Reflections on Sannyas Living and Getting Older, by Nitya Prem

Back when Osho was alive, it was easier to make sense of what sannyas meant. First it was a new name, red clothes and a mala, and that set you apart, even in the classrooms of the Dutch schools where I first had that experience. It also made you a target for bullies — there were a few occasions where I had to fight my corner in the playgrounds or on the streets. But the flip side was, in the communes you felt like part of one big, red-clothed family.

Of course, in Poona life was more genteel, there was a certain respect for the spiritual seeker. The last time I was in Poona back in 1997 I was wandering around in a red robe and it was lovely. I worked for a little while in the book design department, doing design on a small volume called ‘The Path of Meditation’ while I stayed in a flat overlooking the river near the burning ghats. You could just kind of go with the flow, you could say your sannyas was defined by the ashram.

But half a lifetime later, the question of what does the life of a sannyasin in modern life mean came back to haunt me. In a previous topic we came out at the description “a meditative life, with joy, creativity and celebration.” But does that actually mean one should meditate? I know there are sannyasins who make that their first question on meeting a new fellow sannyasin, “but does he meditate?” For me that goes too far, when I meditate I like to sit zazen, but not every day!

Or alternatively, how do you pursue joy, or creativity, or celebration? The last time I was at a gathering with a decent number of fellow sannyasins was at a sannyasin’s birthday party in Amsterdam, it was good fun. We were outside in a park, sitting on the grass by a canal, and everybody had brought some food and drink. Definitely that was a celebration. For creativity I write, I enjoy photography, or I dabble in music. In short, it seems to me it takes a certain awareness to move in the ordinary life as an Osho sannyasin. One has to make the most of the opportunities offered; not everyone has a whole recording studio but I have my trusty Mac.

As you get older though, some things move more to the background, like parties, and other things like health issues come more into focus. When you’re young you think life carries on forever the way it has been doing and you’re essentially immortal, and a lot of sannyasins stay young for a considerable span of years, but at some point you start noticing that uncles and parents around you start having serious health issues and start dying.

These days I sometimes care for another older sannyasin, who is now in his late eighties and has trouble remembering things, and has some moodiness problems. He doesn’t always see the world as a place to dance and celebrate anymore. I’m only just 50, but I can see those kind of things come to us too, and I hope I will be able to keep my sense of joy and wonder to the end.

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69 Responses to Reflections on Sannyas Living and Getting Older, by Nitya Prem

  1. I agree with Nitya Prem about the importance of a community and of a physical place that hosts it, in defining sannyas/sannyasin, for this reason: after having absorbed Osho’s vision/energy the physical lack of the beloved, of that place and that community is perhaps even more important to define yourself.

    If for me living the Commune was important for de-conditioning myself from a world that wanted me to be functional according to logic and economic values, returning to the world, after having experienced the joy of a taste of my own divine nature, often means rebelling against all attempts to seduction by worldliness, using awareness even when I give in to its ephemeral pleasures or the choice of personal advantage.

    I believe that wisdom is the prize of old age for those who have experienced that time has no end if you live for someone other than yourself.

    • Nityaprem says:

      The commune was wonderful and I wouldn’t have missed the experience of it, but it wasn’t very good at caring for people. I’ve heard stories about residents who needed an operation in Poona 1 having to go to Indian hospitals in Bombay and having to pay the bill themselves, kids at the Ranch who needed new shoes having parents needing to go to the management for it, that kind of thing.

      I wonder too how the commune would have cared for its elderly sannyasins…there wasn’t that big an influx of young sannyasins to care for them. People were naive about demographics.

      In a way, a meditation resort is a much easier way to make the responsibilities clear, but I wonder if it can serve the same function as a commune. It may not have the same energy.

      • NP, I believe that in a phase in which many people are pushing to be part of a community that depends on the lovable presence of a man, the need arises to create a structure that welcomes as many people as possible, potential channels and witnesses of that miracle that is happening.

        Thus, imv, the need arose to make room for the new potential sannyasins awakened by the beauty and fragrance of that spiritual rose, the momentary sadness of a father and a mother, who left the Commune to work and look after their children, created the opportunity for someone else of a taste of joy that lasts a lifetime.

  2. satchit says:

    Many sannyasins misunderstand celebration as a must and a doing. It is not like a birthday celebration.

    It is like meditation, the core of the being.

    I like the sutra from Ikkyu:

    “If it rain, let it rain;
    If it rain not, let it not rain;
    But even should it not rain,
    You must travel with wet sleeves.”

    Means if there is pain, let it be there.
    If there is pleasure let it be there.
    But even if you feel good, sickness,
    old age and death is coming.

  3. Lokesh says:

    Yesterday, I drove over to a nearby village for a coffee. The village was pretty much deserted, but I saw an old friend sitting on a bench and drinking a can of beer. I joined him.

    Let’s call him ‘X’. I’ve known him for over 50 years. We first met in Goa. We both took sannyas in the mid-seventies. X was always popular with women, especially in his prime. He was a babe magnet. He still looks good for his age. X has never been that fortunate on a material level. Somehow he manages to scrape by. If one word were used to describe X, it would be ‘survivor’.

    So there we sat on a bench, touching on our colourful past. X has a down-to-earth, pragmatic take on life’s more subtle aspects. He is not an intellectual. Quite basic. Yet he has what I can only describe as a ‘zen’ side. We got around to our commune years and our time with Osho, the good old days.

    “How do you see all that in retrospect?” I asked.
    He replied, “Oh, man, it was just a phase I went through.”
    It was a bit more for me than that, but I could relate to what he said.

    Osho taught me a lot that I am grateful for. I see sannyasins daily. They are just people who went through a phase and took what they could from it. All that “Osho is working on me” bullshit went out the window along with malas and orange clothes. Be a light unto yourself, get on the bus and don’t make a fuss.

    The past is gone and tomorrow never comes. Life is for living…today.

    • Nityaprem says:

      Yeah, I get that, cool story. Nice to meet X.

      But how then is the life of a sannyasin today different from a non-sannyasin? You say that Osho taught you a lot, but to what extent has it changed what you do?

      • Lokesh says:

        Hi NP,

        Those are simple questions that could prompt complicated answers. I’ll keep it simple.

