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To Push a Button by Anurag Shantam

Pushing buttons is as old as the ego itself. Some do it consciously, some unconsciously, but everybody does it. It is a given, in ego experience. It wasn’t until the groups in Pune one, that I experienced button pushing raised to an art form with remarkable effectiveness. The groups, combined with the presence of the Master, provided the most transformational experience I had ever known. Certainly nothing being done in the States could touch it. Try doing that work in America and you would have had the victim lawyers over you like white on rice. America prefers its transformational experiences safe and superficial.

When Bhagwan (Osho) turned on the therapists, I, like many, was puzzled. It is only in retrospect, with the understanding of the ego veils of darkness, does that whole episode come into focus. For the groups with their incessant and artfully delivered hits, were, knowingly or unknowingly, forcing awareness into the veils of pain, fear, and anger.

I remember some groups where people would focus in on my pain, delivering hit after hit, presumably to get me to feel my pain, and if the experience were deep enough, brutal enough, I would first become the pain, and then a miracle would occur: I would become love. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that the pain was a veil, a wall, a tunnel, and on the other side was hidden one of my inner treasures; my love. In a sense the encounter technique functioned like a drug, allowing me to visit one of the rooms in my mansion, to experience the treasure hidden there. Unfortunately, like a drug, I could only visit, and after a while, the experience would fade, go dim, and I would find myself back in the same shit, a little lighter perhaps, a little clearer, but needing another fix.

The same was true for the other veils; fear and anger. It used to spook me at times, how the therapists and group participants were able to hone in on my fears and push and push and push me through the veil, until I could reside in one of my other treasures hidden within. A miracle: from the darkness of the fear to the light of unconditional trust. Heady stuff, but this too would fade, as the ego drew me out of the center, back into its madness. The anger was, of course, the most intense veil of all, but the reward of successfully getting through that dark tunnel was great: the light of God, truth. Why it was just like being enlightened. Too bad, it too, would fade, as the light of consciousness was inexorably pulled back into the ego darkness.

This was very powerful stuff. Successfully navigating the groups one emerged with a taste of what awaited then, a taste of enlightenment. For having moved through the three ego veils of darkness we were rewarded with a glimpse, an experience, of the three faces of God hidden within: love, trust, truth. We could, however briefly, experience what we truly were. However, like a drug, there were unexpected consequences. The groups, intended to weaken, to shatter, the ego wall and defenses to enable disciples to be more available to the Master’s energy, did just that, but temporarily. The groups, while very effective in forcing awareness through the veils, did nothing to clear them. Since the veils are the very roots of the ego, the very source of it’s power, with each group experience the ego was rebuilding it’s defenses, only more sophisticated, more powerful, and in many cases, more spiritual, to the point that by the time I left Pune, I could attend a group, strong and confident, equally adept at pushing buttons as the rest of them. The new ego adjustments were very powerful indeed, hiding from me, as well as the world, the yet uncleared veils of pain, fear, and anger, and they would return to bite me with a vengeance years later.

In retrospect, the group leaders were at just such a place. Having gone through many western group experiences, they would have become unassailable, impregnable to the assaults of all but the most adept of button pushers. Hell, they could easily have felt they were enlightened.

Bhagwan, always focused on merging East (feminine, passive, meditative) with West (masculine, active, aggressive), must have realized what was happening, for He complained how the therapists felt themselves above meditation, as though they were focused on the Western techniques of aggressively breaking down barriers, while ignoring the Eastern techniques to deal with the source of the barriers. It is as though He had all the pieces in place but was still experimenting how to fit them together to create a powerful and fast process to trigger awakening in vast numbers of people. Then came the Ranch. The end of the most courageous experiment in human transformation. Now we have a “resort” in Pune. Kinda says it all.

The groups in Pune One were, to me, the very best the West has to offer. What they did was powerful and effective. To break through a veil and live, however briefly, from a true center is something one is unlikely to ever forget. But they are but a rung on a ladder. A very seductive rung. I remember, for years after the Ranch, whenever encountering sannyasins, many of them seemed addicted to pushing buttons, as I was after the Pune experience, and upon reflection, saw how such a pattern could make us the unpopular lot many of us had become. As though button pushing were a path, rather than a rung on a ladder. A seductive rung, for it is a place of power and superiority; a definite red flag to any ego encountering it. It seemed as though many people had gotten stuck on the rung, thinking it the ladder. Most of the button pushing I see, particularly among sannyasins, seems counterproductive at best, deliberately hurtful at worst. Counterproductive because rather than producing any transformation, it will simply strengthen the ego defenses.

For Westerners particularly, the encounter type work is important. For before you can clear a veil with meditation, you first have to be aware of its existence. Westerners live in their heads, as far removed from the discomfort of feeling as they can get, and the intent of such group work is perfect: to make people aware that they actually hurt, get scared, and get angry about it all. Trouble is, Western psychology is created out of a false premise: that pain, fear, and anger are real, unalterable, and a natural part of the human condition, rather than the origin of an illusion of separation and suffering. Westerners get caught in the story being woven by the veils, i.e., why I’m hurting, why I’m insecure, why I’m angry. Even after making them aware of feeling, they take it right back in the head, analyzing, dissecting, searching for the logical reason, or elusive meaning of their suffering. Clear the veils, and your story of conflict, confusion, and suffering comes to an end. And finally, peace descends.