Dharmen Dies

Dharmen ( Brian Hemmings) died at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, London last Tuesday (May 16th, 2017) .

(He is now the second founder of Sannyas News to die. ( Prem Paritosh died in 2009).  Sannyas News (digital version) was founded in 2000 by Paritosh, Parmartha and Dharmen, and supported by a small group of North London Sannyasins. A formulae which has persisted over the last 17 years.)

EV 111 It is less well known that Dharmen,  also together with Ma Prakrati and Parmartha was an ever present producer of the first paper version of SannyasNews in 1985,  which then became the Here and Now magazine. That was a whole ball game. I remember the three of us bearing down over make up pages on the first Apple computers, wonderful times, and very time consuming!  Much more than once,  I can remember the “production” ending  as the sun came up,  and feeling a sense of ecstatic relief.   Dharmen would then  suddenly become interested (in a way I still remember as amazingly ‘slow’ and meditative) in food, and would make a delightful avocado and mayonnaise sandwich,  as we drenched in the early morning sun.

I remember him recording to me more than once his experience of Ouspensky’s book about Gurdjieff called ‘In Search of the Miraculous’. He wrote,  it was “quite a book, I read it when I was 21 or so. I read it, continually, for about 2 years. It became like a Bible, it had quite an effect on my young mind.” so that was how his “seeking” began.  The search for meaning was an ever present thereafter, and he took risks along the way in pursuing it. Not only that but he informed his life and insight with a Gurdjieff take and taste on things.  On many occasions when working with me I felt that subliminally.

In 1977 a couple of buses went overland  to India from North London, full of those who were interested in Osho. It was a social as well as a spiritual experiment. Money was pooled, and sometimes they got stuck on the road.  The money at that point belonged to everybody, and apart from reserves for petrol, anybody was allowed to spend it on anything they wanted. A lot of it got spent on ridiculous items along the way which depleted financial  resources and those who had remained on the bus all arrived in Pune penniless.

As they got off the bus for the final time Dharmen managed to lay hands on a brick clay oven. He showed initiative with this, and began to produce,  as his way of survivng, (for he had arrived virtually penniless),  banana bread and peanut butter, which he sold  outside the ashram at the end of morning discourse.

But life in “Poona one” was not all it may seem from the shiny spectacles of the present day, especially for those surviving on virtually nothing.  Waking up one morning Dharmen knew instantly he had hepatitis. He was living in penury in a tent near the river at the the time. Luckily friends brought him a water melon every day,  and he lived on w/melon juice as his only source of sustenance. A difficult situation and on the edge.  The tent became unbearably hot. But once again the luck that Dharmen often said he thought accompanied him throughout life came to him in the form of  the restaurateur who owned the field where the tent was. He gave him free food and offered him a meal a day of rice and dhal.

Pune one proved almost disastrous, for he then suffered from amoebic dysentery, but managed to take sannyas in 1978. Later his friends reflected when he got ill later in life that these early encounters with mortality may not have helped his body over time.

I myself met Dharmen fully in the English Medina Osho commune where we were both commune members. (circa 1982/5) .  He had an unusual sort of relationship with the “leaders” of the commune, and one had the impression they made things difficult for him,  but always drew back from ejecting him, perhaps in the hope he would himself leave!  Once he was directed to work in the Kid’s house where I was the regular worker, but he refused point blank,  as he saw it as his idea of hell!  To his surprise the leaders relented and he was given other work.

There was a type of luck that seemed to follow Dharmen around. I remember once in 1988 he won an English sannyas raffle ticket draw for a  ticket to Pune…  and would not have had the money to get there had he just wanted to go. He ended up working in the Rajneesh Times office, ( I think using some of the skills he had taught himself on Sannyas News and the first Mac computers! )  He gained as I recall some kind of ashram status and was given a food pass… ..

Dharmen liked walking when he was well, and I remember a number of walks, including silent walks,  over the last thrity years on the South Downs with him and various sannyas groups from London. Memories I cherish.

After Osho’s death he looked around other teachers and was for a while with Andrew Cohen, but always seemed to retain a thread to sannyas,  and went straight to a sannyas house when he left the Cohenites.

