Osho comments on the Englishman John Bennett’s book on Shivapuri Baba.
The first book is by Bennett, an Englishman, a perfect Englishman. The book is about an absolutely unknown Indian mystic, Shivapuri Baba. The world has come to know about him only through Bennett’s book.
Shivapuri Baba was certainly one of the rarest flowerings, particularly in India where so many idiots are pretending to be mahatmas. To find a man like Shivapuri Baba in India is really either luck or else a tremendous work of research. There are five hundred thousand mahatmas in India; that is the actual number. To find a real man among this crowd is almost impossible.
But Bennett was fortunate in many ways. He was also the first man to discover Gurdjieff. It was neither Ouspensky nor Nicoll, nor anyone other than Bennett. Bennett found Gurdjieff in a refugee camp in Constantinople. Those were the days of the Russian Revolution. Gurdjieff had to leave Russia; on the way he was shot twice before he escaped. Our styles are different, but in a strange way destiny may play the same game again….
Gurdjieff in a refugee camp! – just thinking of it, I can’t believe humanity can fall so low. Putting a Buddha, or Gurdjieff, Jesus or Bodhidharma in a refugee camp…. When Bennett discovered him, Gurdjieff was standing in a food queue. The food was given only once a day, and the queue was long. There were thousands of refugees who had left Russia because the communists were murdering people without any consideration who they were murdering, or for what. You will be surprised to know they murdered almost ten million Russians.
How did Bennett discover Gurdjieff? Gurdjieff sitting among his disciples would not be difficult to recognize, but Bennett recognized him in dirty rotten clothes, unwashed for many days. How did he recognize him in that queue? Those eyes, you cannot hide them. Those eyes… whether the man is sitting on a golden throne, or standing in a refugee camp, they are the same. Bennett brought Gurdjieff to the West.
Nobody thanks poor Bennett for it, and there is a reason… it is because he was a wavering kind of person. Bennett never betrayed Gurdjieff while he was alive… he did not dare. Those eyes were too much; he had twice seen their tremendous impact. He reports in his book on Gurdjieff – which is not a great book, that is why I am not going to count it, but I am just referring to it – Bennett says, “I came to Gurdjieff tired and exhausted after a long journey. I was sick, very sick, thinking I was going to die. I had come to see him only so that before I die I could see those two eyes again… my last experience.”
He came to Gurdjieff’s room. Gurdjieff looked at him, stood up, came close and hugged him. Bennett could not believe it… it was not Gurdjieff’s way. If he had slapped him that would have been more expected, but he hugged him! But there was more to the hug… the moment Gurdjieff touched him, Bennett felt a tremendous upsurge of energy. At the same time he saw Gurdjieff turning pale. Gurdjieff sat down; then with great difficulty stood up and went to the bathroom, saying to Bennett, “Don’t be worried, just wait for ten minutes and I will be back, the same as ever.”
Bennett says, “I have never felt such a wellbeing, such health, such power. It seemed I could do anything.”
It is felt by many people who take drugs – LSD or marijuana and other drugs – that under their impact they feel they can do anything. One woman thought she could fly, so she flew out of a window on the thirtieth floor of a New York building… you can conclude what happened… not even pieces of the woman were found.
Bennett says, “I felt I could do everything. At that moment I understood the famous statement by Napoleon: ‘Nothing is impossible.’ I not only understood it but felt I could do anything I wanted. But I knew it was Gurdjieff’s compassion. I was dying, and he had saved me.”
This happened twice… again a few years later. In the East this is called ‘the transmission’; the energy can jump from one flame to another lamp which is dying. Even though such great experiences happened to him, Bennett was a wavering man. He could not waver and betray like Ouspensky, but when Gurdjieff died, then he betrayed.
He started looking for another master. What a misfortune! – I mean misfortune for Bennett. It was good for others, because that was how he came to find Shivapuri Baba. But Shivapuri Baba, howsoever great, is nothing compared to Gurdjieff. I cannot believe it of Bennett… and he was a scientist, a mathematician… only that gives me the clue. The scientist has almost always behaved foolishly outside his own specific field.
I always define science as “knowing more and more about less and less,” and religion as “knowing less and less about more and more.” The culmination of science will be knowing everything about nothing, and the culmination of religion will be knowing all… not knowing about all, simply knowing… not about – just knowing. Science will end in ignorance; religion will end in enlightenment.
All the scientists, even the great ones, have proved foolish in many ways outside their specific field. They behave childishly. Bennett was a scientist and mathematician of a certain standing, but he wavered, he missed. He started looking for another master again. And it is not that he remained with Shivapuri either.
Shivapuri Baba was a very old man when Bennett met him. He was almost one hundred and ten years old. He was really made of steel. He lived for almost one and a half centuries. He was seven feet tall and one hundred and fifty years old and still there was no sign that he was going to die. He decided to leave the body, it was his decision.
Shivapuri was a silent man, he did not teach. Particularly a man who had known Gurdjieff and his tremendous teaching would find it very ordinary to be with Shivapuri Baba. Bennett wrote his book and started searching again for a master. Shivapuri Baba was not even dead yet.
Then, in Indonesia, Bennett found Mohammed Subud, the founder of the movement called Subud. ‘Subud’ is a short form of Sushil-Buddha-Dharma; it is just the first letter of these three words. What foolishness! Bennett started introducing Mohammed Subud, a very good man, but not a master… nothing even compared to Shivpuri Baba… no question arises about Gurdjieff. Bennett brought Mohammed Subud to the West, and started introducing him as the successor to Gurdjieff. Now this is utter stupidity….
But Bennett writes beautifully, mathematically, systematically. His best book is Shivapuri Baba. Although Bennett was a fool, even if you allow a monkey to sit at a typewriter once in a while he may come upon something beautiful – perhaps a statement which only a buddha could make – just by knocking the typewriter keys here and there. But he will not understand what he has written.
Bennett continued in this way. Soon he became disillusioned with Mohammed Subud and started searching for yet another master. Poor fellow, his whole life he was searching and searching unnecessarily. He had already found the right man in Gurdjieff. He has written about Gurdjieff, and what he says is beautiful, efficient, but his heart is dark, there is no light in it. Still, I count his book as one of the best. You can see that I am impartial.