Mr G and Me: A Sannyasin’s Story

Dhiren reflects on present Sannyas Parrallels to the world of Gurdjieff
(This article appears with permission of the author, and first appeared in Viha Connection)

Just recently I was in New York, and I spent an afternoon with one of the last remaining people who was close to Gurdjieff and who is still very active in the Gurdjieff world. We talked about many things, but mostly her stories were a reminder of how very, very hard it is to stay around after a beloved Master has died, how easy it is to lose sight of the very reasons we go to a Master in the first place, and how quickly an organization that is set up to preserve his (or her) vision can lose integrity.

We also talked about wannabe gurus and teacher-imitators who tend to emerge after a Master’s death, claiming that they are the only ones truly doing the Master’s work or even that they are “taking it to a new level.”

“Some people come to a Master wanting to learn to be one, rather than how to master themselves,” was one comment of hers I found rather poignant.

Another juicy issue we discussed was the Gurdjieff Movements and the real reservations she had about how they had been “appropriated” (wrongly) by sannyasins. More on that in a moment …

By the time I met Rina Hands, my Gurdjieff teacher, her Master had been dead for over 25 years and the signs of institutional arthritis in the Gurdjieff organization were already apparent. Luckily, she had a down-to-earth attitude and a good sense of wry humour about the politics, the infighting, and the competitiveness that had inevitably manifested after her Master had died. (James Moore, Gurdjieff’s biographer, recalls her as “the picture of abrasive non-conformism.”)

Rina had cooked for Mr. Gurdjieff and spent every available minute with him in the last period of his life in Paris. (She writes beautifully of her experiences in her book Diary of Madame Egout Pour Sweet.) Somehow, through luck and a bit of determination, I had got to meet her in her flat in Paddington, and was invited to join her group. She was quite an amazing woman. James Moore describes her affectionately as the “silliest wise-woman I ever knew.”

I first came into contact with the “Movements” in late 1976. I already had six months of experience in Rina’s London group behind me, doggedly following the protocol of the Gurdjieff work, when I traveled north to the wilds of the Yorkshire moors. It was here that Rina’s Bradford and London groups gathered sometimes for seven-day intensives – this was my first time. On arrival at an old farmhouse out on the moors, I was finally allowed to see the oldies from her groups doing the Gurdjieff Movements. I stood transfixed, with tears in my eyes and a strange longing rolling through me, as the powerful impressions of the “Hoo-yah!” dervish movement did their work.

Two days later I stood, along with 40 others, in a bright converted barn at about 3 am. A howling storm was lashing the barn as the intense piano music started up once more, adding to the drama. Rooted to the spot, I realized that I had yet again failed to complete my part of the complex Gurdjieff movement we had been practicing. Rina’s voice boomed out that we were all moving mechanically, with not a jot of self-remembering. She cajoled and reminded us of how very far we were from what she had experienced with Mr. Gurdjieff. Ruthless and commanding, Rina refused to even let the kitchen shift go to work until we got it right, and I felt sickeningly responsible. Visions of holes in the ground mercifully swallowing me up failed to materialize … and the strange thing was, I was loving every minute of it!

About two years and some decisive adventures later, I went to see Rina privately and told her that I had decided to go to India, to be with Osho. To my amazement she gave me her blessings. “Yes, of course you must go!” she said, as she hugged me good-bye. As I left her flat, its kitchen reminding me of the photos of Gurdjieff’s famous kitchen in Paris, I noticed a copy of ‘Until you Die’, Osho’s discourses on Sufi stories, on her desk. On reflection, I see that my time with her was an amazing preparation for life around Osho.

So back to our discussion in New York … It was animated and full of stories. The old lady had also been in Paris with Mr. G, and was delighted that I had known Rina. It was a bit of a blast from the past, and since then I’ve been thinking a lot about the strange parallels between Osho and Gurdjieff, between their respective Foundations, and especially about the dilemmas that face their disciples now.

I suspect that many Gurdjieffians have both a guarded respect for Osho, and also a deep distrust and prejudice about the nature of some of His many references to Gurdjieff. Apparently, some of the older Gurdjieffians are very wary of the sannyasin teachers of the Movements, who they see as impostors. An old video of the Gurdjieff Movements performed in Buddha Hall, for example, is seen as a travesty and a sham, merely a performance lacking any substance.

