Sunday, Feb 6, 2000
I will be leaving Pune, home of the Osho Commune, tomorrow morning. It has been an awakening and peaceful 10 days. I heard about Osho for the first time when I was in Kathmandu (about a month ago) and forces beyond my consciousness brought me here.
Osho was a guru. He died 10 years ago at the age of 58. Some of you may remember him- he started a very successful commune in Oregon, and in 1985 the U.S. government deported him. It created quite a stir, and he was frequently in the news. I have learned bits and pieces about the commune: there were 5,000 people who worked and lived together; they were self-sustaining and had a bus system, airport, and planes. From what I can gather, Osho was controversial because he believed that people should not repress sex and that organized religion has been telling people to repress and be shameful of an important and strong life energy. He did not advocate “free love” hippy sex, rather, “just enjoy yourself and don’t have guilt!” I don’t know much about his sex life other than he never married and was celibate a good part of his life. Whether it was his views on sex or something else, Osho was kicked out of the U.S. He was put in a high security prison and treated like a criminal even though he had committed no crime (he may have had zoning issues or problems with his visa but no criminal behavior). He endured a bomb threat (very near miss) and was poisoned by someone – he’s not sure who – but it led to health complications and his death.
My impression of Osho is that he was simple yet eccentric at the same time. He left quite a legacy behind. He was not an ordinary man by any standard. As a child, he acted like a grown up. He constantly argued and debated and read. He never played games like other kids because he thought they were silly. He went to college and became a philosophy instructor. He would teach Aristotle and at the beginning of class he would explain to the students that this is what Aristotle meant, and in the second half he would tell them why Aristotle was wrong. The students didn’t know how to approach his exams and the school asked him to adapt his methods and he resigned on the spot. As he says, “he went from teaching a few kids at the university to the Universe.” And he has impacted millions. After leaving the U.S., Osho returned to India. The Pune Commune was already in operation so he made it his home. The Osho legacy is recorded in over 600 books which have been published on his discourses. He has never written a book– he only talks – and thanks to technology and willing students, his recorded words have been transformed into books.
The Osho Commune in Pune is not a place to live; it is a place to worship. It is a very nice learning center – almost like a country club for meditation and learning! The grounds sprawl over a few city blocks and are chock full of gardens and quiet places to sit and read. The have good, healthy food – all vegetarian and organically grown foods and a cappuccino bar where they sell Baskin Robbins ice cream. There’s a bookstore and a multiversity which is basically a mini-university that offers classes in everything from Zen archery to painting to breath control to reiki, massage – you name it. The one day classes are affordable but the longer classes are more comparable to US prices – no bargains here! There are a few requirements. Everyone has to wear a maroon robe – no street clothes. A “robe” is loosely defined but the shade has to be a shade of maroon. They do this because it creates an energy field of sorts – I don’t understand it but I like it! Also, it’s an AIDS free zone and anyone who is HIV positive is not allowed in.
For the price of admission ($3) you can freely participate in meditations and enjoy the grounds. In Buddha Hall, they have 6 different meditations that happen during the day. I have been practicing: Vipassana (a basic meditation encouraging silence of the mind and following the breath) and Kundalini meditation which stirs up all the energy in the body. Every evening they have an event called the White-Robed Brotherhood where everyone changes from maroon robes to white robes and they enter Buddha Hall silently. A live band plays excellent music (it always changes) and everyone stands up and dances. Then, they show a video tape of Osho doing a discourse (disciple asks a question, he answers it). Then, he guides us in one of his meditations. He instructs everyone to go crazy for 5 minutes or so – get out all our frustrations – then lay down and die and then we resurrect with new feelings. If you were observing from the outside a group of 1,000 people doing this you would think we were nuts, but it doesn’t take any time at all to get used to it and love it! It’s a wonderful part of the day!
I took a 3 day class/group called “Open to the Heart” and I really enjoyed it. The classroom was fabulous. The multiversity buildings are shaped like pyramids and our room was on the ground floor. It had low ceilings and nice dim lighting. The floor was covered in pale lime green cushions/mats and we sat on the floor with chairs that support your back (like a stadium seat) and there were large satin pillows shaped like hearts and pink pillows. Pink and green are the colors of love which is the color of my latest “business” card. Such a lovely environment!
Osho was a brilliant man. He read over 150,000 books and then he stopped reading and talked about what he knew. He had a wonderful sense of humor and valued laughter. There are times when you know you are listening to an enlightened man. But, he was also very human. He was not ALL knowing. I adamantly disagree with some of his view points. He was not a person who required blind allegiance – he strongly encouraged critical thinking and independence. Osho also developed innovative meditation techniques that incorporate dancing and movement – he believed in being free. I have found it very refreshing to express myself in dance and movement.
So, I have spent the last 10 days in bliss. I read, relaxed, meditated and learned. I met some nice people (easy to socialize if you want to) and spent some time with my new friend Shriram. If you want to learn more about Osho, check out the website www.osho.com. [POST NOTE: In viewing the website, the commune has changed significantly since I visited. It’s much nicer!] I am leaving Pune in the morning and will head to Bombay and then I’m taking a short side trip to Ellora Caves – a sacred site. Then I head down to Trividrum which is in the state of Kerala.
Love and blessings, Jen