A Passion for the Possible
Maneesha (known as Osho's chief editor, and the voice that asks seekers' questions to Osho in his discourses) left the commune in 1992, looking to bring the taste and flavour of Osho and his meditations to the world. Here she reflects on the story so far, and her current interest to do so in the UK.
Perhaps as with many of us, one of the first events to impact me as a new sannyasin in a major way was Dynamic Meditation.
Back in 1974 I was to do my stint of Dynamicing my way into each day for weeks on end, until I was saved by my first job: cleaning Osho's house. That required me to be up and at it even before the 6.00 a.m. beat of the Dynamic drum.
Some months later I was being a regular fixture of Osho's evening darshan meetings - with groups of anything from 12-20 seekers and his people. Did Osho see in me a love for experimentation or did he provoke that passion?
Whatever, but in 1975, when he was devising some of his meditations (for example, Nataraj, Nadabrahma and Devani), and introducing us to many methods (Gibberish, the Prayer method, Latihan, laughter, etc) from various esoteric traditions, I became the guinea pig. So when he wanted to explain the method to someone, I was called center stage to demonstrate it, as he described it.
Those evenings were totally magical for me. (I was to record that experience at length in my first book: Bhagwan: The Buddha for the Future, under the name of Juliet Forman.) Not only because of playing guinea pig, but because I was given the job of recording the talks Osho gave every evening over a seven-year period. They were to amount to something like almost 70 books - books that I also edited, added commentary and interviews to and selected photos for. I adored my role as Osho's editor; it was never a chore: I was on fire with it, yes, unremittingly for all those years.
Fast forward to 1992, a couple of years after Osho left his body. It was time to leave the commune (as the Meditation Resort in Pune was then called) and I knew only that I wanted to work in some way with meditation.
The subject of death - specifically of supporting people in dying consciously and graciously - attracted me. I'd had the great good fortune to be alone with Anna Freud, (child psychoanalyst and youngest daughter of Sigmund), in her Hampstead home, when she left her body. That experience, along with all I had heard Osho say about the connection between death and meditation, made a huge impression on me. As a nurse in Australia and later in England, I had watched people die, had laid out their bodies, and tried to comfort devastated relatives. Osho's vision, now validated for me by being with Ms Freud, informed me of a whole new way of leaving the body, as I had now come to regard death.
That's how my one-to-one sessions and groups of meditation began, addressing people's issues around their own death and that of family, friends' or clients'.
It is a rare person who will voluntarily face the issue that 99.9999% of humanity spends its life avoiding. Not only face it but pay to do so, as well as sacrificing a precious weekend for it into the bargain! I realized that the subject of death was not going to propel me along the path of prosperity - well, not of the financial kind.
The economic angle aside, in the work that I had done with those intrepid souls who had signed up with me, I began to see that the very best preparation for dying consciously, graciously, and with gratitude, is to live consciously, graciously and with gratitude. And the best way to do that is through meditation.
So my work expanded to address the question: How can we incorporate meditation into our everyday lives? How can we stay silent, centered, joyful and loving in the noisy, scattered, unhappy world in which we live?
Seeking to respond to that issue as comprehensively as I could, I found myself back in the darshan dairies, along with Osho's discourses, looking for all the methods he had ever mentioned.
Between us, the valiant Yoga Bhakti (Are you out there, somewhere, beloved?) and I created a compilation of over 500 techniques. Drawing on Taoism, Tantra, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, The Essenes, the Hassids, Yoga, Gurdjieff, Raman Maharshi, and so on, Osho provided us with methods of visualization; auditory and aural techniques; kinesthetic; active and passive methods; some for specific times of the day; some to be done alone, some with another; some related to the chakras; some targeting specific issues, and so on.
These I made into three spiral-bound books, placing each method in one or other category of Breath, Death, Relaxation, Self-Knowing, The Heart, Nature, The Senses, The Chakras, and so on.
For the past 13 years these books have been the resource for all my work. (You will find most of the techniques published now, in Pharmacy for the Soul, [St. Martin's Press].)
