Many suffer from disturbances which are called by western Doctors mental ill health. Many live with them all their lives. Some are visited from time to time. And some it acts as a lifelong battle.
Osho suffered as he himself describes in ‘Dimensions Beyond The Known’ and summarised by Prem Paritosh (Sam) in his good book, ‘Life of Osho’ (below). Osho came out of his horrendous period with what he saw as his enlightenment, but many, many do not reach such a stage. One would have been his lifelong companion, Vivek, who went finally back to London for treatment at some point after the Ranch, and arguably never recovered.
Osho during his pre-enlightenment crisis
SN believes that the PR exercises around these facts is undesirable, and an acquaintance with them can actually help disciples. Osho himself must have thought so by describing them, and allowing them to go into his early book.
“The abyss opens its mouth, the whole Existence yawns…” That was pretty much what had happened to Osho. What he later came to understand as ‘enlightenment’ was not the product of any ‘religious’ practice or way of life – in fact it took place quite outside any religious context at all. At the time he thought he was going mad…
Osho only talked about this once, in an early set of Hindi lectures, translated as ‘Dimensions Beyond The Known’. As a teenager, he said, he had been plunged into an intense adolescent crisis. Nothing seemed worthwhile any more. Nothing made sense. He tried to explore meditation, he hung out with sadhus, but none of it helped. “I doubted everything”, he said. “I could not accept anyone as my teacher…I did not find anyone whom I could call my master…I wanted to respect, but I could not. I could respect rivers, mountains and even stones, but not human beings.” He read everything he could lay his hands on in his home town, then at 19 went to the big city, to Jabalpur, to study philosophy at the university.
While he was a student there his confusion got worse and worse, until finally he had a complete nervous and mental breakdown.
“It was all darkness”, he said. “In every small matter there was doubt and nothing but doubt. Only questions and questions remained without any answer. In one respect I was as good as mad. I myself was afraid that anytime I might become mad. I was not able to sleep at night.
“Throughout the night and the day, questions and questions hovered around me. There was no answer to any question. I was in a deep sea, so to speak, without any boat or bank anywhere. Whatever boats had been there I had myself sunk or denied. There were many boats and many sailors, but I had myself refused to step into anyone else’s boat. I felt that it was better to drown by oneself rather than to step into someone else’s boat. If this was where life was to lead me, to drowning myself, then I felt that this drowning should also be accepted.”
“For one year”, he said, “it was almost impossible to know what was happening…Just to keep myself alive was a very difficult thing, because all appetite disappeared. I could not talk to anybody. In every other sentence I would forget what I was saying.” He had splitting headaches. He would run up to sixteen miles a day, “just to feel myself”, he said. Whole days were spent lying on the floor of his room counting from one up to one hundred and then back down again.
“My condition was one of utter darkness. It was as if I had fallen into a deep, dark well. In those days I had many times dreamed that I was falling and falling and going deeper into a bottomless well. And many times I awakened from a dream full of perspiration, sweating profusely, because the falling was endless, without any ground or place anywhere to rest my feet.
“Except for darkness and falling, nothing else remained, but slowly I accepted even that condition…”
“Slowly I accepted even that condition…” At some point he finally gave up. This was his introduction to that state of ‘let-go’ which was to play such a key role in his later thinking;- and from this moment, things started to happen very quickly.
“The past was disappearing, as if it had never belonged to me, as if I had read about it somewhere, as if I had dreamed about it, as if it was somebody else’s story I have heard and somebody told it to me. I was becoming loose from my past, I was being uprooted from my history, I was losing my autobiography…Mind was disappearing…It was difficult to catch hold of it, it was rushing farther and farther away…”
One night shortly afterwards the process reached its climax. Osho fell asleep early in the evening, in the little, box-like student’s room where he was living. Abruptly he woke at midnight.
“Suddenly it was there, the other reality, the separate reality, the really real, or whatsoever you want to call it – call it God, call it Truth, call it Dhamma, call it Tao, or whatsoever you will. It was nameless. But it was there – so opaque, so transparent, and yet so solid one could have touched it. It was almost suffocating me in that room. It was too much and I was not yet capable of absorbing it.”
He rushed out of the room and into the open air. He walked through the streets of Jabalpur until he came to a public garden. Finding it locked, he climbed over the railings and sat down under a tree he found there, a maulshree tree, to which he felt strongly drawn. There he spent the night, sitting in meditation, and whatever it was that he spent the rest of his life trying to communicate happened to him…settled, and stabilised.
Trying to describe this twenty-five years later it was still the negative aspects of the process he stressed. It was not that he found God, it was that he lost himself. God was what remained.
“A sort of emptiness, a void, came about of its own accord. Many questions circled around and around. But because there was no answer, they dropped down from exhaustion, so to speak, and died. I did not get the answers,
but the questions were destroyed…All matters on which questions could be asked became non-existent. Previously, there was only asking and asking. Thereafter, nothing like questioning remained.
“Now I have neither any questions nor any answers.”