        You ask, “How then is the life of a sannyasin today different from a non-sannyasin?”
        Many sannyasins are well grounded in basic psychological concepts. If I were to say that you are projecting something onto me, you would understand. A non-sannyasin might not. Then again, I meet non-sannyasin people who are very psychologically developed and live on an advanced level of human understanding that many sannyasins are unaware of. I do not have any judgements about that. It is just an observation. People are what they are.

        You continue by asking, “You say that Osho taught you a lot, but to what extent has it changed what you do?”
        Well, for a start, I have come to the point in life where I see that I am not actually ‘doing’ anything. I am part of biological life on this planet and life is happening without me doing anything. People imagine that they can ‘do’, but in fact, they go through life reacting to whatever is taking place around them. A bit like a ball-bearing in a pinball machine.

        In order to ‘do’ something in life one has to be here to do it. Most people aren’t here. They are everywhere else but here and thus the very idea that they can do anything here is a complete illusion.

        You believe you are doing something here on SN. You are doing nothing. A reaction to external events is taking place and simply happening.

        I trust this helps you understand a little bit more about this complex mystery we know collectively as ‘life’.

        • Nityaprem says:

          Hohum, yes. Jean Klein says something similar in his book ‘I Am’, that we live from reaction and that only being aware of it continuously will allow you to get free.

          But still, often when I meet sannyasins I am struck that they are heart people, and don’t seem to take on board as much of the stress of modern living.

          • Lokesh says:

            I find the whole heart-centred as opposed to living in the head approach a bit old hat. It is a simplistic idea, kindergarten pop psychology. I know a few sannyasin headbangers…one need look no further than SN for evidence of that.

            Having said that, NP, I know exactly what you mean. The thing about running on one’s feelings is that you can get most situations instantly, whereas on a more intellectual wavelength you need to think about things, and that can take time. My partner is highly intuitive, whereas I am more mental. If we meet someone and need to figure out where they are coming from quickly, I always check out what my partner senses. Nine out of ten times she is right on the money.
            Back in the day, it was all about following your feelings and a few people who felt suicidal jumped off buildings. It’s a question of balance.

            Most people’s intellectual and emotional centres overlap, which can be a cause of much confusion.
            Thinking has got a bad rap in many New Age and spiritual circles. If you think about it, that is maybe not such a good thing. Our ability to think things out to a logical conclusion is one of homo sapiens’ most defining qualities, along with knowing that we will die one day.

            That’s what is so adorable about certain species of animals, they are so innocent. As a species we lost our innocence so long ago that nobody knows when it happened. But happen, we somehow understand, it did. Perhaps it is some buried collective memory of our lost innocence that spurs us on to try and reconnect with something deeper, more meaningful, less contaminated, more expansive and fulfilling in our lives. One can only speculate on such matters.

            I’ll conclude by referring to your ‘hohum’ remark and reference to Jean Klein, who I’ve never heard of. I do not need someone to tell me that human beings are biological automatoms, who go through their lives reacting to whatever comes up on life’s screen, meanwhile living under the illusion they are ‘doing’ something or other. I can see it in my own life and in the lives of those who I meet in life. There is nothing hohum about it. If one were to wake up to what is really happening in the human realm there would be a strong possibility of going insane. As Osho used to say, ‘This world is a madhouse.’ Of course, this world can be many other things. It is all a matter of perception. One thing is certain, knowledge is useless, unless you understand it through experience. That’s my experience, at least.

            • Nityaprem says:

              “This world is a madhouse” indeed, sometimes it seems like it is. But Osho was a ray of delight and clarity, and I’m pleased to have spent time with him.

              I take Osho’s advice and look for the no-mind in the gap between the words. It’s a meditation to listen to a discourse, and it always connects me to my feelings.

              The western world puts so much emphasis on sanity and reason and material advancement, it puts a certain stress on everyone. Let’s not be too serious about Osho, even if what he says is not always scientifically close to what the engineer in me thinks is right.

              And as Terence McKenna said, “If you feel like you can fly, remember to take off from the ground.”

    • satchit says:

      “Osho is working on me”.

      It depends how you define “Osho”.

      Certainly the wave “Osho” disappeared into the ocean like we all will one day.
      If you take “Osho” as another word for Existence, certainly it will work on you every day.

    • The story of Lokesh’s friends who consider the phases of existence based on hormonal events is truly moving.

      On the contrary, spiritual initiation should indicate a rebirth that transcends biographical data, for this reason anything but an event among others unfolding over time.

      What in my opinion marks the difference between Osho sannyasins and exes is precisely the presence or absence of surrender at the moment of initiation, that is, at the peak of a state of loving trust to let go of all that we had been before – or at least this was my experience.

      I believe that quite a few took sannyas because Osho was fashionable at that stage or because the girl/boy sannyasins were beautiful.

      For this reason it is not correct to call these people “ex-sannyasins”, having lived an invitation to the existential break with temporality, which is the spiritual birth, as one of the events that describe one of the many phases of life; in reality they have never been reborn, never having died, today they are the same zombies in 70s hippie form.

      Yes, NP, if this makes you smile, it is among them that you will be able to find a high percentage of rotten brains, even if they will tell you, between one can of beer and another, that this condition favours Zen, not being subtle intellectuals they don’t know how to appreciate nuances between “below” and “beyond” the mind.

  4. Lokesh says:

    NP, Satchit is not one of the sceptics. He is one of the septics. Existence has been playing with him by giving him brain rot. One of the symptoms of this debilitating disease is that it often prompts its victims to speak in tired spiritual cliches that actually mean very little. The sad thing about it is that the brain rot victim is in such a sorry state they are fooled into believing they are speaking highly original words of wisdom.

    You know, like “Existence is working on you”. “Existence is playing with you” is similar. It is all recycled bunkum and strictly for the dummies.

    Well, NP, I enjoyed responding to your wee article, but that is it for now. Brain rot is highly contagious and I don’t want to be infected by reading infected people’s comments on SN. Don’t want to stress my immune system.

    Adios for now.

    • Nityaprem says:

      Aaah, Lokesh…you’re so cruel…making poor Satchit out to be a victim of spiritual brain rot. Gave me a good laugh though, very welcome early in the morning.