In addition to the contributions of many past masters, Osho gave us his own unique spin on spirituality through his active meditations. Along with the most radical, Dynamic, these include Kundalini, Devani, Nataraj, Nadabrahma and Mandala. Talking to the Body (for which my role as guinea pig was reprised [we are talking 1988-ish]), and the three meditative therapies - Born Again, No-Mind and The Mystic Rose - were latter additions.
Targeting first the United States, in 2000 I determined to wise up the likes of Christy Turlington and turn all Yoga adherents onto Osho's active methods.
Aware of Yoga's growing popularity, I had recalled Osho saying that while Yoga does have a value for the body, it can be repressive if one hasn't first had some form of emotional release.
Let me take OAMs to the straining masses! I cried to myself and, to that end, started researching all Osho had ever said on Dynamic, and his active-meditation approach in general.
To cut a long story short: I landed in the US, all hot to trot, the day before Sept 11, 2001.
At least now everyone will want to do your meditation groups, dear, my mother wrote to me encouragingly (once she'd established I was not lying unconscious under the rubble but had been sunbaking on Manhattan Beach, blissfully unaware of what was taking place at the time of the attack). Thanks, Mum. You're right: Americans should have been so freaked out by seeing their world crumble down around them that they realized the only security was inside, so hey, let's go meditate with Maneesha. Things worked out somewhat differently, and that's all we will say about my would-be contribution to the world of Yoga.
However, all my research found a place in a website all of its very own: www.activemeditation.com. I'd become so enamoured of what I read that, not only at the fulsome age of 54 had I began Dynamic again, but I decided to include reports of where Osho techniques have been used in areas such as sport, education, the judiciary, hospitals, penal reform etc, along with professional and personal feedback about its efficacy, coverage of the first Global 21-Day Dynamic, and much much more.
All those questions you wanted to ask about Dynamic and were afraid to ask?
When it is not experiencing the usual slings, arrows and glitches of the internet, that website tells it like it is.
My love for meditating and for passing on techniques to others IS just as fervent. Over the past few years I've created guided-meditation CDs - some based on instructions from Osho, some of my own making. (These are individually described on www.maneeshjames.com, where you can also find out how to purchase them.) That's when I am not somewhere running a group. That somewhere has, to date, been mainly Italy. But now I'm eager for England! I want to re-kindle lapsed meditators' passion but, even more, to ignite the interest of would-be meditators here, in the UK.
I am offering groups this year through Osho Leela (Squeeze the Juice Sept 8-10th), and Croydon Hall (The Greatest Gift Dec1-3rd).* But I'd like to reach many more potential meditators, people who are searching - perhaps not even knowing what it is they want.
Communicating with people about the inner journey, it is a tremendous thrill to see someone's eyes light up with comprehension
or another's suddenly fill with tears because they have been touched, or are simply too full to contain themselves
It is an enormous privilege to witness the softening, the letting go, the sprouting upwards; the radiant emergence from silence, the leaping into joyous dance
Watching the new meditator coming into being reminds me of my days as a midwife.
However many deliveries one has witnessed or participated in, when the tiny, perfectly formed body of a baby slips into existence - when life re-asserts itself, when one feels the power of the new, the affirmation of the ineffable - one is stunned into silence
awed to be, once again, in the presence of an everyday miracle.
* Squeeze the Juice: a playful group, where dance plays as important part as silence. We explore various, lesser-known techniques from Osho. This is a perfect introduction to the world of meditation for newcomers, and some revelations for the seasoned practitioner.
The Greatest Gift: Adopts Osho's prescription that combines his active approach with Buddha's traditional method of Vipassana. Mornings will be dedicated to meditation, afternoons, to our physical wellbeing, with simple instruction in massage, and the chance to use one of the health facilities. Saturday evening: I will talk of my life with Osho. If you've never tried Vipassana, this is the ideal time to go for it. If you like it but in small doses, this group is for you.