In his spiritual maturity he felt at home with advaita, and was a stalwart member of a seeded advaita group from the Satyam Nadeen teachings.

In many ways he was a careful and even private man for a sannyaisn,  but capable of taking risks, and embracing the moment in unexpected ways.  In his last illness I think he always felt that his luck might turn up again. and find expression through the various “alternative” medical procedures and treatments he leaned towards. But it was not to be.

(Swami Anand Parmartha)

 

 

 

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51 Responses to Dharmen Dies

  1. shantam prem says:

    Thanks, Dharmen, for sharing the responsibility of this production with our beloved editor, Parmartha.

    Rest in Peace/Rest in Silence/Rest in Laughter.

  2. Arpana says:

    Thanks for all you did, Dharmen.

    Love.

    Arpana.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      On the virtual plane of SN chat exchange here, I met Dharmen as the author-editor amongst you all on April (2nd) 2014.

      Felt invited in the most blessed way a chat can give, to share and contribute my gratefulness to be able to address unknown friends. Which I did by posting the poem I wrote. Dharmen was the only one who really enjoyed my writing, it seemed.

      Not so long time later then, the only REAL LIFE ´happening with him; I saw Dharmen here in Munich in a nearby situated garden cafeteria, where Jayesha had invited me (very surprisingly) for a tea-and-cake.

      I was too shy to interrupt his intense contact with a woman, he sat and talked with; the neighbouring garden tables were crowded with a bunch of people on this day, who seemed to have a loose and yet strong connection.

      Strange, isn´t it, that thread topic ” London Queen´s Wood Saturday Circle” , April, 2 nd, 2014 – with its lovely pics of most of the ´inner´London Circle here, its poetry and its Love turned out for me the most beautiful one of all the threads.

      Parmartha – and you chose the portrait photo of Dharmen, same as was used in that very topic, and there this ´smile´is to be seen, somebody else here-now, spoke of.

      In REAL LIFE Dharmen and me never changed a hug, a smile, a talk.

      That´s a pity.

      More and more fragments of his lifetime appear here in this thread those too amazingly multi-faceted and also it feels that most of such tells more a story of the responders, or collective fields of movements.

      Movements besides the time with Osho I haven´t been part of so far.

      Ought to be, I guess. The gift of rememberance also.

      Your deliberately chosen present time, Parmartha, when you wrote “Dharmen Dies” (instead of “Dharmen Died”), struck me the most when I opened up the Sannyas Chat-Caravanserai topic shortly in one of my sleepless nights I am facing here and did read your contribution, obviously quite after you had posted it.

      And I am glad that Lokesh´s response did reach you and maybe warmed your heart to cope with the loss of a dear and intimate friend and co-author and co-editor.

      Wish could give you a hug, As well as to others here.

      And may the awareness of the preciousness of the singular Souls, trying to express here in this ´caravanserai´ increase

      That´s also a gift of late Dharmen he left to us, didn´t he ? Some wake-up call.

      That´s my little early-evening prayer on a festive and very silent day.

      Madhu

  3. Steve Small (formerly Prem Sudesh) says:

    Thank you, Parmartha, for this evocative memento of Dharmen, which revealed a lot I didn’t know. Dharmen/Brian was, for me, always very laid-back, gentle and reflective – yet vital, pro-active.

    I can vividly picture him on a holiday we shared in Paleahora, south-west Crete, with Parmartha, Archan and some others. First thing every morning, he and I went to the nearby long, sandy beach and would run up and down it, before doing silent meditation. Dharmen ran much further than me, he had this youthful muscular body!

    Many walks, shared inquiries…much gratitude to dear Dharmen.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      Thank you, Parmartha, sharing with us all here, the extended obituary for Dharmen, friend and fellow-traveller – for many in a valuable, visible way, for many others (like me) in a more invisible way.

      May this Soul, who had your names, Dharmen/ Brian, gets all support needed for completing the ´farewell´and the journey,

      And may the gratefulness unfolding here be a spark of light on the way.

      With Love,

      Madhu

    • Parmartha says:

      Nice post, Steve.

      Yes, a good reminder of that Crete sojourn. It was a great little time, and we all were in the best of health (as far as we knew, and certainly all behaved like it). Must have been around 2004?