What they probably don’t know (because all the public copies of the videos in Pune have been, for unknown reasons, heavily edited) is that each of those demonstrations in Buddha Hall was punctuated by readings from Gurdjieff’s works, including the same introductions to the demonstrations that used to be made in his presence. Sometimes quotes from Osho and a few Sufi poems were offered too, but always along with explanations of the Movements that gave them a context, and always with a reminder that the evening was not intended to be a performance.

I know those readings quite well, since for most of the demonstrations in Buddha Hall it was my role to select and read them. I loved doing this, of course, being briefly in the spotlight but without being the main event. I was responsible for delivering the readings between the dances to a packed hall. I guess I was slyly paying homage to both Masters. Self-remembering was wonderfully vivid!

On the other hand, sannyasins often seem to think that the Gurdjieff people are all over-serious and fanatic. Many also romanticize Gurdjieff, get obsessive about the Enneagram, and treat the Movements as merely a thing of beauty. But I have found most of the Gurdjieffians I have met to be welcoming, sincere people, and I felt very privileged to be in “the work” – doing exercises, meditations, movements, meetings, readings. exercises, even a public performance of a play. And then there were the meals and the peppered vodka! (Rina knew the recipes from some of Mr. G’s famous feasts, which used to precede the famous “toasts to the idiots.”)

Many spiritual/religious people, according to Osho, have a talent for making mountains out of molehills, and are hard to please when it comes to “purity” or “authenticity.” Gurdjieffians have this especially around the Movements. Yet I remember hearing Rina talking about the movie, ‘Meetings with Remarkable Men’ before it came out, saying that they “had got many of the movement sequences wrong, and anyway, they’re useless without the knowledge gained from ‘the work.”’

However, in my view, the Pune Movements demonstrations were not such a travesty; they reflected at least the spirit of the Work as I had known it. Osho often used the Zen metaphor of not biting the finger pointing to the moon, and this fits with Mr. Gurdjieff’s statement that “here work is not for work’s sake, but is only a means.” How will we remember the ends that the means are supposed to be serving if all the energy goes into squabbling over those very same means?

It is quite a puzzle: On the one hand Mme. De Salzmann herself worked closely with the director, Peter Brook, in the making of that movie, while on the other hand, stalwart Gurdjieffians seem to have a view that only the initiated should ever have anything to do with the Movements. Perhaps that constraint was necessary once, but the external conditions we are living in now make it nearly redundant. Maybe a few imperfect (but sincere) Movements teachers are better than the gradual extinction of the practice of the Movements.

Similarly, now 20 years after Osho’s death, sannyasins also already have schisms, outcasts, and some judged to be “destroying Osho’s work” or not being in tune with imposed “shared understandings.” Fighting about the best way to preserve the integrity of the Master’s work only creates alienation and suspicion, as witnessed by the obsession that Osho International seems to have about ownership and copyright issues.

Osho and Gurdjieff were alike in not seeming to care too much what would happen to their work after they died. And they both constantly adapted their work to new circumstances, even creating new circumstances for the work to develop. Maybe that’s the core of the disciple’s dilemma after the Master dies: Will the focus still be on waking-up, or will it be on freezing everything just as it was at the time of the Master’s death? Both the Gurdjieff and Osho Foundations share an unfortunate tendency toward secrecy, a love of hierarchy, and an insistence on being seen as the legitimate heirs, or guardians of the Master’s work.

To me it seems that disciples everywhere, and particularly Osho’s and Mr. G’s, are not so very different after all, nor are the issues both face. My own experience of both the Gurdjieff world and 30 years of sannyas convinces me that we have more in common than not, and that it should not matter so much anymore if those fingers are a bit bent – as long as they still keep pointing to the moon.

