangabad to see the Ellora Caves…

Posted by SkinnyFists 05:28 Archived in India Tagged zen pune osho india_meditation atheism

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