      And I too remember the many walks, both there and elsewhere, when you and Dharmen were in the wider company, and that sea shore, and riding the waves in the early morning.

  4. Tan says:

    Thanks, Dharmen, for your valuable contribution to Osho’s people in your life.
    And thanks for bringing back Arps!
    See you soon!

  5. alokjohn says:

    He also brought Sw Arun to England (Europe?) for the first time, about ten years ago. He went to Tapoban, Nepal, was impressed, and so brought Arun to England, organising the first meditation “camp”.

    • chetna says:

      Actually it was me, but it does not really matter. I did in fact go to Tapoban because of the review Dharmen wrote (that trip changed my life completely and I will always be grateful to Dharmen’s sharing that ultimately took me there).

      When I did the first camp for Arun in the West and the first organisational responsibility, Dharmen offered full support for nothing in exchange. He drove people back and forth in the van he hired just for our gathering.

      Fly high, beloved, you will be missed here in London. xxx

      • alokjohn says:

        Thank you. I remember all the driving around in that camp!

        • Parmartha says:

          Thanks, Chetna and Alok John.
          My little obituary just touched on the particular strong points I had with Dharmen, but this type of feed makes the whole thing fuller. I had nothing to do with his Arun period.

  6. Hanna /Ruchi says:

    Dear Parmartha,
    Thank you for your beautiful writing about Dharmen, it was so good to read about him through most of his life. Brian always made the Satsangs morespiritual and I shall miss his deep presence whenever we met.

    Brian, I send you much Love and Thanks, wherever you are, and one of your special BIG hugs, from Hanna.

  7. Kavita says:

    Thank you for just being Dharmen and wish you all the best on your journey to the unknowable!

  8. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Ciao, Dharmen.
    On our/your boat-caravanserai, I will miss your ‘coloured viewpoint’:

    “The main event was a wonderful, glorious experience…in the end my gratitude for what I felt Osho had given me and his tremendous effort to wake people up, won out. I only have my experience and my memories and yes, something that’s beyond words.”

    And despite all the words, celebrating this mystery together.
    (Here with Mr. Volare):
    http://lyricstranslate.com/it/meraviglioso-wonderful.html-1

    Love,

    VF

  9. Parmartha says:

    Parmartha and Dharmen in earlier times.

  10. kusum says:

    Every time death is reminder of uncertainty of one’s own physical existence.Bit scary but awakening at the same time.

  11. Deeksh says:

    “In 1977 a couple of buses went overland to India from North London, full of those who were interested in Osho. It was a social as well as a spiritual experiment. Money was pooled, and sometimes they got stuck on the road. The money at that point belonged to everybody, and apart from reserves for petrol, anybody was allowed to spend it on anything they wanted. A lot of it got spent on ridiculous items along the way which depleted financial resources and those who had remained on the bus all arrived in Pune penniless.”

    This is the definition of every communist/socialist society that ever existed.
    All the money belongs to everyone, until the natural result: everybody becomes penniless.

    • frank says:

      Bloody `ell, it`s Theresa May!

      Btw, don`t vote for Jeremy Parmartha – he`ll take us back to the 1970s!

      He`s unelectable and has close links to spiritual terrorists and supports benefits for the Sannyas underclass !

      Sannyasnews is a coalition of chaos!

      Vote for strong and stable Osho vision!

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      You obviously picked up the wrong bus in the ´here-now´ and especially didn´t watch the Signs, Deeksh.

  12. Deeksh says:

    Death…is always something that happens to other people.

    Until it happens to us.

  13. shantam prem says:

    Thanks, Parmartha, for giving human title to this string, “Dharmen Dies”. I feel such titles too much ‘over-fashioned’: “Left the body”!

  14. Lokesh says:

    Dharmen dies. Yes, I like that better than ‘leaves the body’, which over the years has become part of sannyas cult-speak. Leaves the body is, I suppose, an effort to take death’s sting away, as if we are in a position to choose whether we leave or not.

    Fly on? That brings in the idea of a journey, that something or someone is going to do a spot of flying, flying being a wonderful thing and all that. Somehow it reeks of speculation and the truth is that nobody really knows. Except perhaps a few Tibetan masters

    Dharmen sounds like he was a lovely man. I trust he is at peace now.