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41 Responses to Mr G and Me: A Sannyasin’s Story

  1. ma deva Nutan says:

    Thanks for this beautiful article about “teaching” and “tolerance”. I’m an old sannyasin and quite lost since Osho left. I also had, without knowing more than the books, have, a great trust in Gurdjieff. I always liked when there were some of work in Poona; and you are lucky to have been reading loudly his words. Bhagwan never said anything against him, on the opposite, and even though.
    I’m just in the same trouble, when the master leaves, what do I do ? No way to go to some consoling teachers, gourus.
    I feel your comments very touching and conforting than others ask themselseves the same questions. That you can put well in words, with humbleness, and I can’t . Thanks a lot ! Nutan

  2. Chetna says:

    I agree with you Nutan-the article is lovely and true.

    And what to do when one has never even met the Master? All through books, videos and gossips/ideas etc from old sannyasins!

    Eeverything was very confusing when I joined sannyas movement (or ‘no movement’) 6 years ago and even more mess is coming!

  3. Alok john says:

    Chetna, I only ever saw him from the back of Buddha Hall. Most learning was from books, videos, other sannyasins, for me as well. You have to go back to Pune 1 for people to actually have talked to Osho

  4. deva sugit says:

    perhaps meditation would help us? i sat as his feet and looked in his eyes. he touched my ‘third eye’ and placed the mala around my neck and gave me a new name and spoke directly to me.

    yet i miss him always. many who were with him/his body for years on a daily basis, became ‘used to’ what was originally an overwhelming energy.

    not all, tho. and not all who never saw him in person are depressed and confused. everyone has their own answer/path to the question. osho will help, now, as then, if you seek and are open.

  5. Chetna says:

    And that is exactly what I am doing, Deva Sugit and no doubt Osho is working here and now. But the movement is in a mess in my opinion and it is a real shame!

  6. swami says:

    daer chetna.
    I would say that the movement is going along fine.
    its true the movement has fractures…growing pains..
    but they will heal and all is good chetna!
    the ‘original centre is there and attracting people..
    new centres are opening .new people are coming and taking sannyas.
    .the nepal osho centre is a flower..and new delhi is a shiny facet of the diamond..
    osho’s book have never been so in demand and in the public domain.
    and the show goes on!

  7. amrito says:

    I would tend to agree things are going just fine—-and messes are fine! If it went perfectly united, we woulda elected a pope by now lol! But all this decentralization just makes Osho a lot more diverse and jucier instead of a monopoly.

  8. Chetna says:

    I disagree! So much energy is wasted everywhere on dilemmas about mala, robes, guru-non-guru, Osho way, non-Osho way, what to follow what not to follow , to do Gachami not to do Gachami prayer etc. one just needs to read few posts on sannyasnews… But the main thing is there is no unity as such (and I don’t mean an organised religion). Few groups in few caves! Most of the old sannyasins seem to be preparing for retirement rather than enlightenment. So rarely do I see old sannyasins attending meditation camps and gatherings. If Osho has not inspired all those sannyasins while in the body, what chance there is for those who have never experienced His presence!? Never looked into his eyes!!! ?

    If not for Arun Swami, I would have missed Osho! And it will be the biggest loss for Humanity to miss Osho in the years to come.

    And who will be carrying Osho’s message further? From my experience, books are good until the point. Once you see the transformation in somebody else, all the chatters of mind come down and more space for meditation arises. I had a great privilege to meditate with Arun Swami, a Joyti, Narendra Swami and Mukti Ma. Their presence and Love for Osho simply moves. And I hear praises for Swami Keerti and Ma Neelam. Their effort is immense and brings lots of fruits! I am sure there are a few more, but they are a minority!

    Maybe I am naïve, but I would love to see many sannyasins together dancing and rejoicing in every country. The old videos make me cry to see all those happy faces around Osho! And maybe in India and Nepal things are moving in a better direction, but not in the West. The society is sick (it is very sad) and I think Osho can help the masses. But if we, sanyasisn, have no unity, have no juice that will overwhelm any newcomer how can Osho work?? Through whom?