      You said you had never heard of Jean Klein. Well, he was a medical doctor who felt the call in the middle of the past century, born in Germany, who went to India for three years and there met a pandit of Advaita Vedanta, from whom he learned for a while. He then had a spiritual awakening experience, and it was suggested by his teacher that he go back to the west to teach. He did, but what was unique about his teaching was that he avoided all Advaita terminology and cliches and explained things afresh in his own words, giving his teaching an unusual clarity. He died in 1998.

      Here’s a site dedicated to him:
      He didn’t have a huge following, so it’s not surprising that you haven’t heard of him, but I found him interesting.

    • satchit says:

      Fact is, Lokesh, (or shall I say ‘Loco’?) not only Existence plays with you, I also play with you.

      Sorry to hear that you suffer from mysophobia (fear of sickness). Must be terrible that you cannot leave the house.
      And now you even think you can get an infection by the internet, poor boy?

      Wish you the best. Hope it is not bad karma.

      Hasta la Vista, Baby!

      • Yes, Satchit, I too suspect that Lokesh’s reaction to what he has been reading in this Forum for 15 years is due to some form of hypochondria.

        In fact, another aspect that today could define Sannyas in Osho’s vision is the way of approaching death, which at almost 60 years of age should also be my theme, when in reality it was my more or less subterranean anguish in stage between childhood and the initiation received in Osho Miasto 30 years ago.

        It seems that when we are near death we take off all the masks, being alone with ourselves, though perhaps surrounded by our friends and lovers it is us that death is inviting to dance one last time in this last form, and I honestly believe that the grace in which Osho and his sincere friends die prove the authenticity of their lives.

        Close to that last step, a life lived authentically or in a sincere search for one’s authenticity, love at work becomes palpable, dissolving the ego with its fears, the last chance to acknowledge gratitude to Existence, the last gift to those who remain, an invitation to celebrate.

        I wish Lokesh a long life although I fear he will remain consistent till the very end with his anti-guru belief system, he will want to distinguish himself from Osho even then, he will probably react as U.G.Krishnamurti did.

        If it is true that how an Osho sannyasin dies is more than an indication of how a joyful life can be lived, then the hypothesis that a socially organized life, according to Osho’s vision, is still current and not negligible, however many reactions this may engender from enemies or false friends of the old guy…(maybe I shouldn’t call him that if I don’t want to call myself the same).

        • Nityaprem says:

          Lokesh as channelling U.G.Krishnamurti – that’s funny, there is indeed a certain resemblance. At the same time that I enjoy his writing, I’m also outraged by his cruel put-downs. I can’t say I totally approve, I have to ask, does it bring more love into the world?

          But he is not wrong about talking in cliches. You turn into a parrot, repeating other people’s soundbites, and you get hypnotised into thinking that you’re wise. I thought his “brain rot” explanation was an excellent invention, very intelligent.

          I think you’re right, Veet, in looking towards how a sannyasin approaches the later stages of life. Some older sannyasins still meditate, still listen to Osho discourses, still celebrate, although it is true that diminishing life energies make creativity and a real suppleness more difficult.

          The trick is not to be afraid of that decline, to not get hung up in pride in one’s abilities and to gratefully accept what life brings. The man of knowledge adds something new everyday, while the Man of Tao lets something go, as Lao Tzu said.

          • “I think you’re right, Veet, in looking towards how a sannyasin approaches the later stages of life”. (NP)

            Thanks for the feedback, NP, I was about to write to the MOD in case what I recently wrote should be corrected, as reported by the village genius, probably just one of his attempts to get attention and energy, typical of narcissists.

            Sad that someone could think that the longevity of this Forum depends on how someone writes about Osho instead of what Osho was and continues to be for his friends.

        • satchit says:

          Veet, if you want to approach death a good idea is to visit graveyards. There you can contemplate about all the “waves” resting.

          Or you can witness the death of your parents. Are they still alive?

          Basically, guys like Lokesh don’t impress me much. Talking that they have learned from Osho and then whining how good the past was at SN. So they deceive themselves.

          Or the other one, NP, nothing but searching for a father figure.

          Yes, funny games people play.

          • Nityaprem says:

            Trying a new mode of communication, Satchit? Only time will tell if it becomes a success.

            I try to visit a few graveyards every year, although in my family they tend to get cremated and dispersed.

          • Lokesh says:

            Satchit, most people who read your posts on SN already know you are the classroom dummy, except, of course, your pal Veet, who supports you because he has a soft spot for the spiritually challenged because he is a bit spiritually challenged himself.

            My question is, now that you have made it clear that you are almost completely clueless, why do you insist on writing stupid comments on SN to reinforce the idea in people’s minds when they already understand the situation? Is it just another mystery to be lived, or does it run deeper than that? Childhood issues, perhap? Did you fall out of your pram when you were a baby and bang your head on the pavement? Did a big man steal your lollipop?

            • satchit says:

              Lokesh, your games are known since long ago. They are nothing new.

              What comes next?
              That you don’t want to waste your time?
              Is weather bad on Ibiza?

              • Lokesh says:

                Satchit, What part of “Why do you insist on writing stupid comments on SN to reinforce the idea in people’s minds when they already understand the situation?” do you not understand?

                • satchit says:

                  This is another old game of yours, Lokesh.

                  First you create a fantasy and then you pretend that this is the reality.

                  With this trick you’ve already made Arpana and Shanti disappear.

                  With me this game will not work, sorry.

                  I suggest you go on cherishing the good old past of SN, people like me live in the Now!

          • Satchit, my father died at 50, I was close to him until his last breath, 20 years before UGK’s last one.
            I rarely go to the cemetery, not necessarily the one where my relatives are buried, but it remains a place that invites me to meditate, inspired by the silence, the photos and the words that accompany them.

            Another invitation to meditate was a film I saw recently, it reverses the perspective of a visit to the cemetery: a soul trapped in the house shared with his beloved wife.


  5. Nityaprem says:

    I was discussing this question with my aunt yesterday. She is decidedly not a sannyasin, and recently lost her husband and is now wondering about what to do with her life, and she has come to the conclusion that she has led quite a sheltered life so far. So the sannyas life was a bit of a contrast for her.

    But in talking to her about what it means to be a sannyasin, it occurred to me that many sannyasins have this experience of knowing that there is something more important than politics, than education, than status or money, and that is the surrender to a master. In a way it is like a surrender to Existence, that you know the world is a play, that our role is to live a life of love and creativity, not to go chasing after society’s goals.

