“Anando will be my medium” (Osho)
I read Anando’s Osho: Intimate Glimpses in a few hours. I could not put it down until I had finished it. A week later, I still find myself thinking about it. It is a haunting book in the most beautiful of ways. The manuscript was transcribed from a series of video interviews, recorded during 2010 in Santa Fe by Bhikku and Waduda, and then edited. Before I go into my reflections on the book, a little background.
I wasn’t friends with Anando in Poona One and did not know her, apart from knowing who she was, but we did talk to each other a couple of times. When she arrived in Poona, during the mid-seventies, we lived in the same house. One sunny afternoon in the garden, we had a conversation about the overland to India journey, which, if I recall correctly, she’d recently completed and which I had done twice, and once in reverse, returning to bonnie Scotland without a penny in my pocket. I think that was about all we shared in common at the time, apart from living under the same roof.
Anando struck me as being squeaky-clean, a bit straight and very intelligent in a brainy sort of way. I’d already been living in Poona for 18 months, been through hell and back a few times, was currently hanging out in heaven and probably struck Anando as some Scottish Pict who was a few chips short of a fish supper. Time passed and over the years Anando rose in the sannyasin ranks to become one of the most well-known and most-respected devotees of Osho.
I read a lot, although I rarely read anything by Osho. I’ve read a few books by Osho disciples, none of which left much of an impression on me. The two exceptions are Hugh Milne’s bitter account of life around Osho, The God Who Failed, and Sam’s highly perceptive Life of Osho. Anando’s book, I already know, will live on in my mind and heart probably for the rest of my life. I am seventy so it won’t be that long.
So, one might, quite naturally, ask, why is Osho: Intimate Glimpses special? There are a number of reasons. Fate dictated that Anando be placed in a privileged position in regards having personal contact with Osho during the last stages of his life. It was not only a master and disciple relationship, they were quite obviously great friends. Anando succeeds in conveying the extent of that friendship in a concise, honest, touching, factual and unpretentious way in a fluent and straightforward style . Absolutely fascinating. Anando has managed to deliver insights about Osho where no other has succeeded in purely human terms. It is a deeply moving account of life with the master.
This is a very timely book because it delivers a message that will inspire many sannyasins during quite a grim period in human history. The stars shine brightest on the darkest of nights.
I have always wondered if Osho really was the victim of thallium poisoning. Anando does not lend her opinion. She simply reports how Osho felt about this and what he said in relation to being poisoned during his brief sojourn through the murky corridors of America’s penal system. It’s a pretty convincing account and I was left with the impression that Osho might well have been the victim of a vile plot to get rid of him. Will we ever know for certain?
Meanwhile, Osho is in the dental chair. Anando attended 115 sessions and the master liked the nitrous oxide turned up to the max. The descriptions of what was taking place in the dental surgery are completely MAD, could be masters and disciples or totally insane, depending on the reader’s perspective.
Here I learned something new. According to Anando’s report, Osho used laughing gas to tune into his disciples’ unconscious thoughts. Believe it or not, I can relate to this. During the early seventies, I reached a space in high dosage LSD sessions where I could clearly hear people’s thoughts. I experimented with my partner of the time by sending and receiving thoughts, instructing the other to perform specific physical actions. It worked 100%. Please don’t try this at home, unless supervised by an experienced psychonaut.
I found it noteworthy that Anando did not speculate about the possible negative physical side-effects of Osho inhaling massive amounts of laughing gas. She just reports live from situation room. I think people unfamiliar with Osho and his sannyasins would probably find this section of the book incomprehensible and speculate that everyone present had lost their marbles and maybe their teeth.
Osho loved his watches and Rolls Royces, and he was not in the least way attached to any of them. That comes across unambiguously in the book. So does the fact that Osho may well not have known about the extent of Sheela’s misdeeds and criminal activities on the Ranch. Anando does not mention anything remotely to do with Osho’s late night sessions adjusting female disciples’ chakras.
Osho’s ‘world tour’ on a Gulfstream jet comes across like fear and loathing in the cloudy sky. People in high places definitely felt threatened by Osho and went out of their way to make life very difficult for him. Of course, we already know that. But what you probably don’t know is that Laxmi was complicit in this also. I was surprised to hear that. I also wondered who was footing the bills for Osho and his inner circle’s transcontinental journeys and staying in luxury suites in five star hotels. No clues there. Must have cost a fortune. Osho was not rich. Legally speaking, he owned nothing.
From an early age books were important to Osho and this remained a constant throughout his life. Even more essential were his own publications, all 600 of them. A few interesting facts are delivered in relation to this. For example, Osho wanted his books to be published in hardback because they were meant to be read not just once but many times. A legacy for future generations. So, it was not just the space between the words that needed undivided attention but the messages communicated through his words. Interesting point. In Osho’s vision his words were definitely not just a device to distract our minds while the non-verbal was being transmitted.
And then there is Osho the man. Anando’s account of knowing the real man will touch even the most thorny of hearts. I loved those descriptions more than anything else in the book. I think there as many versions of Osho floating around as there are people who met him. Anando’s portrayal of Osho depicts the most compassionate of human beings, a man who enjoyed to laugh, joke and, according to her, play pranks. She also captures perfectly how it was to live near to the centre of the cyclone, a place where the master’s foremost task was to wake his disciples up from their unconscious sleep of ignorance. Without making too much of a drama out of it, Anando conveys very well how difficult it was at times to be around one of the twentieth century’s most enlightened and controversial figures.
All in all I highly recommend reading Anando’s Osho: Intimate Glimpses. As the book title indicates it gives glimpses into life behind the scenes with Osho, and thus sheds some light on some hitherto unknown areas of the master’s life. That said, I might add, it may well be the case that the more you know about Osho’s life the less you will know about who and what he really was and therefore he will forever remain an enigma, in the sense you will not be able to fully appreciate and understand him via the conduit of the mind. Anando makes it perfectly clear that being with the master was an affair of the heart. It might sound contradictory, but it’s good to bear that in mind.
Thank you, Anando. You’ve finally gotten around to fulfilling your role as Osho’s medium.