    He liked Ouspensky’s ‘In Search of the Miraculous’. I still read that book and still find a few gems. By the end, Mr O and Mr G go their separate ways, Mr O left unsure what Mr G’s Work added up to, for want of a better expression.

    I am sure PM lost an old friend with Dharmen disappearing like that, goes with the ageing territory. At times it all appears like some weird joke…just when you are getting the hang of things round here it is time to leave. I reckon we overestimate our importance in the greater scheme of things. Makes me think of an old Kansas song, which I hereby dedicate to Dharmen:

    ‘Dust In The Wind’

    I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
    All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity

    Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

    Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
    All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

    Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

    Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
    It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy

    Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind (all we are is dust in the wind)
    Dust in the wind (everything is dust in the wind), everything is dust in the wind (the wind)

  15. frank says:

    “Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
    One thing at least is certain – This Life flies;
    One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
    The Flower that once has blown forever dies.”

    –Omar Khayyam

    But roses bloom on!

    Cheers!

    • Tan says:

      They do, don’t they?

    • kusum says:

      Yes…flower that blooms withers away eventually, spreading the fragrance…human being expires…passes away…leaving the memories behind…but the energy remains….

  16. sannyasnews says:

    Forwarded from Prakrati, who worked with Dharmen and Parmartha circa 1986/88 on the original London paper Sannyas News.

    She says this after hearing of Dharmen’s death:

    “Thank you so much for all the good memories.
    I’m so grateful to
    Breathing
    Laughing
    Praying
    But so lonely.”

  17. shantam prem says:

    Does Osho comes at the arrival gate to welcome His people?

    I can imagine, Buddha and Jesus must be having complete offices for logistics, in Osho´s case it is around one trip per month.

    • frank says:

      It depends whether you want to go on an all-inclusive package trip to Benidorm, Skegness or the Costa del Moronico, or organise your own independent trip to somewhere a bit more interesting and challenging!

      Osho Buddha say:
      Be a tour-guide unto yourself.

  18. Sw Deva Amitabh says:

    Thank you, Parmartha, for a beautiful post. Dharmen is a lovely guy, so gentle and helpful to me over the years in Sannyas.

    One vivid memory of him is when we happened to fly together to India in September 1988 we decided to take the flight from Mumbai to Pune. It was still monsoon rain times and it was a very bumpy flight, so much turbulence about, I was so glad that he was by my side in that journey. He will be missed.

  19. shantam prem says:

    My hypothesis is if after death western disciples of Osho are not free from the Wheel, they have more chances to be born in India than anywhere else.

    Logic is simple,when you have got the Indian identity it is important to have roots too.
    Sounds good when Osho says, “One can eat the cake and have it too.” Has he not paid the bill?

    Moreover, without appreciating and enjoying the Hindi discourses, journey cannot be completed with Osho.

    Some doubt? Most probably, Faceless Frank has to work hard to enjoy journeys in India unless he sneaks in into the cult of Naga Sadhus!

  20. Ken / Praveera says:

    I always liked Brian’s smile, it seemed to be saying nothing need be done.

    • Parmartha says:

      What a great observation, Ken.
      As soon as I read it, I knew exactly what you meant.

  21. Parmartha says:

    Quite rightly, a few people have pointed out to me that I did not mention Dharmen’s interest in the shaking teacher, Ratu Bagus, over the last years, an interest he shared at a deep level with his long time partner Ma Archan.

    I understand that Dharmen prepared the music tapes for these shakings for a while, and they were very well received.

    I basically wanted to write a short obituary and stayed with things I knew about directly, as that is the best advice one can follow re any writing in my experience!

    Can anyone who knew this period more and shared it, please post.

    I also did not record this by Veetgyam as he records over at Osho News and also detail of his daughter’s achievements:

    “I remember Dharmen from Medina days where he was happy for a long time in his role as one of the commune’s drivers. He was always at the wheel of one of the better commune vehicles ferrying people back and forth. We also shared the adventure of being in the first group to be sent to Rajneeshpuram to help get the ranch ready for the First Annual World Celebration. In later years he was a great help to me doing the layout on Quark Xpress in the early days of publishing Green Events and teaching me many of these skills. He was always a calm and assiduous worker who never became flustered under the pressure of a tight deadline.