    Knowing that there is more to existence, to life, really sets sannyasins apart as a people. It gives a certain relaxation, a certain ease with being. And also sannyasins are not afraid to express it, with colour, a love of flowers, art.

    • Lokesh says:

      NP, all those good qualities you attribute to sannyasins are also lived by many people who have never heard of Osho, except for one and that is surrender to a master.

      You are promoting the idea and therefore it is a given that you are practising surrendering to Osho. I am curious to hear what form that takes in your life and what that actually means to you in simple terms as in how it affects your life on a day-to-day basis.

      • Nityaprem says:

        I admit I occasionally struggle with the surrendering, it’s a bit immature of me, actually I am a 50-year-old 20-year-old with still a bit of adolescent fire. There is a certain wildness in my nature which means that as I really get pushed, I go in all sorts of directions. Sometimes the temptation to take control comes back. Of course, that’s an illusion too.

        But just the memory of sitting in Buddha Hall with all the other sannyasins, listening to him talk, is something I cherish. I think not many people experience the joy of surrendering anymore, the laying down of all your burdens and worries at the feet of the master and finding that these were not things to be held tight, not things that were truly important but instead that it has made you lighter and more joyful to live surrendered, even if just for a day.

        That memory stays with you and illuminates your life. In a way, once you surrender you never stop surrendering for the rest of your days, it lives in your heart and brightens your smile. You leave your worries at the door of Existence and for the rest it is magic, how mind and heart go all quiet. That’s why when I hear Osho’s name, in my mind there is sometimes still a quiet “Yahoo”.

        My aunt knows nothing of this, I didn’t talk to her about surrendering, she wouldn’t understand. But she can feel the difference, the liveliness that comes from this way of living. And of course I still do my taxes, because otherwise they fine me (bastards).

        • Lokesh says:

          NP, thanks for what I presume is a sincere response.

          I’m glad to hear you are not telling your aunt, who has just lost her husband, all that sentimental mumbo-jumbo.

          You talk about leaving your worries at the door of Existence, but what the fuck is that supposed to mean? It is as if you are referring to something apart from life, and if existence is life and you are part of life where does the fucking door come from? It’s old school Osho-speak and it sounded great when he said it in one context or another, but when someone who describes himself as “a 50-year-old 20-year-old with still a bit of adolescent fire” comes away with it, it sounds like absolute bullshit.

          You say you are hearing a quiet ‘Yahoo’ in your head. This is quite surprising, because Osho’s voice calling, “Wake the fuck up, man!” is much louder.

          Sentimentality was never really part of being a sannyasin, but in your case it certainly seems to be. You can drop that, Swami. You are obviously not surrendered enough!

          • Nityaprem says:

            Good to see that you’re putting your inner fire to use, Lokesh. But passion for what you see in others is a tricky road, its easy to get carried away.

            Thanks for the pointer on sentimentality, but I think all poetry is to a certain extent sentimental, of the heart and not of the head. It’s difficult to communicate in words about these things, and a certain poetic use of words is an attempt to speak from the heart, to the heart of the reader. If you’re open to it, wonderful, if not, just let it go.

            You seem to associate being awake with clear, dry and somewhat cynical communication. I find that one can be just as awake, as clear while being poetic and juicy. It’s not all about being discriminating, insightful and then shocking the other into alertness, although that can be valuable too.

            The thing is, the truth in poetry has to be read by the heart, the intuitive brain. The logical brain is better kept as a servant and far away from such things as truth.

          • Nityaprem says:

            This piece of poetry always gets me, and reminds me of surrender. Maybe it will speak to you…

            “We tried reasoning
            our way to Him:
            it did not work;
            but the moment we gave up,
            no obstacle remained.

            My friend, everything existing
            exists through him;
            your own existence is a mere pretence.
            No more nonsense! Lose yourself,
            and the hell of your heart becomes a heaven.
            Lose yourself, and anything can be accomplished.
            Your selfishness is an untrained colt.

            Melt yourself down in his search:
            venture your life and your soul
            in the path of sincerity;
            strive to pass from nothingness to being,
            and make yourself drunk with the wine of God.”

            Hakim Sanai, ‘The Walled Garden of Truth’

    • NP, surrender to a Master in my case didn’t mean signing a contract about what I would or wouldn’t do in the future, I don’t know it even today.

      What I photographed in the protected space of my Sannyas Celebration was my feeling worthy, whole, innocent…as you say at that moment the doors of worldly existence were closed, leaving out all possible reasons for interference.

      When in Oregon the political and judicial struggle threatened the existence of the Commune, those doors were even defended with lawyers and weapons.

      Precisely because the world is a game, as you say, when the world’s goals conflict with those who, like us, want to live with the grace that Osho showed could be, then if we want to defend a greater good we should accept to play the role that in that moment circumstances require.

  6. Lokesh says:

    Hi NP, thanks for Klein info.

    Interesting how Satchit and Veet only get going when on the attack, particularly all that tripe Veet spouts about ex-sannyasins, kinda bizzaro coming from a guy who never actually met Osho, yet he thinks he knows so much about him. Oh yeah…I forgot…a deep relationship with the master is not dependent on physical proximity, which, all things considered, is just as well.

    I have received a lot of flak from those do-dos, to the point of being blamed for putting off potential bloggers on SN. My anti-guru stance etc. I’m not anti-guru. I’m anti-idiots, who talk a lot of shite. Leave the site in the hands of Satchit and Veet and it pretty soon goes as quiet as a graveyard. Give the dummies a poke and there they are, all self-righteous and pseudo-intellectual with nothing much original to say, especially in Satchit’s case. Veet is original, but the problem is nobody understands what he is talking about.

    SN was once a fun, provocative, interesting and stimulating site to take part in. Today it is a very mild form of distraction at best. Pity, but that’s the way it goes.

  7. I would like to refresh the memory of the genius of the village of idiots: no one is kicking him out from this Forum but he has been asked to resolve the dilemma of moderating his language or being attacked to the same extent.

    It shouldn’t be fun to find himself alone in this Forum, the bully needs his audience.