  9. swami says:

    perhaps you are making a drama over this…
    here at sannyas news is one of only a couple of internet platforms for comments…..
    and what is here?
    a couple of hundred posts from around a dozen people!

    unity is a rare thing chetna …
    and you realy wouldn’t expect to see it in a group of free thinking people ..
    all are free to choose for themselves….
    ask yourself and enjoy your choices…
    guru or no guru?
    gatchami or not?
    mala or not ?
    affiliated or not?

    society chetna is a huge melting pot of humanity and
    it is not as you say…sick or sad!
    there are other things also love and care ….compassion ..

    don’t pay so much attention to the negetive chetna!
    see also the positive….
    forget the masses.. they can take care of themselves..
    forget osho’s work will rise to the surface whatever..
    forget these newcomers…they will overwhelm themselves…
    forget whether you saw osho or not..
    what matters is to know oneself..
    and here perhaps we have some unity..
    meditate …. and the way is in!
    As we raise our awareness we raise the awareness of everything around us.
    good luck

  10. Chetna says:

    beautifully said, swami. thanks!

  11. atmo suraj says:

    Hi Swami,

    Thank’u a lot ! your words really touching me deeply.
    All things will be done, we just aware when it happen.

  12. maneesha says:

    swami !!!

    whoever u r …
    u’ve touched me..

  13. Nisha says:

    Swami,Well said,I am really touched by your words.You have spoken the Truth.It seems chetna you are full of Negativity,where can you escape from this Society,society is in your mind,so Meditate to cleanse your mind from this.I am a doctor and I have to alwayz work with sick society but I never feel sick,Infact I feel more n more compassion for them when I treat them and see the light and happiness in their eyes after recovery.I felt my Guru Osho with my own Mediattion, I did not require any Person as a mean to know Osho.You just need your regular Meditation and your thirst to search him…………………

  14. Chetna says:

    Nisha said ‘I have to alwayz work with sick society but I never feel sick’.

    I never said it makes me sick, I said it makes me sad. And I also know I cannot help anybody, but myself (big IF here), but Osho can. Hence, my comments.

    If anybody out there is not affected by society’s negative part my understanding is they are “at home”. It is all nice and rosy on the net, but all of us (not at home yet) am sure have ups and downs. You may not be that honest, but that’s not my business. And I am not being negative, I am stating my experience when talk to friends, see people on public transport etc etc. Basic things like sleep are not there, people are emotionally exhausted, confused etc. I do not even mean here the sickest forms of sick. Just natural healthy life is not there.

    And of course I see many good things. Someone in my life came as a gift to bring me closer to Osho. If you Nisha are talking of compassion, which is the highest form of love, seems like you do not even need a guru. Good for you!

    Love and smile


  15. Dr Nisha says:

    Yes Chetna my Guru teach me to ask yourself Who are You?And I dont need a so called Guru who fulfill their need,their lust through a beautyful young Desciple who is his Younger Daughters age, in the name of Osho and giving the hope to achieve Enlightenment,positive energy,Buddha Field,health and wealth.Its so disgusting to see such Guru who says osho is working through them as a Medium.
    So Chetna I m really very happy and very very lucky with my present life and oshos Meditation,love and grace.Yes dear Chetna once you start Meditating you will be full of Compassion for everyone and you cant see anyone SAD.
    Thank you.Cheers, Dr.Nisha.

  16. Chetna says:

    Nisha said: ‘Its so disgusting to see such Guru who says osho is working through them as a Medium’

    I thought you just said you are full of compassion and nothing makes you sad and sick!Oh well, maybe it is just available to your patients! At least they are lucky!

  17. Dr. Nisha says:

    Well they are really Lucky Chetna because I work very hard with lots of Enthusiasm,Compassion and Love towards them,I will tell you,it is for sure that I make smile on their face and I do my best to treat them,that gives me immense Satisfaction and happiness.It is also available to all who comes in my vicinity.
    And all this is possible just because I meditate regularly,Osho and Ramana Maharshi’s Meditation are great.They are helping me alot in transforming my life towards positivity,teaching me to feel others Pain.
    You said you are sick of Society and I am telling you that I am sick of seeing such Gurus so I have stopped seeing them now.And I just do my duties and my Meditation honestly and the result is in your hand.

  18. amrito says:

    Ma Nisha, Dr. Nisha…haha MANISHA.

    I knew it all along…

    I think the only one saying the word GURU here is YOU Dr. Nisha.