    Though estranged after he took sannyas and his marriage broke up, he was the father of Anna Hemmings MBE, world champion canoeist who represented Team GB at two Olympics.

    So sad to hear of your passing, old friend. I hope the print servers in heaven are up to speed.”

    Peter McCaig (Veetgyan)

  22. shantam prem says:

    I am surprised not to see Dharmen´s obituary in Oshonews most wonderful column, ‘Voyages’. Some reason other than sibling rivalry?

    • Parmartha says:

      Why don’t you ask THEM, young Shantam?

      • shantam prem says:

        I won´t ask them directly. Indirectly have asked them through this site. I am sure Oshonews people check this site too.

        As far as I know, Oshonews is a brainchild of one British Ma, so it is even stranger to ignore one fellow- Britisher disciple’s demise, who has contributed enough to create a platform for sharpest brains coming out from Osho Mystery School.

  23. kusum says:

    Ma Satya Priya, who was running Osho Padma meditation centre in New York city for over 40 years has passed away yesterday. Time goes by…RIP.

  24. shantam prem says:

    Thanks to Oshonews for giving space to Dharmen´s Voyage.

    May I also request, in case whenever I die, sooner or later, please, don´t write “Shantam Prem left the body”!

  25. Bong says:

    In the grand scheme of things, I am certain he has already reincarnated.

    It is fascinating to hear of these wondrous people and the experiences you have all shared.

  26. Lokesh says:

    Bong declares, “I am certain he has already reincarnated.”

    I do not believe anyone, including the mighty Bong, can be certain about such a thing. Best to remain in a state of not knowing and take living and dying moment to moment, all else is just the mind telling stories, expounding theories and parroting what it has heard somewhere, most likely from a a parrot.

    I recently read about people remembering past lives. The reality is that it is very rare to meet someone who can remember this life, let alone previous ones.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      Your moderation (at 9.33 am), Lokesh, came in content and timing precisely like a guardian angel, even when it’s possible that you won´t like my choice of words right now (?).

      Thanks,

      Madhu

    • kusum says:

      Mind is a big storage of information collected through experiences & knowledge. Some choose to ignore the storage but if you dig it all the rubbish can resurface like opening a can of worms. Meditation helps to go beyond this.

  27. kusum says:

    CHEERS, DHARMEN….

    • satyadeva says:

      I knew Dharmen (‘Brian’ to me) as a friend for the last 10 years or more and having read the tributes to him here I agree they are richly deserved.

      A strange coincidence is that I almost certainly first saw him at the age of 12, on a Boy Scout’s outing to a football match in London (Fulham v Man Utd.), where he was patrolling the touchline at half-time, selling roasted peanuts to the crowd! I just happened to remember this, which he confirmed a few years ago.

      To anyone who didn’t know him he might have appeared as just another ordinary sort of guy, without much ‘worldly success’ or social status to his name, but he had great qualities, a meditative presence, a depth, informed by practical common sense, a quiet, gentle man, loving, calm under pressure, phlegmatic, who showed great fortitude in adverse circumstances, not least during his final illness. Then, as Ken says, there was that smile…

      Dharmen/Brian was the sort of guy you could trust to do a good, conscientious job if he took something on. He advised me on a few computer problems, transferred online meditation/relaxation material onto cds for both of us and actually chose the computer I’m currently using.

      He was a good companion on a few outings to football at Arsenal, cricket at Lord’s and pop/rock music at the Albert Hall, and I enjoyed helping him play tennis. A few years ago he introduced me to weekly Ratu Bagus Shaking sessions, which I found surprisingly therapeutic. Then there were the mutual recreational efforts to devise ways to ‘beat the bookies’…

      He wasn’t one for wasting words, but when he spoke his mind it made an impression. I well recall that at a satsang meeting during which he’d remained silent most of the time, he vehemently declared the prime importance of meditation – of which, I’d say, he was a good example.

      I’m glad I was able to say a few words of appreciation and thanks to him over the phone the night before he died. I wasn’t able to get to his funeral but I hear it was a special, very moving event, befitting such a lovely guy. As Amitabh says, he will be (and is) missed.