    Maybe I quoted it already: “…anyone who knows him well can call him without offence – a man of little melancholy – he’s just a piano bar pianist, he sells everything he does to everyone, don’t hope to make him cry because he doesn’t know how to cry…,” (Pianobar FdG)

  8. Funny, NP, but it is not Satchit that one who is deciding if we notice him if he stays or goes.

  9. Nityaprem says:

    Good morning, good morning. I was just thinking about sannyas and getting older, it’s interesting that there are places in the world where sannyasins still congregate, like Ibiza and Sedona. Not really living in a commune anymore, but still close enough to meditate together and celebrate together. Maybe that’s the way of the future?

  10. Zorba is the vital space of the Buddha, that is: without the periphery there is no centre, not even the one of meditation.

    Nityaprem, I don’t know if the existing Osho communities/buddhafields struggled or are struggling against the absurd rules of political correctness during a psychopandemic: no hugs, no smiles behind masks, no visits to different households, no walks on rainy days or SUNNY ones when “stay at home” day kicks off, no alternative cure to “tachipirina* and watchful waiting” in case of ‘flu and praying that vaccines will arrive soon, etc., but if that were the case I don’t see many opportunities for celebration in such places.

    I omit the normal mandatory vaccinations for children (beyond pandemics) which in Italy amount to about ten and are prime suspected causes for cases of autism; the children of sannyasins in this country could not attend schools.

    I don’t know if in this “end of history” ideological intoxication the Osho communes would accept heterosexual or homosexual couples who have rented wombs in the third world to give birth to “their” children, those who one day might come into contact with a book or B. Hellinger’s workshop and meditate homicidal reactions, towards legal parents, natural ones or towards poor Svagito.

    I don’t even know if sannyasins would eat cockroaches in these places to save the planet, but I don’t think the purpose of an Osho commune is to castrate Zorba and chain him until he is completely opened and penetrated by Buddha’s love.

    If Zorba’s world disappears Buddha has no roots, becoming an ethereal, childish, apathetic figure…

    What is the point of speaking of Nirvana in the same way both to those who live in chains and to those who have the power to enchain the Buddha himself?
    Isn’t it true that worldly power has always sought legitimacy from religion?
    What happened to the mystics who didn’t support the lust for power of the psychopath of the moment?
    Do you know that there are mystics who have sided with the sovereigns who bullied the population?

    Since the new Ukrainian emergency there is hardly any talk of the fourth and fifth dose, except perhaps in some forums, where those who are fanatics of “SCIENCE as dogma” (like the cynical and inoculated with experimental gene serum, Mr. Frank) are writing, in fact today it is more urgent and therefore politically correct to jail that war criminal Putin, who allegedly moved orphaned children from war territories, exposed to the artillery of Ukrainian nationalist Nazis.

    About crimes a reporter asked US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright if the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who were victims of the export of political correctness by the Yankees was an acceptable cost, she replied without batting an eye that it was, that the Middle East was later a safer place.

    Who knows what politically correct speech a Buddha would make to the war criminal Vladimiro, to the hero of the free and democratic West Madeleine and to the relatives of the young Iraqi victims?

    Not only in Italy, investigations have begun that show how much the correct functioning of a state’s democratic system is compromised today, when supranational entities covered by wide legal immunity are in charge.

    The newspapers are publishing the chats of top officials of the ministry of health when, realizing of all the critical issues of pandemic management, especially in the field of vaccine safety, in the end they decide, with rare exceptions, to play along with their salary and bonuses, blatantly lying to the media, persuaded of the “too big to fail” political cover-up, which is the axiom of all homogenizing narratives.

    Given all the shit advancing in the suburbs, in the air, in the water and in the ground it doesn’t seem wise to lock us in an ivory tower, better not to give reference points to our enemies and create places of meditation / celebration in the market place, where only the Zorbas remember the Buddhas, responsible for what is there, sometimes evaluating manly escapes rather than praying in a temple like a whore, trying to “give love to those who don’t know what to do with our love” (Mogol-Battisti).

    *”tachipirina” (second paragraph): a pain-reliever

  11. Lokesh says:

    Yes, NP, there are a lot of sannyasins living in Ibiza, although nobody advertises that they are a sannyasin.

    Last Sunday, I went to a small BBQ. There were about ten people in attendance. Five of them were sannyasins. The house was located on the side of a hill, the sun low in the sky and the view over the hills and valleys was diffused and surreal. The scene was idyllic.

    I sat beside a 78-year-old German lady, who told me her name was Shanti. She didn´t speak much English so I had to put my passable German to use. I asked her where she got her name from and she goes all blissful and says, “Osho.” I asked if she´d met him and she looks up to the sky and says, “Yes.” She informed me that she´d taken sannyas in ’91 and therefore I deduced that her meeting with Osho had taken place in some inner dimension or at a physical distance. She told me how Osho was with her all the time. I liked her. She had a childlike quality about her that was quite charming. Any deeper questions I asked about Osho were answered by blissful and knowing smiles. She wasn´t smug.

    I eventually told her about when I first met Osho and how I´d lived in Poona One for six years. “Oh”, she gasps, “you were there during the good times.” I have nothing to compare the experience to, but I agreed anyway.

    I talked with my wife about this meeting on the way home in the car. The gist of it was is spiritual behaviour actually spiritual, or is it just a role certain people like to play? Was Shanti’s knowing smile and blissful way of expressing herself any different to a Christian who believes the Lord is their shepherd, guiding them through life’s trials and tribulations? Is this way of behaving and thinking not some glorified form of sentimentality?

    I told Shanti that I did not experience Osho in my life as a daily presence. She gave a sympathetic smile, suggesting perhaps that I was missing something. I do not feel I’m missing anything on that level. Osho helped bring me to reach a point of being free of needing a holy ghost to accompany me through life. My own presence is all that is needed. Be a light unto yourself. I’ll always be grateful to the man for the guidance he gave me when I needed it.

    • Nityaprem says:

      That is also a celebration and a very sannyas way of living, and at the same time it is something non-sannyasins also enjoy.

      Lokesh said, “The gist of it was is spiritual behaviour actually spiritual, or is it just a role certain people like to play? Was Shanti’s knowing smile and blissful way of expressing herself any different to a Christian who believes the Lord is their shepherd, guiding them through life’s trials and tribulations? Is this way of behaving and thinking not some glorified form of sentimentality?”