  19. maneesha says:

    Chetna and Dr.,
    So called meditative mind to prove themselves that they r right……

    ha ha ha ha ……….

    well said ladies…..keep it up. IT only shows ur state of being. Please dont chant OSHO in every line…. IT hurts a lot when he is taken for granted and u complete the whole sentence by his name.

  20. Chetna says:

    And so SHE comes- the most superior Maneesha…bowing down to YOU! Osho must have sent you with this message! Gratitude!

  21. maneesha says:

    dear chetna !!!!!!!!!!

    Try to see ur facr in the mirror and watch ur anger that is flowing thrugh ur beautiful face… and jealousy that is dancing in ur eyes…………..

  22. Chetna says:

    well noted-will go and pray all night…he he

    I recall you were the one posting jealousy notes

    Anyhow, it is not a chat room here, especially that I do not know you.

    Best regards and LOVE (we may get there one day)

  23. maneesha says:

    see how u recall that word JEALOUSY. we do not need to know each other chetna ! UR words are enough for me to know u….. they tell u r restless and over excited…. whether it is meditation, OSHO’S WORK (language of arun’s people) or any other things….

  24. Chetna says:

    Oh here I agree with you! The person who have met Arun Sw and thinks he is this and that does also say a lot to me.

  25. amrito says:

    hey Ma Neesha,

    Be who you are. This meesage is from a friend, so don’t feel tempted to reply in your usual manner.

    Beloved Ma Chetna is not someone you have the right to dispell your anger towards.


  26. maneesha says:

    dearest amrito !!!!

    did i say anything to u?

  27. Dr. Nisha says:

    Dear Amrito, hahhaa lol, Maneesha is someone else,dont confuse her with me, I m Dr. Nisha presently living in UK dear,You knw me very well.I am not Maneesha. It seems Chetna and you are getting confused.Ma Maneesha is someone else and I m Nisha, Ma Nisha, Dr. Nisha…haha MANISHA.

    I knew it all along…No Amrito we are 2 different Individuals,I hope both of you got it, Why shall I be angry with Swami Arun, I am his Beloved, Amrito, U can ask anyone in Tapoban how much Swami Arun loves me. Arun has given me a right to get angry with him and next moment to Love him, this has been happening from very begining, even before you and Chetna knw arun swami.Whenever I used to get angry with arun swamiji he used to take my head in his lap and used to bless me,after his blessings my anger used to evaporate, now also it is happening in the same way,I talk to him,after listening his voice I get transformed. Chetna ma knw that,you remmeber chetna in London Essex camp.So Amrito dont worry and dont get confuse with Nisha and Maneesha.
    Love to everyone.

  28. Dr. Nisha says:

    No Maneesha you are not saying anything to Amrito,He just got confused with two of us,he thought Maneesha and Nisha are same person.Thats it.

  29. Dr. Nisha says:

    Dear Amrito, dont confuse maneesha with me, I am Nisha and Maneeshaa is different person,it seems you have got the habit to get confused.Why shall I dispell my anger towards Ma Chetna?I m not doing that dear. Infact I love Tapoban and Arun swamiji alot,why shall I do that?Keep cool Amrito,I feel u need Meditation,how about Dynamic?It helps alot………………………..

  30. Dr. Nisha says:

    Maneesha Amrito is getting confused,he thinks you[maneesha] and me[nisha] are the same person,hahahahaa lol.Its not same Amrito.

  31. Dr. Nisha says:

    Ma Nisha, Dr. Nisha…haha MANISHA.

    I knew it all along…

    Amrito u have written this, infact you dont knw anything dear,Keep searching,u will find it.
    Love Dr. Nisha.

  32. Chetna says:

    So I have 3 enemies-Ma Nisha, Dr Nisha and Maneesha! Huh! Too many!

    Good to laugh at the end! Nothing is taken seriously!

    Thanks and love

  33. maneesha says:

    chetna !!!!

    why r u so fond of creating enemies everywhere? its so simple that u dont want to accept ur ignorance towards anything. U wanna win whethere in this chat forum or somewhere else. Do not count your enemies try to remember ur frens…. enemies are always more, only frens are rare….and love is not ur cup of tea.

    and for darling amrito……..
    is ur horoscope aries??

