Banned Forever: The Layers of the Onion
Last December (2008), in a totally spontaneous movement (here in New York), I picked up the phone and made a reservation to fly to India. I had enough miles for a free ticket. I then emailed the Osho Guest House to make a reservation. There was no problem. Two or three weeks later I left for India and arrived at the Guest House on January 14. Next morning, I went to the ‘Welcome Centre’, got my gate pass, and there I was in the Resort. I had not been there since 2005. I immediately ran into old friends, hugs and hugs. The Resort felt nice, but to me lacked the energy of the rebellious spirit.
As I was talking to an old friend, I was approached and asked to go to Krishna House at 3 pm, if I was available. Of course I was; I had nothing else to do. I certainly felt the energy of this person, which was not friendly. I knew what was coming. What else could it be? I already knew that some people who ran meditation centres were banned because they would not sign what was called the “Letter of Understanding”. This document was supposedly about Osho International Foundation, a corporation in Zurich, having the right to control Osho’s meditation centres. I went to the office at 3 pm. The Resort official there made a phone call to the West and asked, “What am I to tell Priya?” The answer was, “She is banned forever.” Then I was given the phone, and in a very loud and angry voice the person on the other end said, “How many times have I told you in New York that you are banned?” That really got me angry, and I screamed back, something like, “That’s not true at all.” I had been invited to lunch in an attempt to convince me to sign the Letter of Understanding, and that was the only time I saw this person in New York. I then said I didn’t want to waste any more of my energy with this ridiculous talk. I said, “I’m banned, and that’s it,” and handed the phone to the Resort official.
Perhaps because I was able to express this anger very specifically at the moment, it helped me to immediately feel freer than ever. I felt free of the Resort and soon began to see the subtle ways of compromise – the things we do or don’t do, not easily detected, in order to avoid upsetting the apple cart.
Also, Osho works in mysterious ways, and I feel He has removed much of our seriousness without us even noticing. “Banned forever” – what does that mean? Osho has given new meaning to words having to do with the measurement of time, such as “soon” or “never.” He would say, “Come now, soon I will be gone.” Years later He was still there, but soon He was gone.
Then there’s the famous story of the young man at his first darshan who told Osho he was going to stay forever, and Osho said, “Next time, you stay a little longer.” There also He took away the seriousness.
I hadn’t really unpacked yet, so it was easy to move over to the Surya Villa Hotel. I then found out that on that day, the Times of India carried the story that Osho International Foundation had lost the US trademark case. I have been running the Osho Padma Meditation Centre in New York since 1987, and I find it quite mysterious that I was there at that moment.
As I was hanging out at the restaurant at the hotel, someone gave me a book, Love Song for Osho by Ma Anand Devika. What a perfect gift at the perfect moment! If I needed a reminder that the only thing that matters is the love affair with the Master, there it was. The book is pure innocence. I got together with Devika, and she is still the embodiment of innocence. I am so grateful to beloved Devika for exposing herself so totally in her book. The energy and the love I felt from the book somehow came right into the experience of being banned.
I felt I wanted to share this experience. As time passed, I received quite a few emails, even from people I don’t know. I saw that most of the attention was directed at “them” – the ones who ban. And that was not my focus. I was watching myself and what was going on inside me. I told people I don’t care about “them”. I only care about myself and my own inner journey. It’s so easy to forget that this is about the inner journey.
A couple of days after feeling free of the Resort, I suddenly had this sensation in my body of feeling free of Osho in the body. It was as if His body fell away from me – not the Master, but the body of Osho. This was an amazing feeling, impossible to describe. Then, a day or two later, I had the sensation in my body that desire itself had fallen away. Soon I saw that desire was contained in my attachment to Osho’s body. I remember hearing Him tell us to put all our desires on to Him. I had never realized that that’s what had happened, and once free of His body, I was free of desire.
Now, I had to see what that meant to me. How did this feel? What I found, and continue to find, is that I do whatever I’ve been doing, but somehow in a more relaxed way. And I see that relaxation is possible only when we are free of judgment.
A friend said that some people are now going to ask, “Do you think you’re enlightened?” I know nothing about enlightenment. I have only hoped to be free of judgments and to be more loving, more aware of what I am doing, to live totally courageously.
I find myself actually grateful to the organization that runs the Resort. No matter who was in charge, throughout my almost 35 years of sannyas, I never really felt accepted. Somewhere I always wanted to be accepted, even though I did not make any effort to please. I am now freed of that burden. I feel that for quite a while I was trying to believe that there was an Osho place where I could go. But the Osho place is right here. Now, the Resort, as an authority, has really ceased to exist for me, and only the love affair with the Master remains.