      Certainly, professing a belief that humans exist after death and are somehow ‘still around’ is a hallmark of being spiritual. I don’t think that’s a role, and I tend to respect other people’s beliefs and take them at face value when they state them. To do otherwise would be rather rude.

      Similarly, her experience of Osho being around her could be genuine, Osho did say he and other masters are still available. A childlike quality is usually a good sign, some people do manage to preserve or even regain it in old age. If people are simple and blissful, they are unlikely to be playing roles.

      But that’s just me… I tend to be quite forgiving and easy-going, I’m not really a sceptical thinker. I don’t think there is an answer to these kinds of questions in sceptical thought, you can either go with love and faith or with reason.

      If you go with reason you can spend ages trying to analyse it, but in the end you may not come any further than the intuitive insight you had in the beginning.

      • Nityaprem says:

        “I have spoken millions of words just in order to give you a taste, a feel. Truth I cannot give to you — nobody can give it to you — but I can open my heart to you, which has known the truth, lived the truth. And that opening may help you in a very indirect way to go on your own pilgrimage. It may give you confidence that all this talk about truth is not just talk, that it changes people, that it changes their very presence, that it gives them a certain fragrance, a certain power, a certain authority. They don’t speak like anybody else. They are not orators, they are not speakers; they simply open their heart. Perhaps the rhythm of their heart will change the rhythm of your heart.

        Listening to them you may not get the truth, but you may be transported into another world: a world of silence, a world of immense peace, a world of benediction. And all those are immensely helpful for the search.”

        Osho, ‘Beyond Psychology’

    • satchit says:

      “She told me how Osho was with her all the time.”

      A good example how self-hypnosis helps oneself to have a good day.

    • Nityaprem says:

      One thing that I find curious is that there is no such thing as an online community of sannyasins. A social network of sannyasins perhaps? A place where we can find like-minded others, share stuff, celebrate things, and so on… Maybe a bit more private than Facebook?

      I mean, my Facebook is full of ex-colleagues, professional contacts, family and so on, most of whom have nothing to do with my sannyas life. I’d prefer not to mix the two.

  12. samarpan says:

    Thank you, Nityaprem, for an interesting topic.

    My understanding is that Osho says meditation is not something you “do”…rather it is a quality of being, no matter whether you are doing or not doing. Specifically, I recall Osho says it is the quality of being relaxed, alert, and non-judgmental.

    • Nityaprem says:

      Hi Samarpan,

      Yes, meditation as the quality of being meditative, interesting, isn’t it? There seem to be different paths for people of different inclinations, it’s not as simple as saying “you are a Prem, therefore your path is Love, so go do bhakti things; you are an Anand, go do vipassana.”

      Lately I have been reading ‘Beyond Psychology’, I think that was the Uruguay period, where Osho goes more into topics such as his vision for the mystery school, hypnosis and him being the spiritual friend. It’s a fascinating and many-sided discourse series.

      He also talks about maturity, and I feel that relates to meditation quite intimately. That the more one is able to connect with one’s intuition and deeper self, the closer one is to being in harmony with Existence, being an empty reed flute with the universe whistling the tune. It puts me in mind of the Tao Te Ching and the Man of Tao.

      As we become more silent inside, we learn to listen to the influences within, we become relaxed. The immature mind is in too much turmoil to reach these quiet states.

      • Lokesh says:

        NP, you say, ´The closer one is to being in harmony with Existence.´´
        Okay, heard that one before. What does it mean? What is this Existence you are referring to? If Existence is life how can one not be in harmony with it because one is part of life?

        This whole éxistence thing is a throwback to Osho-speak. Sounded great when it was his master´s voice delivering it, but from you it just sounds like someone believing that spiritual behaviour, talking in a spiritual way is an indication of being spiritual. When it might not be. It just doesn´t wash. So explain yourself.

        • Nityaprem says:

          For me, the phrase “in harmony with Existence” is about going with the flow of events in life. You follow a path, you accept an invitation, you get something that you need. The Tao of the world provides you with natural paths to follow, its a question of living with ease, not forcing. I live this practice every day.

          When you’re not in harmony, you notice the friction, there is effort, strain, resistance, unhappiness. I’m not saying this is never good, for example I go on walking holidays in the mountains sometimes, which can be strenuous, its not all going downhill. But ups and downs even out.

          It’s not just a question of “taking it easy”, which can be interpreted as an excuse for laying about all day. Sometimes harmony demands action, activity.

          • Lokesh says:

            I´m not saying that what you are saying is wrong. I´m saying it is questionable.

            You speak about going with the flow. Isn´t that what everyone in life is doing in their way? People aren’t even doing it. They are just blindly going along with the flow of casual events taking place on this planet. People’s lives are just made up of reacting to what is happening around them. All of us are. And look at what has happened due to going with the flow of life. Human beings have arrived at a point where the planet will soon no longer be able to sustain human life because we have ruined our environment.

            Perhaps this would not have happened if we had not gone with the flow of human activity in the world.

            Could it be that going against the flow of life on this planet, war, greed, and development of all things material, might have been more conducive to creating a better world to live in?

            As for what Veet has to say, I take that with a pinch of curry powder. His problem is that you can’t see the woods for the trees in his writing, because what he wishes to communicate is lost in a convoluted mess of words. That in conjunction with his fanatical Osho stance creates nothing more than a load of nonsense nobody can understand, yet he still manages to believe he is somehow doing Osho’s work. He could have learned much from Osho on this level because Osho knew the art of communicating with plain and simple language that is understood by everyone who can read.

            • Nityaprem says:

              Sure, my stance is questionable. My mind’s understanding is imperfect. There is probably a lot more to being in tune with Existence than I can communicate in a forum post.

              As for the idea of ‘easy is right’ ruining the environment, I reckon mankind will survive in some form, as will life on Planet Earth. People expect some form of catastrophe, I tell you it won’t happen. There will just be a gradual decrease of certain things, and in a thousand years there will still be humans on this world.

            • Nityaprem says:

              If you really want answers to questions like this which go beyond “it’s a poetic expression for a life philosophy connected to sannyas” you should find someone who is a master debater and will happily destroy your questions. That is not me, my facility with words and understanding is more limited.

              If I try and give you the answer that makes sense to me, that feels whole to me, all you’ll do is create a bunch of arguments based on it. I live this sense of the relaxed way, and I’m not so interested in the outside world of politics and environmentalists.

