This Article was first published in Viha Connection magazine
Osho Leela is the home of 30 people, living and working together to create a center for transformation where visitors of all ages come and experience a new way of living through connection, meditation, and celebration. It is a doorway through which people can discover who they are and what their lives are about. People come here to strip themselves of their present dramas/lifestyle, undo what needs to be undone, fill up with fresh juice, and move on, empowered to do what really turns them on.
Osho’s vision is at the heart of Leela; it is the fire that brought a small group of sannyasins, headed by Dhyano Harding, together to create paradise on earth 14 years ago. Leela began its life as The Foundation for Joyous Living, home to the Humaniversity Therapist Training and a growing number of other groups hosted by the community. For four years the group rented a property in East Dorset, then gathered funds with the help of 30 friends and an ethical bank to buy Thorngrove House in North Dorset. Osho Leela had become a name in the world of personal growth and was attracting ever-growing numbers.
I was living in London, looking for my career, after a three-year period when I created a community in Devon. Dhyano invited me to come and play music for the meditation weekends he put on each month. I would come, sing my heart out, bring out the music in other people, and return to London to continue looking for my career. Each weekend I felt my soul flowering a little more. Osho Leela was the soil, the greenhouse that enabled me to discover my true gifts. All my ideas of needing to become something (that I wasn’t) began to fall away.
A year later, having taken sannyas in Pune, I helped run Leela’s first music festival and, after a cold dip in the sea at Lulworth Cove the following day, I decided to stay. It wasn’t really a decision; it was the most obvious, uncomplicated falling into life. Music was at the core of what I could offer; but I became the office manager within a couple of months and continued from there. I have seen many people go through this kind of transformation, finding their joy, their passion for life.
Osho Leela puts on workshops and events every weekend of the year. There is a huge variety on offer, from singles’ weekends to Osho meditation retreats to conscious clubbing weekends to Awareness Intensives. For me, it’s all spreading the fire of Osho’s vision, because whatever happens here, the feeling created by our community life, the Buddhafield if you like, plays such a strong part in people’s experience. Yes, we introduce people to Osho’s meditations, perhaps only Dynamic or Kundalini, but they get a taste of Osho just by being here.
Twice a year we put on Osho festivals, one in May, which has recently been renamed India My Love, and the other in August, called The Ultimate Celebration. Both festivals focus on Osho meditations and include a sannyas ceremony. They always gather a big crowd of sannyasins, but not exclusively sannyasins. Alongside the meditations we have workshops, shows, live music, a kids’ club, and parties. With our camping and caravan park, we can welcome over 300 people here, so in the summer months all our events are big. Both these festivals have been going since we began and have retained a similar format. We do festivals well.
Over the years we have added six more to our calendar: New Year, Easter, Biodanza, Dance and Voice, Tantra, and Healing. We make the majority of our festivals accessible to everyone, including families. Kids love to be at Leela. They feel such a freedom here, and it is safe for them to play and roam within our grounds. Twice a year we put on a teenagers’ program. It takes a little more encouragement to get the teens’ fire going, but recently their end-of-festival performances have been fantastic, and they have all participated.
A few years ago, Devaraj, both a director and general manager here, introduced a new weekend to attract younger people. He was keen to reach the 30-plus age group, so he created Puravida, a consciousness clubbing weekend event. This is a high-energy, three-day event with meditations, including Osho’s Dynamic and Osho Satsang; workshops, including Bioenergetics, Burlesque, and Biodanza; the Humaniversity AUM meditation; and all-night parties with top DJs. He puts on four a year, with each weekend having a theme, like James Bond, Celebration of Urban Culture, Balkan Gypies! Yes, Osho Leela is known for its wild dressing-up parties. We have a dressing-up cupboard that’s almost as big as our kitchen. These weekends usually gather a crowd of at least 70 people.
Although Puravida is aimed at the 30-plus age group, people of all ages come along. Our oldest participant was 80. The younger ones are more likely to come once, then move on to the next party event. However, now that we have more young folk in the community, it is becoming more attractive to the younger generation.
The Humaniversity Training is central to the health and well-being of our community. Almost everyone in key positions has completed the four-year Therapist Training and the whole community participates in an AUM meditation once a week to keep relationships healthy, clear, and energized. Friendship is always the goal, and we offer support wherever we can.
Dhyano always used to call us “the UK’s leading Personal Growth Center.” Who knows? Perhaps we are. What I do know for sure is that our numbers are continuously rising, the community is growing, and we are offering what people want: an oasis to replenish,love and grow.