  34. Chetna says:

    Maneesha, relax….I have been joking all the way through…

  35. Dr. Nisha says:

    HAHAHAHHAAA Oh my god the article is so small but the comments are so big,Thatswhy Arun swamiji used to ask us to go for Dyanamic first before any talking or any comments.Dear Chetna I remember yur hug darling, Why do u think me as yur Enemey? It seems you are very disturbed,I suggest you to take some rest and meditate, I m sure you will be fine or Visit Tapoban,I knw you are very relaxed there.I m also planning to go soon, Amrito when r u coming to Tapoban?We will do the Celebration there. Love u amrito and specially Chetna, I will be soon in London chetna and will call you ok dear.
    Love Dr. Nisha.

  36. Dr. Nisha says:

    HAHAHAHHAAA Oh my god the article is so small but the comments are so big,Thatswhy Arun swamiji used to ask us to go for Dyanamic first before any talking or any comments. Why do u think me as yur Enemey? It seems you are very disturbed,I suggest you to take some rest and meditate, I m sure you will be fine or Visit Tapoban,I knw you are very relaxed there.I m also planning to go soon, Amrito when r u coming to Tapoban?We will do the Celebration there. Love u amrito and specially Chetna,
    Love Dr. Nisha.

  37. Chetna says:

    Beloved Dr Nisha, it must be difficult for me to joke in writing, but by saying you are my enemies I was joking. It is an English way of sarcasm which I must have not been good at.

    I had a wonderful meditation this morning, hence was playing. Shame Maneesha has taken all my words seriously, I was playing, but she responded. Anyhow, no hard feeling from me whatsoever.

    I am dying to go to Tapoban, but will see Arun sw in a few weeks in the camp in Italy!

    Dr Nisha call me any time and come to our centre in London! Who are you??? Don’t recall….

    Join us guys for joy and celebration!


  38. Dr. Nisha says:

    Hi Sweet Chetna, I m ma Suravi, U remember I was in London camp and Arun swamiji introduce me to you, I was with my Husband, we both are Doctors. I was in Sambodhi centre in September and we did Evening Celebration,I liked the centre alot.I will sure call u dear once I m in London.U knw after talking to Arun swami it tempts you more to go to Tapoban,same happening to me.Lucky you,u will be meeting him in Italy,I cud not make this time as I m having my exams dear,u knw how buzy you get with studies,exams and work.I am not taking any words of yurs seriously, I knw you very well and also remmeber yur warm hug and love towards me. We will Celebrate soon in oshos spritiual Feast.
    love to you.
    Dr Nisha[Ma Dhyaan Suravi]

  39. Thank you for the article. Being a “young freshie” in the sannyas world, I very much love reading “older ripe” sannyasins as they write about the past and the future and their LOVE.

    I would like to add a few questions:

    How can our expressions of the masters vision be whole, complete, and conforming to his trueness? We are not yet wholly true in ourselves. Tilopa says we are conditional mistaken until we awake.

    Cannot a true heart looking in always know the trueness of the master? If not today, some day?

    Isn’t the lightness of the journey the lift we need to go higher? Why fuss about the Other?

    ** This my first comment on Sannyas News — I would like to share that I very much love you all and hope that we continue to connect with each other in every possible way always — those of us in the marketplace need and live for friends like you.

  40. Dr. Nisha says:

    Dear Mahima,
    You are absolutely right the lightness of the journey is is the lift for us to go higher,but we are not making the fuss of others,we are just talking about the great SAGE like Swami Anand Arun who made us possible to understand OSHO’S Meditation,to realize oshos Medotation,he made us feel Him,He is very pure being and created an Ambience for us to go inside and search our True Self.I have not seen Osho in his Physical form but I am very much grateful to Arun Swami that he made it possible for me to feel him everywhere,during my work,Meditation,dream,everywhere I go.Yes Tilopa is right but until unless we are not awakened we consider the thing which comes out in your True Meditation,in depth of your meditation you will feel it inside your heart about your Master,he will be like your Beloved,he will be like anyone,and you start crying and you will not exactly know where this tears came from?The cause will be unknown.There you will feel your Master,you will start beliving yourself and the Existence around you.
    Love Ma Surabhi.

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