              I’ve done what I can to tread lightly on the plane: I eat organic, I don’t own a car, I don’t have children. It seems to me that in the way I have lived my life I have done a lot more than many, and if others had followed my example we would not now have 8 billion people on the planet and a vast excess of CO2.

            • Nityaprem says:

              “It is a crime to destroy the unexplainable by bringing it to the level of explanations, because you have killed. It is almost like a bird on the wing in the sky…it is so beautiful in its freedom; the whole sky belongs to him, all the stars belong to him…no limits, no barriers. You can catch hold of the bird; you can make a beautiful golden cage and you can put the bird in the cage. But remember, it is not the same bird that was flying in freedom in the sky under the stars. Factually it is the same bird, but spiritually no — because where is the freedom and where are the stars? Where is the sky? Your golden cage cannot replace what you have taken away from the bird. It has lost its soul.

              The same happens when you try to explain something which is unexplainable. You bring it into the cage of language, of words — beautiful words, but the soul has disappeared. Don’t do it. I know it feels a little awkward when somebody asks and you cannot answer – - you feel embarrassed.

              It is better to feel embarrassed. But don’t commit a crime against the mysteries of life. Tell the person, “I am feeling embarrassed because I cannot say it. Not that I don’t want to say it — I would have loved to say it to you but I cannot, because saying it means killing it. I can take you to the window from where you can see the open sky, I can take you to the man. Perhaps your heart will start dancing in the same way my heart dances within me. And in deep silence, you will understand what it means to me.
              But only when it starts to mean something to you.”

              People will be asking you many questions. Use their questions to invite them towards the same light, towards the same bliss, towards the same truth.
              Don’t answer — because you cannot answer, and whatever you say will fall flat.
              Resist the temptation of being knowledgeable. Accept your inarticulateness. But invite the person.
              Perhaps out of ten, one may turn up. And one never knows — by coming here, he may turn on!”

              Osho, ‘Beyond Enlightenment’

      • “Beyond Psychology”, a collection of excerpts from that series of talks, is part of the teaching material I keep carefully from Osho Therapist Training, every time I think I could help someone and start giving counseling sessions I read a few paragraphs and I defer it another 10 years.

        NP, with your desire to share peace/love/harmony you manage to piss off SN’s music director.

        In fact, in the Goan music of these old hippies I have always found the excess of percussion instruments disharmonious with respect to stringed or air instruments, even if they are reproduced digitally.

        The point is that it takes very little for them to enter a trance, if you are not a shaman chemistry can help you find harmony between chaotic music and the chaos in your head.

        Difficult to sing a song by Osho without giving the impression of imitating him, an artist who sang for 40 years, almost every day, in front of a growing audience that was renewed in waves, with a boundless repertoire of existential perspectives, ranging from slums around the world and Mount Everest, united by the compassionate laughter of a Buddha.

        Before singing you could warn those who claim to be in harmony with Existence by default that this is not Goan trance music, and that before continuing listening it would be advisable for them to increase the dose of adjuvant*.

        If it doesn’t work, in cases of pathological narcissism, all that remains is the exorcism and the ritual phrases: Oshooo, in the name of Jesus Christ, leave this body! (followed splash of Scottish beer on the face).

        *adjuvant – a substance that enhances the body’s immune response to an antigen.

  13. Another aspect of Osho sannyas that is significant for me, in addition to what I have already said about death and Zorbaland, is the relationship with spiritual research: once the content has been found, the search for different forms of containers could be aimed just at dissemination, in rare cases also to solve the doubts of the headbangers, always on the side of those who shout the loudest “truth”, which cannot be told.

    • Nityaprem says:

      Veet Francesco said “spiritual research”.

      Osho does sometimes go into metaphysics, it is true. For some people it is very significant…I remember reading a section about the seven bodies, the different levels of the energy body. Fascinating stuff.

      But who can tell whether it was a device meant for that specific person, or whether it has some truth for everyone. In ‘Beyond Psychology’ there is a question Osho is asked about truth, and his answer is that he agrees with Buddha, that truth is ‘what works’ and he can say anything as long as it moves that person forwards.

  14. Lokesh says:

    The thing about posting Osho quotes on SN is that if you search enough you´ll probably find another quote that totally contradicts the first quote. I think the message was don´t become identified with Osho´s words.
    Now NP writes about Osho going into metaphysics, and how fascinating it is. Here again, Osho constantly contradicted himself. One day it is seven chakras, the next day chakras don´t exist etc. One day he is telling someone they will only have one more incarnation before enlightenment, the next day he says reincarnation does not exist because there is no such thing as a soul etc.
    We all have our sources to help fit the pieces of our jigsaw life into a coherent picture that we can live with. Osho used words to distract the mind so that the real work could be done….insilence. Truth can only be transmitted when the mind is still and quiet.
    Now you have people saying, Ósho says this. Osho says that ad infinitum. You can go down that path if you feel so inclined, but you won´t meet me on that path. I traversed it enough to know that it leads nowhere significant.

    • Nityaprem says:

      Osho was once asked why he contradicts himself and what is his attitude to truth. He replied that he agreed with the Buddha’s statement that “truth is what works” and that he could say anything as a device to a disciple. Even so, he doesn’t always contradict himself, there are certain themes on which he is very consistent, and the overall feeling of his words is that he does carry something that has meaning.

      I think Osho has to be read with a poet’s sensibility, with an artist’s licence to use words to transform. He says things which even now find a strong resonance in me, even if they are not always factually correct; he speaks to the heart, not to the engineer in me. I wouldn’t say don’t listen to the words, the words also carry a certain something.

      There is a certain lesson here about attachment to truth. Many people are very concerned with consistency, not lying, truthfulness, authenticity… Osho realised these things speak mainly to reputation and that for a master they are just tools, just devices. For us who are very familiar with his words, we shouldn’t get too attached to factuality, instead listening for the heart’s indication of a deeper truth being spoken.

      When I read Osho, I regularly come across passages which make me change my mind about how I view the world, truth, the Buddha, relationships. It is a treasure for those who find themselves with a longing for something that has real value, not just the materialist fluff that society serves up.

  15. Inevitable misunderstandings around the meaning of what a man like Osho said and did.

    Someone says that Osho spoke in a simple way and that it would be appropriate to imitate him, I try to follow the parrot’s advice.

    From my point of view in this forum what most makes us discuss/fight, not only in this last article, is the actuality/contemporaneity (or otherwise) of the existential model proposed by Osho.

    If it is true that there are those like me who respond positively to His proposal and who make themselves available to carry on that work, it is true that there are those who try to ridicule this instance but without proposing valid alternative models, apart from that one of making their own fucking business.

    In my last comment, recalled by Nityaprem, I related (I tried to express this) the actuality/contemporaneity (freshness, source of inspiration) of Osho-Sannyas with “spiritual research” (after speaking in previous comments of Sannyas & Death – getting old, and Sannyas & Worldliness-Zorba).

    No speculative intent on my part to make a metaphysical reasoning, indeed.

    With “spiritual search” I am referring, although it seems superfluous to specify it among Osho sannyasins, not to the common sense that dominates recognized “confessional religions” (cult admitted in the State), but in Italy Osho would not be legal even among “de facto confessions” (practising Osho Tantra in an O.M.Centre* in Italy would expose it to the crime of exploitation of prostitution; however, swingers clubs are recognized as legal), but I’m talking about what brought me to Osho.

    Before coming to Osho I was not a tabula rasa in metaphysics, I had already metabolized the Judaic-Christian cosmogony and the relative moral tension of living suspended between Hell and Heaven, trying to have faith that one day God would reward me for respecting the Church, the priests and the nuns…

    Before Osho I had already been well clear, for years, that such a model of spirituality didn’t work with me, pay attention, didn’t work not only by virtue of theological aspects but mainly for the existential ones: among the people, the fideistic** aspect prevailing, implicitly encouraged the obedience and uniformity to the external aspects, in short, the presence of a God does not stimulate the critical sense but only the zeal of the hypocrites.

    Osho showed me the possibility of a joyful life regardless of what happens after death.

    So, I wrote that with Him my spiritual research ended, having found the ‘content’ (love, and not God/metaphysics, is the existential content of the culmination of my spiritual research), while I remain open to the possibility of different forms of ‘containers’ (love conveyed in other forms, by others who are not Osho), although it is a spiritual search that I am not passionate about since I already have a lot to share in the form of Sannyas.

    Certainly I am not passionate here about the spiritual search for other ‘containers’, in a Forum plagued by Osho detractors, people who come here with the ambition of being able to sing their libertine song, with a guitar without tension in its strings, against the one who freed them from many chains, apart from their ego.

    I never said Osho turned water into wine, that would be metaphysical.

    *O.M. Centre: Osho Meditation Centre

    **fideistic: reliance on faith rather than reason in pursuit of religious truth.

    • Nityaprem says:

      Veet, I’m sorry for confusing “spiritual research” (which calls to mind Reich, Cayce and others) with a “spiritual search” (a very different thing). It’s sometimes a little difficult to follow exactly what you mean.

      I think you’re right to call Osho an endpoint of the spiritual search, he provides such a wealth of insight and a real revolution of the spiritual for the mind of his time. In comparison, most modern teachers are rather conservative about what they teach.

      • Nityaprem, no problem, I pretend to take what I wrote seriously only when the words serve to oppose the words of those with evil/dark intentions, heh heh heh…In that case, parroting Heraclitus or a drunk zen master comes naturally to me.

        • satyadeva says:

          Veet, you say, “I pretend to take what I wrote seriously only when the words serve to oppose the words of those with evil/dark intentions, heh heh heh….”

          I’m not sure whether you’re simply joking here, but if not, are you sure you’re not imagining these “evil/dark intentions”? That’s the language of a zealot, looking for potential enemies everywhere…I recall you even threatened to kill a fellow SN contributor on here just a few months ago – in the name of ‘purifying’ the site, of course, which some would no doubt say is a perfectly understandable, even laudable motive, a case of unquestionably noble ends justifying the means, ie pure zealotry – and no joke.

          Problem is, though, that then one starts to become like that which one is so furiously condemning. As you’re into political and social issues, have you read Pasternak’s ‘Doctoer Zhivago’, a great novel of the Russian Revolution, where that very process is depicted, through the eyes of the doctor/poet?

    • Lokesh says:

      Veet declares, “Inevitable misunderstandings around the meaning of what a man like Osho said and did.”

      Yes, I have to agree, particularly when people who never actually met Osho speak about what he said and did.

  16. Nityaprem says:

    “The path of awareness is the path that passes through a desert. It is only for those who cannot manage to get back into their hearts.

    If you can easily be heartful, forget all about awareness; it will come on its own accord. Each step of love will bring its own awareness. This love will not be falling in love; I call it rising in love.”

    Osho, ‘Beyond Enlightenment’

    I found this a really interesting comment regarding the whole Advaita Vedanta approach. The longer I look at Advaita, the more I get the impression that it is of the mind, that it clarifies the mind’s understanding without truly giving you the experiences, and finally the non-experiences. It’s one of the traps of Advaita that you can think you’ve made it, while in fact you have only heard it described and the mind has said to you, “I think it looks like this” and you’ve accepted the mind’s confabulation as the real thing.

    For me, love has been a long journey. I was deeply in touch with love when I was younger, but moving around the world so much when I was young made it difficult for me to get used to having friends my own age. First I got into education and later I was side-tracked by desires and ambitions into the realms of the mind, and lost sight of love for a long while.

    It’s only been lately, when I started following the Buddhist path of letting go, that some of the junk has been cleared out of my mental attic and I’ve had room for other things again. Not least the occasional Osho discourse on love and harmony.

    And I have to say, moving from listening to Osho discourses to reading the books has helped a lot. My memory for written words is better, and you get time to think about what you’ve read.

    • Nice comment, NP, I honour you and respect your sand-filled shoes.

      The good fortune of some walker in barren deserts is that every now and then, in compensation, they meet in the oasis with a woman with a big heart.

      Here, with regard to the spiritual/existential (repetita iuvant, one cannot separate Buddha from Zorba without “doing metaphysics”) function of the stable relationship of the couple (family), I would say that Osho’s method applies here too:
      if the wife is an opportunity to not see how small your heart is, then fuck off the wife, or if it is an opportunity to raise awareness of how much you are clinging to her, then hurray, wife.

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